Bijou Cafe – 11/10/13

2.5stars

Bijou Cafe
503.222.3187
132 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, 97204

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The least enjoyed visit of the year.

First it appeared to be a long wait with at leaf 10 others ahead of us so we put our name on the list and walked over to Blue Star for a appetizer donut but in the 30 minutes we were gone they blew through all those waiting and we ended up having to sign back in (okay our fault for wandering off). Even after signing back up it was another 30 minutes with only 4 others ahead of us so we lingered out front and talked about dogs & balloons. When we were finally seated we had already had plenty of time to look over the menu and make out selections so when our waitress arrived to take our drink orders we were more than ready to also give us our meal selections. It seemed to throw her off that we wanted to order our meal immediately and she had to ask twice what we had originally requested for our drinks. 5 minutes after walking away from our table she came back and asked a third time what we had requested to drink. Okay I figured we interrupted her flow and it was pretty busy but she was writing things down or at least holding a pad that she could have written down what we wanted. 10 minutes came and went and two other tables that sat down after us started having their meals arrive. I figured ours would be out any minute but another 10 minutes elapsed before our two plates finally came along and this was only a few minutes after our latte & cider showed up. Fine I thought a little slow on the service but a decent meal can easily cancel out “laggy” delivery. Well the biscuits and gravy I ordered were not horrible but they really didn’t help me forget just how long it took to get them. And the highly regarded muffins that foursquare said we should not miss really were only so/so. Carly’s roast beef hash had all the pieces to make it a meal but it was really rather bland and I found myself dreaming of the biscuit breakfast from James John Cafe or Tasty & Alder which still rank among the best tasting I’ve had. Slow service and an only “okay” meal made this one of the lesser of our 48 visits this year.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Incredibly slow and she had to ask what our drink order was 3 times.
2 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Corner cafe with nice brightly lit interior with 2 bars and plenty of seating
3 stars

MEAL
Somewhat of a letdown compared to other cafes and French eateries we’ve been to
3 stars

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Tasty & Alder – 10/27/13

4stars

Tasy & Alder
503.621.9251
580 SW 12th Ave.
Portland, 97205

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The best biscuits and gravy I’ve had

A few months back we visited Tasty & Sons on Williams street and knew there was a second location closer by that we would eventually find our way to, but it wasn’t until we were driving down 12th street that we saw just how near it was to some of our other destinations. Past experience taught us there would be at least a 40 minute wait so after putting our names on the list we took a walk around the block with the intent of stopping in at Blue Star donuts for a couple of sweet appetizers. About 45 minutes and two sweet treats later we were seated at the bar in front of where all the delicious treats were being prepared inside Tasty & Alder. We were seated with our backs facing the restaurant which made it somewhat awkward to place our order with our waitress but it was a minor issue that certainly didn’t detract from us enjoying our meals. Carly picked a tasty roast beef melt and I chose their special of biscuits and gravy with a side of fries just to make sure I would be clogging some arteries. The waitress let us know that the plates would be brought out as they were prepared rather than all at once which was fine by us since bar space was somewhat limited. Previously I had ordered a Bloody Mary at their other location that was phenomenal but I decided to stick to coffee this time but I did see quite a few Bloodys go in and out of the bar as we waited. The plate of biscuits & gravy showed up a few minutes later and we hungrily forked in. At first I was a little disappointed by the rather small size of the biscuits but one bite of the fluffy baked goods along with the super succulent sausage gravy made me focus on the quality over the quantity. Carly’s sandwich arrived along with our fries a few moments later but were still distracted by the amazing biscuits to the point where I almost wanted to order a second plate. We sopped up the bits that remained and then moved onto the next plate. The fries were skinny and crispy and the sandwich was moist and tall and stuffed with flavor. I had spied a side of baked beans on the menu and requested that as well since I didn’t want to steal too much of Carly’s sandwich and the fries weren’t going to quite satisfy my hunger. A little tiny cast iron skillet arrived about 5 minutes later sizzling and popping and topped with crumbled cheese and sprinkled with bits of pork. If only I hard ordered the biscuits with the beans and topped with two over easy eggs I might have found the worlds best meal. Next time.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Present but not hovering plus since we were sitting with our backs to the restaurant we had to wait for her to come to us most of the time.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Nice unfinished open space with surprisingly comfortable metal seating.
3.5 stars

MEAL
Never had a bad bite, and I wish we had ordered a few additional items.
4 stars

Lardo – 10/20/13

3.5stars

Lardo
503.241.2490
1205 SW Washington St.
Portland, 97205

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Bringing Fatback

We had been visiting a lot of eateries on 12th and Washington these last few weeks and Lardo had been on our list since we ate across the street at Cheryl’s a few months ago. The interior of Lardo is sparse and you order at the counter cafeteria style from giant chalkboards on the wall. Along the back of the main bar are shelves covered in branded merchandise and row upon row of growler bottles for their on tap beers. We each scanned the list of selections which were surprisingly vast and almost all contained a pork product of some sort but just like always I decided to get what was suggested to my by the girl behind the counter, a pork gyro. Carly opted for a cold fried chicken sandwich of course topped with bacon and both of our meals came with a generous portion of fries. We took a seat just to the left of the entrance and tried to stave off the chills since half of the walls of the restaurant are glass going from the floor to the ceiling. The color scheme and design is cool and simple with large wooden tables and benches and bright red splashes of red on the walls with giant illustrations of a pig and the lightbulb lit words “pig out”. It took about 10 minutes for our meals to be delivered  on two large 10″ flat pizza pie pans on top of butcher paper. My first reaction was WOW thats a ton of fries, then woah those taste awesome wight eh rosemary and parmesan sprinkled on top. I unwrapped my Gyro and marveled at it’s simplicity and color before charging in. Carly’s sandwich was top heavy and took a few good mashes to flatten it enough for a bite. The ham strips on my gyro looked a little fatty initially but it was more like pork chop strips than bacon and worked really well in place of lamb meat in the wrap. It really took little time for me to finish off my wrap and I almost wished it was larger until about a dozen fries when I realized just how filling the whole meal was. This seems like a place that would easily have a line out the door during the work week and we left completely satisfied with our meals.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Bus your own table and submit your order at the counter but they were friendly
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Cool, clean interior with bright red accent colors
3.5 stars

MEAL
Tasty simple foods with awesome frys
3.5 stars

James John Cafe – 9/8/13

4stars

James John Cafe
503.285.4930
8527 N. Lombard
Portland, 97203

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St. Johns Bridge ends at the James John Cafe

A beautiful drive over the St. Johns bridge ends on Lombard ave right in front of the James John Cafe where we parked street side on a sleepy Sunday morning. We wandered into the the cafe which has two small tables out front and a couple of couches directly inside the entrance to the large converted bank building. A woman behind the counter gestured to us to sit where ever we liked and when ready order from the chalkboard against the west wall. We scanned it over for a few moments and began to make our selections, I started with a large Latte and asked the woman taking our order what she would suggest I try, she paused for a moment and followed up with “well, we are known for our biscuits and gravy” which was very much what I was hoping she would say since my experience last week with the rather plain oatmeal left me charged up for some flavor, she then gestured with her fingers “1,2 or 3” biscuits and I thought well geez 3 is better than 2 but I also wanted  to try their bacon soup so I decided 2 biscuits topped with a poached egg would be a good compromise. Meanwhile Carly got a kick ass sausage patty and really delicious French toast. Our meals took a little while to arrive since it appeared only 3 people were managing the entire restaurant from placing orders to cooking in the back  but it was forgivable since there was also a ton of traffic flowing into the structure. When my biscuits arrived I was actually a little bummed at how tiny they appeared on the plate and the addition of a poached egg did little to make it feel like much of a meal but with the cup of soup it really was plenty of food. My first bite of the tiny square biscuit really was surprising since the gravy they were topped with was such an awesome flavor. I was even half tempted to request another pair but knowing the potential prep time involved I decided to enjoy my soup and savor every last morsel of the biscuit and gravy breakfast.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
The small crew buzzes around the converted bank at a rapid pace and it’s pre paid and bus your own table to keep things humming.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Converted bank with lots of animal heads and hipster goods as well as a turntable providing the mornings music.
3 stars

MEAL
Quite possibly the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had, certainly the tiniest.
4 stars

Veritable Quandary – 8/25/13

4stars

Veritable Quandry
503.227.7342
1220 SW 1st Ave
Portlant, 97204

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Brunch at the foot of the Hawthorn Bridge.

