Tag: Restaurants

Weekend Finds 8:30:14

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

Glass Noodle Salad on Food52 // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
I need more hot weather so I can eat more cold 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

Bon Appetit's Restaurant Trends // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Sweet neon signs are a trend I can get behind.

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

Pickled Blueberries on Food52 // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
I love this new take on 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

Bull in China // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
They’re really just enabling me, at this point.

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.

5. Fudgesicles

Fudgesicles on Orangette // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Cold frozen chocolate on a hot day? Yes please.

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.

Weekend Finds 6:1:14

Well friends, today marks the beginning of June. That’s a pretty crazy thing. This year is flying by, and it seems like if I blink, it’ll be Christmas. But I’m working on taking things a little slower and enjoying what I’ve got going on. These finds are what I’ve been liking this week.

1. Davenport

Davenport, PDX // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
The fried octopus atop frisee. (Photo from Portland Monthly.)

When family is in town, we eat. And we eat well. Last night, after finally winnowing down our list of places to dine, my dad, Darla, Jonah, and I went to Davenport. The kitchen is helmed by Kevin Gibson, of Evoe, and they’ve been open for about 6 months. I’d been wanting to go for all of those 6 months. Located in the old June space on E. Burnside, the restaurant is cozy and clean. Last night it was warm enough that the big garage door was open. Our servers were so kind, the wine was perfect (a red sancerre) and the food was impeccable. Highlights included: roasted fava beans with pancetta, fried octopus over frisee, asparagus with porcini/breadcrumbs/parmesan, and grilled duck breast with a walnut aioli.

2. Pro Pie Tips

Pie Tips // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Some key pie advice will lead you to pie nirvana. Pievana? (Photo from Bon Appetit.)

It is officially pie season. The rhubarb is here and the strawberries are starting to trickle in. So do a little prep work and check out these tips from Bon Appetit. I’m especially keen on the recommendations to put the pie at the bottom of the oven and to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before you bake it. So smart.

3. Rachel W. Cole

Rachel W. Cole // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
A screenshot from Rachel Cole’s website – all about figuring out what you’re really hungry for.

Now don’t get all judgmental on me here. Rachel Cole is a life coach who focuses on feeding your true hungers. Via her social media outlets (which I follow), she talks a lot about body image and how we fill ourselves, with food and other things in our lives. I recently signed up for her newsletter, and spent a few hours on Friday doing her fulfillment pyramid activity (you can get it too if you sign up for her newsletter on her site). Think of it as making a food pyramid for yourself, but putting all the things you need in your life in it, not just vegetables and grains. It was a really fun, reflective, positive activity, and I definitely recommend it. Trust me, cooking for friends and baking pies definitely made it on to my pyramid.

4. Foodie events in and around Portland

Summer Foodie Events in Portland // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Why yes, I will spend my summer drinking rosé out of mason jars in a beautiful field, thank you. (Photo from Feast.)

Perhaps my favorite thing about summer in Portland is all of the foodie events. Seriously: Oregon Brewer’s Fest (plus so many more beer festivals), Portland Monthly’s Country Brunch (and Bloody Mary Smackdown), so many Plate & Pitchfork dinners, and of course Feast. Some blogger friends have rounded up more events on their sites, Pechluck’s Food Adventures and Bakery Bingo, so check them out. There’s no way you can be bored and hungry this summer.

5. Pork Belly

Pork Belly prep tips // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Why does cooking pork belly make me so nervous? (Photo from Food52.)

I’ve been itching to try cooking with pork belly, and I think once my schedule becomes normal again, it’d be a great day-long kitchen activity. I’m picturing it seasoned with thyme, and served with a rhubarb chutney. I’ll definitely be re-reading these tips from Food52 before I go for it.

6. Grocery Shopping

Groceries // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
We all shop for and cook our food differently, but what’s important is that it works for us. (Photo from The Kitchn.)

I like this little meditation on grocery shopping. Jonah and I have been trying to do more meal planning and making enough to have leftovers for lunch and then committing to actually eating those leftovers… It’s all harder than it sounds. But here’s what I’ve realized – as long as we are all feeding ourselves well and trying to be conscious about where the food is coming from, then we’re “doing it right.”

