Cheesecake Factory – 12/1/13

3.5stars

Cheesecake Factory
503.620.1100
9309 Washington Square
Tigard, 97223

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Consistently tasty

I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad meal at the Cheesecake Factory and I’m still searching for the one item that I have togo there for but I do have some favorites after a decades worth of visits. We had just gotten out of seeing the Hunger Games: Girl on Fire and were looking for something a little more creative and less corporate but the traffic on the freeway led us to divert to the closest option at the Washington Square mall. It was only a 20 minute wait and we really only visit 3 or 4 times in a year so I figured making this our 52nd brunch stop wouldn’t be a horrible thing. So far the best meal I’ve had with Tha’ Factory is their Stuffed Chicken Tortillas but this time around I wanted to really have something breakfast adjacent so I selected the breakfast sandwich on toasted brioche with a nice big bowl of creamy chicken and mushroom soup. The waiter spend 4 minutes trying to talk me out of getting a bowl of soup and the breakfast sandwich and I appreciated him trying to swap my potato side for the soup but I’m an American adult and if I want to over consume its my constitutional right to be gluttonous occasionally so I rebuffed his suggestions and reiterated I wanted the whole damn thing. Carly went with more of a plain choice of spaghetti with the sauce on the side and we shared the soup with their tasty bread that is ever present. My potatoes were only so/so but at least they were very crispy but I probably should have swapped them for the soup in hind site. The sandwich was actually quite decent even with it’s simple ingredients but of course when you fry bread in butter it’s hard to take issue with it.

GALLERY


SERVICE
The server was friendly but he was rattling off so much in each sentence that it was hard for him to understand himself sometimes.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
High ceilings brights colors but not a lot of opportunity for variance from the corporate template
3.5 stars

MEAL
Very tasty and large portions plus there is always dessert
3.5 stars

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Fireside Grill – 11/23/13

3stars

Fireside Grill
503.747.4661
8136 SW Hall Blvd.
Beaverton, 97008

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Decent little neighborhood grill, but no fireplaces

First off, there is no fireplace at the Fireside restaurant but there are giant plasmas with flickering flames which in and of themselves I guess count as two forms of fire. This little pub/restaurant was pretty empty when we first arrived with just one bar fly buzzing around a warm beer but it was bright and inviting inside so we decided to stick it out. We were warmly greeted by a bouncy little hostess/waitress who encouraged us to choose where we wanted to sit so we chose a table near the front in a sunspot. Online reviews encouraged us to try their burger selection even though there were quite a few selections in the brunch category that sounded delicious. Because of the location of the restaurant it was actually a little difficult to see from the main road and I wondered if that’s why even with it’s high reviews it was relatively empty inside. Our burgers arrived about 12 minutes after placing our orders and I got a side of rather tasty clam chowder with mine while Carly’s came with some homemade chips topped with blue cheese dressing that actually was a surprisingly good condiment for them. It could have been my tastebuds were still asleep but I was rather under whelmed by the flavor of the burger and as good as the clam chowder was I was left wanting more than the little 4 ounce cup they served it in. Carly’s chips were very good and we certainly both left filled form the meal but I wouldn’t consider them the best burgers I’ve ever enjoyed. Still a solid visit and decent meal.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
One lone server for the whole place but she was really on it.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Decent interior layout but no fireplace in the fireside restaurant?
3 stars

MEAL
Excellent burger but not the best I’ve had
3 stars

The Meating Place – 11/17/13

4stars

The Meating Place
503.533.0624
6495 NW Cornelius Pass Road
Hillsboro, 97124

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Awesome Butcher Shop, so/so breakfast joint

We didn’t venture far form home partially because we had a Comcast appointment and partially because a local butcher shop that we are quite fond of had finally opened their cafe and began serving breakfast. Just off Cornelius Pass and north of Highway 26 on a corner in a strip mall sits “The Meating Place” and next door to their butcher shop is a small 4 table cafe with an open kitchen. Upon walking in we were greeted with a haze of blueish smoke that was pungent with smoked meat, it certainly smelled like we were in for a treat. The place is still very much “under construction” and didn’t even have proper menu signage, just a couple of letter sized sheets of paper, one with 4 breakfast specials the contained about 12 items for lunch. I dint mind a simple menu but they could have still had a larger display to show off what little they did have. When I first saw the words Chorizo Sausage gravy I was really hopeful but my meal ended up being a thick tasteless paste and even some well cooked potatoes and eggs could not compensate for the “glop”. I also had a cup of chili which tasted as though a bottle of ketchup had simple had some leftover vegetables and beef mixed in with it. Perhaps their offerings will improve in the future but for not I think I’ll stick with their amazing burgers and steer clear of any thing labeled “breakfast”.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Cheerful kitchen staff even if there are only 3 of them and 6 of us.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Still under construction but the start of a decent little place.
3 stars