We’d walked by Veritable Quandary the week before while down at the waterfront and it had come up many times in the suggestions for dining so when my mom spent the weekend with us it was an easy destination choice to make. Wandering into the restaurant it was rather dark and paralleled by a long bar with stools on the right but at the back end was a brightly lit room with giant skylights and an entrance to their hidden garden with outdoor seating. We sat at one of the stone round tables closer to the front of this garden space near the main street but traffic sounds weren’t really and issue and proceeded to look over their brunch menu selections. One of the fellows bringing water highly recommended the Russian Tea Cakes as a small breakfast appetizer and since their were thee of us and three of them it seemed like a good place to start. I once again was planning on leaving the meal selection up to our waitress but one of the items at the bottom somewhat caught my eye and I decided to try their poached egg and bacon salad while my mom and wife went for the more traditional fare of “Kings Choice” & “Vegetable Benedict”. Our coffee, tea and Russian cakey donut like things showed up a few moments after we placed our brunch order selections. The little powdered cookies were very dense but tasty and went well with my steamy latte  and I almost think a couple per person instead of just one would have been just that much better. Rubber necking around where we were sitting I realized how many times I had driven by this location and not noticed which is one of the many reasons we started doing a weekly breakfast outing. Our meals showed up in an appropriate amount of time and when I saw what Carly & my mom had laid in front of them I somewhat regretted not taking the waitresses suggestion of the “most popular item”. My salad was pretty good but compared to other Cobb salads (easiest & closest) it was nowhere near as filling. I did get to try some of what Carly had ordered as well as some of my moms french toast and both were very tasty and probably a better option for my but I’m trying to get away from my old habits of eggs & toast and a breakfast salad seemed like a decent option to fulfill that goal. Overall a good meal even if I was a little underhwhlemed but that only means next time I go for something deep fried.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Friendly wait staff with worthwhile breakfast suggestions
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Long brick building with cool exterior patio right at the foot of the Hawthorn bridge.
3.5 stars

MEAL
I don’t often order salads but this one was pretty tasty
3.5 stars

Meat, Cheese, Bread – 8/4/13

4stars

Meat, Cheese, Bread
503.234.1700
1406 SE Stark St.
Portland, 97204

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And don’t forget a side of yum-

A cool Stark street cafe mixed in with residential and a couple artist work shops. We dropped off Carly’s brother at the airport and found ourselves hunting for breakfast at a time when most residents are snoring for at least a couple more hours. The Ness app pulled up the suggestion of Meat, Cheese, Bread off Stark in a neighborhood we had walked through the previous week when we went to Zells Cafe. We actually drove by the restaurant twice while hunting for it since their single sign outside was tiny and obstructed by the street side umbrellas over their benches. We parked around the corner and wandered into a small interior space with an open kitchen and two fellas ready to take and make our orders cafeteria style (you pick it up at the counter when it’s done). We scanned the hand lettered menu boards hanging about the register eventually settling on a breakfast burrito for me and a blue cheese & steak breakfast sandwich for Carly. We took a seat at one of the benches outside and rubber necked around at some of the artist shops and homes nearby. There was very little activity because of how early we were there but the weather was great and our meals were ready in such a short time that it seemed as though we had just sat down. I grabbed our meals off the counter and went back bench side, it didn’t look like a lot of food since everything is served a la carte but my breakfast burrito was very filling and I wasn’t left wanting for more. Carly’s blue cheese steak sandwich was awesome and almost made me regret my decision, almost. A great and easily accessible location that keeps it simple and delicious.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Order at the counter and pickup when called plus bus your own table but who’s complaining.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
A cool small street side cafe with benches out front and nice hand made signs displaying their menu.
4 stars

