May 30, 2007

Rialto Poolroom Bar and Cafe (529 SW Fourth Ave)

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I read somewhere that Rialto had the best bar food in town. I decided to check it out for myself on Saturday.

My first impression of Rialto went like this: the waitress came up to my table. "Hi." [Fake smile] "Are you going to start a tab or pay with cash as you go along? Because we've had a lot of walk outs lately and she makes us pay for them out of our paychecks and I just can't afford it. I'm not taking any chances." Okay then. I gave her my card.

The HR person inside me wanted to say, "you know, you can report that to the Bureau of Labor and Industries. It's illegal for employers to make deductions from employees' paychecks without their authorization." But then I thought, nah. I don't feel like talking HR on Saturday.

I ordered the Salad Nicoise, which had house-poached tuna along with everything but the kitchen sink, including potatoes, lettuce, onions, boiled eggs, tomatoes and I really can't possibly remember everything that was in it, but it was a lot. Dressed in garlic vinaigrette. Sounded good and mildly healthy. Oh and I also ordered onion rings, just so I could check out the bar food part of the menu.

I got my big fat salad and here's the thing: I like garlic. If a menu item says it has garlic, you should be able to taste it. I don't think it was actually garlic vinaigrette. I think it was vegetable oil poured over the salad. And it wasn't good. There was no taste. I added salt and pepper just to get through it. It was a boring salad, despite the promises of exciting ingredients, and I kind of resented that.
The onion rings were good, but then they went and poured excessive amounts of table salt on them. That made them not so good. But they were better than the salad. (Of course that's a ridiculous statement because when are onion rings fried in beer batter NOT better than any type of salad?)
I did enjoy watching people play pool while I ate and enjoyed the almost disasterous encounter with another pool hall patron who nearly fell on my table as he stumbled out the door to call it a night. That was fun.

I would go back to play pool and eat on the side, but probably wouldn't go back just to eat. They do have pool lessons, which might be fun (and necessary for me!)

We Have a Winner!

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Congratulations to Distilled Publishing for winning the random drawing for the concert ticket giveaway!

Stay tuned for more giveaways and fun prizes celebrating our lovely city of Portland in the near future...

May 29, 2007

Nordstrom (701 SW Broadway)

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If there is one part of me that I could change, it would be my feet. My feet are really wide and any cute shoes that I find shut out my wide paddles as soon as my big toe hits the sole. If I did what was good for my feet, I would be doomed to a life of matronly, orthopedic shoes.

Instead, I usually go to a cheap shoe store and buy a size bigger than what I need in wide, which usually works, since one of my feet is wider than the other. But those shoes don't last long, or fit right, so it doesn't pay off in the long run. I have not been able to find good, attractive shoes that fit me in a really long time. On Saturday, I decided to see if Nordstrom downtown had any possibilities.

Travis, my 20-ish, hip salesperson, listened to me complain about my feet. "So, are you looking for sexy, hot sandals, or casual sandals?" Of course I want sexy, hot sandals. Who doesn't! But, I told him, I am willing to take any shoe that fits my foot - I am not picky. "Awesome - then I'm going to bring you whatever I want. You just have a seat right here and I'll be right back."

Shoe after shoe after shoe went on my foot. Travis made several trips to the back, coming back with stack of shoe boxes 5 or 6 high each time. "No, those don't look right." He was honest about some shoes that made my feet look bigger than what they were. Then, 20 minutes later ... [Hallelujah chorus in the background.] BOTH of my feet fit into cute sandals that made my feet look normal.

$79.95 = a summer feeling awesome in sexy, hot sandals. Nordstrom is great, but Travis rocks.

May 28, 2007

Waitress (Fox Tower Cinemas)

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I am a sucker for tragedy. It magnetically pulls me in as I read the headlines, looking for any new developments and I become addicted. To CNN, KOIN, KATU, KGW, wherever I can find information. I click and click and click on their websites until I get something new.

Last year, I briefly was addicted to the story of Adrienne Shelly. She was a writer and director of films, working on her most recent work, Waitress, at the time of her death. Her husband found her, after she apparently committed suicide. Police later charged a construction worker with her murder. She was young - only 40 and had a 2-year-old daughter.

I saw interviews with Keri Russell and Cheryl Hines, who co-starred in Waitress with Adrienne Shelly. They said what an incredible movie it was and that Adrienne was amazing and a great filmmaker and that they would miss her terribly. I had never heard of Adrienne Shelly before she was murdered. Which makes me sad. And also makes me feel a little bit shallow that this tragedy is really the reason that I wanted to see Waitress.

