We got out of town last week and took the train down to Portland for a little vacation, just in time for a massive heat wave. Despite broken-down buses (one overheated and died on the Burnside Bridge – fun!), blisters, short tempers and heat exhaustion, we managed to have a great time and eat quite a lot of food. Also, it was an excellent weekend for sitting in the shade drinking beer, so we made sure to do plenty of that. We started at the Hedge House.
And we had to go to Pok Pok, of course. We have occasionally considered eating here every single night we spend in Portland. One of these trips…
The next day, after working up a thirst at the art museum (currently exhibiting R. Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis), we stopped at Henry’s 12th St. Tavern for some lunch. And, most importantly, Walking Man beer.
Henry’s is a bigger place than I usually like, but they really do have a smashing beer list. It’s also a good place to watch World Cup matches – or just watch other people watching World Cup matches.
Later that day we made sure to stop in to Clyde Common for happy hour. And what a happy hour! I got one of the drinks on special, the Nasturtium, spicy and delicious with ginger liqueur. Jon couldn’t resist getting the aged Trident off the regular menu. We also ordered the fried chickpeas, which turned out to be so dangerously addictive I may never dare get them again.
For dinner that night we walked the half mile or so down Division to a little neighborhood bistro we had spied from the bus, Bar Avignon. The strangest thing about it was the absence of tattoos on the staff – I kept wondering if I was really in Portland.
The food was excellent, and perfect for summer: duck rillettes with pickled vegetables, crostini topped with smashed fresh peas and sardines, and roasted chicken with yogurt sauce and a rice pilaf with currants (they left out the almonds for me). There was a nice wine list. It was peaceful and cool. I would definitely come back here.
The next day we went running and had Pok Pok leftovers for breakfast (whoo! spicy), eventually rolling back down the block to the Hedge House for sandwiches. I had the P.A.B.S.T., which is a great way to eat a salad for those of us that don’t really like salads. Jon had a cheesesteak sandwich, which I believe is what he got there last year as well. Hmm.
After lunch we took the bus over to House Spirits Distillery for a tour and tasting.
We admired the copper kettle, and learned many things about the distilling process which I have already forgotten.
After the tour we crammed into the small (and quite warm) tasting room along with a bunch of people doing the whole “distillery row” tour. House Spirits makes a great variety of stuff, Aviation Gin being one of the more well-known, but we were excited to try some of their “apothecary line” of limited edition spirits as well.
As it turned out, we loved the Oregon Ouzo, liked the whiskey, and rather disliked the Japanese spirit (I just can’t get the hang of sake, which this was made of), but we absolutely adored the Krogstad Aquavit, one of their regular line. It’s amazing – star anise light on the tongue, followed by a clean caraway trail as you swallow. We have a bottle of this now.
Later in the afternoon, we headed up to the Laurelhurst neighborhood. We drank glasses of chilled Gascogne wine in a nice pub called Spints and watched hot Portlanders stroll and bicycle (and unicycle) by.
We ate dinner at Tabla. It was lovely.
They’re doing some really nice work at this restaurant, especially with their fish and pasta. I’m not showing you half of what we ate there, because our table was dark and most of the the pictures are awful, so you’ll have to take my word for it. We really needed the long walk to the bus stop to recover from this meal.
And finally it was time to go home. On our way to the train station the next morning we stopped at Kenny & Zuke’s for a takeout lunch. They made us a pastrami sandwich of epic proportions and quality, wrapping it nicely for travel along with a baggy of excellent pickles and some good sour coleslaw. It made an excellent last taste of Portland.