MEAL
Simple, fast, delicious
4 stars

Zell’s Cafe – 7/28/13

3.5stars

Zell’s Cafe
503.239.0196
1300 SE Morrison St.
Portland, 97214

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Neighborhood Cafe

We parked off Burnside with the intention of eating at Le Pigeon but I failed to look and see that they are only open for Dinner starting at 5pm so I pulled up “NESS” an app I’ve begun using to find decent restaurants to see what showed in the area. A couple bakeries popped up first but then I saw .8 miles away was Zell’s Cafe which I recognized from past brunch hunts. I asked if Carly felt up to a 10 minute neighborhood walk and she agreed so long as it didn’t suddenly get get longer which I have been guilty of in the past. The walk was a nice one and before long we arrived at Zell’s where about 10 people were lingering out front waiting to be seated. I scribbled our name down on the sign in sheet and then got Carly to stroll once more around the neighborhood while we waited for the wait to thin. At the end of our lap around the neighborhood and one street over we realized we were right outside of Roost the first restaurant I blogged about in January. I guessed that we still had about a 5 minute wait when we returned to check the list but were ushered in pretty quickly and sat down at a small table right in front of the hostess stand at the back. The chalkboard had a dozen decent items that were on special one of which “the reuben scramble” our waitress recommended as her choice from everything else. Carly elected to get a bacon waffle with a side of fruit and beforehand we could ask about the scones everyone seemed to be savoring two plates of our very own showed up accompanied by little dishes of strawberry jam. We hungrily munched on the scones which were fluffier than expected and complimented nicely by the jam and our hot tea & coffee. The interior space is once big square with the kitchen at the back end and a small bar across the right interior wall opposite the entry, many old black and white photos hung on the wall showing off the neighborhood through the years. Our meals arrived in only a few minutes, shockingly fast considering how busy they were but I guess they take the word “cafe” & “speedy service” very much to heart. Carly’s waffle at first glance didn’t look like it would be enough for a full meal but after trying a bite I realized just how filling it could be since they stuffed at least 4 ounces of savory bacon inside not to mention the large bowl of fresh fruit she also received. My Reuben scramble sandwich also featured a small pile of potatoes and a side of sauerkraut which I tried to cram inside the already stuffed egg sandwich to no avail. After about 4 bites I gave up trying to eat the sandwich in the traditional fashion and switched to slicing it up with my knife and fork which I found much easier and less messy. The flavors were fantastic and the kraut, eggs, pastrami and marble rye went excellent together and were more than enough to satisfy, but I still ended up with the remaining few bites of Carly’s waffle which she could only eat 2/3rds of.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
The place was super busy when we first arrived so we only saw our waitress a couple times but sh did refill my coffee at least a couple times.
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
One big square room with the kitchen at the back
3 stars

MEAL
JUst because it looks like a sandwich doesn’t mean you have to eat it like one.
4 stars

Broder – 07/21/13

4stars

Broder
503.736.3333
2508 SE Clinton St.
Portland, 97202

Ham Scramble Bacon Scramble

Scandinavian Surprise

Many times Broder had come up on our todo list and seeing as how we’d never been to the fabled Clinton district this trip seemed like as good as any to venture into the bicycle district. The restaurant is located on one corner of an oddly shaped intersection and aside from a theater and small antiques shop there wasn’t a lot to look at while waiting for a table to open up at the narrow Broder. Eventually (probably about 40 minutes later) we were summoned into the restaurant by guy in skinny jeans trendy pumas and a hipster stache who seated us up front by the window which looks down both the length of the bar and the long row of tiny tables that that runs parallel to it. The menu had quite a few tasty options on it and being Scandinavian there were also many options that included a variety of fish and umlauts. The special recommended by our server was a trout hash and normally I would have gone with it but Carly had selected a bacon scramble and I was really in the mood for some pork product as well, so I elected to get the ham scramble with a side of pea salad. While we waited we sipped our coffee & tea and rubber necked at their large selection of liquors lining the back wall of the bar. The tenders were also creating a large number of colorful drinks that we attempted to name as they slid out from behind the bar. When our meals arrived I was pleased to see how nicely they were presented on small rectangular platters with recessed pockets to hold the cast iron square skillets that the egg scrambles were baked in. My pea salad topped with blue cheese was quite decent even if there was not a large volume of ham mixed in while the egg scramble was basically a ham & asparagus quiche without the crust and while tasty I think Carly’s version with broccoli and bacon had a better salty flavor. The sizes of the meals was perfect and we both left feeling very satisfied and filled, I do wish I had gotten the trout hash as I saw quite a few other orders being set down nearby but perhaps that will be in a future visit.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
They were very busy with little elbow room but my coffee was as full as I needed it to be.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
A sliver of a space with one long row of tiny tables opposite the kitchen.
3 stars

