Tag: Portlandia

The Waypost: Restaurant/Bar Review

The Waypost, PDX // Serious Crust

When we moved to NE Portland, we were a little sad that we were losing our neighborhood bar, C Bar. The food was great, the beer list was awesome, and it was about a 10 minute walk from our old house. Little did we know that the Waypost was down the street from our new house.

Actually, we did know. But we didn’t realize what an amazing little spot it was. When you walk into the Waypost, it feels like you’ve just walked into your friend’s living room. Except that their living room has awesome infused liquors and music/entertainment/activities all the time, and the bartenders are always super friendly, and people are easy to talk to, and it’s simply comfortable. The owner hails from Tucson, AZ, and has brought a touch of that desert vibe to the northwest in this little space.

Speaking of bartenders, let’s talk about Antonio. Antonio is the bartender you’ll see probably the most often, as he shakes up drinks, introduces bands, and hosts songwriters workshops. He’s also just the friendliest guy. We visit the Waypost frequently, but even if we haven’t been there in a while, he greets us like old friends. He’s always up for a chat, especially when it comes to conversations about what liquors they’re infusing and cocktails they’re creating. Listen to his suggestions.

The Waypost, PDX // Serious Crust

The Waypost, PDX // Serious Crust
The Waypost, PDX // Serious Crust

One place where the Arizona influence is perhaps most evident is the menu. Tacos abound! They’ve got some delicious chicken and carnitas tacos, but they also have breakfast tacos (yum) and Colombian tacos (YUM). They serve weekend brunch too, and it looks delicious, though I haven’t tried it yet. As far as drinks go, I always rely on their house infused liquors. In the fall, they have a tasty pumpkin infused bourbon, which is great on its own or in a hot toddy concoction. On a recent visit, Antonio made me a cardamom gin & tonic. The cardamom was powerful without being too strong, and I loved how refreshing and spiced it was.

There are a wide range of events happening at the Waypost on a regular basis. Music? Check. On our most recent visit we saw Wildish, a band we’ve enjoyed a few times around Portland. Wednesdays are trivia (it’s really fun, but pretty hard). They have games in the front room. One night we happened upon a group of violas and violins playing classical music. I love that the Waypost welcomes all kinds. It’s cozy and friendly, and I definitely recommend a visit.

Restaurant Review: Castagna for snacks and more

Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I was recently invited to a dinner at Castagna by Irene at Watershed Communications. For those who haven’t heard of Castagna, it’s certainly on the higher end of the Portland dining scene. There are two dinner menus – one a more traditional four course menu, with two choices for each course, and the other a chef’s tasting menu, with around 12 courses.

Speaking of the chef, Justin Woodward is crazy talented. He has many skills, having worked as both a butcher and a cheesemonger in addition to chef. He seems to have a very analytical brain. When we asked him about how he came up with a certain flavor combination for a dish (shiso and sheep cheese wrapped in cranberry leather), he stated very matter of factly that cranberries were coming into season, so it simply made sense.

Castagna seems to be about using incredible ingredients in interesting ways that showcase the flavors. A lot of restaurants in Portland are all about using local, seasonal, fresh ingredients, but you can really tell when someone does that because they want to rather than because that is now the industry standard. Castagna has a garden on the grounds, as well as some additional beds at a business a couple doors down, which gives them the opportunity to grow whatever they want, and to have it freshly picked every day. Every plate Chef Woodward put in front of us was packed with flavor, with interesting techniques, and was visually stunning. If you’re looking for a truly special meal, perfect for an occasion or celebration, I certainly recommend dining at Castagna. Here’s what we ate (descriptions of each dish are in the caption to the right of the photo).

Note: Please forgive grainy cell phone pictures and low lighting. The food was beautiful and delicious, no matter if it appears to be otherwise in these photos.

Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: Castagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Weekend Finds 3:9:14

It has been an exhausting week. I’d like to nap until next week to recover please and thank you. I woke up this morning thinking maybe I’d finally caught up on my sleep since I’d slept until 10 (10! It’s like I’m in college again!), but alas, it was simply daylight savings playing a trick on me. My suggestion? Read these weekend finds with a mug of hot cocoa to keep you company, and then take a nap yourself.

1. Miso Coconut Chicken from I am a Food Blog

Miso Coconut Chicken from I am a Food Blog // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Miso and coconut, two of my favorite things, in one recipe on the beautiful I am a Food Blog.

I’ve been gazing at I am a Food Blog for a couple weeks now, admiring its beautiful pictures, scrumptious looking recipes, and gorgeous layout. But this recipe. This recipe for miso coconut chicken includes two of my favorite ingredients: miso and coconut milk. So I think I’ll have to make it. Soon.

2. A Curious Invitation

A Curious Invitation by Suzette Field // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
A book about the best parties? Adding to my reading list immediately.

This book about the best parties in fiction by Suzette Field sounds like a very fun read, and a great point of inspiration for any party host/ess.