I saw Waitress this weekend. I cried because the movie was touching, sad and inspiring. I laughed because the movie was hilarious, touching, sad and inspiring. I wanted to clap when it was over. I wanted to clap for Keri Russell, who did a great job and I wanted to clap for her character, who was so strong, and I wanted to clap for Andy Griffith because in this movie, he made me want to be a waitress who waits on gumpy old rich men and I wanted to clap for Adrienne Shelly because she wrote such a good story and in the movie she portrays an endearing, nerdy, lovely person and it just seems like that's the kind of person she was in real life. A lovely person, who wrote a lovely movie that made me laugh. And cry.

Tragedy or no tragedy, Waitress is a good film. It ties sadness and joy with baking pies. Which I can totally relate to.

May 25, 2007

Don't Forget to Enter the Giveaway!

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Only a few days left to enter the giveaway for concert tickets!

May 24, 2007

Mississippi Station (3943 N. Mississippi Ave.)

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I have reviewed Mississippi Station before, but that was back when they first opened. They had a much better sounding menu then, with words like "creme fraiche" and "herbed berries". Now their menu has words like "onion rings", "triple-decker" and "hoagie". All respectable words, depending on what you are looking for.

Kristin and I were seeking the strawberry shortcake that we had smelled earlier in the evening when we walked through the restaurant on our way to see a show at Mississippi Studios. We found a seat near the door and a waiter that looked like the guy from that really dumb show Men in Trees (you know, the guy that Anne Heche left her husband for), except our waiter was much cuter and probably much younger.

Not only was he adorable, but he brought his enthusiasm for the strawberry shortcake to our table. After we finished our appetizers, he said hopefully, "Did you leave room for dessert?" his eyebrows raised. We nodded and asked for the strawberry shortcake. He did that teenage "Yes!" move, with the elbow (you know what I'm talking about) and then turned his head slightly, "two plates, two forks?" We nodded. He smiled and off he ran.

The musicians from the show we saw sat at the table next to us, loudly talking and hugging and eating. Our waiter suggested they move to another table, which I was quite grateful for. Also, was grateful because the Killers (who I will always have a soft spot for since their first album was Hot Fuss and since Fuss is my last name, I really like to think that they are singing about the Hot Fuss that writes this blog) were playing on the sound system and two bus boys came over to clear the table whilst playing the air guitar and singing backup, which was quite entertaining.

The strawberry shortcake was enormous and fresh and the shortcake was still warm and not too sweet. You can't get any better than that. You just can't.

May 23, 2007

Habibi (1012 SW Morrison St.)

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Chelsea and I tried a new restaurant the other night. Kind of. Habibi (from what I can tell from my amateur research online) is owned by the same people that own Nicholas' Restaurant and Arabian Breeze, both of which have really yummy food. Except that the first and last time I ate at Arabian Breeze I got violently ill for two days. I'm not sure if it was the food (which was great) or the flu, but from my mental association with the place, I'm still not able to go back.

Habibi seemed like baby steps back to Arabian Breeze, so we tried it. We sat down and saw this on our table. It was there to hold bread (on her head). I thought it was kind of cool and amusing. Chelsea thought it was freaky.

Then I ordered a Habibi Lemonade (lemonade with mint). Which tasted lovely, but see that brown thing in my glass? That's the fresh mint leaf. It actually tasted fine. Until Chelsea said. "That leaf is rotting in your glass." Um, okay. I took it out.

For dinner, I had a Fatayr, which is dough filled with seasoned beef, tomato, onions and a side of hummus and served with fresh pita bread. Except the dough wasn't really filled with all that stuff. It was spread out on top of it, like pizza. It WAS excellent though. Very tender beef and all those vegetables sweating onto crunchy pita bread crust. Melt in my mouth yum.

Chelsea had the Falafel Mezza Plate. They served it on a fancy gold leaf plate. Pretty!

Overall, Habibi was pretty good. I think I have to go back and have a really GREAT experience to really get over my Arabian Breeze association and the dead mint leaf in my glass. It's a completely reasonable expectation I think. Fresh herbs aren't that hard to come by this time of year.

Habibi on Urbanspoon

May 21, 2007

Bernie's Southern Bistro (2904 NE Alberta St.)

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A while ago, my friends and I were in search of some good appetizers while wandering Alberta St. Bernie's Southern Bistro struck us as a good kind of appetizer place.

We had (each ordered our own): hushpuppies, fried dill pickles, spinach cakes, crawfish cakes and fried green tomatoes. Everything was fried. EVERYTHING.

It tasted really good (did I mention that everything was fried?) and I did not get sick afterwards (logically I should have).

Therefore I must give Bernie's a thumbs up. Oh and they also had a questionable picture of Tom Potter hanging right by the bathrooms. That was odd.

May 18, 2007

Concert Ticket Giveaway!

