Monday, July 23, 2012

Keep It Weird Portland

We haven't been to Portland for 2 years (and I never got around to posting about it), a shame really as it's so close and just a short and relaxing train ride away.  Since finding out my brother, his wife and son live there, we'll be visiting more often. Pulling out of the station at 5:30pm on a Friday night, with a picnic of home-assembled ham, gruyere, egg, & pickle baguette sandwiches along with pre-batched martinis makes for a nice trip. And even though my wallet went missing in the 2 hours, somewhere between the grocery store and the train station, it's not Portland's fault so I'm not focused on it. (Update: I found it back at home)

We pass through various cities & towns, places that somehow look better from this side of the train stations. The conductor just informed us that we are pulling into Vancouver. He called it "the 'Couve", keeping it weird and we're not even there yet.

It's just a quick cab from the Portland Amtrak station to the Kimpton Vintage Plaza, where we are taking advantage of a discounted Ride the Rails rate. Once we are checked in we walk over to the Pearl District to check out the newly opened Riffle NW.

We were there to say hi to a friend and to have a few cocktails, but next time we are in town it's on my list for dinner. The menu was loaded with delicious sounding seafood (sea urchin & quail egg shot!) and gussied up staples (manchego & bacon grilled cheese).

Finding the Teardrop Lounge packed we decided on a repeat visit to Clyde Common, which resulted in delicious cocktails (one barrel aged natch), running into a friend from Seattle and meeting a new and very talented Portland bartender. And all with in walking distance of the hotel.

The next morning we met my brother and his wife at Veritable Quandary which we hadn't been to before but they've been serving up brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner since 1971. It was very good and had a cute deck for outside seating.

My brother lives in the Ladd's Addition neighborhood so we strolled across the Hawthorn Bridge to his hood, enjoying all the gorgeous houses, rose gardens and American Elm trees.

Nearby there is a whole slew of distilleries setting up shop so we decided to check out a few of them. Back in the day, we had visited the well known House Spirits. This time we visited Eastside Distilling, which looks almost like a take-out window and makes a surprisingly good bourbon. For $5 you get tastes of their infused rums, the bourbon and a mini cocktail.
A bit further along we stopped into the almost warehouse-sized New Deal Distillery. They have more vodka products than I like but the Gin #1 was really interesting. Almost a cross between a genever and an old Tom gin. New Deal also allows dogs, so my brother's Whippet didn't have to stay out in the rain.

After all those little sips we needed a snack, Pok Pok to the rescue. We only had a short wait at the Whiskey Soda Lounge, enough time for some fried, crunchy pig ears, and then we were seated and served the famous Pok Pok wings. How many orders of wings do they go through a day? Who doesn't order these wings? When can I have them again? All questions that need to be answered.We also watched them put whole salt crusted fish on the BBQ. Yummmmm.

We had a wonderful family dinner that night at Beast. Our visit there 2 years ago for brunch had been excellent and this was no different. Our six courses included a chilled spinach veloute with smoked Arctic char roe, individual charcuterie plates of items like steak tartare with quail egg toast and foie gras bon bon's, a gorgeous brined piece of pork loin with crispy artichokes, a summer salad with fava beans and fried lemons, cheeses and a cherry trifle for dessert. All beautifully paired with wines. I've been twice now and I'd go again, any time!
Before leaving the next morning, we checked out the fairly new Metrovino for brunch. It was good and had some nice riff's on the norms, including a chicken fried quail and waffles. And as we've done in the past we made a stop at Kenny & Zukes to get a snack for the train...
Our Amtrak home was on the Coast Starlight which makes it's way over 2 days from LA to Seattle. We got very lucky, I hear, as our train not only was on-time but we pulled into Seattle early. We spent most of the time sitting in the observation car listening to two rangers from the Klondike Goldrush National Historical Park give an on-going lecture about everything we were passing. It was such a pretty day, and they were so engaging, it was a really nice trip home.

Portland pictures here

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