For what I feel are fairly obvious reasons, our second day in Portland got off to a somewhat….groggy start. We roused, in a calorie laden haze, to texts from old friends who discovered our presence in Portland via instagram. Not that we were avoiding them; they had moved there literally the day before, unbeknownst to us. So we were knocked off our game a little. The plan was to start the day with a breakfast visit to Tasty n’ Sons, but our friends had just moved downtown, with a car, and no permit, and they needed to feed the meter throughout the day.
So we adjusted, and met them at Tasty N’ Alder, the original of the two “Tasty” spots, which is located downtown and thus near their meter. Tasty couldn’t seat us for two hours, so we decided to go grab a table at nearby Clyde Common, http://www.clydecommon.com/
which was decidedly less full and able to accommodate our group immediately. The spot is super famous, and it was on my list. However, Randi had been before and felt that it was just OK, so we had planned to skip it. Anyway, here we were. The space feels very clean, big and airy, with distressed wood floors, a crisp looking bar along one wall, and an open kitchen. It was very…Antropologie
Back in San Francisco, Fog City Diner serves this otherworldly milk punch with clarified milk. We order it at every opportunity. CC had a milk punch on the menu and we nearly shat ourselves with excitement, explaining the drink to our brunch companions and urging everyone to order it. Turns out, the milk punch is a thing now, like, everywhere. Suddenly. Also, “milk punch” has yet to mean the same thing twice; I haven’t even had two similar versions. Clyde’s variant was delicious nonetheless, the Big Lebowski of milk punches:
A little sprinkling of nutmeg was the perfect garnish for that creamy glass o’ booze to be sure.
We ordered a schnitzel and fried egg combo, with a light airy fry, accompanied by a mellow sauerkraut,
this tostada with egg, avocado, tomatillo, enchilada sauce, and cheese,
and probably the biggest hit of the bunch, the French toast with apple and caramel cream:
All three dishes were well executed, but I have to agree with Randi, that’s about it. I have zero complaints about Clyde Common but I feel no need to go back.
Our Portland buds directed us to Blue Star donuts for dessert. http://www.bluestardonuts.com/
Honestly, this place is just stupid good. It’s fussy, and fancy, and almost a little sterile, and some of the donuts literally cost $4/ea, but I give zero shits. I would gladly pay $50/dozen for the delectable nonsense they crank out. A little primer: high-end, local ingredients eggs, flour, milk and European butter. Brioche..BRIOCHE dough, fried in rice oil, fresh all day, glazed to order. And then, there are the flavors. Pistachio with raspberry hibiscus, crème brulee, blueberry bourbon. If loving Blue Star’s pretentious donuts is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Maybe it was a bit of a rookie move, but we had to have their hard apple cider fritter. Three of us are absolute fools for apple fritters, and we could not let the opportunity pass to try the Blue Star version. But also, this:
Look closely. Do you see that little squeeze bottle of Cointreau stuck in the top of the hard sugar top? The torched, hard sugar top? Do you? Mic Drop.
Yes, it was all as amazing as it looks and sounds. Yes, it cost like $10 for two donuts. WHATEVER.
Down the street, Tasty N Alder was ready for us. http://www.tastynalder.com/
Not to be a total jerk, but Tasty N’ Alder was what I was hoping Clyde Common would be, with unique menu items that gave juuuust that bit of a twist to make things interesting. For instance, the bloody Mary selection, which includes no less than five renditions of the old standby along with the option to “make it a Midwestern” (aka add a beer back) or make it a “skinny james” which means the addition of a meat stick. We sampled, I think, three of the five options. I went with the Dockside, a mix of gin, kummel, tomato, old bay, and “shrimp,” made Midwestern. I say “shrimp” because, come on now, that’s a freaking prawn.
Have a look at the “skinny James”
I think we can all agree the term “skinny James” is purposefully ironic.
One of the other variations:
I saw a polenta and egg dish on the menu, and, since I was still reminiscing fondly over the clafouti at Maurice, I had to have it. It was a little less satisfying than the Maurice version but not much. Hot creamy polenta with a big runny egg and chunky salt is just the shit. Period.
Oh. Someone ordered some really fabulous house made cottage cheese with pineapple, ate most of it, then passed it to me for a photo.
My view, throughout the meal, was Tasty N’ Alder’s smoker, being tended to right out on the sidewalk, giving the whole restaurant a most fabulous campfire smell.
I know we just had donuts, but, we really needed to try to the chocolate potato donut with crème anglaise.