MEAL
Had high hopes but the gravy was just too pasty and bland.
3 stars

Bunk Sandwiches – 11/3/13

3.5stars

Bunk Sandwiches
503.Eat.Bunk
211 SW 6th Ave.
Portland, 97214

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Tiny but tasty all the way around

We had planned to visit a pasta place downtown near Lardo but decided to spin the wheel o’Ness to see what suggestions might pop up and divert us, about halfway to the tunnel Carly said let’s get a sandwich at Bunk. A tiny, tiny shop just next to the max tracks we almost walked by it thinking it wasn’t even open but the amazing smell of toasted bread and meat let us know we were at the right place. I counted and there were seriously only 11 tiny stools inside and two counters on opposite sides to sit and eat at but we had the place to ourself so it certainly didn’t feel crowded. The girl behind the counter pointed to our left side where a giant chalkboard was filled with everything they offered almost all of which contained pork according to the disclaimer “except for the tuna & vegan options”. There was not a single item I didn’t want so I let the waitress/hostess/chef pick her favorite which was a Pork belly Reuben while Carly ordered a traditional roast beef “hold the horseradish”. They both came with chips but I also heard the girl say they were known for their bacon potato salad and decided I would judge for myself. Awesome is definitely a way to describe their salad but also limited quantity since I wanted to make it the entirety of my meal after just two bites, it was so delicious. Carly had a cold sandwich so it was handed to her within just a couple minutes while mine took about 5 so it could be properly toasted in their oven. What followed was the best sandwich I have had since Capriottis in warm springs Las Vegas close to a decade ago. While Carly’s roast beef was tasty it certainly suffered from not having the horseradish but she’s not a fan and it wasn’t my sandwich so who was I to object. The size of my meal was a little underwhelming but as a normal on the go lunch I think it would be more than satisfactory. Don’t be turned off by the tiny interior and if it really does bother you just take a couple sandwiches to go and eat on a bench.

Abc…

GALLERY

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SERVICE
11 Stools in a place smaller than most wardrobes so you almost no choice but to make eye contact with the fella that just made your meal
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
A small narrow lunch spot with wonderful sandwiches but not much space for more than some album covers on the wall.
3 stars

MEAL
Amazingingly tasty sandwich and everything comes with pork
4 stars

Taste of Szechuan – 10/13/13

4stars

Taste of Szechuan
503.629.7001
16261 NW Cornell Rd.
Beaverton, 97006

Amazing Food, Lackluster service

Some of the best pot stickers I have ever had in my life came from this restaurant and often we will order just that as a meal along with some rice. This day Carly was battling a bit of a hang over from a girls weekend at the beach so I offered to drag home some of her favorite asian food to speed her recovery. Occasionally when they first opened we’d goto the restaurant to sit down for a meal but after constantly getting slow service we decdied to put this place into our take out category or eateries. I highly recommend the Kung Pao chicken which is right up there with their pot stickers as some of the best flavor I’ve had in Oregon but seriously consider just picking it up to eat elsewhere.


SERVICE
It’s never really been great so more often than not we just do take out
2 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
A nice interior with an open floor plan but more modern than traditional
3 stars

MEAL
Quite possibly the best Pot Stickers and Kung Pao Chicken I have ever had
4.5 stars

Saint Honore – 10/5/13

4stars

St. Honore
503.496.5596
315 1St. St
Lake Oswego, 97034

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Street side Cafe in Lake Oswego

