Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Portland Happy Hour: Nostrana

What: Nostrana
Where: 1401 SE Morrison St.
When: Happy Hour 9pm - close 
Honeys Heart: Pizza Margherita

Nostrana's 9pm happy hour features thin crust pizzas, a charcuterie board, salad, mac and cheese, and wood-fired ciabatta. I haven't covered the entire menu yet, but so far everything I've ordered has been great!

It doesn't hurt to know you're in good hands with Nostrana's Chef Cathy Whims who has been named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best Chef: Northwest. This is her third consecutive nomination so I think she knows what she's doing!

During both visits to Nostrana, my group has ordered a few things to share, my favorite way to do hh.

Dana, Katie and I shared the Pizza Margherita ($6) which tasted so fresh with tomato sauce, basil and a house mozzarella.  

The pizzas arrive uncut with scissors, or "pizza sheers" as Adam liked to refer to them, to cut your slices. This is a fun way to serve this thin crust delight, and can result in nice triangle slices or unpredictable shapes.

We also attempted to order the Pizza Marinara ($5) with tomato, garlic and wild oregano, but our waiter ordered us another Pizza Margherita. Reason to go back I guess?

You know I can't resist a hh mac and cheese so we shared the Mac & Cheese ($6) featuring penne, five cheeses, tomato, and cream. It was baked so the top was a little crispy, but it was also creamy and hot which are two important stipulations for good mac.

Off the HH drink menu, Katie and I ordered the Gin & House Tonic ($5), while Dana opted for the Campari & Soda ($5). I really enjoyed our drinks. The tonic isn't super sweet like some can be, and with a little lime it's totally enjoyable.

During my second visit with Adam and his brother, we ordered two Pizza Margheritas to share. We thought we might be full and take some home, but that didn't happen. Too good!

Our waitress was a little confused so it took some time to get all of our orders, but finally we got the Charcuterie ($5) with salami, prosciutto, baby pickles, bread and spicy mustard. I'm not sure if their meats vary, but I would recommend this!

Apparently we were doing a little carb loading because we also ordered the Wood Oven Ciabatta ($3) which was really tasty. Sometimes you just can't beat really good bread and a little olive oil.

I definitely want to try the other pizza and the Insalata Nostrana ($5) in my next visit. There's also the option to add arugula, prosciutto, or anchovy to either pizza...I would go with prosciutto!

And a Quick Addition from Katie: I tried the Insalata Nostrana, Nostrana's version of a caesar salad, the next two times I visited, and I hope to have it again very soon. Those rosemary croutons are kind of amazing. I also ordered the Salumi  Pizza ($15) with dry salami, tomato, provolone, house mozzarella, wild oregano, and honey. It's not on the happy hour menu, but it was definitely worth paying full price. The combination of savory salami with the sweet honey was so unexpected but so delicious.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Aspirations II

Back in January, I made a list of eight bars and restaurants I wanted to try in the next two months.

It's a little past my deadline, but here are my results:

Happy Hours:
The Box Social- Fail. Haven't made it here yet.
Night Light Lounge- Eh, read my post about their hh here.
Nostrana- Obsessed. Combined, Kel and I have probably eaten there once a week since we first tried it. Post coming soon.   

Olympic Provisions- Made the mistake of taking my not-so-meat-loving mom here. She was not a fan. I would like to try it again before making my final decision.
Boke Bowl-  Not so much. Read Kel's post here.
Tasty n Sons- Fail again. Still need to try.

Apex- Doug was not as impressed as he wanted to be and God, that screen displaying their beer options is horrible. Hurt my eyes to look at. We might be back.
Firehouse- And still need to go here too.

Let's try again.

Here's my list of spots to try by May 19: 

Happy Hours:
The Box Social
Driftwood Room- have been for drinks but not food. Planning to take the girls soon.
Sniff Cafe- Kel and I want to take her pups here. Drinks & doggies = woot!

