Watson Hall – 1/12/13

4stars

Watson Hall
503.616.2416
12655 SW 1st Street
Beaverton, 97005

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Brunch in our Beavertown

One of our favorite dinner spots Decarli recently opened a new bar (on 1/7/14) around the corner from their main location and when I saw they would be offering a Sunday brunch plus this Sunday would be their first seating I figured we should get in before the hordes find out. Apparently the space they took over had been home to a few failed neighborhood dives over the years that I vaguely remember walking past. Upon entering the first thing I noticed were the crazy huge chandeliers that hung overhead just in front of a cool “penny top” bar that was against a wall that split the space roughly in half. They also had a shuffleboard table to the right side of the restaurant and a nice open view to the kitchen in back. A large button cushioned wall with tables in front of it lined the first 30 feet of the left side of the room and we took a seat at the last table next to some “high-tops”. We were immediately greeted by what I assumed to be our waitress but more likely was be part of the management team since she rushed off to get me a coffee and tagged in “Miami” who came over to ask if we would also like something to drink. I rarely have alcohol in the morning but it had been awhile since I enjoyed a Bloody Mary so I requested that to go with my coffee and Carly asked for a Mimosa.

The brunch menu was simple with exactly 13 items listed 12 of which I would happily enjoy for a meal (not a fan of oysters). Carly zeroed in on the Chicken and Biscuits with gravy which likely would have been my choice but I didn’t want to double up on our selections when there were many other delicious choices. I asked Miami what we should get and he pretty quickly pointed out the Benedict under the oyster option as a personal favorite. I rarely deviate from an enthusiastic suggestion like that so I figured now would not be the time to start and went with his choice. The first item to arrive was the pear fritters and after my first bite I was tempted to put in an order for a second round considering how ridiculously good they were but after another 4 bites the sweetness began to build and I opted for a single basket only this time. I was already feeling pretty full from both my bloody mary and the fritters when my Benedict arrived but it seemed like I might still be able to put it away considering it was just a couple eggs with toast but that changed after just a couple bites when I picked up on the hidden avocado and richness of the cream sauce. The potatoes were so perfect that i didn’t even need any ketchup as they were perfectly crispy and bite sized. I did try a little of Carly’s Chicken and biscuits and while tasty they didn’t beat out my selection for breakfast. Big thumbs up and I cannot wait until we get to stop back for happy hour or another brunch visit.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Miami was an excellent waiter and very attentive.
4 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Cool darker interior but with one whole wall of windows it doesn’t feel like a dungeon
4 stars

MEAL
Simple menu with delicious selections and the pear fritters are phenominal!
4 stars

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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

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

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

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

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

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