Sunday, September 25, 2011

Portland Restaurant: Beast

Up until last Friday, the best meal I had ever eaten at a restaurant was the press dinner I was (probably accidentally) invited to at Craigie on Main last spring. I feasted on squid, eel, crispy pig's tails, perfectly cooked scallops, a bourbon ice torte with bacon crust, hot chocolate with cardamom and homemade almond roca.

After the dinner, I got home and called all my friends, spellbound over the meal I had just eaten. Could it get any better than Tony Maws? I didn't think so.

But then Doug surprised me with one of the best birthday presents ever: dinner at Naomi Pomeroy's Beast. And it was wonderful. Amazing. Spectacular.

I don't like to be on blogger duty during special meals like that one, so I don't have any photos from the evening, but I will share that night's menu as well as the advice to go to Beast if you can. Guaranteed it will be one of best meals you've ever had. It certainly was for me.


End of Summer Tomato-Thyme Soup

Charcuterie Plate:
Foie-Gras Bon-Bon, Sauternes Geleé
Chicken Liver Mousse, Leaf Lard Cracker
Pork Rillettes En Croute
Steak Tartare, Quail Egg Toast
Sweet Sopressata

Lava Lake Lamb Loin Chop
Eggplant, Pepper, & Sheep Cheese Tian
Basil & Mint Sauce Vert
Veal & Duck Demi-Glace

Seared Giant Scallop
Ribbons Of Early Fall Vegetables
Lobster Aioli

Cheeses From Steve At Cheese Bar
Armagnac Poached Prune, Fried Almonds
Cardamom Shortbread

Pistachio Pots De Crème
Huckleberry Gelee
Smoked Salt Tuille

Seattle, WA: Red Mill Burgers, Fremont Brewing Co, Pie, Moshi Moshi, and La Carta de Oaxoca

In Doug's ongoing quest to try to make me switch my allegiance from The Rose City to the Emerald one (p.s. it ain't gonna happen), he's done a great job of introducing me to some of Seattle's smaller neighborhoods that I hadn't previously visited.

A few weekends ago, we began our day in Seattle with a trip to Red Mill Burgers, a Seattle institution.

What: Red Mill Burgers
Where: 312 N 67th St, Phinney Ridge (1 of 2 locations)
Honeys Heart: Verde Burger

The original Red Mill opened in 1937 and was located in Capitol Hill. That location closed in 1967 but in 1994, a new Red Mill was opened in Phinney Ridge. 

Even though Red Mill reopened over 15 years ago, lines are still out the door on weekends. That's how good their burgers are.

Why so good? Well, it might have something to do with the bacon...

Yeah, those are stacks and stacks of it.

Doug and I patiently waited our turn in line and then took our burgers to-go so we could enjoy them here:

Golden Gardens Park. Nice, right?

Anyway, back to the burgers. Doug chose a Bacon Deluxe w/Cheese which comes with pepper bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, American cheese, and Mill sauce.

You can't tell from the photo, but these burgers are huge. And very delicious.

I chose the Verde Burger with comes with fire-roasted Anaheim peppers, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion (none for me), and Mill sauce.

I've been a burger purist (bun, meat, and ketchup only) for most of my life and have only recently taken to lettuce, tomatoes and sauce on my burgers, so stepping out of my comfort zone with the Verde Burger was kind of a risk... but it definitely paid off.

This in one of the best burgers I've had in quite some time (yeah, looking at you $20 Craigie on Main burger). I'll definitely be back.

After we had our fill of sun at the beach, Doug and I headed to the Fremont area to hit up Fremont Brewing Company, one of Doug's favorite beer spots in the city.

What: Fremont Brewing Company
Where: 3409 Woodland Park Ave N, Fremont
Honeys Heart: Free pretzels & the "urban beer garden" 

Fremont Brewing is cool because their "urban beer garden" sits right in the middle of their brewery. And there's free pretzels- always a plus in my book.

Doug and I opted for samplers

I might have gotten in trouble for arranging our beers by color for the sake of this photo... and not remembering their original order. But hey, Doug claims to be pretty good at identifying beers by taste so it wasn't really that big of a deal...

What: Pie
Where: 3515 Fremont Ave N, Fremont
Honeys Heart: Apple pie

On our way to the brewery, I had spotted a little pie shop called, fittingly, Pie, so of course I had to check it out after we left the brewery. (Side note: Have you also heard rumblings that pie is the new cupcake?  I hope it's true. Pie is obviously infinitely more delicious.)

