Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Portland Restaurant: Portland Seafood Company

Earlier this month, Kel was contacted by the folks at Portland Seafood Company about coming in for a special media preview of their menu. She couldn't make it, so I went instead. Lucky me! Portland Seafood Company prepared quite the feast for us AND gave me to opportunity to hob nob with some Real Life Print Media Food Writers (my idols!). And by hob nob, I mean sit quietly while trying to absorb all their food knowledge. Anyway...

What: Portland Seafood Company
Where: 9722 SE Washington Street, Mall 205
Honeys Heart: Whole Rock Fish

My visit started off with a tour of the restaurant. Portland Seafood Company (which from now on will be referred to as PSC because typing is annoying) is located in the building that formerly housed Newport Seafood Grill.

The decor is nautical but in a completely non-cheesy way. Casual elegance, you might say.

Love their lighting. 

Here's our table at the bar. These communal tables will be great for the afterwork crowd.

But enough about that. On to the good stuff: the food!

Chef Brian Poor is the Culinary Director over at Portland City Grill as well as at PSC and he came out to tell us all about the restaurant's "happy fish" philosophy. PSC only uses sustainable, high-quality seafood that are rated as a "Best Choice" or better by the Seafood Watch Program at Monterey Bay Aquarium. PSC also encourages diners to ask where their meal came from. Whether you're dining on Penn Cove oysters or Atlantic Quahog clams, they're happy to share specifics.

Ok, so we know it's sustainable and the fish are "happy", but how do they taste?

Chef Brian also explained PSC's culinary goal: to serve simply-prepared, big-flavored seafood dishes. And on that, I think PSC most definitely delivered.

Looking at my notes (professional status!), I think we probably sampled around 20 dishes that night. Here are the dishes I took notes on and/or photographed in order of preference. Get ready to drool a little. And then feel bad for my waistline because yes, I did eat ALL that fried seafood. And some of Kelly's leftover mac & cheese later that night. And then I didn't run the next morning. Cuz I never do. Oops.

Check out this baby. That's a whole Fried Rockfish, fried crispy and served with warm tortillas, avocado, red onion, and red jalapenos and topped with a spicy jalapeƱo-ranch sauce. It's pretty much DIY fish tacos and since I found this to be the most flavorful of the fried fish I tried that night, it gets the top spot on my list. Grab some coworkers, some local beers and this guy and you're good to go.

These are Steamed Manila Clams ($11.99) with basil, garlic, white wine and thyme, served with sourdough bread from Portland French Bakery. So simple, so delicious. And that bread dipped in the leftover sauce. My god.

This was meant to be a photo of The World's Best Fried Clam Strips ($7.99) but I think it's actually a Spicy Popcorn Shrimp Bucket ($8.99). Anyway, a big deal was made about the clam strips and for good reason. They were quite tasty. Can't comment on the "World's Best" part though cuz it's the first time I had them. But Chef Brian did say: "I'm old, I've eaten a lot. These are the best." Okay then.

Last year, Erica made oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving and it was so repellent that I vowed never to eat oysters again. But these Oven Roasted Freshly Shucked Pacific Oysters ($13.99) had bacon and bell peppers and parmesan cheese and butter baked into them sooo... I ate three of them. And they were awesome.


When this Shrimp Po'Boy ($8.99) (served as sliders for us) came out, I was reaching my food limit. So full. But then the shrimp was so nice and crispy and Chef Brian's "mom's slaw" was super flavorful so I ate a whole slider. But no Old Bay-seasoned fries. Even though they looked really good.


As you can see, by the time I got to the Fish & Chips ($7.99-$16.99), my food coma was such that I did not even care if my photos were fuzzy. So keep that in mind when I tell you that even though I really, really wanted to like PSC's fish & chips, I didn't. I don't even know why. Probably don't listen to me and order them anyway. Everything else was delicious, why wouldn't these be?