Restaurant Review: Navarre (or Portland’s Best Kept Secret)

On the east side of Portland, where Burnside intersects with 28th, there are a slew of little cute establishments. You’ve got Crema, some food carts, Paadee, Laurelhurst theater (my favorite movie theater in town), Tabla, and even Ken’s Pizza if you go a couple blocks south. But my favorite one by far is the European looking Navarre, with about 30 seats, produce, jarred pickled veggies, and wine covering almost every surface, and the menu scrawled on the front window. Let me tell you though, writing the menu on the window cannot be an easy feat, as the menu is easily 30 items long and changes regularly. How regularly? 90% of the produce used at Navarre is grown within city limits (according to the latest issue of Portland Monthly).

I mean, come on: Roasted Carrots with a Million Herbs. Sounds delicious to me!

How I ever decided to go to Navarre for the first time is beyond me. I usually steer clear of places that don’t have a website. I know, I know, it’s incredibly biased. But speaking as one that does extensive restaurant research before I visit a spot, I really don’t like it when restaurants don’t have websites. In an age when that’s where everyone gets their information, why not? They do have a blog, but I just don’t really feel like the blog does their food justice and they don’t post very regularly.

The two menus, side by side, at Navarre. All ready to be filled out.

But let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Their food! Oh the food. Let me tell you. You know that fad of “simple cooking”? This is the absolute best “simple” food I have ever had. Vegetables roasted with simple herbs or dressings and meat and fish expertly cooked in such a way that the flavors are magnified. As you can see on the menu pictured above, they always have 2 menus – the staples: things like bread, salami, gratin, fish, bird, and pork. You have to ask to find out what bird and how it’s cooked, or what vegetable they’re using for the gratin this evening. And on the second menu are all of the specials. Then you fill out the first menu with a marker (gotta love restaurants that give you markers), writing which specials you want and marking whether you want small or large plates of whatever you decide to order. They recommend about 3 small plates per person, which is perfect. I especially liked it because, between Jonah and myself, we got to try 6 different dishes instead of 2 mains and an appetizer that we would usually get at any other restaurant.

Lots of little plates for dinenr at Navarre, including steak, squash, kohlrabi, mushrooms, bread...

While I have been for brunch, which was delicious, I like the ambiance a little more at dinner time. The lights are a little bit lower, the candles are lit, and you get to enjoy wine from their pretty extensive list (given the size of the place). Some of my favorite dishes that I’ve had for dinner include but are not limited to: mushrooms roasted with rosemary, kohlrabi roasted with mustard and brown sugar, delicata squash roasted with butter, trout in parchment, cabbage gratin… the list goes on. Everything is prepared so well, so simply. Perhaps my favorite thing about Navarre is that I find it inspiring. Because the preparations are simple, I feel like I can go home and replicate them, which I love.

All in all, Navarre is definitely one of my top picks for places to dine in Portland. I think the perfect word to describe it is lovely. A lovely spot with lovely food. Try it out, but don’t spread the word too far. The other thing I love about this place is that I never have to wait for a table 😉

Birthday Dinner at Beast

As some of you may know, my birthday recently happened. It was a day full of wonderful gifts and time with friends (and cousins!) out and about. Long before my birthday (on Nov. 1) Jonah texted me and said he was making plans for Nov. 2 (a Friday night), so to please reserve that night. I was really good and didn’t look up anything happening in Portland on that night. But as the day came closer, I started asking more questions. It went like this:

“Are we going to a concert?”
“Are we going to a restaurant?”
“Will any of our friends be there?”

The worst. Not actually, because I did really want to be surprised. But Jonah is usually not so great at hiding surprises, so I was impressed. He helped me dress (“Portland fancy”), and we headed out. I had no idea where we were going, and I almost feel like he took a complicated route just to mess with my head. But finally, we parked, and walked down the street to arrive at Beast for the 8:45 seating!

I could not have been more excited. I never thought I’d tear up at the thought of dinner, but it happened. The time came to be seated and we got to check out the menu and order a bottle of wine (it was quite warm in the restaurant, so we went with a bottle of Sancerre, which I recently read “really opens up the palate.” Maybe I know more than I think I do about drinking… Haha, not.)

I did not take any pictures of the food because lately, I’ve been working on enjoying experiences while I’m having them instead of documenting to reflect later. Sometimes, it’s better to have just memories instead of lots of pictures, you know? So I’ll tell you about our meal:


I could not have been more excited. I never thought I’d tear up at the thought of dinner, but it happened. The time came to be seated and we got to check out the menu and order a bottle of wine (it was quite warm in the restaurant, so we went with a bottle of Sancerre, which I recently read “really opens up the palate.” Maybe I know more than I think I do about drinking… Haha, not.)

