Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Portland Restaurant: St. Jack - New location!

What: St. Jack
Where: NW 23rd and Raleigh
When: Opens at 5pm 7-days per week, Patisserie to open soon!
Honeys Heart: The new digs

Katie and I first experienced St. Jack at their old SE Clinton location where we were introduced to Kyle's (now owner of Expatriate on N. Killingworth) excellent concoctions.

It's where we photographed this quote, which describes us well:

It's where I returned with my family to enjoy a fantastic, and expectedly pricey, French dinner:

Steak Tartare ($11) hand cut steak, cornichon, capers, red onion, quail egg yolk, & toasted baguette 

Butternut Squash Soup En Croute ($11) 

Roasted Beet Salad ($10) chèvre, arugula, toasted walnuts & red wine-dijon vinaigrette

Onglet Steak Frites ($24) with shallot, red wine demi-glace & pommes frites with bearnaise

Lamb Navarin ($28) braised lamb shoulder, cream, sherry, potatoes

It's where Adam had his "favorite cocktail ever"...it involved plum whiskey, but it's been a while so I can't name the drink.

So when we heard St. Jack was relocating to our hood, we were on board! It absolutely brings some cool points to NW, which seems to be making a bit of a "trendy comeback" with the recent additions of Barista, Little Big Burger, Pacific Pie Co., Bamboo Sushi, and Salt & Straw.

Adam and I met third-cousin Chase and his fiance to check out the new digs and try a cocktail. The space is much larger with a more open bar to one side of the restaurant and the restaurant to the other. On a Sunday night it was busy but we didn't have a wait, which was excellent.

I opted for White Lady ($11) with gin, lemon juice, and something else... it was very good. In hindsight it was a cocktail that I could have made at home so on my next visit I will branch out.

KB (Chase's fiance is also a Katie so to avoid confusion she'll be KB on the blog) ordered the L'Americain ($11) with campari, lillet rose, combier pamplemousse rose and chilled seltzer.

The important thing to note here is this drink is available by the carafe for $32. Yes please on a warm sunny day!

Adam and Chase went for the St. Jack Manhattan, but it's made with rye so though my inexperienced whiskey palate kind of liked it, it wasn't Adam's favorite.

We didn't order any food during our visit but the guys next to us had each ordered the cheeseburger ($9) and were sharing the fries ($5) off the bar menu and it smelled so good.

It's not in the budget to become a regular here, but it's definitely a worth while stop on NW 23rd and I'm sure we'll be back!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Portland Brunch: Sweedeedee

What: Sweedeedee
Where: 5202 N. Albina
When: Mon - Sat 8 - 4pm, Sun 8 - 2pm
Honeys Heart: All of it

Katie has been working on the Portland content for Urban Daddy's The Next Move, a national restaurant/bar recommendation app that has since launched. Woot, Katie! Also, download it here.

Here's how it works: select a day, time, part of town, type of food or ambiance, and who you're with and it suggests a list of restaurants that fit your criteria. We decided to test it for a Saturday brunch date and that is sort of how we ended up at Sweedeedee...

Well, first we looked at the list and selected Meztica, but it turned out they only serve brunch on Sunday. Since we were in North Portland we almost redirected to an old favorite, John Street Cafe, then thought maybe Podnah's, and as we drove in circles and continued to explore the knowledge of the app, we finally picked Sweedeedee.

It is so quaint and adorable. The pictures don't do the space justice, but the white interior with shabby chic accents, shelves of pickling jars, classroom style roll down paper with a handwritten menu, and unique mix-match of furniture make the space homey and inviting.

Since it had taken some time to arrive at a destination, Katie got the Whiskey Cake from the pastry counter for us to share while we waited to be seated. (Pro tip: order at the counter. It can be a little confusing the first time you come in.) The cake, accompanied by mimosas, was a great start.

(Update!: Sweedeedee was just listed as one of the 25 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. by GQ... so expect even longer lines than usual. We showed up around 9am on a Saturday after the article ran and narrowly beat the crowd.) 

The egg sandwich ($8.50), Katie's pick, was made with egg, bacon, and shredded lettuce. The cornmeal molasses bread was thick and tasty on its own and definitely the star of this sandwich.

I am a sucker for a breakfast burrito ($9, with bacon) and this could have easily been shared. Filled with egg, potatoes, bacon, lettuce, guacamole and more, it was definitely satisfying.

An out-of-character selection for Adam was the potato plate ($11), but it is quite possibly what I would order if we returned. The potatoes were topped with an over-easy egg, smoked trout and greens. 

From the looks of the menu posted on their website, there may be slight adjustments, which all sound worth trying. Definitely a place we would return to...actually I think Katie already has!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Portland Bar: Pepe Le Moko

What: Pepe Le Moko
Where: 407 SW 10th Ave
Honeys Heart: Bocadillos 

Pepe Le Moko has been in the works for a over a year and a half now, so when Kel and I read that it was finally opening on Valentine's Day, we made plans to try it ASAP.