Here are Steamed Peel & Eat Gulf Shrimp ($11.99) with butter, garlic and parsley. And bread. The Real Life Print Media Food Writer next to me commented that she was surprised at PSC's choice to leave the legs on the shrimp. Having not often encountered peel & eat shrimp with legs, I was surprised as well.

Crab Bucket ($24.99). Sufficiently crab-buckety, gross andouille sausage and all. Sorry, not a fan of andouille.

NW Dungess Crab Cocktail ($9.99). Sadly, don't remember trying this.Was probably distracted by something fried.

Oh, wait! We should also talk about drinks. And drink-ish things.

This Bloody Mary Oyster Shooter ($2.50) was good. (At least the The Real Life Print Media Food Writer next to me said so. I've never had a Bloody Mary before- shameful, I know. )

This Margarita ($7) was not. More lime please.


This Oyster Shooter ($2.50) with spicy tequila and lime was good. 

This Lavender Cosmo ($1) was not. Super sweet on the front, unpleasantly bitter on the back.

OMG. Almost forgot about the clam chowder.

Super creamy. Plus they have tableside bacon bread crumb service, so yeah. Don't know what they've got floating in there cuz I was too full to care.

But seriously, food coma relapse just from writing this. Can barely form full sentences.

Go here. Eat PSC's simple, fresh and delicious seafood. But skip the cocktails. 

Also, they have $1 drafts & $2 house wines for happy hour from 3-6 pm.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Portland Dishcrawl: SE Division Street!

As you know, Katie moved back to Portland at the end of June and started a job as the Portland Event Manager and Marketing Director for Dischrawl PDX. This social dining experience is right up our alley...4 restaurants in 1 night with fun people, I'm in! In the beginning of November, LivingSocial sold tickets to a SE Division Dishcrawl as part of Living Social Adventures. I've been on multiple Dishcrawls as a volunteer and Katie's right hand gal, but on Tuesday I had the pleasure of going on my first Dishcrawl as a crawler!

First Stop: Slice Brick Oven Pizza
Where: D-street Noshery, 3221 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: Alla Vodka Pizza

Slice Brick Oven Pizza is a fully mobile food cart that opened about a year ago by a couple looking to break into the Portland culinary scene. The thin New York style crust is topped with homemade sauces and fresh local ingredients. I prefer my pizza with super thin crusts, so this was my kind of slice.

Jenna went for the Cheese, while I opted for the Pizza Alla Vodka with sausage and caramelized onions and a classic vodka sauce. Both were pretty delicious and a great way to start the night!

Second Stop: Oregon Ice Works
Where: D-street Noshery, 3221 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: Kevin

Next we walked all the way across the food pod to Oregon Ice Works. I first tried Oregon Ice Works at a World Forestry Center fundraiser and again when Katie and I hit up D-street Noshery this summer, so I already knew I would like this stop! Kevin, food cart owner, Philly native, and Italian ice enthusiast, introduced the two flavors. One was a Bourbon, Peach and Ginger Ice, and the other was Caramel Apple Pie Ice with Caramel Sauce.

They were both amazing, but I think the apple with caramel sauce was the favorite. In the cold, slightly drizzling, autumn night it just tasted like fall. If you're thinking that Italian ice sounds too cold on a winter day, don't fret, Oregon Ice Works also makes soup. Or, if you do want Oregon Ice Works through the winter, without the cold food cart part, ask them about their weekly pint club!

Third Stop: Noho's Hawaiian Cafe
Where: 2525 SE Clinton St.
Honeys Heart: Noodles

A great aspect of Dishcrawl is that you walk to each restaurant. This gives you time to talk about the last place, get excited for the next, check out other great spots in the neighborhood, and not to mention, burn off some calories! After D-street Noshery, the group walked for 10 minutes to Noho's Hawaiian Cafe on SE Clinton and 26th. Noho was there to introduce the gigantic plates of food brought out for groups of 4 to share.

