Another year, another weekend trip to Portland to see friends, eat, and drink beer. Getting up early and going to sleep late– less to take advantage of the nightlife and more to fit in four meals a day. Some memories:
Heart Coffee: Easily the best coffee of the trip. A very light roast, lemony, smooth. Highly recommended.
I’d been here many years ago and remembered it being good, but the first hot slice of Margherita this time was one of the best slices of pizza I’ve had anywhere (including New Haven, Brooklyn, and Naples). Perfect. They nailed it. Thin crust without being crispy, elastic without being chewy, tender without letting grease soak through, tart distinctively tomato sauce without being too acidic, small pockets of excellent cheese and basil, and just the right temperature…. even 15 minutes later it wasn’t as amazing. The New York White Pie (fresh mozzarella, pecorino, ricotta, garlic) was also very good and moist, but not in the same league.
Horse Brass Pub (again):
I had to come back, it was as British-dark-wood cozy as I remembered, and the cask conditioned Hogsback Stout tasted as good. The beer equivalent of light roast coffee, with toasty grapefruity flavors.
Cascade Brewing Barrel Room:
Barrel-aged sour beers. Really good ones. 2 oz tasters let me gradually work my way through all 10 of them. And not at all crowded (well, at 3pm on a Friday…) A great way to spend all afternoon, and up there with Hair of the Dog in my favorite brewpubs in Portland.
The Noyaux was fantastic– I have to track it down. Blondes and tripels aged on oak for years, then another year on raspberries and apricot pits. Tart to the point of saliva-stimulating at first, then getting more and more funky (in a barnyard-straw way) as it warmed up. It smells like it would be sweet, but it’s not at all. A+.
The Vlad was also very good, a quad blonde aged in bourbon barrels, not one-note, and it kept developing as it warmed up. I don’t know if it would be interesting enough to drink a full pint, but I really enjoyed this small glass.
The Manhattan NW was the most interesting though not my favorite: a quad aged in bourbon barrels with sour cherries. Very woodsy in taste, but it smelled too much like grenadine syrup.
I thought the Chocolate Burbonic sounded interesting (porters, bourbon barrels, cinnamon, dates, chocolate? what’s not to like?) but I thought it was disgusting, evoking “subtle notes of bile”. Humbug.
Oh, and the apricot, cherry, and blueberry sour beers were all good, tart, and about what I expected from past bottles.
Yeah, yeah, a posed-food-getting-cold low-depth-of-field juxtaposition photo, I have to take one of these in between all the blurry quick cell phone shots.
A burger covered with porkstrami / pork belly, on a half-size loaf of bread because they were out of rolls. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious– but the “lardo sauce” was over the top and the whole thing was just too *pow* in my face creamy. Great at midnight after a beer at Apex, and I’d try something else from their menu, but I have no need to have that burger more than once in my life.
A cheerful, friendly Italian bistro, which by total chance I was standing in front of when I got a message I should check it out. The $12 steak and salad lunch plate was a great deal, and the salad was remarkably good: interesting greens, parsley, dill, other slightly bitter greens– it tasted fresh out of someone’s backyard garden. The steak was fine though nothing special — if I’m there again I hear I should try their pasta.
A fun place to eat brunch, though not mind-blowing or deserving of a Zagat 27 and a “Best Brunch Spots in Portland” award.
Excellent dill-infused aquavit bloody mary:
Baked scrambled eggs in a square skillet and a mashed potato pancake were cute twists on the typical brunch dishes… but neither tasted better than any generic eggs and potatoes:
Evoe, the counter in Pastaworks:
This was one of my favorite places to eat the last time I was in Portland. It was quite good this time but just short of excellent.
The oven-roasted rapini with meyer lemon and anchovies was fascinating: who knew that rapini would roast so well? The leaves were crispy but the stalks stayed moist, chewy, and really flavorful, unlike many roasted greens (I’m looking at you, kale):
A cauliflower soup with bottarga and a raw shaved squash salad with mint and balsamic were both interesting but very one note.
See See Motorcycle Coffee Company:
I went for the ambiance, the espresso was quite good.
A huge beer selection (taps and bottles), the kind of place I’d think would be right up my alley– maybe if I went with a group of friends. I stopped by after a film festival on my own and it didn’t quite click for me. The not-so-cozy space and the bright high-tech beer lists were a little off, and the one beer I tried was nothing but a hop punch in the face.
Little T Baker:
Nice space, very good pretzel roll…
Less memorable: Common Grounds Coffee (though I do appreciate their fox logo and $1 coffee), the Pie Spot (a fine marionberry tart, nothing special), the crepe food truck near Ladd’s Addition, the Korean taco truck next to Prost, Lucky Lab (so-so pizza and beer), Amnesia (friendly outdoor seating and strangers, reasonable beer).