Friday, April 7, 2017

Portland Happy Hour: SuperBite

What: SuperBite
Where: 527 SW 12th Ave 
When: Daily HH from 5-6pm (also available at Kask 4-6pm)

Katie and I are super proud of ourselves when we actually make it to a happy hour these days. This is partially because we rarely have weeknight dates (thanks, dogs and husbands) and partially because we never make it anywhere early enough for happy hour (looking at you, semi-demanding work schedules). So when we finally scheduled a SuperBite happy hour date, we had to make the most of it.

Our dining experience at SuperBite started with a bit of seat-selection anxiety. Katie arrived 10 minutes before me and played musical chairs, ultimately ending up choosing a seat in the bar. Moments after I arrived and sat down, Karen Brooks, Portland Monthly's food critic, walked in and sat at the well-lit kitchen bar in the main dining area, highlighting what Katie already knew to be true: she had made the wrong seating decision. Basically, we missed out on any potential hobnobbing and the lighting was terrible for photos, but we'll forgive Katie, it's a lot of pressure!

Anyway, regardless of seating choices, we unfortunately left SuperBite underwhelmed.

Our expectations were high going in because 1) this is the second venture for the husband-wife chef team behind the impressive Ox and 2) if your whole restaurant concept is built on combining unique or seemingly separate flavors into one "super bite", that one bite better be fucking phenomenal.

When we finally were able to track down a server (we know we're not Karen Brooks but come on!), we asked for his top happy hour recommendations and he tricked us into buying all of the bites, which were $2 each. The bites are really the right size for one person but we opted to share all but the salmon. Also, he didn't really trick us, we're actually very easily convinced to order lots of food...

The Salmon Crudo is served with hibiscus ponzu, pickled jalapeno, and shiso, and was a pretty solid bite - I suppose at $2, it's similar to getting a piece of sashimi at a sushi restaurant.

Both of us really enjoyed the Dungeness Crab taco with celery root tortilla, sesame mayo, orange, and tobiko. The celery root tortilla provided a unique texture and the bite featured a solid serving of crab.

I think we were originally most intrigued by the Grilled Shitake with miso-procini marshmallow and sauternes glaze, but the porcini marshmallow didn't quite live up to the hype and was fairly indistinguishable.

Next up was the Beef Tongue "spam" musubi with cucumber, and Chinese hot mustard served on top of rice. This was one of our server's favorites and I could imagine it being one that people lean towards since it is a bit more substantial.

Finally, we tried the Duck Croquette A L'Orange with crispy duck rillettes and tangerine aioli. Neither of us had tried duck l'orange prior and while it was good, again we wanted to be wowed and didn't quite get there.

As I write this, I'm wondering if our expectations were unreasonable or if the experience really was missing a little something something.

To round out our happy hour, we also ordered the Nashville-style Hot Fried Cauliflower which was super spicy and a dish I probably would skip next time around (if there is a next time around...).

Last up, we had the Double Stack Cheeseburger ($10) with ground beef and shitake mushroom topped with fontina and cheddar, fancy sauce, dill pickle, and onion on a sesame seed bun. It sounds like a good idea and a ton of burger for $10 so we jumped on it. I would actually like to get Doug and Adam's take on this burger because Katie and I were not digging the texture that the mushroom added.

The real topper on the iffy service and underwhelming food is that we both felt nauseous for the rest of the night. Not the best way to remember what should have been an enjoyable happy hour.

Basically, we're not raring to try this happy hour again anytime soon - but we are curious to know if our experience was the norm, or if we caught SuperBite on an off night. Let us know!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Portland Restaurant: Güero

What: Güero
Where: 200 NE 28th Ave
When: 11am-10pm, Tuesday-Sunday
Honeys Heart: Refrito Torta

The first torta I ever had was from a small cart in Guatemala. That torta was filled with pieces of hot dog, ham, chicken, and chorizo topped with mayo, salsa, tomatoes, and jalapenos, and though Doug was adamant that it didn't do justice to tortas as a whole, I was already hooked on what is essentially a Mexican street food sandwich.

Since then, I've had a few different torta experiences, including an insanely spicy version at Rick Bayless's Tortas Frontera in Chicago and a delicious, but sadly no longer available, carnitas torta at Edgar's Cantina at Safeco Field. My torta consumption has been lacking here in Portland though, and so I was very excited to check out the new brick and mortar location of well-reputed torta food cart Güero

Güero's food menu features seven different tortas as well as bowls, snacks, and sides.

