VooDoo Doughnuts - Voodoo Doll, Lemon Chiffon creuller: I'd never actually been to a VooDoo Doughnuts before, but I know the one just off Burnside downtown always had a line, so I went to the one just off Sandy on the east side, because I had never seen a line there. Well. Apparently this is an old Taco Time or something and the line squiggles all around the inside. If you look in the picture below, you can see them - the cash register is to the left, out of the picture. I stood in line for about 20 minutes for two doughnuts...both were good, but I think doughnuts just aren't our thing anymore. What I couldn't believe was how many people ordered multiple dozens. Are you kidding me?! Do you know how many calories are in those things?!
Sizzle Pie - Don Caballero slice, Wake and Bake slice: Sizzle Pie opened on East Burnside a couple months ago and every review I've seen goes on and on about how great their variety is and how awesome the pizza is. Those people must be stoned. Our slices were a little burnt; my Wake and Bake slice didn't even have yolk on it (three eggs on the entire pizza, of course I get a slice with no yolk...); and I just wasn't impressed with the sauce or really much else. Can't see myself going back with so many other good pizza options in town.
Pacific Pie Company - sausage roll, Sunday roast lamb pie; beef and pinot pie, chocolate caramel tart, chocolate peanut butter pie: Pacific Pie Company first caught our eye at the Beaverton Farmer's Market a couple years ago, where they sold wonderful single serving Australian pies (check out the menu - beef and stout is fantastic). This was actually my first visit to their store on Ankeny, though they are moving now to a new location (bigger, more seating). I picked up the sausage roll and roast lamb pie for dinner (lamb) and brunch (sausage roll) and both items were very, very good. Then, with Valentine's Day upcoming, they had a special pie - the beef and pinot - along with an array of sweet pies. The sweet pies they didn't always have at the Ankeny location (but believe they will more often or always at the new place). The beef and pinot was so balanced, the wine providing a perfect balance to the beef, mushrooms, and everything else. If they had this on their menu all the time I'd have to buy one every week. The two sweet pies, though, were the real star. To be real honest, these might be two of the best desserts I've had in Portland. The chocolate caramel tart was hard but not too hard to chew, and the chocolate peanut butter pie melted in my mouth with goodness. I can't wait until the new place opens, and I can't recommend Pacific Pie Company highly enough.
Corbett Fish House - walleye fish and chips: I had never had walleye before and this is one of the only places in town to get it, plus they are know for fish and chips so what the heck, right? And they were good - very good. The breading and spices were tasty but not overdone and the fish was cooked perfectly. The fries were fine, nothing special. But would I go back...that's the question. Well, as I said, the food was good. But this dish cost me $16 for three relatively small pieces of fish. Perhaps the fish is expensive, I could buy that if it's true (no idea), but their halibut version is $17.50 - way more than anywhere else for food that is as good and the customer receives more. No complaints on the dish, just on the value provided and the claim it's the best in town. It's good, but the cost probably knocks them out of the running.
Cafe Velo - chocolate chip cookie: Portland Monthly magazine did a piece on Portland's best chocolate chip cookies and Cafe Velo made the cut. They use the famous Jacque Torres recipe, which we have found at home is good, but not as good as this recipe from The New York Times which tweaked it. For the better. Cafe Velo's rendition was not as good as the Torres one we made at home and not nearly as good as the NY Times version. Apparently it's time to open our own bakery.
Also, check out the two restaurants of the month that merited their own reviews: Roost and Little Bird!
Roost: There is a restaurant at the corner of SE 14th and Belmont called Roost. It's not a big place, perhaps seating 40 or so, and the decor is sparse. Not sparse in the sense of poor or underfunded, but sparse in a minimalist sense, all black, white, pine, and stainless steel. Read More!
Little Bird: Last summer I had one of the best meals of my life at Le Pigeon, a tiny French restaurant on East Burnside in Portland run by Gabriel Rucker, one of the most acclaimed chefs in Portland. Around that same time Rucker announced he would be opening a new restaurant in downtown Portland, a French bistro named Little Bird. It finally opened in early December to very good reviews and we've been meaning to make it over there, but didn't make it there until the other day for lunch. Read More!
Grendel's Coffee - mocha: VooDoo, Sizzle Pie, and Pacific Pie Company were all part of a couple hour walkabout in same general area on East Burnside. The last stop there was at Grendel's Coffee, a small neighborhood-type place across Burnside from Le Pigeon. The menu has no surprises but the mocha was a very solid offering. That's good, since there is no close alternatives.
Great Divide's Smoked Baltic Porter: I think I've mentioned this one before, but it's the best smoked porter I've tasted. I need to go buy more. Again.
Southern Tier's Blackwater Series Choklat Stout: This is the second Southern Tier brew I've tried (if you remember, the Creme Brulee was far from a favorite). I was skeptical about this - but yes, bought it anyway - because of the previous experience, but that skepticism proved to be completely unfounded. Imagine if you can the flavors of your favorite mocha. Now imagine those flavors seamlessly blended with a well-balanced stout. Does that sound like a tasty beer? Yes, yes it does. And that beer is this one. Stock up and thank me later.
Blue Moon's Grand Cru: Last year's Grand Cru I like to a certain extent, but this year's was much better. The balance between the citrus and ale flavors was more seamless and they complemented each other, rather than pulling at each other a bit. I also think this year's version had a higher level of accomplishment in the beer component, providing a little more complexity to the flavors. Blue Moon gets a bad rap in the craft beer world because they are owned by Coors, but this beer definitely deserves some attention.
Sokol Blosser's 2007 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir: We bought this wine because we wanted a nice pinot to go with a beef dish we were making, but after the first couple sips we decided it really wasn't something we wanted to drink. It had way too much spice and tannins for our taste buds...so I found a recipe I've been meaning to make for a while and used the rest of the bottle to make coq au vin (the recipe from Alton Brown I pointed out here). Drinking the wine - not so great. Cooking with it? Fantastic!