Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Portland(ia) Part 3 - SE Portland

Portland's SE is incredibly beautiful food and drink wise, and once heading down towards Division, everything gets lush, leafy and residential which made for a beautiful bike ride on our rainy Thursday in town. Here's what we loved:

Heart Coffee Roasters (2211 E Burnside) - It was difficult not to fall in love with Heart as soon as we walked in the door. The smell of coffee was immediate and as we looked to the right of the entrance there were two guys tending to beans in their roaster situated in the middle of the room. Our coffee and service was excellent during both visits, and a couple French presses had at restaurants around town were similarly lovely.

Pok Pok (3226 SE Division) - Though Pok Pok has opened Pok Pok Noi in the NE, it was hard to pass up the original. Like the Schnitzelwich at Tábor, I'm not entirely sure all the food here lived up to the hype (how could it possibly?), however, the "Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings" were amazing. I also had a pomegranate Drinking Vinegar which was the perfect fizzy accompaniment.

D Street Noshery (3221 SE Division) - I discussed this in the "Food Carts" post earlier, but once again, this place is right across the street from Pok Pok, and they've got some great carts. Including a tapped beer truck.

Le Pigeon (738 E Burnside St.) - It was a big toss up between Little Bird (Le Pigeon's sister restaurant) and St. Jack, which are all doing excellent French style food a la NW, however, we were quite happy with our trip to Le Pigeon. We had crispy octopus with nectarine, porcini and truffle, Rabbit with salami risotto, gouda and fennel and shared the Beef Cheek Bourguignon as a main.

And for dessert we had to do the foie gras profiteroles. Super rich, sweet and salty - is their any food more perfect? We enjoyed everything at the 'chef's counter' around the open kitchen and the sous serving our food was incredibly friendly and helpful. A lovely evening. I just wish we could have made it back for a burger...

Integrity Spirits (909 SE Yamhill St.) - Though we were hoping to check out more of 'Distillery Row', we only had time to stop at Integrity Spirits on our last day in town. Though my intent was simply to purchase a bottle of gin to bring back for afternoon gin and tonics with my grandmother, we ended up staying for tasting at the urge of the friendly man in the shop. Their 12 Bridges Gin is beautiful and more flavourful than any spirit I've ever tried.

We also sampled both a Saffron and Tarragon Vodka and fell in love, especially when the former was mixed with mango purée for a lasee type effect, and the latter with Limoncello for a simple but lovely cocktail. We ended up with a bottle of the Tarragon Vodka in our suitcase next to the gin. Integrity Spirits is also the first distillery to re-introduce Absinthe to the U.S. market. Since it was noon, we passed this one up.

As always, there were places we didn't get to:

Apizza Scholls (4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) - We passed this place whilst it was closed and longed to return, but their short 4 hour window and distance from our home base just didn't allow us to sample one of the top five pizza spots in the U.S.

Nostrana (1401 SE Morrison) - Like many of the restaurants we visited, Nostrana uses lots of NW ingredients but with Italian preparation.

Castanga (1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) - We didn't do any formal-ish dinners in Portland, but if we did, this would have been the spot. Apparently the food is amazing and it's on the list for next time.

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