There, we picked up three mini-mini pies for $4. We chose berry, apple and keylime.

The berry was in trouble to begin with because Doug's mom is the absolute queen of blackberry pies and it's hard for any pie to compete... but Pie's berry was pretty decent. I definitely prefered the keylime to the berry though and the apple was my favorite of the three.

Pie also makes savory pies so maybe give those a try too.

What: Moshi Moshi Sushi
Where: 5324 Ballard Avenue, Ballard
Honeys Heart: Cocktail menu glossary

Our next stop of the day was Moshi Moshi, a sushi place located in Ballard, another cute little Seattle neighborhood.

Moshi Moshi may be a sushi restaurant but they are actually better known for their craft cocktails. Their cocktail list reminded me a lot of Eastern Standard in Boston, another cocktail mecca.

For his cocktail, Doug ordered Death Poem ($12) made with Guatemalan rum, rye, grapefruit, lemon, Aperol, cinnamon bark syrup, and an orange twist. He loved it. I'm not a huge fan of rum so it wasn't my favorite. 

I chose Mary Pickford (London Edition) ($10) made with gin, pineapple gum, lime, maraschino, and house grenadine. It reminded me a lot of my go-to cocktail at Eastern Standard, Aviation, so I liked it quite a bit.

I also liked that while Moshi Moshi certainly does use what some might call pretentious ingredients, they tone down the snob factor by including a glossary of ingredients on the back of their cocktail menu.


Surprisingly enough (given all the food we'd already eaten that day), after drinks at Moshi Moshi, Doug and I were ready for a late dinner.

What: La Carta de Oaxoca
Where: 5431 Ballard Ave, Ballard
Honeys Heart: Mole

La Carta de Oaxoca is Doug's favorite Mexican spot in Seattle and I can see why. La Carta serves traditional Oaxocan cuisine and they serve it well. Very well, in fact.

We started off with an order of chips and guacamole with salsas from the salsa bar.

Homemade chips are always a good sign...

For our entrees, Doug ordered Moletes, potatoes and beef sausage wrapped in fried homemade tortillas with guac, hot sauce and Oaxaqueno cheese.

They were just as good as they sound. I would order them for myself in a heart beat.

My usual order at Mexican restaurants is a side of rice and beans with tortillas. It may sound odd, but I'm a firm believer that if a Mexican restaurant can't do those three things really well, they have no business serving any food.

But... I decided to break out of my mold and try La Carta's specialty: Mole Negra Oaxaqueno made with black chile mole with chicken or pork (I chose pork) and served with white rice and tortillas.

Now I'm no expert on mole (you'd have to go to my dad for that) but this was delicious. Mole has a lot of strong flavors in it (chiles, chocolate, garlic, etc.) and they were balanced perfectly in this sauce. Great fresh tortillas too. Dad, if we ever get you and Mom up to Seattle, we're going here for sure.

Stay tuned for more Seattle posts coming soon!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Seattle Restaurant and Brewery: Salumi Artisan Cured Meats & Pike Brewing Company

So this thing happens where sometimes (or usually), Doug forgets that he lives in Portland and likes to plan weekend activities in Seattle. That means that I've been going up to Seattle a lot too. I've made the trip up there about three times in the last month and a half or so.

Of course, I can't really complain. Seattle is an amazing city and Doug has been doing a great job of showing me around. (I'll note here that Doug is of the mindset that Seattle is superior to PDX. He is wrong. But that's for another post...)

My first visit to Seattle started with a beer tour around downtown guided by Doug's friend Matt. You can find out more about the tour, put on by Seattle By Foot, here. I won't go into specifics but I'd highly recommend it if you like beer and random historical facts.

Since we stayed with Doug's parents in Port Orchard, my visit also included some happy hours in nearby towns. Silver City Brewery in Silverdale and Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor are both favorites of Doug's family. Silver City has a great selection of beers (Fat Scotch Ale and Whoop Pass double IPA are Doug's recommendations) and Tide's Tavern has a great view from their patio.

My favorite day of my visit, however, was our day spent in Seattle for a Mariners/Sounders double header.

We decided to forgo lunch purchased at Safeco Field in favor of bringing our own sandwiches from Salumi, another Franz family favorite.