Again, there were additional members in our group. Members who do not know the photographing before we eat for my blog rules. Sorry.
There was Korean fried chicken with kimchi and a fried egg on the menu and truly, not one chance in hell that we were passing it up. The night before, we revisited Eastern Europe at Kachka. This morning, we were revisiting Korea.
Totally, completely, delightful.
For a side, one salty, hand cut, crisp, creamy, order of spuds fried in Wagyu tallow with a mayo based dipping sauce
We retired to the Yamhill to simultaneously digest and fill up with beer and fernet, where we waited for yet more old friends to come meet us. I have to admit, we did stroll by Nong’s Khao Man Gai on the way, but sadly, it was still closed. http://www.yelp.com/biz/yamhill-pub-portland
Things went a little askew from here, as the group grew and interests varied. They wanted to show us their town which we, of course, wanted, but it did mean that our food plans for the day were a total loss. One of those friends works in sales at Rock Bottom Brewery, so we made a stop there for a little football. http://www.rockbottom.com/
Rock Bottom is your typical brewery…large, full of TV’s, good beer, big old laminated menus, lackluster food. They claim their fare is “made from scratch” but I seriously doubt that’s the case. With Sysco-esque starters such as asiago artichoke and crab dip, crispy chicken fingers, habanero shrimp, ballpark pretzels and a chicken quesadilla, it’s hard to imagine there is some passionate guy running the kitchen, making everything in house. It’s possible, but definitely not likely.
I’m not sure now, as I type this, how this is possible, but we were totally hungry and in need of some food, shitty or not. We gave Rock Bottom’s bread sticks and chicken fingers a shot.
Supposedly, there is some super solid food to be had at strip clubs in Portland. I arrived with a full list of them, Club Skinn being the top choice for their chili, which, rumor has it, may just be the best in Portland. I will never know though. Our friends mistook my desire to eat at a strip club with great food for a desire to just go to a strip club, which I’ll be honest, was high on my list good food or not. Portland not only has more strip clubs than any other city in America, but they go full nude WITH alcohol, and they are far more commonly frequented by people just watching sports, or hanging out with their friends, than the alcohol free buzz kills that SF offers. My curiosity was peaked. Our friends brought us to their favorite club, Sassy’s. http://www.sassysbar.com/
Truly, the vibe at Sassy’s was so different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It had the feel of a locals bar, with guys sitting around in football jerseys, watching the TV’s and not the stage, and there were far more women in there, just hanging out than I have ever noticed in Vegas or SF. Of course I couldn’t take pictures, but the girls were so friendly it took me off guard, grabbing their tips at the end of their dances and squatting, totally nude, while having chummy convos with people who were sitting at stage/crotch level. On to the food. It was terrible. Also, I had to photograph it in the bathroom.
Another friend wanted to meet us, but refused to go to a strip club, and requested our presence at a super charming bar named The Roadside Attraction.http://www.yelp.com/biz/roadside-attraction-portland-2
The Roadside Attraction is a pretty awesome bar, mostly for the massive yet cozy outdoor seating area, reminiscent of the Wild Side West in SF, split into separate little areas for privacy but still maintaining a convivial party atmosphere. My outdoor shots are dark and fuzzy, but this is a good representation of the interior:
From there, we were taken to a place that was both on our list and theirs, food truck turned mini chain, Lardo. http://lardosandwiches.com/
I went traditional, just so I could see how they rock a straight up burger, which was foolish. Not because the burger wasn’t good, but because they have far more interesting choices on the menu that I should have taken advantage of, such as the pork belly gyro, the Korean pork shoulder, or the pho’rench dip, a Vietnamese take on the original French Dip. My burger was, a burger. The herby, sage dominant “lardo fries” were better; the photo is too blurry to share.
Our friend did order the Pho’Rench dip, so I got a taste, and it was awesomely delicious.
I totally ordered wrong.
From there, we were shuttled to Dot’s, http://www.yelp.com/biz/dots-cafe-portland a dark, sort of velvet walled place with booths that look like they are coated in bowling ball. Diner style food was available; think burgers, quesadillas, fries, nachos, but nothing appealed.
In the end, Dot’s only served to yield one of the most disgustingly inedible (undrinkable?) drinks I have ever tasted. I’m sure under different circumstances Dot’s is a great spot, but clearly, I was in the throes of bad decision making at this point in the night that not even the best of places could save me from. I did make one good choice though, and that was to leave.
This is where the junk ‘o mart at the extended stay hotel makes its heroic return.