Review: Salt & Straw. Portland, OR.

Salt & Straw
2035 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

2012 for me has been the year of Portland. For the food-obsessed blogger such as myself, that is considered such a blessing. Portland is a mecca for great food. An amazing restaurant on every corner.

The sheer quantity of places I needed to try in Portland is the only excuse I’ve got for not trying Salt & Straw sooner. I knew about it. Everyone knows about it, hence the ever present line at the brick-and-mortar locations.

So after months of eating through the town and after a quick yet delicious bite at Little Big Burger, I decided that enough was enough. Salt & Straw was on call for dessert.

After waiting in line and sampling a few of the flavors, I ended up choosing Almond brittle with Salted ganache on a fresh waffle cone. Oh man, this thing was amazing.

Have you ever taken a bit into something and have your eyes light up because it was so good. On a different level with any other item in that category. This ice cream was that for me. No doubt the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Nothing is even close.

It’s the first time I’ve really freaked out after eating something since eating Doughnut Vault in the spring. I immediately texted some friends and told them that they wouldn’t believe how good it was…. to which one asked if it was better than Braum’s (it is).

I’ve since tasted some more adventurous flavors and while good, none of them can compare to the first one I had. The fact that I mentioned it in the same breathe as Doughnut Vault is about as high of praise as I can give it. If you’re in the area, you have to check it out. I wish I did sooner.

Salt & Straw on Urbanspoon

Review: Little Big Burger. Portland, OR.

Little Big Burger
3810 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202

Sometimes when I’m traveling, after a long day at the office, I just want to go somewhere simple and make a burger my biatch. A burger paired with some fries is the ultimate comfort food to me. But comfort food doesn’t have to be low brow.

When I tell people about Little Big Burger, my usual description is “It’s Portland’s Shake Shack.” While that sounds like a bit of an indictment of LBB’s originality, I actually mean it as a compliment.

Their emphasis on local & organic (especially taking into consideration that it’s a fast casual restaurant) is awesome.

The menu, as seen on the outside of the building, is simple. It’s pretty much: Do you want cheese on your burger (who says no to that)? What kind (they offer 4 different local cheeses: chevre, swiss, cheddar, bleu)? Do you want fries?

For dessert they offer floats made with tillamook vanilla ice cream. No frills. All wonderful.

The burger I order is a cheeseburger (cheddar) all the way with truffle fries (that’s right the default preparation for french fries is tossed in trufle oil, hell yea). The only downfall to the burger is, welp, it’s kinda little. I went back and ordered another in order to fill up.

The fries are really good, of course I could drink truffle oil.

Overall, Little Big Burger is a really good burger, responsibly sourced and prepared wonderfully.

RATING: ***

Little Big Burger on Urbanspoon

Review: St. Jack. Portland, OR.

St. Jack
2039 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202

I love french food. I know it’s cliche, but that doesn’t matter to me. I credit the french bistros in Manhattan with a large chunk  of my obsession with food. I loved food before, but those places really opened my eyes with regards to food.

St. Jack in Portland is a great example of a well done traditional french bistro. It takes me back a few years to a place where amazing food was completely new to me.

Rolling up on a Tuesday after work, I ended up sitting outside (for picture-taking purposes, you’re welcome). The service was really great and the weather was even better.

Starting off, I had escargots with ham, mushrooms and gruyere croutons. They were nothing spectacular, but enjoyable none the less.

For the entree, I ordered the ubiquitous steak frites. Similar to the escargot, the dish was nothing amazing, but a solid play on a standard french dish. The steak was nicely cooked, though a bit under seasoned. The fries were okay, nothing to write home about.

For dessert I had baked to order madeleines. These were the best part of the meal. Hot and fresh out of the oven, they had a light lemon flavor which combined nicely with the thin layer of powdered sugar. If you go here, get these.

Overall, I’d say this place is the go to for traditional french bistro fare in Portland. If that is what you’re after and you’re in the area, this place is a can’t miss.

RATING: ***
Patisserie St. Jack on Urbanspoon

Review: Luce. Portland, OR.

Rolling up to Luce the week after Bon Appetit named it a top 10 restaurant in america last month, I was fully prepared to bombarded by a hipster apocalypse. To my surprise the crowd was surpisingly, even hilariously, geriatric (it was right at 5 afterall, who else eats that early?). The patrons were quite aware of the recent accolades garned by the restaurant. One older gentleman went so far as to read the BA the article to his wife in complete AD Club Sauce style. Hilarious.

The restaurant is really small and I arrived expecting a 3hr wait. It turned out to only be 45mins-1hr before I was sat, so that was nice. The meal however, took forever. About 3 hours in total. (That’s a 4 hour dinner experience folks, 4 HOURS! Ain’t Nobody got time for that)

The staff was super friendly, so I hate to say anything negative about the experience. But it’s not like they’re  hurting for praise these days. So let’s, as they say, keep it real.

The antipasti and charcuterie came out first. The charcuterie was absolutely nothing special. Let’s get that out the way. Out of the antipasti, the clams were really good. The potato salad was okay and the mozzarella with anchovies were not good.

The Salt Foccacia was good, but not as good as I expected it to be (I was really excited for this meal).

 For pasta, I got the spaghetti with hot peppers and clams. Since this recipe actually appears in the issue, I was expected a lot. Like a lot of the meal, it was just OK.

The hanger steak was definitely the best part of the meal in my opinion. This recipe appears in the magazine as well. The steak is cooked and served in a garlic rosemary olive oil. It was both simple and delicious.

I had a hazelnut chocolate cake for dessert, which I don’t have the photo of. It was good, definitely worth getting if you’re there.

Overall, I would say this is a good meal, but no way is it a top 10 new restaurant in america. Based on the comments of Andrew Knowlton I expected to be blown away by the quality of the ingredients and I just wasn’t. If you’re expecting to be wowed like I was, steer clear. If you want a simple, solid italian meal that takes 3-4hrs to get through, then give it a shot.

RATING: ***
Luce on Urbanspoon

Notes from the Road: The Farm Cafe. Portland, OR.

After the Bon Appetit top 10 New Restaurants in America was released last month, I rushed over to Luce to give it a try. Unfortunately, it was a Tuesday and Luce was closed. Disheveled and disappointed I staggered into The Farm Cafe for a self-pity filled dinner.

I didn’t take pics, though I should have. I ordered the Lamb dish that night and it turned out to be one of the best (possible the best) lamb dishes I’ve ever had. If you’re ever in the area, you should give this place a try.

Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon