Friday, July 27, 2012

Portland Happy Hours: Corazon & Brix Tavern

Last week Adam and I...wait, that's not right. Two weeks, that's not right either. Four weeks ago, yep that's it, Adam and I actually had a chance to go to a couple happy hours together. I recently started a new job at Portland Bride & Groom which has involved a lot of evening networking events and Adam's job at Nike took him to Eugene for 10 days and has required a lot of late nights recently too. Sometimes I feel like we barely see each other!

So four weeks ago Adam was in Eugene, it was my 25th birthday and I was about to fly to San Diego for Jenna's bachelorette party, when Adam decided to come home for one night to have our own celebration before I left town.

What: Corazon
Where: 1205 SW Washington Street
When:  HH 3 - 6pm and 10 - Midnight

After work we met at Corazon which recently overhauled their menu and has been receiving consistently positive reviews, also it was a short walk from my downtown office. To snack on while looking over the menu they bring you chips and Funyun type rings. None of it really excited me and I would have happily traded these out for Porque No? chips, but I obviously still ate some chips and I did enjoy the green salsa.

We started with the margarita de la casa ($6) with tequila, agave nectar, and lime - a classic house margarita. Since I am partial to tequila and tart drinks these made me much happier than the bowl of chips. 

I can't find a happy hour menu online and I don't remember the exact name or prices of this, but off the happy hour menu we ordered a fondue with chorizo and jalapenos. I love cheese (surprise!) and I am rarely disappointed by something that's main ingredient is cheese, but this was hardening before they even set it down so you couldn't just dip a chip and get a little of everything. Overall, not a great experience and we didn't eat very much of it.

We followed that by sharing 3 tacos. The Fish, Carnitas, and Lamb Barbacoa ($2.50 each). I didn't love any of them. The fish lacked any kind of special flavor, the pork was dry and the seasoning on the lamb barbacoa just wasn't my thing. Essentially there was nothing I had that made me want to come back, but the guys next to me where going on and on about how great their tacos were. Either they ordered all different ones or they don't have my sophisticated palette...

Feeling slightly depressed that Adam had driven North for a birthday celebration and we hadn't been excited about anything, we headed to another happy hour not far away.

What: Brix Tavern
Where: 1338 NW Hoyt Street
When: HH 3 - 6:30 pm, all day Mondays 3 pm - Close

Parking is always awesome in the Pearl, but we made it with 10 minutes left of happy hour. Adam went for the Brix Julep ($4) with Crown Royal, muddled mint and cucumber, honey simple syrup and lime, while I opted for the Rosemary Gin Sour with gin, rosemary simple syrup and lemonade.

I had slight drink envy since his was served in a cute mason jar, but my drink was good...enough. It is sort of funny that it is called a Rosemary Gin Sour, because it was too sweet for me. The favors were nice though so I would just ask for a little less simple syrup next time.

Having been disappointed by our previous bites at Corazon we thought we would try a couple things since the prices at Brix are really reasonable. All 18 hh items are under $7.95 - most $5.95 and under - which is pretty great. The Fried Calamari, Lemon and Rock Shrimp ($7.95) were not over fried and I liked the addition of the rock shrimp. I did have to ask for a lemon to squeeze over the top and had hoped it would be a little more flavorful though.

We also ordered a Classic Caesar Salad which was pretty standard and only $3.95. Not bad!

So I guess our happy hour spots weren't the biggest hits, but it was nice to have a chance to celebrate together! Katie actually went to Brix recently as well and left less than impressed, but I did go back for a work drink the other night and had the Summer Sun ($4) which I really enjoyed. It was Hendrick's gin (yum!), muddled cucumber, green apple simple syrup and fresh lime. It was a nice summer drink to enjoy at the outdoor tables, and the drinks are only $4. Also, the food menu is pretty large and affordable so there could be some hidden gems!

Portland Bars: The Old Gold and The Box Social

When we decided to find a place together in NW, Doug and I promised ourselves we wouldn't become those people. You know, the people who don't venture across Burnside and would certainly never find themselves on the other side of the river, especially on a weeknight.

But, slowly but surely, we kind of have become those people. Especially now that summer is finally here, it's so nice to just walk somewhere instead of drive.

Good thing Portland Monthly just published an article about Portland's Best New Bars. Finally, some inspiration to get us out of our happy, if not somewhat boring, NW rut!

We had already tried many of their recommendations (Kask, Rum Club, Barwares, Dig A Pony) but the promise of a nice patio at The Old Gold caught our eye.

What: The Old Gold
Where: 2105 N Killingsworth st
Honeys Heart: The patio

I don't know when this happened, but N Killingsworth, like the part right by Beaterville (perennial UP breakfast favorite), got really nice all of a sudden. There's all kinds of bars and restaurants and little boutiques. I didn't quite believe that Beaterville hadn't up and changed locations when we first drove by.

Anyway, The Old Gold is one of those recent additions. They have a great mix of craft cocktails and local taps, and their patio is one of the nicer I've seen in Portland. And it's dog-friendly.

I ordered The Sweet Science, made with gin, grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters, and lime.

Doug had The Angie, made with WhipperSnapper whiskey (Doug's new favorite), grated ginger, and ginger beer.

And then we shared a O.G. Mule, made with vodka, lime juice, fresh mint, and kombucha. 

We both liked the O.G. Mule the best, but all three drinks rank pretty high on our list of "best drinks in Portland."

We didn't get any food, but it all looked pretty tasty so I wouldn't mind going back for happy hour or dinner next time, instead of just getting drinks.

Happy hour is Mon-Fri from 4-7pm with $1 off well drinks, house wine, micro brews, and sandwiches.

What: The Box Social
Where: 3971 N Williams
Honeys Heart: Ru Paul Sparkle Pony  

We weren't quite ready to head home yet, so we decided to head over to another of Portland Monthly's recommendations: The Box Social.

I had been once before with Allison for an early happy hour and while it was nice, I got the feeling that The Box Social really shines after dark. It does call itself a "drinking parlour" after all.

I was right. The mood is much cozier and romantic at night.

I ordered the Ru Paul Sparkle Pony, made with St. Germain, aperol, grapefruit, rhubarb bitters, Peychauds bitters & champagne. 

I do like a cocktail that's a bit challenging- complex flavors and all that. But sometimes it's nice to drink something that's just plain delicious with no complications. That's what the Sparkle Pony was. Fruity and bubbly, I could have downed quite a few of those, no problem. Also, the name is awesome. I'll be back for more of these I'm sure. 

Doug tried For You, Vermont. Would love to tell you what's in it, but The Box Social's website is down. We know it had maple syrup in it (hence the name) and that it was tasty. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Portland Saturday: Kruger Farm, Captured by Porches, and Grain & Gristle

Before last weekend, Doug and I spent four weekends in a row driving to Seattle. I know. It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit it was so so nice to be back in Portland last weekend. Doug (in true form) took charge of planning our Saturday.

Our first activity: Berry picking!

What: Kruger Farm
Where: 17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd
Honeys Heart: All-you-can-eat berry buffet! (kinda)

In college, a trip to Sauvie Island meant sunscreen, towels, and a cooler filled with drinks. But as it turns out, Sauvie Island actually has a lot more to offer than just a nasty, if not convenient, beach.

During the summer, Kruger Farm opens its berry fields to the public. You pay by the pint, but let's just say nobody's watching to see how many berries go in your mouth versus in your basket.

Doug and I spent a good couple of hours picking lots and lots of blueberries and raspberries. Fresh berries = heaven. For real.

I think the only thing that kept us from filling up our entire pallet was the heat. Good thing Kruger Farm is also home to one of my favorite local breweries: Captured by Porches.

What: Captured by Porches
Where: Kruger Farm, D Street Noshery, and St. Johns
Honeys Heart: beer from a bus- and it's good! 

We first discovered Captured by Porches back when they used to park on Alberta and were immediately smitten. Not only is the "beer out of a bus" schtick pretty awesome, their beer is also really good.

Last weekend, they were serving a rye (forget which one) and their Apricot Blonde.

Love that apricot- so refreshing!

What: Grain & Gristle 
Where: 1473 NE Prescott
Honeys Heart: Home Invasion cocktail

For dinner, Doug choose Grain & Gristle, which we've been wanting to try. An added bonus: it's right next to Pok Pok Noi, so if nothing on G & G's menu sparked our fancy, we could head next door for wings. Woot!

We started things off with some drinks. Doug ordered a beer and I tried the Home Invasion, a cocktial made with vodka, iced tea, lime, and elderflower. It was basically a jazzed up spiked iced tea and I loved it. Perfectly refreshing. Might have to try to replicate this one at home!

We also shared an order of Mussel Frites ($10), which really hit the spot.

As we were leaving, we noticed that G & G does a $25 two-fer meal each night where you get two beers and two entrees for $25. Will need to try that sometime for sure!

And then we went next store and had wings because they were SO CLOSE we just couldn't not get them. Ya know? A good decision on our part I think.