My sister was in town again for a friends wedding and she was hanging out in Tigard so we decided to hit up a French style cafe in the heart of Lake Oswego. It wasn’t hard to find at all and there was a farmers market taking place so even with all the foot traffic there was only a 5 minute wait to place the order and what an order it was. With my mom & sister as well as baby niece and Carly it was a ton of food filling up our tiny circular table. Before any of the meal items were delivered I snagged a bag of little lightly sugared croquette donuts for us to enjoy with our coffees. I got up for just a moment to get some cream and sugar for our Americanos and upon return out breakfast items had already been delivered, unfortunately I had to go back in twice for two different items that somehow were left off our order. But once that was settled I sat down and began digging into my cheesy turkey & bacon croissant as well as the cup of pea and ham soup. It’s hard to mess up a croissant covered in cheese and stuffed with meat and if you goto a bakery you expect exactly what I received which was a perfectly crispy, buttery, flakey experience. The pea soup on the other hand was only so/so and while tasty just didn’t have the thickness I was hoping for, still it made a wonderful compliment to the baked goods. There was even a nice little salad served with the croissant that was a great balance to the savory salty sandwich.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Order at the counter and they will bring it out to you
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Nice restaurant design and a cool cafe seating style outside
3 stars

MEAL
Anything and everything you could ever want to order and eat is available from a simple yellow menu
3 stars

Podnah’s – 9/28/13

4stars

Podnah’s Pit
503.281.3700
1625 NE Killingsworth St.
Portland, 97211

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Second best biscuits I’ve had

So my friend Erika was in town for a friends wedding and happened to be staying just down the street at the Kennedy McMenamins hotel which turned out to be less than a mile from Podnah’s our planned destination for this weekends outing. Also seeing as it was my birthday weekend Carly had made loose plans for the something that afternoon so brunch became breakfast and we planned to meet Erika in the lobby around 9 am. We arrived a few minutes early which gave me time to oogle around at the cool interior of the place and even visit the gift shop. Erika arrived a few minutes later and we piled into the Ford to head just down Killingsworth to Podnah’s Barbecue. Seeing as a week prior we were just down the street and saw a rather long line when driving past Podnah’s I was surprised to see only about 6 tables inside with patrons but that would change by the time we finished eating. The interior is filled with benches each of which has a cardboard 6 pack holding a variety of opaque bottles with unidentified sauces. The menu has a rather large selection of choices and contained both breakfast and lunch options to pick from as well as a “specials” list the waitress rattled off when she came over to get our drink orders. Oddly enough my favorite Chicken Fried steak was a special and not listed on the menu, so I ordered that along with a trio of biscuits and a bloody mary. I tried to get a latte but they have a “get your own damn coffee” policy so all that is offered is drip in an urn up front. A little basket of biscuits arrived a few minutes later and each one was the size of a closed fist and warm and cripsy. They were not what I would call “flaky” but they had such a fluffy interior that I wanted to curl up inside with a pat of butter for a long nap. Our meals all arrived maybe 5 minutes later and each one smelled better than the last. My chicken fried steak was not bad but I have definitely developed a taste for the cheaper cafe style fried steak over a decent piece of meat (this was a decent piece of meat). My potatoes were awesome and crispy and I made it halfway through before remembering I also had the two poached eggs to mix in as well. Carly got brisket with poached eggs and potatoes and it was a tasty cut but I think we were both expecting a meal more like what “The Original” has when it comes to brisket which is by far some of the best meat I have ever had. Erika chose breakfast tacos that smelled quite good but I was too stuffed by my meal to steal any. I regret not trying some of the sauces on the table and also not even thinking to get some ribs or pulled pork or something more befitting a BBQ joint but there is also time for a return during lunch.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Attentive but out of the way and happy to help select your breakfast
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Benches and lumber everywhere
3.5 stars

MEAL
Rustic, hearty and far from healthy
4 stars

Mexico Autentica – 9/22/13

4.5stars

Mexico Autentica
503.287.7555
5507 NE 30th Ave
Portland, 97211

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Hip-spanic Restaurant Brunch