He opened his restaurant, at that location, in 1992. Leaving the corporate world to take a risk as a restaurant owner, he shared stories of how that Clinton street corner has changed over the years and how he cannot imagine doing anything else with his life.

The food he serves is based on his mom's home cooking and the style of meals he remembers growing up with. We were able to sample chicken, pork, noodles, rice and macaroni salad. There was even food left over for some people to take home. Lucky!

This Noho's location doesn't serve alcohol, only because there isn't room in the kitchen to keep it cold, but since this was a special event they brought in Hawaiian beer for everyone. So nice!

Fourth Stop: Bula Kava House 
Where: 3115 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: A feeling of calm... 

Last stop was Bula Kava House. Kava is the name for the plant, root, and drink made from piper methysticum, and was first domesticated in Vanuatu (an island nation in the South Pacific) thousands of years ago. Judd, the owner of Bula Kava House, first tried Kava in Hawaii and decided to bring this traditional drink back to Portland, and we're glad he did! We started our Kava experience by learning about some of the physiological effects, mostly muscle relaxation and a general feeling of calm, while maintaining mental clarity. The active ingredients are called kavalactones, of which there are eight different types resulting in different physiological effects for every drinker.

 We tried two different types of Kava: Boroguru and Borogu. Boroguru is a strong kava with a pleasantly smooth flavor, fast acting and potent, while the Borogu is a "party kava," more mild and easy with a peppery flavor. Both Kavas definitely had a peppery and (honestly) dirt flavor. But the good news is that you chug (yes, chug) it and chase with a pineapple slice, so you don't have to deal with the flavor for long if it's unpleasant for you.

Kava has historically been used in different ceremonies so we enjoyed ours with a tradition from Hawaii. We clapped once before chugging our Kava to call spirits that we might want there with us, and then clapped twice after to scare away any spirits you don't want there that might have accidentally been called with the first clap.

We will definitely return to Bula Kava House soon. Not only for the kava, but to try some of the sandwiches or pie. Yum!

Next Dishcrawl: A Nob Hill Sandwich Showdown! This could quite possibly be the best Dishcrawl yet. Buy tickets here for only $26!
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Seattle Restaurant: Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon

Okay, so aside from Kel's Besaw's & Davis Street posts, we have been majorly slacking. Sorry, we're going to do better! (Maybe.)

Anyway, remember when I was posting about Seattle a lot? Good. Because I'm going to keep doing that...

One of Doug's favorite restaurants in Seattle is Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon, which serves delicious Mandarin/Szechuan-style Chinese food. 

What: Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon
Where: 8917 Roosevelt Way NE, Roosevelt
Honeys Heart: Dumplings and Chow Mein

We started off our dinner with an order of Jiao-zi, or boiled dumplings, filled with pork. Knowing we'd be taking some home to share with Doug's parents, we went the the 26-piece order ($13.95).

These were some of the best dumplings I've ever had. The pork was juicy and flavorful, the dumpling dough perfectly chewy and that dipping sauce... so good! We had to ask our server to box them up so we wouldn't keep eating them and spoil the rest of our dinner.  

We decided to share two entrees so we could try a meat dish and a noodle dish. Doug had never had Judy's Cashew Chicken with water chesnuts ($10.55), but I convinced him we should try it.

The crunch of the cashews and water chestnuts was a great compliment to the chicken. Tasty sauce too. Highly recommended!

For our noodle dish, we went with Snappy Dragon Chow Mein which comes with a combo of shrimp, chicken, beef and veggies ($9.50).

I've been told that Frank's Noodle House here in Portland has some of the best noodles in the northwest but I'd have to disagree. Judy's noodles are the kind that are so good that even when you're super full from dumplings and chicken and chow mein, you can't help but go back for just a little more. Seriously, this is my last noodle. But really, I'm so full. Ok, just one more. And... commence food coma.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Portland Happy Hour: Davis Street Tavern

What: Davis Street Tavern
Where: 500 NW Davis Street
When: HH Mon - Fri 4 - 6 pm, Sat & Sun 3 - 5 pm

I wrote a blog post about Davis Street Tavern in March of 2009 that did not properly do it justice. It was before I liked gin. Before I had tried their Champagne Cocktail ($8) and LOVED it. Basically, it was before it had become one of my fav spots in NW Portland.