I opted for the Refrito ($9.50) made with refried beans, avocado, roasted serrano peppers, fresh onions, pink pickled onions, cotija cheese, cilantro, poblano crema, and chile lime aioli.

Doug went for the Ahogado ($9) with carnitas, habanero slaw, and cilantro topped with achiote tomato sauce.

Both of our sandwiches were huge, very flavorful with a definite spicy kick, and pretty messy. In other words, come hungry and don't wear your Sunday best.

We also split a Sik'il Pak ($7) which is a pumpkin seed dip with fire-roasted tomatoes, chiles, citrus, and herbs served with jicama slices and tostadas. To me, this dish was totally lacking in flavor compared to the tortas and Doug found the dip oddly sweet. The jicama did provide a crisp, refreshing contrast to the spicy tortas, but that wasn't enough for me to be pleased with this dish.

Of course, we had to sample some drinks too. I went with the classic Margarita ($8.5) and Doug tried the Margarita Yucateca ($10) made with mezcal, sour orange juice, and grapefruit. We both preferred my margarita, which wasn't a surprise on my end since I am not the mezcal fan that Doug is.

I'd like to go back again soon to try some of the other tortas as well as La Jefa, a cocktail made with horchata, tequila, ancho chile liqueur, and orange zest. 

Te veo pronto, Güero!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Portland Happy Hour: High Noon

What: High Noon
Where: 822 SW 2nd Ave
When: HH Mon-Fri, 3pm-7pm
Honeys Heart: Lots of happy hour food & drink options

Sometimes you just have to embrace being a #basicbitch and go see 50 Shades Darker with your girlfriends. If you saw the first 50 Shades movie, you know that a certain level of tipsiness is necessary to endure two hours of horrible dialogue and "kinky f***ery", so with that in mind, Kel, Dana, and I met for happy hour at High Noon before heading to the movie theater.

High Noon's slogan is "Southwest by Northwest" and their menu highlights Southwestern dishes like frybread, arepas, and nachos, all prepared with local ingredients. While the decor borders on gimmicky (at least they got rid of the John Wayne mural?), we were impressed with the number of food and drink items on the happy hour menu and the prices.

From the happy hour menu, we ordered the Nachos ($5), Hush Puppies ($4), and Street Corn ($3), plus Grapefruit Drops ($6).

The nachos were tasty and a decent-sized portion and the hush puppies were good too. I never say no to street corn and High Noon's version did not disappoint.

While my first Grapefruit Drop was on the weak side, a pet peeve of mine when it comes to happy hour drinks, the second seemed like a standard pour, making the $6 price tag feel like more of a steal.

Since none of us had tried frybread before, we also ordered a Sweet Pork Frybread with Roasted Pasilla Verde ($9) off the regular menu.

High Noon describes frybread as "southwest scones" which I don't think gives an accurate picture of this dish. Frybread is more like flatbread that has been fried... so exactly what it sounds like and not like a scone at all. Descriptions aside, it was flavorful and delicious, and worth the non-happy hour price.

I should also mention that the service was a bit touch and go, depending on what server was helping us.

However, overall, we left very satisfied with our happy hour experience at High Noon and I would recommend it as a great post-work spot for the downtown crowd.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Portland Restaurant: Q Restaurant

What: Q Restaurant & Bar
Where: 828 SW 2nd Ave
When: Dinner daily, lunch on weekdays, and brunch on weekends
Honey's Heart: The Quiche

Veritable Quandary, a classic old Portland restaurant and favorite of downtown professionals and travelers alike, recently closed its doors after 45 years. The property that was home to VQ is being turned into a new Portland Courthouse (boring) and so the GM and chef were forced to start a new venture or, in some ways, replicate their previous one.

Q Restaurant, their new spot, does share much of the same vibe as VQ with dark wood, similar menu items, the bar separated from dining space, etc. It is missing VQ's beloved patio, but we have insider news that Q is working with businesses in the building with the hopes of utilizing the rooftop at some point in the future.

Anyway, here's the real question. Is it worth the trek downtown on a weekend morning?

We started our brunch at Q with grapefruit mimosas, which were some much needed hair of the dog for this gal who had indulged in wine, fireball shots, and vodka sodas the night prior.

Katie also ordered a black coffee with cream and sugar (which I shared with her...did I mention the state I was in?) and it was beautifully presented. Perhaps taking up a bit too much table space, but never-the-less an upscale coffee experience.

To amp up our citrus intake, we also enjoyed Grapefruit Slices ($5) with green tea simple syrup and mint. If you're looking for something super light and refreshing, this is a great starter dish to share. One for a group of four would probably be great.

For our savory brunch items, we opted for the quiche special ($16), which we learned Chef Annie only makes occasionally. It was definitely our favorite dish with sweetness from caramelized onions and hearty squash and cheese, and I think probably they should just make it all the time. I would be fairly disappointed if I went there for brunch and didn't get to have this!

We also shared the Chilaquiles ($15) which were tasty and beautifully presented. Our waiter had also recommended the Monte Cristo and I feel like that could have been a good direction for us - apparently it's the real deal.

On the sweet side, we shared the Pugliese French Toast ($14) with bananas, mascarpone, and candied walnuts and Cinnamon & Sugar Churros ($7) with dipping chocolate. Unfortunately, both slightly missed the mark on texture and flavor. The french toast felt bland and a bit dry to us, and the churros weren't quite crispy enough on the outside, leaving the whole bite with a pretty doughy consistency.

We should also mention that the service we received during our visit was impeccable, right down to the thoughtful tour of the kitchen that Q's GM Erin took us on.

So, will Q be around in 40 some years like its predecessor? Will people be up in arms when/if it closes? I'm not sure yet, but I think the new location combined with the strong references to its predecessor is nothing but a good thing. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Portland Restaurant: Han Oak

What: Han Oak
Where: 511 NE 24th Ave
Honeys Heart: Everything

Hiiii! Remember us? Your wildly inconsistent blogger friends?

Well, it's 2017 and that means this little blog is coming up on 9 years in existence. Yikes. We're old.

If there is one good thing about getting old, it's that we can now afford some classier dining experiences (when is the last time we even wrote about a happy hour?!) - including dinner at Han Oak.

Tucked behind The Ocean's micro-restaurant complex, Han Oak is a reservation-only, non-traditional Korean restaurant specializing in prix-fixe dinners.

The reservation process is slightly intense (read about it here), but thankfully Kelly, Adam, and I have Doug, planner extraordinaire, who coordinated a dinner reservation for us.

Dinners at Han Oak are $35 per person plus gratuity and whatever drinks and additional plates you have. Doug and I came away from our last hyped-up prix-fixe meal (looking at you, Nodoguro) feeling underwhelmed and still kind of hungry, but that was definitely not our experience at Han Oak. We were so stuffed but also so impressed with the food and drinks. Definitely worth the reservation hassle and the $35.

Here's what we had: 

1) Pork and Chive Dumplings ($9), served with black vinegar broth and ginger

These dumplings are not part of the prix-fixe meal but they are worth the extra cost. Trust me.

2) Korean Fried Cauliflower ($9), with spicy gochujang glaze and bread & butter daikon

The cauliflower was another delicious add-on, but since there are three other veggie dishes on the prix-fixe menu, you could skip this one, no problem. 

3) Napa Cabbage and Daikon Kimchi

4) Roasted Brussel Sprouts with miso and mustard

5) Crispy Sweet & Sour Potatoes with toasted sesame 

I love sweet potatoes and the sour kick that these had in addition to the natural sweetness made this my favorite veggie plate on the menu.

6) Winter Squash with togarashi, meyer lemon, and fried garlic

7) Kalgooksu- egg drop chicken broth with handcut wheat noodles and poached chicken

I didn't think this soup was as flavorful as the other dishes served, but the handcut wheat noodles had a great texture.

8) Smoked Hanger Steak

Both main dishes were served with wrappers of sorts (lettuce with the steak and rice noodle sheets with the pork belly) so you could create your own little hand-held bites. Our server encouraged us to experiment and combine ingredients from both main dishes, which was fun and very tasty.

9) Koji-marinated, slow-roasted Pork Belly with rice noodle sheets, pickled daikon, and scallion salad

I don't usually like pork belly but even I liked this.

To drink, Kel and I both had The Golden Age ($9), made with saffron soju, cocchi americano, mezcal, satsuma, meyer lemon, and gochujang foam.

The description sounds a bit ominous (soju AND mezcal), but the resulting drink was actually quite nice and lighter than I expected.

Han Oak also serves brunch and just announced that they will operate as a no-reservations noodle and dumpling house on Sunday and Monday nights from 5-10pm. Pretty sure we'll need to check that out.