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I love giveaways. Not that I have ever won a giveaway. But I think it's a nice idea to promote. And it's fun, too. And so to promote the great Portland that I love... I am giving away two tickets to the Crystal Ballroom on June 18th to hear Colbie Caillat, with an acoustic set by Dirty Martini (one of my fav Portland bands). Local radio station 94.7 KNRK is sponsoring this concert. For more information, click here.

All you have to do is make a comment on this post between now and May 29th. Then I will do a random drawing for the winner. The winner will be posted on May 30th. One comment per person, please.

You should tell your friends because if your friend wins, then maybe they will take you to the concert with them. That doubles your chances. Without making more than one comment. So do it. Tell your friends. This will be fun!

Jiffy Lube (8655 SW Barbur Blvd.)

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I have had REALLY bad car karma lately. Last week, someone rear-ended my car while trying to parallel park on the hill in front of my house and my car started sputtering and dying while I was on the freeway. Tonight I got a flat tire. Jiffy Lube is my shining light of positive vibes this week, shining through all the badness hanging around my car.

I took my car to the dealership to find out why it was sputtering. Water in the spark plug tubes. Caused most likely by someone cleaning the engine out. That happened about a month and a half ago when I got my oil changed and my engine flushed at Jiffy Lube.

I called Jiffy Lube and explained what happened. In less than 24 hours, I had spoken to the regional manager, who, without any prodding from me, offered to pay for all of my repairs and refund the money for my oil change and the engine flush. It turns out to be about $300. The manager told me that he couldn't verify one way or the other if they caused the damage, but that it wasn't worth losing a customer over. He just got my business for life.

Now if I can just get that insurance claim settled with the guy that hit my car. And get to Les Schwab in the morning on my spare. Then I will be SET.

May 17, 2007

Hall Street Grill (3775 SW Hall Blvd., Beaverton)

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I ate at Hall Street Grill back in March and kept forgetting to write about it. I can't believe I kept forgetting to write about it, because it certainly was not easy to forget the luscious meal I ate that night.

The service was superb - the waitress knew the menu pretty much by heart and made recommendations that we wouldn't have even known about. For example, when I ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli, she recommended ordering grilled prawns with it (this was not on the menu). I wouldn't have thought of that and let me tell you, I am indebted to her for my new courageousness for eating seafood.

They looked like prawns when I got my dinner, but they tasted like little steaks. Amazing doesn't even cut it. It was SO good. We also shared a dessert, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. I just know that I loved it.

I must say one more word about the waitress - she was so enthusiastic about the food - like she was in love with it and wanted to marry it. And that made me want to order everything on the menu. She was good.

Let's keep this simple: GO.

May 16, 2007

Towne Lounge (714 SW 20th Place)

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Dirty Mittens and The Finches were at the Towne Lounge last Friday and my sister and I decided to check them out. We almost didn't find it - it looked like a regular house, with just a sandwich board out front that says "Towne Lounge" written in a font that reminded me of a haunted house (don't ask me why, it just did).

It was a $5 cover. Not bad. I automatically offered up my ID, but I don't think the guy would have checked if I didn't. He seemed to be really enthralled in his own conversation and was bothered by us interrupting him.

The seats were all full, but there was a lot of standing room. Sort of. In between bands, one of the servers went up to the microphone and said if people didn't quit standing right in front of the bar he was going to get really mad. Or something to that effect. He said it more eloquently than that and more powerfully and it was humorous at the same time.

We eventually snagged a booth, which was much better than standing. They have a pretty good ventilation system, which was really nice. Lots of people were smoking, but it didn't bother me too much and I was recovering from a cold.

The music: The Dirty Mittens = Bjork-like, non-decipherable songs. The Finches = potheads telling stories and singing soft folk-lore-y songs. I liked them both. I liked Dirty Mittens way better than Bjork. The Finches are bedtime music good, though, not smoky bar good. (You know how I feel about slow soft music on a Friday night!)

I might go back sometime. I don't recognize any of the bands on their calendar, but that doesn't mean they aren't good.

May 15, 2007

Everett St. Bistro (1140 NW Everett St.)

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My friend Ansley was in town this past weekend and I met up with her and some friends at Everett St. Bistro on Friday night for dinner. It's a cute little place, with a decadent dessert case right out in front to lure you into the trap of full fat sweetness.

There was a table of four right next to us with two identical women (orange tan, bleach blonde layered hair, dark sleeveless shirts and jeans) and their two identical male companions (salt-and-pepper hair, plaid button-up shirts, khaki shorts). The women both ordered salad (cliché) and I couldn't see what the men ordered. I'm sure it was something salad-y.

