Friday, December 29, 2017

Portland Restaurant: Olympia Oyster Bar

What: Olympia Oyster Bar 
Where: 4214 N Mississippi 
When: Tues-Thurs 4-9 pm, Fri & Sat 2-10 pm, Sun 2-9pm, HH open-6 pm Tues-Fri 
Honeys Heart: Natty and Shellfish Wednesday Special

My life really got a solid shake up in 2017 and as a result, my cousin Chase got an expected new roommate: yours truly! My new living situation means more than a few things have changed for me. For example:

  • I drink good wine now (because I drink Chase's wine).
  • I watch substantially more sports and boy movies, i.e. movies with Keanu Reeves.
  • I have been exploring more of my new neighborhood, Mississippi St.
  • I don't cook anymore because one of my roomies cooks, or I order food, or I meet up with friends.

In accordance with those last two bullet points, I think I have now been to every restaurant on Mississippi, my favs being Lovely's Fifty Fifty, Por Que No, and my #1, Olympia Oyster Bar.

(photo courtesy of Olympia's website)

Olympia Oyster Bar (can we just call it OOB because I'm typing this hungover and it's a long restaurant name?) is just the cutest neighborhood oyster and wine bar with dishes inspired by Chef Maylin's Mexican heritage and flavors influenced by Japan and the Mediterranean. It's where I like to go when I want to class it up a bit and balance out those nights of drinking beer at dive bars (because I do that now too).

The best discovery I made about OOB is their Wednesday night "Natty and Shellfish" special. It's a $20 bucket of mussels and clams and $20(ish) bottles of natural wines. The bucket is enough to share, but if I'm going to be drinking/eating alone (add that to the list), it feels better to do it somewhere nice.

On my recent solo visit, I did take home about half the mussels and clams and half the bottle of wine because Chase and I needed to watch The Voice. #priorities

I also probably didn't need to add oysters into the mix that night seeing as how I was a party of one, but I felt like trying their Raw Pomegranate ($13) preparation with pomegranate elixir, ginger amaranth, and blood orange oil. I mean, it was tasty but I would rather go on "Oyster Tuesday" and just get a $9 half dozen. 

Because I have become obsessed with this Wednesday night special, I try to go a lot. A friend I hadn't seen in six months wanted to grab happy hour and I knew the life update would need to be accompanied by plenty of wine - perfect opportunity for the OOB Wednesday night special!

Bottle one. Look at that funny dog...

Yes, we got the mussels and clams and yes, it was delicious again.

Bottle two. 

Two bottles in means more food, obvs. We tried to get bread and goat butter, but they were out of butter so instead we tried the Trout Conserva Toast ($7) off the happy hour menu. It was light, fresh, and delish.

There were a couple other things on their happy hour that looked tasty, so I'm open for Wednesday night dates (friend dates, come on...) with people so that I can try more things.

Bottle three. (Yes, you read that right. We had three bottles of wine and the best part is that for three bottles of wine, mussels and clams, and trout toast, I think our bill was only $96 aka $48 per person... um, that's a good deal for all that food and wine!)

In addition to great food and drink, the service at OOB has always been exceptional. Their staff is friendly and they offer recommendations, which is important for someone who lacks certain decision-making capabilities.

Even when I move out of the hood (I can't live with my cousin forever, I am a 30-year-old single lady, after all) OOB will bring me back. And probably I'll also swing by Chase's for some wine while I'm at it...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Portland Taprooms: Where to Drink with Your Dog Indoors

Portland is a paradise for beer-loving dog owners in the summer - but once winter sets in, it becomes a lot harder to find good spots to enjoy your pup and a pint at the same time.

Doug and I are now into our second winter with our Bernese Mountain Dog Ziggy, and while we’ve been known to tough it out at Saraveza’s uncovered, outdoor tables when nothing but cheese curds will do, we’ve also discovered quite a few breweries and beer bars near us in North Portland that allow us to have a drink indoors with Zig in tow.

Dog-Friendly Taprooms in North Portland: 

Chill n Fill  - 5215 N Lombard St
Last year, Chill n Fill become our dedicated Thursday night, post-basketball game hangout. Their recent reconfiguration of tables has made it a little more tricky to find a spot to sit where our 120-pound dog can lie down without being in the way, and Zig is still a little traumatized after an unfortunate incident at Chill n Fill in July involving local hooligans and fire crackers, but the beer selection is good, most other patrons seem cool with a giant Berner invading their space, and it is so cute to hear our favorite bartender yell “fluffyhead!” every time we walk in with Zig. 