MEAL
Perfect size and decent flavor
3-5 stars

Raven & Rose – 7/14/13

3-5stars

Raven & Rose
503.222.7673
1331 SW Broadway
Portland, 97201

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Inside the Ladd Carriage house…

I had read another writeup on the Raven and Rose online and was excited to find a location that had only been around for a few months since bragging rights amongst our friends for discovering a new brunch spot are the ultimate goal with these outings. So rarely have we been able to say “have you been to?” knowing full well that the person we are asking couldn’t have possibly been since it only opened recently. Carly’s mom Nancy was in town this week so she was able to travel with us to the refurbished Ladd Carriage house which is now known as the Raven & Rose located just next to a church on Broadway in the middle of downtown. We pulled up parked in front and were seated at a table all inside of 45 seconds a new record and the restaurant was pretty busy with probably about half the tables filled and the bat had some decent traffic at it as well. I immediately took note of the cool gas lights over the three tables at the front which are across from the elevator they were using to hold baby carriages. It looked like quite alot of thought had gone into almost every aspect of the restaurant from the nicely designed menus to the tile work around the table legs it certainly didn’t feel like it had only been open for the 7 months the waiter told us. The menu held quite a few exotic sounding meals and beverages on it but as I’ve become accustomed to I just let the waiter pick what I should order with him recommending a special of flank steak and eggs with fresh chilled cherry tomatoes served over grits. Carly picked potatoes, bacon, biscuits and their muffin donuts while Nancy went for the French toast that Carly would have normally selected.

Apparently they have quite a nice bar upstairs as well but it was closed on the weekends for special events so a return visit with more out of town guests will involve a visit there. The muffin donuts showed up within a few minutes and were still toasts warm, they basically are fresh donuts in the shape of a muffin with brown sugar dusting them. Our meals arrived a few minutes after the donuts and all had quite nice presentation with mine really having the best color contrast. I was wary of the bed of grits it came served on since I’ve still never experienced grits and thought I must add those to my meal but the flank steak and eggs helped make them a little more palatable. The potatoes Carly ordered were among the best I’ve ever tried and they appeared to barely have any seasoning on them but the crunch along with the saltiness really made them pop. I even stole some of Nancy’s French toast which was nice and crispy and not over sweet.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Professional and polite with great suggestions for meals
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Inside the refurbished Ladd Carriage house complete with gas lights over the tables and decorative tile throughout.
4 stars

MEAL
It was served on top of grits which didn’t carry much flavor but very pretty presentations.
3.5 stars

Cadillac Cafe – 6/23/13

3-5stars

Cadillac Cafe
503.287.4750
1801 NE Broadway St.
Portland, 97232

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Gets your motor running…

On a rainy Sunday morning we had two friends Karen & Jeff join us from down the street to venture into the downtown wilds of Portland for a bite to eat. We’d given them the list of places we’d visited and asked them to pick out where we should all go next. Karen asked if we had ever been to Cadillac Cafe and although I had it was close to 4 years ago so I was more than willing for a revisit. We rolled up with very little traffic and found a spot around the corner without issue and upon walking in we’re were immediately seated despite how busy the place appeared to be. While we sat and looked the menu over I rubber necked around to see just how far the Caddy theme carried through the interior and my eyes settled on the classic vehicle behind a plexiglass wall in back, aside from that it was mainly simple logo decorations over the bar to our right side. I thumbed through the menu and found a couple items that sounded good but I decided once again to let the server bring me whatever he thought would be a good selection. We all picked a drink to start with and I requested a latte, our waiter chose a sampler breakfast for me that came with sausage, eggs, potatoes and a slice of French Toast so that I could try a variety of flavors. Carly selected an egg scramble with mushrooms, potatoes & an English muffin while Jeff picked French toast and Karen the same as Carly. I rarely pick French Toast usually because of how sweet it is but the nutty coating that came with mine helped to offset the sweetness and I didn’t even both with any syrup. The eggs were poached perfectly and the tiny potatoes and chicken sausage were super delicious as well. Karen, Jeff & Carly all seemed equally please with their meals and very few morsels remained when the dust settled.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Even with them being fairly busy we were still seated immediately
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
They don’t overdo the retro caddy theme and aside from a classic car in the back the walls only contain a few logo marked items
3.5 stars

MEAL
Many classic items but they also offer catfish & salmon as daily specials
3.5 stars