For the first time being away from all three kids, we decided to go to Portland for a couple nights.
Mo stayed at the house to watch the kids and we left the house after 11am on Wednesday and got to Prost! around 1:30 for lunch. The place was filled with people watching the Portugal vs Spain soccer game (which ended in a thrilling “nil-nil” score before Spain won in the shootout). Next to the pub was 10 or so food trucks, Gay got her lunch from a food truck and I figured “when in Berlin” and ordered a knachtwurst and a bratwurst from the kitchen. We had a couple uninteresting German beers with lunch.
We walked down the street to look at the little shops in the Mississippi District and then drove to Hopworks Urban Brewery on the outskirts of the city. We had their sampler set, which is all 10 of their beers so no self-selecting what you already like. We bought a growler and a 22oz bottle of their stout and left for the hotel.
We stayed at The Nines over three years ago, the last time we were in Portland. It’s a nice hotel in a great location downtown. After getting unpacked and relaxing in the room, we walked to Bailey’s Taproom for a pre-dinner beer. It was packed and we found a couple chairs outside on the street and enjoyed the weather. Next to us was a group of 5 or 6 people who we ended up chatting with over more beers. They were happy to give us recommendations for dinner, which included a run-down of seemingly every restaurant in Portland. We ended up deciding on Clark Lewis so we took a cab across a bridge and found a cool place and we sat against the railing open to the street. We got the prix-fixe menu and had a nice long dinner before cabbing back to the hotel.
We slept in for the first time in years and ordered a great room service — I loved their house-made english muffins! We wanted to see two breweries: Hair of the Dog and Cascade Brewing. Hair of the Dog is a tiny brewery that makes excellent beers but are rare to find in Seattle, even rare in Portland!, so I figured I would finally get to taste more of their beers. As luck would have it, this day was a day they turned the tap house over to a Belgian brewer and served only his beers, so we couldn’t taste any of their beers. We got a sample set of the Belgians, which were good, and then made our way several blocks east to Cascade. Cascade is another tiny brewery famous for sour beers, which I’ve come to enjoy after resisting it for a while. There we got a sample set of 8 beers, most of which were quite good.
For lunch, we went to Henry’s Tavern, back in downtown Portland. This seemed like a touristy place, a restaurant housed in the original Henry Weinhard’s Brewery with 100 beers on tap. I was mostly correct, but the food was pretty good and they had some good local beers on tap. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and had a coffee in the hotel restaurant, Urban Farmer.
We took a short nap in the hotel, got cleaned up for dinner and took a cab to dinner at Le Pigeon, a highly-acclaimed restaurant — the chef won 2011′s James Beard Rising Star award. We weren’t able to get a reservation on such short notice, but we figured we would try to get a walk-in seating. As expected, they took our name and phone number and we went up the street to a divey-kitschy bar Doug Fir (it’s like a log cabin inside) to wait. Gay loves that kitschy vibe, I hate it. Fortunately, the restaurant called after just one drink and we went for dinner.
Le Pigeon is a tiny place. Our foyer in our house is bigger. We were lucky enough to get seats at the counter where we could watch the chefs cook and weren’t right up against strangers at one of the small tables. Dinner was fantastic, one of my top 5 dinner experiences. Our appetizer was the Lobster & Chicken Tart, lobster coleslaw and vinegar (white vinegar, not balsamic!) ice cream on top. Sounds crazy, but everything went together so perfectly it was delicious. For dinner, I had “Thanksgiving in June”, duck stuffed with turkey sausage served on an oyster bread pudding. Gay had lamb and risotto. For dessert, I had the Bacon Waffle, a waffle with maple ice cream and peanut butter whip and a slice of bacon, Gay had the Foie Gras Profiteroles which were covered in caramel and dusted with, get this, a foie-gras powdered sugar mix, which is apparently made in a centrifuge with a fatty compound that binds the sugar to dehydrated foie gras. Creative!
After dinner, we walked down the quiet street waiting for a cab at 10:30pm but never found one and ended up walking all the way back to the hotel. It was a nice walk and it’s good that Portland is so small!
The next morning, we slept in even later, until almost 10am. Nice! We packed, went down to Urban Farmer for breakfast and then checked-out of the hotel. We stopped at Belmont Station to bring some Oregon beers back to Seattle and then to Paxton Gate, one of those little shops in the Mississippi District, to get some presents to bring back to the kids and headed back to Seattle.