What: Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
Where: 309 3rd Ave S, Pioneer Square, Seattle
Honeys Heart: Wine salami and mole salami 

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats is a small storefront belonging to the Batali family (yep, Mario's relatives) that sells salami and cured meat products as well as sandwiches and weekly soup and pasta specials.

There's usually a line wrapped around the corner.

While they do have a large room in the back that you can reserve for specially catered meals, Salumi is pretty small, so plan on grabbing your sandwich to go.

The day we were there, Salumi was featuring three types of salami:
- Salumi Salami (the house salami made with a touch of ginger)
- Mole (spiced with chocolate, cinnamon, ancho and chipotle peppers)
- Wine

After doing a bit of sampling, I opted for a sandwich with wine salami, though the mole was a close second choice.

Salumi stacks their sandwiches with sweet peppers and onions, a parsley & capers spread, a garlic spread, provolone or mozzarella (if you want it) and, of course, salami. So flavorful and delicious! 

Doug opted for the special sandwich of the day: Pork Cheeks.

Like me chowing down in the background? Anyway, this sandwich was super tasty, but pork cheeks are a little too fatty for my taste. A bite or two was all I needed.

What: Pike Brewing Company 
Where: 1415 1st Ave, Pike Place Market, Seattle
Honeys Heart: Naughty Nelly

Following the Mariners game, we had a few hours to kill before the Sounders game started. Doug and his friends are Sounders season ticket holders so their pre-game drinking rituals are pretty well set. Often they'll begin at Pike Brewing Company (which was also a stop on Matt's pub crawl.)

Pike Brewing Company offers around 13 different beers, all brewed on location. You can learn about them here. My favorite is Naughty Nelly, an American Pale Ale named for Nellie Curtis, madam of the LaSalle Hotel where Pike was founded.

Doug also recommends Monk's Uncle, a tasty Belgian with a super high alcohol content. 

Pike also offers a full menu, though the only thing I've ever had on my multiple visits are the nachos which come topped with pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, black bean corn salsa, tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos and your choice of chicken, pork or veggie patties tossed in Pike BBQ sauce. 

They're the perfect accompaniment to a pitcher (or two). 

Stay tuned for more about my Seattle trips including drinks at the celebrated Moshi Moshi and Seattle's best Chinese food!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Portland Restaurant: Lela's Bistro

Where: 1524 NW 23rd Ave (and Raleigh) 
When: Closed Mon, Tues - Sat: 11 - 9pm , Sun: 11 - 3pm
Honeys Heart: Beef Bulgogi Banh Mi

Katie, Jenna and I had a dream to get in really good shape this summer by training for a half marathon that Jenna's mom wants her to run next spring. Our runs started small (well, they're still small but that's not the point) and were a loop down 23rd and up 26th/Westover. We first noticed Lela's Bistro prior to its grand opening and added it to our "must try" list on Katie's phone. 

We headed to Lela's the day before Katie's interview on More Good Day Oregon (promoting Dishcrawl) to prep and relax.  

Katie and I like to share when exploring a new restaurant so we opted to split two Banh Mi, Vietnamese sub style sandwiches. Lela's Banh Mi varieties are all created on 12" baguettes, with aioli, pickled carrots, cucumbers, onions and cilantro served with a side green salad and scallions with a sesame soy dressing. They start at only $4-quite a steal!

While we were originally leaning towards the Pork Belly ($7), our waitress suggested we opt for the Pork Meatball "Xiu Mai" with ground pork, steamed in a light savory broth. The flavors of this sandwich were more mild than our other selection, but refreshing and delicious.

Our second sandwich was Beef Bulgogi with Kim Chi, a Korean style marinated beef with housemade Kim Chi (slightly spicy, flavorful pickled cabbage, served in lieu of picked carrots). This sandwich was probably our favorite, though they were both great. The beef was really flavorful and tender!

Based on a recommendation from a Portland Monthly Eat Beat article stating that Lela's homemade sodas rivaled that of Pok Pok's drinking vinegars, we both ordered the Lychee Raspberry Fizz which were really unique and light.

To make a great lunch even better, we were able to enjoy our sandwiches and sodas on the patio, in rocking chairs, while doing some people watching.

Check out their whole menu here and follow them on twitter at @LeLasBistro .