Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Portland Again, And Again

Trip dates: July 2013 & September 2015

The last time Forest came to Seattle we took a quick overnight to Portland; that was July 2013. We went down on Amtrak on a weekday, which is a treat as you don't have to deal with the weekend crowds at the restaurants and bars. The Starlight line offers great views from its pretty floor to ceiling windowed cars. We brought pre-batched Sazeracs on for breakfast. That's how we roll.

We checked into the Ace Hotel, my first time, and laughed out loud at the massive amounts of hipster vibe that enveloped us. Oh Portland.

First up, lunch at Kenny & Zukes. Pastrami of course. Then a little stroll around the area and a lovely punch at Clyde Common in place of afternoon tea.

When it was time for a cocktail we headed to Hele Pele where delicious tiki drinks were lit on fire with abandon.

Then we had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Le Pigeon. I'd been before but it had been a while and I was so happy to have another fantastic meal there. And I was happy that the foie gras profiteroles were still on the dessert menu!

We finished off our night at Teardrop Lounge which, since it was a weeknight, was just normally busy instead of jam packed! The drinks here never fail to impress. Almost 10 years and going strong!

The next morning we headed to Tasty & Alder for a boozy brunch. Again, no wait, no crowds, ahhhh weekdays!

A little tax free shopping, there are lots of great places around 12th Ave including Canoe,  a quick pack of the bags and we headed back north on the train. A lovely overnight.

Sept. 2015 I headed back down to Portland, honored to be invited to attend friends Jessica and Eric's wedding. My friend Lorraine came with and we made a fun weekend of it.

Amtrak down again, why would anyone drive? We stopped at Tat's on the way to the station and picked up... pastrami sandwiches! It's obviously a theme. A sandwich and smuggled-aboard rosé made for a very enjoyable picnic and ride.

The hotel prices in Portland have gone bonkers. In the past, besides the Ace Hotel, I've stayed at various Kimpton Hotels which are my favorite. This time when I went to book, the Ace was sold out and the Kimptons were over $300 a night. In Portland! I booked us at the Marriott City Center which has a fantastic location and perfectly fine, if a bit boring, rooms.

Lorraine and I went out to explore, she had read about this Scandinavian place called Maurice. Let me just say that this is one of the cutest spots I have seen! We were there mid afternoon and had a great cup of iced coffee and a pastry snack. Great find!

After a bit of shopping we stumbled upon The Green Room while leaving Canoe (obviously this shop is an "always stop at"). We decided it was time for a cocktail in this pretty green hued bar, and chose from their menu of low-octane drinks. It is just downstairs, and owned, by Multnomah Whiskey Library (where we had reservations later that night).

The bar tender turned us on to another newish spot just down the street called Shift Drinks. All the drinks here are pre-batched, the space is huge so on busy weekends you can still get a craft cocktail but without the wait that normally accompanies it.

Next up we had a wonderful dinner at Gruner. I had been meaning to go for such a long time as it was on everyone's recommendation list. Sadly it is now closed but I'm happy I got to dine there!

We wrapped our night at Portland's newest gem, MWL. Believe the hype. This "members only" whiskey den is like being in Charlie's Chocolate Factory, replace chocolate with booze. Members are able to make reservations for themselves and/or their friends. If you aren't a member and you don't know one you can queue up for an available table, they open at 4pm and there will already be a line when you arrive. Or you can try to purchase a Hall Pass through their website. It will cost you a non refundable $25 fee and you have to reserve at least 48 hours prior, but it gets you up the stairs. And you want up those stairs!

I have a very lovely friend who arranged reservations for us, you know who you are- thank you again! We were seated and presented with a lovely complimentary taste of The Feathery Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. A nice way to settle in.

After speaking to us about our interests, our waiter Jordan created a lineup of single batch bourbons and ryes. We had a great time (I mean, how could you not?) of tasting and comparing styles and flavors in this super gorgeous space.

After our tasting we had Manhattans made tableside. And before we left they gave us a wonderful curaçao as a parting taste. A+ for inventory, cocktails, and service!!

The next morning we grabbed a Car2Go and set off for Workshop Vintage. Besides turning us on to Shift Drinks, our bartender the night before at The Green Room had told us this is where we would find the gorgeous mixing glasses made by Bull in China that they used there.

Beautiful glass vessels procured we headed to lunch at Paadee Thai, a suggestion by our bartender at Shift Drinks. He heard us talking about Pok Pok wings and had informed us that there was more than one wing game in town. The wings here are different, and delicious. The menu and service both outstanding. I'd highly recommend it if you are looking for some new (traditional) takes on Northern Thai food. I'll be back for sure. And nice job Portland bartenders at playing the share-your-knowledge- game!

While leaving The Green Room the day before I spied an interesting looking sushi shop next door. Upon checking it out closer it turned out to be a cheese restaurant serving "omakase" style cheese offerings. We headed to Chizu for a little after lunch snack and were thoroughly charmed! They had some wonderful cheeses, many I had never had, and offered both wine and sake as pairings! Brilliant.

It was the evening of the wedding I was here for so I got myself cleaned up, grabbed the street car, and headed to the Eco Trust Building. An absolutely wonderful place for an event! Eric and Jessica had their ceremony on the roof deck, a beautiful setting on this sunny and clear Portland summer day.

After the "I do"s, a lovely dinner, some mixing and mingling, I left to meet Lorraine and two other friends Dave and Debbie at Hele Pele (link above) for some rumminess. After we were tikid'up we headed to the newish Pepe le Moko. We didn't have reservations so there was a bit of a wait, luckily it is next door/underneath Clyde Common so we didn't have to go far to pass the time.

When we went down the stairs to bar I felt like I had entered an underground bomb shelter. The light was very low and the space felt bare except for the bar and the booths. The menu is a bit of a throw back to the cold war era as well, and the drinks arrived on cute little trays like they might have at a soda fountain. They are best known for bringing back the Grasshopper, granted it is their version and has Fernet, but there are Amaretto Sours, Long Island Ice Teas, and Martinis as well. Our parent's drinks, I mean our drinks, were excellent and we all had a great time!

And just like so many last mornings in Portland, the next one was spent having brunch at Tasty and Alder. This time the wait was an hour, we passed it by having wonderful coffee across the street at Heart, before enjoying breakfast cocktails and some seriously good eats. Breakfast cocktails, say it with me.

All aboard Amtrak for the pretty ride home! Portland, if we keep to this schedule I'll see you in 2017!

Lorraine's got a good Portland list also, check it out!

Photos here.

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