We try to get down to PDX twice a year to stay somewhat aware of the restaurant and bar scene by hitting as many places as possible makes a dent in a long list. Like Seattle, places open all the time to compete with your previous favorites. The four places mentioned here are now all on my GO BACK list. Recently to celebrate a milestone anniversary we planned a full schedule starting with touring NE Alberta Street, billed by a local college professor as the street to see something new. Strolling in the pouring rain, the window shopping was unique with nary a chain store in site, but most of the eateries don't open until 5 PM because they stay open until the AM hours. Our lunch stop was on our list because it opens at 11 AM everyday. As the owner says, The Bollywood Theater is a fun place to experience a bite of the south Asian culture of Mumbai without buying a plane ticket. Place your order for food and beverage and the food will be brought to your table. The beverage is yours on the spot. We enjoyed Goan Style Shrimp and Pork Vindaloo. The samosas weren't memorable. Next time we'll get a hotel close by so we can experience the late night life.
Racion at 1205 SW Washington Street is serving modernist cuisine inspired by famous Spanish chefs and using the best of the local Northwest ingredients to achieve good to dramatic results. Sous vide machines were bubbling on every counter. The mixologist is as much as a chef/scientist as the food specialists and we liked the cocktails we tried and the wine by the glass choices were good too. The overall effect is art on the plate and tasty surprises in your mouth. The regular menu offers larger than typical tapas plates but the chef's tasting menu is an educational value to me at $55 for 5 courses. I want to see what the chef is reaching for in style and the quantity of food much more appealing than waddling out after $250 for 18 courses. We have more places to go tonight! This venue deserves a more detailed description.
Olympic Provisions 1632 NW Thurman St. and 107 SE Washington St. locations delivers an impressive food and beverage experience. The award winning charcuterie served here is the result of old world salumerias' techniques applied to antibiotic-free northwest pork. The line for breakfast/lunch on the weekend formed early after they opened at 10 AM. My favorite new drink is the Bitter Spring 8 (Aperol, Lillet, grapefruit juice, celery bitters, sparkling wine) shown with the menu above. I will serve this at my next party. The beer drinker in the family was equally impressed with his Pickle Back on the perfect size tray to hold the beer, homemade pickled tomato juice and a shot of quality rye. We loved the Kielbasa Hash and the Fresh Chorizo sandwich and agreed with the big guy sitting next to us there's no way you could eat all the hash even with help from your friend. I was so enamored of every sip and bite I bought a container of pistachio pork pate to go from their well stocked deli section. I'd drive out of my way to buy any of their products. You won't have to as you can shop charcuterie, pickles and much more from the web site. They will even gift wrap.
An unexpected off the list venue was St. Jack's at 1610 NW 23rd Avenue. The French bistro ambiance is charming, the menu is worth exploring and they had happy hour twice that day which is how we discovered it walking back to the hotel late at night. The place was busy at 10:30 PM with a mixed age crowd of three or four generations. It isn't that often you see tables of couples with white hair drinking wine at that time of night next to tables with hip young geeks. That's an advertisement for a solid food and beverage programs. I loved the drinks and the food. Steamed Mussels (sorry no photo) and Chicken Liver Mousse (photo below) are recommended by me and served with a very fresh baguette. Happy Anniversary!