Hoplandia - 8600 N Ivanhoe St
Since it’s walkable from our house, Hoplandia was a godsend during last winter’s Snowpocalypse (so fun living in a neighborhood at the bottom of Portland’s "To Plow" list). Pizza Nostra is also right next door and there’s always lots of other dogs there for Zig to make friends with. 

Tap Haus - 7636 N Lombard St. 
Tap Haus bills itself as the smallest bar in Portland and believe me, you can’t get much smaller. There’s barely enough room for more than 6 people in this tiny beer cart, let alone our big boy Zig, but it’s always an adventure when we visit because the quarters are so close that you’re thrown into conversation with whoever else happens to be there that night.

Up North Surf Club -1229 N Killingsworth St
Up North is part beer bar, part surf shop.Yes, it leans a little hipster, but it’s a great place to hang out with Zig when we’re looking to have a chill night. It also gets the most ambiance points of any spot on this list. 

LABrewatory - 670 N Russell St
I’m not a huge fan of LABrewatory, but Doug is, so it’s making the list. LABrewatory specializes in inventive beers (think Squid Ink Gose), Tamale Boy is right next door, and with the exception of Up North, it’s got the most going on design-wise. 

Dog-Friendly Covered Patios Outside of North Portland:

With the exception of Velo Cult Bicycle Shop, we have yet to discover any beer spots outside of North Portland that allow dogs inside. However, there are a few covered patios that we're willing to make the drive for:

Base Camp Brewing - 930 SE Oak St
Base Camp encloses their patio every winter and I'm a sucker for their S'more Stout. The only downside is that the patio is covered in wood chips, so Zig is always a mess after we visit. 

Lardo SE - 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Doug will never not say yes to Lardo, and while they don’t have any heaters on their patio that I remember, at least it's enclosed!

Level Beer - 5211 NE 148th Ave
Level opened this summer and they have a huge tented and enclosed outdoor patio with heat lamps. It’s way out by the airport, so a bit of a drive for us, but the beer is good, they have a few sets of cornhole, and the food carts are decent. Plus, little dogs and dads love Level too!

Gigantic Brewing Company - 5224 SE 26th Ave
Gigantic is also quite a drive for us and their patio is tented but not enclosed. That’s okay though, because they love dogs there and their hoppy beers are some of our favorite in the city.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Portland Brunch: HunnyMilk + Tōv Coffee & Tea

What: HunnyMilk
Where: 40 NE 28th Ave (in what's usually La Buca) 
When: Saturdays & Sundays, 9am-2pm
Honeys Heart: The concept

We've been on a bit of a brunch kick lately with our latest weekend indulgences including a celebratory bday brunch for our friend Amanda at HunnyMilk two weeks ago and a rainy visit to at Fried Egg I'm in Love food cart and TOV coffee bus last weekend.

Amanda's bday brunch was my second time at HunnyMilk, and while we did beat a potential hours-long wait (a major sticking point of my first visit) by arriving right when they opened at 9am, I still left our brunch wishing I liked HunnyMilk more.

I think the main problem is that the concept itself is really great, so when the execution falls short, it's more disappointing. Let's discuss some of the issues:

The Food
Great Idea!: The tricky part about brunch is deciding whether you're going to go savory or sweet. HunnyMilk solves that problem by letting you choose one item off their savory menu and one off their sweet so you get the best of both worlds.
  • Sample Savory Item: Brunchy Quesadilla with smoked bacon, red bells and pepper jack scramble, re-fried bean fritter, sour cream and sun dried tomato
  • Sample Sweet Item: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Waffle dipped in honey butter with cranberry-mango compote, astronaut strawberries and graham cracker almond crumble

Meh Execution: At both my visits, the savory items were the clear winners on the tray. The sweet items were just way, way too sugary and over-the-top. It's still the morning, after all, and this is brunch, not dessert! You also get so much food, with each item portioned as if it weren't sharing the plate with your other pick. We would have been plenty with a full portion of the savory item and half of the sweet.

The Price
Great Idea!: The fixed price includes a savory item, sweet item, and a drink. You can upgrade your drink for a few bucks to make it boozy.