Since Jen moved to Portland in July I've been talking up DST's happy hour, specifically the mac 'n' cheese. So on Saturday, after checking out the Nordstrom sale and spending sufficient time laying on Jen's couch watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we finally went to happy hour.

Guess what we ordered first? Cocktails! Jen has never had St. Germaine, so I ordered us the French Pear ($9) with Grey Goose Le Poire, St. Germaine, and lemon, while Jen opted for a Basil Martini ($8) made with Hendrick's gin, basil and lemon. They were just what we needed after our lazy afternoon. Jen tossed around the idea of ordering her martini with vodka, but we were glad she didn't! Hendrick's gin has a cucumber flavor that combined perfectly with the basil and lemon (our waitress described the "flavor profile"). Definitely a drink I would order again!

Choosing HH food was fairly easy. We had already done some pre-HH research and checked out the whole menu online, plus the Velvety Mac 'N' Cheese ($5) with girella pasta and three cheese bechamel was a no brainer.

As mac 'n' cheese lovers we tend to order it a lot, but that's not to say we aren't disappointed from time to time. We do have criteria. I like a mac 'n' cheese that is creamy and not full of extra stuff to make it "fancy," and Jen prefers her's hot. Like steaming, need to blow on it, careful not to burn your tongue, HOT. As expected, this met our standards and maintains it's place as one of my all time favorites.

Sticking with our obvious theme of healthy food we also ordered the Shoe String Fries ($3) served with ketchup and green chili hollandaise and Fish Tacos ($7) with tempura cod, cilantro, lime crema Mexicana. The fries were crispy, salty, and gone by the time we left - yikes! While the fish tacos were fresh and a little spicy.

Following our cocktails we also enjoyed a glass of their Italian White Blend ($5), one of a few HH wine selections. I'd say we made some good decisions! We are already planning to return, hopefully with Jen's mom this weekend!
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Portland Happy Hour: Besaw's

What: Besaw's 
Where: 2301 NW Savier St (and 23rd), Nobhill 
When: Tuesday-Saturday, 3pm-5pm
Honeys Heart: $3 cocktail of the day

I sometimes have a horrible tendency of thinking that NW 23rd stops North of Lovejoy. Walking down 23rd I typically stop once I make it to Kettleman Bagel Company. It's silly though, because there are many places between Lovejoy and Thurman that are absolutely worth a visit including Lela's Bistro, Casa del Matador, Wildwood, Kenny and Zukes, St. Honore Bakery and Besaw's.

Katie, her sister Kelly, and I went to Besaw's HH to celebrate Kelly's visit to Portland back in July. The HH includes a $3 cocktail of the day. Sort of an amazing deal! We enjoyed two Champagne with Rubarb Reduction ($3) cocktails, which were a perfect celebratory drink.

Other HH drinks at that incredible $3 price are the house red wine, house white wine, and all well cocktails.

The HH menu is a variety of $4 small plate food specials.

We chose the Slow Pork Slider with handcut fries.

 This was probably our least favorite, just because the flavor wasn't very interesting. The pork was tender, but I think a delicious sauce would have helped this sandwich out.

Next we shared The Original Mac, which was just that, a traditional combination of elbow macaroni, cream, Tillamook cheddar, and toasted breadcrumbs.

Not surprisingly, this was our favorite.
Finally, we enjoyed a small portion of Spinach Dip with house baked focaccia.

 This dip was loaded with spinach, much more than some others I've had, and it was great on the crispy pieces of bread.

I've been back to Besaw's twice since this visit for breakfast and would recommend it. It's always super busy on the weekends, so I would try to hit it up during the weekdays!