Just back from almost a week in Portland and Seattle. A quick recap:
I know it is a cliche but it is almost impossible to get a bad or even average cup of coffee in Portland. Favorites were Public Domain and Case Study. And the same can be said for cocktails. We did a major cocktail crawl on our last day which included Pepe Le Moko, Imperial, Clyde Common, Tasty and Alder and the new Barlow. Service was a little snooty at Clyde Common with the now famous Jeffrey Morganthaler in attendance and making drinks in between promoting his book. Otherwise, very friendly and welcoming. Other nights included stops at the Mutnomah Whiskey Library and Expatriate and we loved both of those. Generally speaking, I think the "specialty cocktails" on most of the lists here are better balanced than the "specialty cocktails" in New York which seem to me to be pushing the envelope on ingredients to be different.
And on to the food. Le Pigeon is a terrific little place just over the Burnside Bridge serving somewhat traditional Frenchified food in a very casual setting with very good service. Currently serving food perfect for a cold evening like short ribs, beef cheek bourguignon, escargot and calamari in a wine sauce, etc. And the now famous foie gras profiteroles for dessert.
Ava Gene's for rustic Italian food. I think the chef here is from Franny's. Lots of very good vegetable salads, pastas and somewhat of a surprise, main courses that do not disappoint. For our pasta course we had fusilli in a nut sauce. While I thought it would be sort of like pesto from reading the menu description, the waiter said it was very much like a bolognese sauce but made with nuts instead of meat. They slow cook the nuts so they get soft and sure enough, if you closed your eyes you would think you were eating a pork or beef ragu with a slight flavor of nuts. Pretty remarkable. A mixed grill of lamb for me which included a chop, roasted shoulder and a slice of tongue. My wife had Chinook Salmon, served very rare over a fall vegetable minestrone. All fantastic. Ended with a chocolate sorbet which tasted like the best fudgsicle of all time. Highly recommended.
A quick lunch on a freezing day at Luc Lac for huge bowl of pho. And last but not least a late night dinner at the basement izakaya Biwa after seeing Southern Soul Assembly at the Aladdin Theater. Very good sashimi of scallops, mackeral and abacore, grilled chicken and fish and spicy beef tartare with a quail egg.
All in all, a great 4 days of eating and drinking in a city that I could undoubtedly live in.
PS, Ava Gene's is owned by the Stumptown Coffee guy.