Meh Execution: HunnyMilk's fixed priced increased from $20 to $22 at some point and you're paying $5 for the champagne they add to your orange juice... so now we're talking $27 per person, which is definitely on the higher side for brunch in Portland. It's true that you get a ton of food for the price, but I would rather pay less and not leave so much food on the plate. Plus, you have to pay more if you want two savory items - and the savory items are the good items!

The Space
Great Idea!: HunnyMilk is a weekend-only pop-up held in a restaurant that doesn't serve lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It's a smart way to use an existing space.

Meh Execution: The food trays and the custom coloring sheets are pretty cute, but La Buca itself, where HunnyMilk is held, is pretty low on the Portland restaurant interior design scale. I think that brunch at a place that calls itself HunnyMilk should be twee to the max, and twee La Buca is not. And those outdoor Costco bistro lights hanging randomly from the ceiling... just, no.

So that's HunnyMilk. Now let's talk about a place that I am now obsessed with.

What: Tōv Coffee & Tea
Where: SE 32nd & Hawthorne
When: 7:30am-5pm everyday
Honeys Heart: All of it 

Tōv coffee bus is located right next to Fried Egg and it is the most Portland. We are talking:
  • Red double-decker bus with makeshift 2nd-story tenting
  • Turkish/Egyptian coffee shop-inspired interior with all purple everything
  • Friendly baristas with handlebar mustaches 
  • Egyptian coffee and tea and traditional espresso beverages plus Tōv's original creations

I ordered the Cardamom Caramel Latte and it was probably the most delicious latte I've ever had. So tasty with just the right amount of sweet (are you listening, HunnyMilk? Sometimes less is more with the sugar). 

Kel took a chance and ordered the Charcoal and Cream Latte which, while understandably slightly grainy, was also super delicious and maybe even good for the ol' stomach. 

Basically, Tōv is now at the top of my list for coffee anytime I'm in SE and you can bet I'm going to take our next round of visitors there for a quirky Portland coffee experience

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Portland Brunch: Trinket

What: Trinket
Where: 2045 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd
When: 8am - 3:30pm
Honeys Heart: Cute and no wait (when you go late)!

I am very proud of Doug in that he has finally given up his dream of moving to Seattle and has very much embraced being a Portlander (I am the BEST, MOST supportive wife).

However, there is one vital part of the quintessiantal Portland hipster lifestyle that he refuses to get on board with: brunch.

I know! It is appalling.

His argument against going to brunch is that he can make just as good of food at home (probably true) and he doesn't have to wait hours for it (definitely true).

I haven't had the heart to tell him that a big part of the brunch appeal is the drinking part, which just doesn't feel as acceptable at 9am in your own home as it does when you're at an adorable restaurant, but I'm sure he'll figure it out someday.

That said, I somehow conned him into brunch twice in the month of October. Bahahaha.

The two of us stopped by my favorite brunch spot, Sweedeedee, where I very mistakenly veered from my usual order (BLT or whatever version is on the menu that day) in favor of the Sweedeedee breakfast plate. We are now required to return soon so I can rectify my mistake (even though the plate was mostly good).

Our second brunch outing was with Kel at Trinket, a small spot in SE that I found via Eater's brunch map.

We kicked things off with cocktails (obviously). Doug had the Bloody Mary which was very good and Kel and I had the Rosé Spritz which was not.

To eat, Doug tried the Duck Egg Breakfast Sandwich and a side of Grits which he enjoyed.

Kel and I split the Huevos al Pastor with pineapple-braised pork, corn tortillas, fried eggs, and avocado and the Hash of the Day.

My morning brain had not registered that I was ordering Huevos al Pastor, not Huevos Rancheros (my usual brunch choice), but it was nice to switch things up with some pulled pork. The hash was tasty if not overly memorable.

Probably the best thing about Trinket was that we got the cute brunch vibe we were going for without any wait at all. This could have been because we didn't get there until 2pm... but we'll take it. (And seriously don't get Doug started about whether or not that means we were at brunch or lunch. Spoiler alert, he would say we were at lunch. So much less fun!)

I think if Trinket were closer to us, it would be a great, reliable brunch option but I can't say that it warrants the 30-minute drive there for us. If you're closer though, you should definitely check it out!

And stay tuned for more hhh brunch coverage as we also stopped by Hunnymilk recently. Poor Doug!