3. The Cocktail Demystified

The Cocktail Demystified in Portland // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Learn about your favorite liquors and cocktails from the distillers themselves!

If I was going to be in Portland on March 29th and not in Vietnam (like I can even pretend to be upset about that), I would 100% buy a ticket to this event with Distillery Row. Learning how to make cocktails featuring your favorite liquors straight from the source? Yes please.

4. Yelp…?

To Yelp or not to Yelp? // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The question remains, how good of a resource is Yelp?

I’ve been hearing some interesting thoughts on Yelp lately. Andrew Zimmern doesn’t like the platform, we all know that. And now we know a lot of chefs don’t read reviews themselves, but rather assign the task to their managers. Do you use Yelp? I do, but everything is definitely taken with a grain of salt. I have trouble trusting people whose taste and experience levels I don’t know. I would so much rather have the review or advice of a friend, or someone I admire, or who I know is an expert. Every place is bound to have at least one bad review, so do you let that deter you from going? All of this crowd-sourcing of reviews puts the consumer in a position of power, and I think it’s very interesting. What are your thoughts?

5. Blu Skillet Ironware

Blu Skillet Ironware from Seattle // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
I love the blue hue of these pans, though it will fade and change after use.

Hello? Yes. I would like ALL of the things from this shop in Seattle. I’m definitely making a point to visit the Blu Skillet Ironware workshop next time I’m in town. Specifically, I love the fry pans, and also think the salt bowl set is very sweet. But let’s be real, I would take any of it.

Restaurant Review: Paragon for Portland Dining Month

Dinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerDinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Have you heard of Portland Dining Month? If not, I would really like to tell you about it. Portland does this month long event called dining month, where nearly 100 restaurants create a three-course menu for $29. Yes. It is fantastic. Now, some restaurants will have a strict 3 course menu, and others will allow you to pick from a few options, or even their entire menu. It’s really fantastic. It’s a perfect way to (affordably) try some really amazing restaurants, and you don’t have to try to make it there before the end of happy hour (another great way to try restaurants).

Needless to say, I am always excited when dining month rolls around, and I try to make it to at least one restaurant, if not many. So when Portland Bloggers teamed up with Watershed Communications to supply a few lucky bloggers with gift certificates to some participating restaurants for dining month, I knew I wanted to enter the drawing, and I was lucky enough to get a gift certificate to Paragon Restaurant in the mail a week later!

I’d heard of Paragon before, but had never been. Nestled in the Pearl district on 13th and Hoyt, it was definitely a welcome, cozy, warm atmosphere, as it was pouring outside when we visited last night. The bar space is really cool with an old blinking bingo sign on the wall, and some beautiful light fixtures over the dining room. It has a modern industrial feel while still being very inviting. After being seated, Jonah and I decided we’d start with cocktails – I went with the house Manhattan, and Jonah went with a house drink similar to a gin martini served with olives stuffed with bleu cheese.

Dinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Dinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Dinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Dinner at Paragon for Portland Dining Month // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I liked the Paragon Dining Month menu because there were options. For the first course, a choice of the daily gazpacho or an asparagus and poached egg salad. The gazpacho sounded interesting – a red grape base with cream and basil oil – so I decided to try that, and Jonah went with the asparagus salad. And of course, we shared. The soup was good, if a little sweet for a soup starter. The asparagus salad was delicious, served on a bed of frisée and topped with some gremolata. Between these two dishes, the asparagus salad was the favorite.

For the next course, there were three entrées to choose from: sweet potato gnocchi with poached pears and gorgonzola cream, braised short rib with green chile grits and kale, and salt-cured true cod with gigantic bean ragout. Our server, Jamie (who was so lovely and made us feel right at home), recommended the gnocchi, and we both wanted to try the short rib. Both entrées were fantastic – full of flavor, and all of the elements really worked well together. The short rib was cooked to perfection and fell apart at the nudge of a fork. The green chile grits were unique, and went nicely with the meat. The gnocchi was soft and pillowy, the little pieces of poached pear added a nice fruity freshness, and the dish was topped with some chopped hazelnuts, which lent a great crunch. We also ordered a glass of wine with dinner, and I loved that all of their glasses are very reasonably priced, and they have more than a few options.

For dessert, Jonah got the lemon curd with macerated rhubarb (where are they getting rhubarb this time of year and can they please tell me about this secret source?), and I went with the butterscotch pudding topped with whipped cream and peanut brittle. While the lemon curd was good, we both wished it had been a little thicker and more custard like. The butterscotch putting was lovely and nutty and sweet, and I once again loved the crunch that the peanut brittle contributed.

Now you know what Paragon is serving for their Portland Dining Month menu. You can read the list of participating restaurants and their menus here. Below are some other places I would recommend taking advantage of the three courses for $29! Let me know in the comments which restaurants you’ve tried or are dying to go to for dining month!