A friend at work has raved about Mexico Autentica’s dinner selections and on their site I saw they had begun offering brunch as well so I figured we could give it a try to see how it matched some of the other southwest themed destinations we had visited. It was on Killingsworth on an area of town we weren’t very familiar with so it also gave us the opportunity to rubberneck at a few other destinations along the way. We arrived and parked street side just in front of the rather tiny restaurant entrance and ventured inside. Despite all the hustle and bustle within we were seated immediately at a small wobbly table in front of the window and given a couple of glasses of warm water (why doesn’t anyone give ice at these breakfast places)? We scanned over the tabloid sized piece of paper containing the menu items which seemed odd considering the minimal amount of selections for brunch it could have easily filled a legal sized or double sided letter sheet. I recognized most of the words and found a few items of interest but still waited to hear what the waitress recommended. Carly is not a fan of mexican spice of any kind so I was surprised she did not protest more when I told her our destination. The waitress gave me a list of 3 different “specials” all of which sounded delicious and to varying degrees dangerous on the Scoville scale. I finally settled on the safe choice of steak and eggs with a side of black beans with some coffee. A short time later along with our drinks came a little trio of sauces, the green ones seemed harmless enough but a whiff of the glowing reddish oil made me tear up a bit with happiness. Our meals were a little slow to arrive but I attributed it to the extra influx of large parties that arrived shortly after us. I do love black beans with a meal so I was extra happy with my selection especially the side of chorizo which went very well with the slightly crispy fried eggs. The steak was a little tough even despite how thin it was but very tasty. We also received a basket of tiny fresh tortillas to sop up the flavor and assist with getting the tiny bits. Carly was less enamored with her mole’ chicken enchiladas and I’m not really a fan of the chocolate flavor of them either but I assume that’s part of the “Autentica”.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Tiny Coffee cups but friendly warm reception
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Modern interior with nice color scheme but a rather simplistic menu design
3.5 stars

MEAL
Wonderful steak and eggs with plenty of flavor and heat
3.5 stars

Orenco Station Grill – 9/16/13

3stars

Orenco Station Grill
503.844.9119
6195 NE Cornell Rd.
Hillsboro, 97124

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Hillsboro Brunch Spot

I had trotted by the Orenco grille and seen they had begun offering brunch so I made a mental note to revisit next time we were feeling too sluggish to venture out of our borough. We showed up not long after they opened and there were already a half dozen people sitting down. We took a both on the far side but up front and began looking over the combo brunch/lunch menu. We were greeted by a friendly but apparently sleepy waitress who was probably not thrilled with having to come to work on Sunday when they were only open from 10-2pm but she was helpful with making some brunch selections. I elected to order the frittata mainly because I couldn’t remember ever having one before and Carly chose a Philly cheesesteak off the backside lunch menu. I also got a sweet frothy Latte to start that came in a tall narrow glass. Our meals came out in a normal amount of time, but bit by bit, meaning that I got my rye toast and then 2 minutes later a plate of potatoes and then finally our entrees. Carly’s sandwich certainly looked more substantive than my crustless quiche but after a bite I realized it was more bread than meat by far and really wasn’t as tasty as it looked but I was satisfied with my frittata that was mixed with mushrooms and spinach and the potatoes were perfectly seasoned and crispy. I never saw more than 4 or 5 tables filled while we were there but perhaps they just hadn’t gotten out the word they were now open for limited hours on Sunday. It’s a convenient location with reliable menu that has yet to disappoint.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Friendly but not “feelin it”
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Traditional pub interior with comfortable booths and a english style appearance
3.5 stars

MEAL
Decent selection for both brunch & dinner
3 stars

Toast – 9/1/13

3stars

Toast
503.774.1020
5222 SE 52nd Ave
Portland, 97206

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Your neighborhood restaurant

Tucked way the hell back off of Powell is a small neighborhood restaurant with a ton of interior seating, this was todays destination after consulting the oracle app of restaurant recommendations named “Ness”. We picked up our friend Shelly who lives nearby and wandered over off the beaten path to find the little neighborhood eatery known simply as “Toast”. Walking in we saw a “L” shaped breakfast bar with baked goods surrounding the main grill that was surrounded by at least 5 cooks and 3 or 4 servers hurriedly serving up fare. We requested outside seating a a few minutes later we were seated street side under a green Bud Light umbrella, I mention the color because all our breakfasts looked “Seuss Like” under the coloration. I was really in the mood for Oatmeal which is kind of a bad way to judge a restaurant since there isn’t much unique about a bowl of boiled oats but since Carly & Shelly were with I figured I could steal some of their more exciting selections. They ended up both choosing the same breakfast sandwich which was super tasty and yes I did like my oatmeal and yes I did get rye toast that was decent but not nearly as satisfying as the girls selections. All in all a tasty brunch but I have to avoid getting plain old oatmeal when trying to actually judge a restaurant on it’s food.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Didn’t really see our waitress often but didn’t really need to.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Somewhat typical neighborhood cafe with outside picnic benches and art on the walls inside.
3 stars

MEAL
Good selection with clever creative names that have nothing to do with the meal (how very Portland)
3 stars