I did not take any pictures of the food because lately, I’ve been working on enjoying experiences while I’m having them instead of documenting to reflect later. Sometimes, it’s better to have just memories instead of lots of pictures, you know? So I’ll tell you about our meal:

Course 1: Spinach veloute & shellfish mousse. A delightful start to the meal. A veloute is a stock+roux sauce or soup, and this one had spinach blended in, as well as spinach oil drizzled across the top. It then had a scoop of shellfish mousse plopped on top, which kind of melted into the warm soup as you ate it. It was creamy and smooth and had a very light but powerful flavor. Also, I want to steal their soup spoons.

Course 2: Charcuterie plate. Now, not everything that was on the plate was on the menu, so I’ll do my best to remember. Each of the following was in a little bite sized serving around the edge of the plate, almost like a clock. In the middle of the plate was a light salad of arugula, sliced radishes, and tete de cochon (kind of like a forcemeat made out of various pig’s head parts, then sliced very thin). Starting at 1 o’clock, we had a leaf lard cracker with chicken liver mousse and a pickled shallot slice. Next: a pickled carrot and green been; steak tartare with a quail egg yolk on a mini toast; duck rillettes; spicy pork crackling; a cornichon and mustard; pork & pistachio pate; and lastly, foie gras on a peanut cracker with some kind of (fruity) gelee. This was a pretty amazing course – all these delightful bites of unexpected rich flavors. It also was the first time that Jonah had ever had foie gras, so that was exciting.

Course 3: A cleanser course between the charcuterie plate and the main, not on the menu. A poached quince and lemon sorbet.

Course 4: Strip loin roast with duck-fat caramelized brussel sprouts (!!!), whipped potatoes, red wine-beef jus, and crispy celeriac (fried celery leaves). This was possibly the best meat dish I’ve had in my life, or at least a very long time. The roast was cooked perfectly. The brussel sprouts were amazing (I mean, duck fat, come on!). The potatoes were light and creamy, and the jus was lovely and rich in both taste and color. I could have eaten this dish and walked away from this meal happy. It was perfection. Sometimes I forget how important execution is, but this reminded me. Each element of this dish was cooked perfectly, seasoned perfectly, and went together so well. Also, at this point, I was starting to get full. Uh oh.

Course 5: After a little break, we were brought roasted beets and bacon pickled celery with house cured and smoked trout, horseradish-tarragon cream and trout roe. While this dish was good, it felt a little underwhelming compared to the meat dish we had just been served. Visually, it was beautiful and very colorful. I am a big fan of fish, but smoked is not my favorite preparation, and because the beets were not sauced a whole lot (the horseradish cream was on the other side of the plate, and there wasn’t a ton of it), it sometimes got a little bland. All that being said, it was still good, just not as “knock your socks off” as the other dishes.

Course 6: Cheese plate with 3 cheeses, quince paste, fried marcona almonds, bee pollen shortbread, and wildflower honey. This cheese was goooood, and it was really fun to try all the different combinations on the plate. One cheese with the quince paste, one with the honey, a bite of salty almond, etc. It was fun and playful to try pairing things on my own, so I enjoyed that. Also, if you have never had marcona almonds, do it now. They are a little pricey, but they’re so amazing. The shortbreads were wonderfully buttery too, a nice sweet end to the dish.

Course 7: The only other picture I took at the restaurant was of this chocolate-ginger stout cake with candied fresh young ginger, cinnamon ice cream, all on a puddle of caramel.

Dessert at Beast

Often at nice restaurants like these, the dessert can be a little lackluster. So, while I had high hopes, I was trying not to let them get too high. The waiter lit a little candle on my plate, and there was a small applause from the people sitting with us (Beast has communal tables – and happy birthday had already been sung at the other table, so I didn’t want them to sing again). There was no reason not to get my hopes up. This cake was perfectly moist and chocolatey. The ice cream was so cinnamon-y without being overpowering, and the caramel had a hint of this fruity-flowery taste, which was probably my favorite part of the dessert.

After 3 hours of eating the most carefully prepared, beautifully plated, cared for food, it was time to go. We lingered, finishing our wine, and ended up being the last folks to leave the restaurant. But I’ll admit, I never wanted to leave, I wanted that meal and that night to last forever. Now I’ve to to figure out what to get Jonah for his birthday that could ever compare.