Thursday, April 26, 2012

Portland Happy Hour: North 45

What: North 45 Pub
Where: 517 NW 21st Ave
When: Daily 4-6pm, all night Monday
Honeys Heart: Back patio

North 45 is our go-to neighborhood bar when the weather's nice thanks to their large back patio. They recently revamped their happy hour menu, so Kelly, Adam, Doug, and I met up a few Fridays ago to check it out.

During happy hour, Trumer Pilsners are $3.5, well drinks are $4, glasses of house wine are $5, and house margaritas are $5.50.  Don't be tempted by the margaritas- they're cheap, but very weak. Beer and wine is probably your best bet.

For food, we took a family-style approach.

 Pomme frites
($3) with aioli.

Beef sliders
($7) topped with Tillamook cheddar, tomatoes, lettuce, and aioli, with house-picked veggies.

($6) with thai sweet chili, wasabi aioli, and lime.

Southwest chicken sliders
($6) with tomatoes and lettuce, with house-pickled veggies.

Green beans
($4) with spicy oyster sambal glaze and toasted peanuts.

Our favorites were the calamari and the green beans. Nice to see something semi-healthy on a happy hour menu!

After sampling the new menu, we'll definitely keep North 45 in our regular rotation, and now not only for drinks!

Monday, April 16, 2012

DIY Happy Hour: French 77

Every other year, the teachers at my mom's school auction off a three-course meal for 12 (prepared by them) at the school's annual auction. This year, my mom is in charge of cocktails. We decided that a French 77 would be a classy and simple choice for an aperitif, but my mom wanted to do a test run before the big night, just in case. Fine by me!

Lemon twists are the traditional garnish, but those things are way too much work (at least for me anyway), so I decided an amarena cherry would be a nice substitute. Yeah. Those things cost about $13 for a small jar. Not gonna happen. Instead, we grabbed a can of bing cherries. They ended up turning what should have been a champagne-colored drink pink, but we liked the hint of sweetness they added.

Anyway, these drinks are great for a celebratory occasion, especially when the weather is warmer. They're nice and light with the perfect combination of floral and fruity.

- 1 oz St. Germain
- .5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- Champagne
- Garish (lemon twist, cherry, etc)


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saratoga Restaurant: Casa de Cobre

What: Casa de Cobre
Where: 14560 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Honeys Heart: Carnitas

I first visited Casa de Cobre with the Dishcrawl team for our holiday dinner back in December. My family loves Mexican food, so when my mom mentioned that she thought it would be fun to try something new during my trip home for Easter, I thought it would be a great choice.

Casa de Cobre serves food from the Michoacan region of Mexico. It's definitely not a refried beans and mexican rice kind of place, but since my family is getting more and more adventurous with our dining, I thought they would appreciate a little something different.

We started off with an order of Chips & Salsa with Guacamole ($10).

Also, margaritas. The kiddos had the House Margarita ($9) and my parents had The Purist ($11). I liked The Purist better but I'm not convinced it's worth $11.

For dinner, my dad ordered the Carnitas ($17), slow cooked pork with beans, pickled jalapenos, carrots and onions, and flour tortillas.

This was my favorite dish of the night. As my dad pointed out, the pork was very lean and well cooked and the pickled veggies complimented the pork well. I think my dad wished the flour tortillas were corn, but he only mentioned it once so I guess it wasn't that big of a deal (he is usually a huge proponent of corn over flour).

My mom went for Enchiladas de Pollo ($14) and my sister chose Enchiladas Michoacan Vegetarian ($12).

I'm not sure if my sister enjoyed hers (she likes rice and beans a lot and there were none to be found on her plate) and my mom thought hers was just okay. I agree that the red enchilada sauce was not that different from the kind you can buy in a can at the grocery store.

Chris ordered the fish special. He ate it all so I think he liked it.

I had Chile Relleno de Puerco ($14), a breaded green pepper filled with pork and topped with roasted pecan crema.

I tried this when our intern Chris ordered it during our Dishcrawl dinner and thought it was so good. I still thought it was tasty this time around, but I think I preferred having just a taste of it versus having it for my entire meal. It was just too rich.

My dad and I also wanted to try Nopales ($8), grilled cactus with cotija cheese and potatoes.

This was definitely unique. The cactus reminded me of green pepper, and the saltiness of the cojita cheese paired nicely with the potatoes.

All in all, it was fun to bring my family to a new place, but I'm not sure if they liked it enough to warrant a second visit. Oh well!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Boston Restaurant: Casa Razdora

Before heading to New York for Kel's bachelorette party (more on that later), I stopped in Boston for the day. I mean, I couldn't really go all the way to the East Coast without at least saying hi....

Erica took a half day, so I took a nice nap in her cute and cozy apartment in the North End until she got off work at noon.

Our first mission: get some lunch. Erica chose Casa Razdora, an Italian restaurant in the Financial District that I'd never heard of.

What: Casa Razdora
Where: 114 Water Street, Financial District, Boston
Honeys Heart: Gnocchi

Casa Razdora serves salads, paninis, and pizzas, but one look at what everyone else had ordered and we knew the real star of the show had to be the pasta.

Here's how the pasta dishes at Casa Razdora work:

Step one: pick a housemade pasta- penne, fusilli, tubetti, spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettucine, linguine, ravioli, tortelloni, or gnocchi.

Step two: pick a sauce- there are 21 different options. I'm not going to list them all because, you know.

Erica chose Gnocchi with Campagnola Sauce (sausage, leeks, white wine, and mushroom porcini).

I had Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce (tomato, onion, pancetta, vodka and cream).

 The gnocchi was nice and light and the sauces were both very flavorful. I could have done with a little less sauce on mine, but since it was so delicious, I couldn't really complain.

Lunch also came with some complimentary warm focaccia bread. Yum!

Basically, I left feeling happy and full but also a little sad that Shannon and I didn't know about this place when we used to meet up for lunches on weekdays. Great choice Erica!

Following lunch, we grabbed some coffee and then wandered around the Commons, Back Bay, and the South End. Love walking in Boston!

Somehow, we ended up in front of Anchovies, a favorite of Erica's thanks to their martinis. They make them strong AND they leave the shaker in front of you and top you off when you're halfway through. So we stopped in for a martini... or three. Jocelyn joined us at some point.

Then we went to Gaslight for their Restaurant Week prix fixe dinner. Dinner came with a glass of wine, so yeah... dinner was good? I think. I know it was fun. Anyway.

It was so amazing to be back in Boston, even if it was just for a day, and I can't wait for my next visit!