Tag: Ataula

Portland Dining Month 2016

Portland Dining Month 2016 | Serious Crust

Ned Ludd | Portland Dining Month | Serious Crust
Laurelhurst Market | Portland Dining Month | Serious Crust

The time has come. It’s March, which means I have combed through the dining month menus of 122 (!!!) restaurants in preparation for Portland Dining Month. This event is all about strategy – which places have you been itching to try, which places have multiple choices for each course, and which places give you the most bang for your buck. I’m here to help: below are my 14 picks for Portland Dining Month (in no particular order).

I also want to add that a donation to the Oregon Food Bank will be made for every reservation booked through the OpenTable links on the PDX Dining Month website! Sometimes we make our dining plans last minute, but I’m going to do my best to make reservations this year to make it count.

AviaryThis is one of my number one recommendations in Portland. I love the playfulness and creativity of the food here, plus the Asian influence doesn’t hurt. They’ve got two choices for every course, so you and your dinner partner can both get the dining month menu without ordering the same meal.

Clyde Common: I still haven’t made it into Clyde Common for dinner since chef Carlo Lasagna took over the kitchen, but I have heard fantastic things. Their dining month menu doesn’t look like anything crazy adventurous, but I bet it will be tasty.

Little Bird Bistro: Little Bird Bistro has a place in my heart – every meal I’ve had there has been pretty perfect, the space is romantic, and the service is great. They’ve got at least two options for each course on their dining month menu, and every single one looks like something I want to eat.

Paley’s Place: A Portland institution, Paley’s Place is reliably delicious. There’s only one option per course on their menu, but how can you go wrong with quail under a brick?!

Smallwares: Serving “inauthentic Asian cuisine,” I love the way Smallwares combines traditionally Asian ingredients in quasi-Asian dishes. For example, their dining month entree is Sichuan cauliflower or pork ragu, pine nuts, gochujang, tarragon and scallions. I mean come on.

Ned Ludd: Another memorable Portland dining month meal I had last year was at Ned Ludd. I love the food at this spot – all cooked in their wood oven, featuring great local ingredients, and with lots of creative flavor combinations. Again, only one option per course (except for a vegetarian option for the entree), but you can bet it will be good.

St. Jack: I’ll be honest, I’ll take any reason I can to make my way up to St. Jack. The space is beautiful, and the food and drink are lovely. For their dining month menu, they’re serving up a pork stew, with fried brussels sprouts to start and a chocolate pots-de-creme to finish.

Verdigris: I haven’t been to Verdigris yet, despite the fact that it’s only a few minutes walk from my house and that I’ve heard great things. Verdigris is offering up lots of options for dining month: 6 options for your started, 5 for your entree, and 2 for dessert, meaning lots of variation for you and your dining buddies.

Xico: Who can resist upscale Mexican food? Not me. While there’s only one option for each course on Xico’s dining month menu, each one looks GOOD.

Biwa: To be fair, it doesn’t look like you’ll necessarily be full after partaking in Biwa’s dining month menu. But their homestyle Japanese food is reliably delicious. So come with a buddy and share the dining month menu plus one or two other items, and I’m sure you’ll leave happy.

Ataula: Ataula remains one of the most fun nights out I’ve had in Portland. The food is something you don’t often find: traditional Spanish food, and the service and atmosphere are lively and fun. Plus, on their dining month menu you’ll find a mini version of one of their famous paellas.

Laurelhurst Market: Laurelhurst Market was my final dining month meal last year (and my last meal before getting my wisdom teeth out, which made it that much more special), and it was stellar. Start your meal with stuff mushrooms, then move to some braised beef shoulder (which is bound to be awesome), and then finish with a chocolate whiskey pudding. (Note: their cocktails are awesome, so I highly recommend getting one with your meal!)

Imperial: Located downtown and headed by two fantastic chefs (Vitaly Paley and Doug Adams), Imperial is my go to for brunch with guests staying downtown. Hit them up for dining month to get some grilled squash salad, braised pork, and a chocolate bouchon for dessert.

Ken’s Artisan Pizza: Is this the most exciting menu ever? No. Caesar salad, sausage pizza, and a brownie sundae for dessert. BUT IT WILL BE SO GOOD. This place has some of my favorite pizza in Portland, so take advantage of the price for the three courses and hit it up!

Where are you looking forward to going for Portland Dining month?

Restaurant review: Brunch at Ataula

Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I am writing this post while on hold with my health insurance company. I just thought you should know that. And it’s snowing outside. Little bitty flakes, nothing like the giant snowball-like flakes that fell for approximately 10 minutes yesterday here in Portland. But still. Snow.

A couple of weeks ago, when my dad and Darla came to town, we had to have the famous “where will we eat” discussion. Brunch was a big deal for us because I work on weekends, so brunch was the kind of normal meal we could eat. (We ate other normal meals, they were just very late, much later than normal dinnertime.) I had heard great things about Ataula, a new-ish tapas restaurant in NW Portland, and after glancing at their brunch menu, decided we should try it.

Having heard great things about Ataula, I expected it to be full – I mean, you know Portland at brunch. Or maybe you don’t, so I’ll just say that sometimes people wait an hour and a half or two hours for a good brunch. Seriously. Anyway, I was surprised and a little saddened that upon arrival at around 10:30, there were plenty of open tables. I nabbed one, and while we waited for Dad and Darla to arrive, we admired the space. The room is very open, and very bright thanks to two big skylights. I loved the decor, particularly the light fixtures – it felt like a kind of funky little bistro. Once my parents arrived, we got down to examining the menu. (Please forgive the crummy iPhone photos.)

Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Brunch at Ataula // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

We started healthy, with a light salad, and then moved onto the croquetas, or salt cod fritters, with aioli. The salad was dressed perfectly, and a great little start to the meal. The croquetas were lovely – really salty and fishy, perfectly crispy on the outside, and the aoili brought a nice touch of heat to the bite.

We got two “tortillas,” which were like a small frittata: one potato for the vegetarian among us, and one chorizo. Both were delicious, but I certainly preferred the chorizo, as I found the potato to be a little bland. The chorizo was better, with some spice and lots of flavor. I also really enjoyed the toasted bread rubbed with tomato that the tortillas came with.

We also enjoyed a sausage dish with catalan beans, shoestring fries, and pickled onions. I am not generally a big fan of sausage, but I really liked this dish. The sausage was cooked well, not too fatty, and very rich. The beans were delicious – I could’ve eaten a whole bowl of them, and the fries and onions were a nice little touch on the side.

Lastly, we went for something on the sweet side: churros with dipping chocolate. The churros didn’t have the crunch I usually like, and could have done with a bit more frying time. But the combination of the warm doughy churros with the dark, almost bitter dipping chocolate with fleur de sel was a great way to end the meal.

While I certainly enjoyed some aspects of the meal – namely the sausage dish and the croquetas – a few of the dishes seemed like they could benefit from a little more seasoning. I’m not sure I would go back for brunch, especially with the plethora of options in Portland for that weekend meal, but I would certainly like to try it again for dinner.