You know you like a place a lot when, every time you go out to eat, you immediately put it at the top of your list of options. Or when someone asks for recommendations and it is your first suggestion. Dame has quickly become this for me. There are sensible reasons: it is a pleasant 25-minute walk or 5-minute drive from my house, they cook highly seasonal food, and have a great wine list. But then there are those reasons you can’t really put into words, it’s more of a feeling.
Tag: NE Portland
Brunch in Portland is an event. Choosing a place, deciding whether the wait is worth it, picking a dish off the often expansive menus. So I always appreciate finding restaurants that aren’t packed and have smaller menus where every dish looks like a star.
Such was the case when, on a sunny Sunday, Jonah and I decided to walk to Expatriate. Usually a bumping late night cocktail spot with Asian-influenced small plates, the vibe is a bit more laid back during their weekend brunch. For just four hours on Saturdays and Sundays you can start your day with what was, in my opinion, one of the tastiest and most unique brunches I’d had in quite some time. There was no huge laminated menu, just seven dishes whose descriptions all made my mouth water.
The show-stealer for me were the the hash browns, “covered and smothered” in pho sour cream, cheddar, aromatics, thinly sliced eye of round (like every good bowl of pho), and hoisin tamarind sauce. These were crispy, saucy, and packed with flavor, so much so that I had a hard time sharing! But splitting dishes was worth it because the rice waffle and hot fried chicken strips were easily the best variation of the now-ubiquitous dish. The rice waffle was exactly how I like my waffles: airy and crispy and not too sweet, and it went perfectly with the lightly spicy chicken. The honey and chili butter swirled together, melting in the pockets of the waffle and perfectly smothering the chicken.
I may be biased, but between the Asian-inspired dishes, the proximity to my house, and the somehow-secret status of this brunch, I will most certainly be back for Expatriate’s brunch.
It’s Labor Day weekend! Which means you should probably be outside doing something fabulous instead of sitting inside on your computer reading this. But if you’re doing the latter, that’s ok with me. The time has come for SERIOUSLY SUMMER’S ALMOST OVER AND WE HAVEN’T DONE [insert stereotypical summer activity here] YET, GAH. So, these weekend finds are some things I need to do in the next month, and some things I’m looking forward to.
1. Summer Vegetables and Glass Noodles
This summer has been the season of cold noodles with crunchy veggies. I’ve got a few weeks left of summer, so I’m going to try to get one last version in, and it will be this one (or a variation on it) with glass noodles.
2. Restaurant Trends of 2014
We all know Bon Appetit just put out their list of the top 10 hot restaurants of 2014 (and if you don’t, you should). But they also just put out a list of the top 25 restaurant trends of 2014. Which is pretty entertaining.
3. Pickled Blueberries
While I love a good blueberry muffin. Or blueberry galette. Or any blueberry baked goods. But sometimes, savory is good too. Which is why these pickled blueberries pique my interest.
4. Bull in China
Guys, my neighborhood is blowing up. Lots of construction, lots of neat places opening up. Included, this one stop shop for bartenders, Bull in China, by a couple local bartenders. I’m certainly looking forward to stopping in, lusting after the glassware, tasting the bitters, and reading all the liquor literature.
If I haven’t already told you about Molly Wizenberg and her lovely blog, Orangette, I’m telling you now. Her writing is wonderful (I’m still working on getting my hands on a copy of her newest book, Delancey), her photos are so beautiful and really she could probably tell a story just with them. But her recipes are delightful. I’m hoping I can make these fudgesicles before the warm weather runs out.
A couple of weeks ago, my former co-worker Elaine called me up and asked me if I’d like to have coffee with her at Blend Coffee, a spot in my neighborhood I hadn’t been to since moving up to NE Portland. Blend is a new client of hers (she is one of the masterminds behind KEEL Creative), and had done a little revamping after a new owner came in with a new vision for the space.
I had been to Blend a couple years before, and the previous owners had kept the space pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it (and actually wrote a Yelp review saying so) – the big windows lent lots of light, there were lots of tables, and it was just really peaceful there.
There has certainly been a redesign since I was last there. The space has a much more designed vibe, with concrete floors, soothing slate grey walls, and some really beautiful wood tables. The art is really neat and modern (not sure if it’ll be rotating or not), and it looks as though there is a fireplace coming soon to the front room. The flowers and prints of the chairs and pillows brought a really chic vibe, and kept the space from feeling cold.
Elaine and I were there for about an hour, talking in hushed voices, because it was definitely a hub for worker bees – lots of people on their laptops, plugging away. When I mentioned to Elaine that it seemed like a great place to work (I love places with big windows and lots of natural light – it counteracts the artificial light from my computer), she noted that the new owner had outlets put in all over the place, making it more friendly for low-running batteries. Huge bonus.
She also informed me that at some point (I’m hoping in the near future), the owner is thinking of using the back room, which is a little longer, for an event space. I cannot even tell you how great of an idea this is! The vibe of this place would certainly lend itself to a dinner club or office party. I can even see it with a long table down the middle for a small rehearsal dinner. The possibilities are endless, and I really hope the new owner opens it up to the public like that. Who knows, maybe a food blogger or two could use it for some events…
Let’s not forget the coffee! They served me a great latte (Stumptown, of course), with some very impressive foam. I am a lover of a delicious, thick foam – it’s the sign of someone who knows what they’re doing behind the espresso machine. It also looked like they had a nice little pastry and bagel selection.
Overall, the sense I get from the new Blend Coffee is hip, chic, and contemporary – a cool space to grab a great cup of coffee and snack while you sit back and enjoy the beautiful new space.