Mi Mero Mole- was reminded I wanted to try their tacos after seeing them in Willamette Weekly's 2012 Cheap Eats guide.
Olympic Provisions- hope to giving the SE location a try this time.
Tasty n Sons- will be kicked out of Portland if I don't go here soon.

Clyde Common- 2012 James Beard semi-finalist for Outstanding Bar Program.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

DIY Happy Hour: Shamrock Smash

Kel and I wanted to make drinks for St. Patrick's Day this year, but we had two requirements: 
1) No whiskey- neither of us are fans.
2) No Bailey's- cream-based liquors = no good for marathon drinking days/nights.

You'd be surprised how much that cuts down your options for St. Paddy's cocktails...

So we decided to think outside the box a bit and focus on the color green instead.

These Shamrock Smashes are tasty, refreshing, and best of all, bright green.

1.5 oz Vodka
.5 oz Triple Sec
1/2 Peeled Kiwi
3 Green Grapes

Muddle kiwi and grapes in shaker. Add vodka, triple sec and ice. Shake. Strain over ice. Top with champagne and garish with kiwi and grapes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Portland Happy Hour: Bar Mingo

What: Bar Mingo
Where: 811 NW 21st Ave
When: 4-6pm Everyday
Honeys Heart: Cheese Plate

Allie and I have developed a nice little tradition of meeting at Chez Machin every few Sundays for crepes and mimosas ($4 mimosas before noon!), but we decided we needed to switch it up a bit so we met for a happy hour at Bar Mingo.


Bar Mingo has a $6 happy hour menu that includes food, wine, beer (2 PBRs on ice to be exact), and a special martini.

Allie and I each had a glass of house wine ($6) and we shared a cheese plate ($6).

Bar Mingo's cheese plate comes with three different cheeses and slices of wildflower honey and fig "salami."

Our server also kept us well-stocked with bread.

With all that bread and plenty of cheese, $6 was quite a good price for how full we felt by the time we finished. But also, Allie is a bit of a light eater so maybe that's why I was so full... whatevs. I'll definitely be back (but only with Allie?).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Portland Happy Hour: Night Light Lounge

What: Night Light Lounge
Where: 2100 SE Clinton St.
When: 3-7pm Everyday, 11pm-1am Sun-Thurs

Honeys Heart: Grilled Cheese w/ Tomato Soup

Night Light Lounge's happy hour was recommended me to by Karissa of Delectable Dates and I've been wanting to try it for sometime, but since it's out in SE, it's not the most convenient choice for me and my westside-centric friends.

However, Krystle and Shaun do live in deep SE so when Krystle suggested I choose someplace halfway between us, Night Light Lounge sounded like the perfect option. Plus, their happy hour goes all the way until 7pm, giving us plenty of time to get out to SE Clinton before it ended.

Photo Courtesy of portlandmercury.com

Night Light's happy hour offers a $3-$5 food menu as well as $3.50 drafts, $1 off wine, and 50 cents off well drinks.

Grilled Cheese w/ Tomato Soup ($5) always brings back fond memories of my two summers at Douglas Ranch Camp, where the combo was my favorite meal, so I opted for Night Light's version.

Their grilled cheese is made with roasted garlic aioli (I added avocado) and their tomato soup is a spicy tomato bisque. They both were satisfying, especially for the $5 price tag.

Doug opted for the Caeser Salad ($4) and Parmesan Truffle Fries ($5).

Both were huge portions. I would have liked a bit more truffle flavor to the fries, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. The caeser, however, was nothing spectacular and Doug said the chicken reminded him of frozen Costco chicken breasts that had been defrosted. Don't think he'd order it again.

No pictures of Krystle and Shaun's choices but their dishes were generously portioned as well.

Doug and I came to the consensus that Night Light gives you great bang for your buck size-wise, but the quality of the food isn't good enough for us to want to make the trek out to SE specifically for Night Light anytime soon. If we lived right down the street, that might be a different matter.

I should note though that Karissa specifically recommended the Spicy Mac n Cheese and none of us ordered that. Maybe it would have been delicious enough to bring us back?