Most media coverage had referred to PLM as a speakeasy, which was the main reason we were so excited to try it. But a speakeasy, it is not. See, even they agree:

Pepe Le Moko actually is an underground bar serving, as Portland Monthly puts it, elevated "cocktail pariahs" and bar snacks like Hawaiian Peanuts and bocadillos.

Now, make no mistake, I enjoy a good cocktail pariah now and again (can't go to the T-room and not order a round of Tic Tacs), but if I have to pay upwards of $10 for that pariah, it better be pretty damn elevated. 

This is Pepe's Long Island Iced Tea. It costs $13 and is made with vodka, gin, rum, cointreau, lemon, Coke, and lots of crushed ice.

Is it definitely more restrained and more visually appealing than your average Long Island? Of course. It is worth $13? We aren't so sure.

When Kel and I try a new bar, we like to order cocktails off the menu. With a short, curated list and accomplished bartenders, we assume they're telling us, "this is what we're proud of and you really should try it." Looking over the menu at Pepe, the high prices of all the cocktails certainly gave us pause. $10 for a punch, $14 for an amaretto sour, and $11 for an espresso martini? Kel and I have no problem paying $10+ for a well-crafted cocktail, but it is awfully hard to rake out that kind of cash for such basic-sounding drinks. True, we only tried the Long Island and the punch, and perhaps the other options make the expense feel more justified... but given our limited budgets, we're not sure we care to take a such a pricey gamble again.

In the end, it seemed like Adam and Doug made a much better choice by ordering classics that weren't on the menu. Their Manhattan and Old Fashioned were $9 and $10 respectively and were just as good, if not better, than the cocktails Kel and I ordered off the menu. We both decided that we'd probably be better off ordering something like a gin martini or negroni if we visited again, and somehow that just ruins the fun a bit.

On the other hand, we absolutely loved the $5 bocadillos. We sampled the Chorizo Rioja and Mahon Cheese, Sweetheart Ham and Zucchini Pickles, and Nutella and Jacobsen Sea Salt. These little sandwiches are truly the perfect bar snack- simple, yet delicious.

So, will we be returning to Pepe Le Moko? I don't think it will be first on our list, especially with Clyde Common, Kask, and Multnomah Whiskey Library so close by.

Friday, February 7, 2014

SALEP Topic: Beer Cocktails

After a nice little holiday season hiatus, we finally managed to get together for another SALEP meeting (despite #snowpolcalypse keeping half of our members at home). Doug was in charge this time around and chose a topic near and dear to his heart: beer cocktails

Beer Cocktail: A libation made by mixing beer with another beverage

 Category 1: beer + a non-alcoholic drink 

Example: Radler
3 parts German Lager or Pilsner + 2 parts Lemonade
Literally meaning “cyclist” in German, this blend was invented in 1922 by Munich bartender Franz Xaver Kugler. Finding his beer garden over run by “13,000” cyclists on a hot summer day, Kugler saw his beer was starting to run out. To keep up with demand, Kugler mixed the remaining beer with lemonade and pretended he created the mix especially for the cyclists so that they could drive home without the risk of falling off their bicycle. During the summer months, radler is still very popular in Bavaria and the rest of Germany, due to its reputation of being a thirst-quencher. Many beer gardens will sell premixed radlers or will refill a half empty beer with lemonade.

Category 2: beer + beer

Example: Black and Tan
1 part Guinness + 1 part Harp Lager
Originated in England, the first written records show Black and Tans dating back to 1889, but many believe they date further back, all the way to the 1700s. The drink is not served in Ireland due its controversial name: the term “Black and Tan” is a reference to the uniforms of British paramilitary forces who opposed Irish independence in the 1920s and the name is seen as contentious and disrespectful.

Category 3: beer + spirit + other stuff

Example: Mai Ta-IPA
1 ½ oz IPA Ninkasi Total Domination IPA + 2 oz aged rum + 1 oz lime juice + ½ oz orgeat + ½ oz triple sec
Created by acclaimed mixologist Jacob Grier, this hoppy summer drink is Grier’s answer to the traditional syrupy island drink. As Jacob writes on his blog, "the classic Mai Tai offers a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spirituous elements. It doesn’t offer anything bitter. The addition of a hoppy IPA brings just a touch of bitterness to the drink while the carbonation makes it deliciously light and frothy."

Where to Find Beer Cocktails in Portland:

Try: Horse Blanket
What: IPA, whiskey, bitters
Why: Some may call it “one of the top five cocktails in Portland” (Quote: Doug Franz)

Try: Averna Stout Flip
What: Averna, stout, egg, bitters, nutmeg
Why: Head bartender Jacob Grier is the godfather of beer cocktails, creator of the Mai Ta-IPA and forthcoming book, Cocktails on Tap:The Art of Mixing Spirits And Beer.

Try: Radler
What: See above 
Why: Mixing the house Lager and lemonade, it’s a perfect thirst quencher while sitting on Hopwork’s
outside patio.

Try: Rubinator 
What: Terminator Stout + Ruby 
Why: If you have to be at a McMenamins, might as well make the best of it. McMenamins' chocolatey stout with its raspberry ale is a winning combo every time (especially when paired with Cajun tots). 

Past SALEP Topics: 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Portland Growler Station: Growlers Hawthorne Plus Brewvana and Zwickelmania

What: Growlers Hawthorne
Where: 3343 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: Noon-8pm
Honeys Heart: Meet the Brewer Nights

Portland has quite a few growler stations (Tin Bucket is Doug's and my usual pick) with even Fred Meyer getting in on the act and adding growler stations at its Burlingame, Hawthorne and Hollywood locations.

However, what Portland didn't have until very recently was a dedicated, single-purpose growler fill station, a niche which has now been claimed by Growlers Hawthorne.

Just opened and offering 40 rotating taps, Growlers Hawthorne is unusual in that the store offers no on-premise consumption aside from tastings. This allows the store to bypass a lot of those pesky full on-premise liquor license laws (must serve food, etc), resulting in relatively competitive pricing starting at $10 for a 64oz growler fill.

When Doug and I popped in for opening night this past Tuesday, Fort George was hosting a "Meet the Brewers" night and doling out samples of their canned Vortex and Java beers. Growlers Hawthorne owner Jim Hillman told me that he plans to hold these nights often. In fact, in honor of the store's opening week, Oakshire Brewing will be stopping by on Thursday Feb 6, Firestone Walker on Friday Feb 7, and Pelican Pub & Brewery on Feb 8.

We also happened to run into the lovely Ashley from Brewvana brewery tours. I interviewed Ashley a year or so ago for About Face and it's been so fun to watch her business grow. Doug and I have yet to actually make it on a tour (soon though!), but we're pretty pumped that Brewvana is working with Zwickelmania to provide transportation for the weekend.

What's Zwickelmania you ask? Why, it's a free event that offers beer lovers the opportunity to tour various Oregon breweries, meet the brewers, and sample their favorite beers. This year's Zwickelmania will take place Saturday, Feb. 15 from 11am to 4pm. Check out participating breweries and bus schedules at OregonCraftBeer.org/events/zwickelmania

P.S. You guys, I did a bit of research about the OLCC's different types of liquor licenses to fact check my liquor law reference above (responsible journalism, yo), and their manual for newly licensed businesses is actually a pretty interesting read. Check it out here.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

HHH Girls Night and Date Night Favorites

No offense to Doug, but one of the best Valentine's Days I've ever had was in Boston with Anna, Shannon, and Erica. We had an early dinner (and sake bombs) at our favorite sushi restaurant, indulged Anna by meeting some weirdo author at our go-to Emerson bar, and then went to the movies, which really just turned into downing nips in the front row (nips = mini liquor bottles obvs.) and then having a drunken heart-to-heart in the theater bathroom. Seriously, it was the best.

So in honor of that night and because Valentine's Day is coming up real soon too, here are some of Kel's and my favorite Portland spots for Girls Nights. And, because we don't want the boys to feel left out, we'll include some of our Date Night favorites too. (FYI, we filled our lists out separately, just to see how much they would or wouldn't vary.)

Girls Night:
Early Happy Hour
Katie: Mint/820 or Elephants Deli
Kelly: Noble Rot

Late Happy Hour
Katie: Driftwood Room or Cocotte
Kelly: Driftwood Room

Wine Bar
Katie: Sauvage
Kelly: Ambonnay

Katie: St. Jack
Kelly: Mint/820

Katie: Por Que No?
Kelly: Luc Lac or Thai Peacock

Katie: Splash  
Kelly: Jones or Boiler Room

Katie: Sweedeedee
Kelly: Gravy

Girl Time
Katie: Pedis and mimosas at Oasis Nails and Spa
Kelly: Pedis and champs at Oasis Nails and Spa

Date Night: 
Early Happy Hour
Katie: Clyde Common
Kelly: Paadee

Late Happy Hour
Katie: Cafe Castagna
Kelly: Nostrana

Casual Drinks
Katie: Hale Pele
Kelly: Elephants Deli

Casual Dinner
Katie: Dove Vivi
Kelly: Boxer Sushi or Samuari Blue

Special Occasion Drinks
Katie: The Box Social
Kelly: Imperial

Special Occasion Dinner
Katie: Beast or Toro Bravo
Kelly: Beast or Le Pigeon

Katie: Fifty Licks
Kelly: Fifty Licks

After Dinner Entertainment
Katie: Curious Comedy Theater
Kelly: Helium Comedy Club or Movie at Kennedy School

Happy (Early) Valentine's Day to you and yours! Cheers!