Our table was a bit more gluttonous. Mac and cheese, clam risotto, a couple of big fat burgers, and me - I ordered grilled hanger steak topped with a veal demiglace, served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Every bite was pure heaven. The mashed potatoes weren't quite as creamy as I like them, but they were good, even so. The veal demiglace was so buttery and salty and a perfect match to the rare steak.

The waitress was really nice and accomodating for our group of nine people, even offering at the beginning to split the check up for us. She kept our Diet Cokes refilled and checked on us often.

The steak was well worth the $18 price. The sad thing: I only ate half of it and got the rest to go. Then I left the box on the table.

May 14, 2007

Fir Point Farms (14601 Arndt Road, Aurora)

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Every day on my way to and from work, I drive past this farm and plan imaginary recipes in my head as I see the signs for asparagus, rhubarb and other local produce.

I have been fantasizing about rhubarb for sometime now, and decided to take the plunge when I got assigned dessert for Mother's Day dinner. I stopped by Fir Point Farms and wandered through their beautiful, bright, fresh local produce. Rhubarb was only $1.89 a pound, much cheaper and prettier than the $2.99 a pound at Safeway. I picked up six (!) pounds of rhubarb and headed for the checkout.

"What are you making with all this rhubarb?" The check out lady was friendly. I told her what I was making. "My goodness! I'll be looking for you on the Food Network!" Rhubarb + a boost to my ego = $12.00. What a bargain.

This is what I made: Lemon Rhubarb Trifle with Pistachio Brittle. My family loved it and although I don't think I'm headed for the Food Network, I may actually write this recipe down. Cookbooks are more my style.

May 10, 2007

Laurelhurst Theater (2735 E. Burnside)

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Everytime I see one of my friends, he asks me what movies I have seen lately. He thinks that because I am a movie buff and have seen a lot of movies in the past, that I go to the cinema a couple of times a week. Well, it just isn't so, as much as I would like it to be. Time, as well as the price of movies keeps me out of the cinema on a super regular basis.

One movie that I have been eluding for a while is The Last King of Scotland. For the past couple of months, every time I see my friend, he says, "Have you done your action item yet?" My action item - to see The Last King of Scotland. I was waiting to be in a really up mood before I took on a serious drama.

The Laurelhurst Theater was showing The Last King of Scotland a couple of weeks ago and my roommate and I decided to brave the Ugandan coup and see what Forest Whitaker won so many awards for.

It's a $3 admission price for any movie at the Laurelhurst. The smell of cheese, fresh baked crust and pepperoni overcomes me every time I walk in the doors and it's almost as if I'm on auto pilot to go stand in the sometimes very long pizza line. The pizza is about $3-4 a slice, depending on what kind you get. They also have a wide variety of tea, soda and beer that you can order and a water cooler available to everyone at the end of the counter.

The artistic chalkboards over the entrances to the theaters tell you which movies are playing in which theater and reminds me of when we were kids and I used to have movie night for the family, with fake tickets, a fake marquee (made out of a chalkboard) and fake theater seats (folding chairs with pillows and blankets on them). However, these seats are probably more comfortable than the ones I made as a child. The Laurelhurst even has tables in front of the seats for the back half of each theater, so that you can eat your dinner while you watch the movie.

We got there too late for a table, but had plenty of room to stow our plates at our feet after we were done eating. I, for one, was glad I finished eating before the movie started, since it was pretty violent and gory and I might have had a bit of gag reflex problem had I tried to multi-task eating and watching The Last King of Scotland. Forest Whitaker deserved the awards he got. And Portland deserves an award for the most awesome movie theater concept around. Pizza. $3 movies. Dinner and a movie for $6, $12 if you are paying for your date. Bargain.

P.S. Don't forget your ID when you go to the Laurelhurst - it's strictly 21+.

May 9, 2007

Sweet Masterpieces (922 NW Davis St.)

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My friend Roni introduced me to this place on NW Davis after happy hour at Jimmy Mak's. It was pretty much empty, but the display cases were filled with seemingly millions of chocolates. When we finally salivated our way over to the dessert case, we settled on the white chocolate carrot cake.

Now, white chocolate carrot cake is one of my favorites. I usually buy it from Zupan's, when they get a stash in from Joseph's. That is one divine cake.

But I have to say, that this white chocolate carrot cake was twice as good as Joseph's. It was so moist and chocolate-y and absolutely perfect. It was $8.00 for one piece. But I would say it was totally worth it.

I've heard a rumor that Sweet Masterpieces has divine drinking chocolate AND they are open until 11pm daily, which means that when you have a chocolate emergency towards the end of the day, you now have a source for chocolate first aid. Just in case.

May 8, 2007

Write Around Portland (917 SW Oak St.)

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Write Around Portland gets my vote for the best non-profit in Portland. Of course I'm biased. When I first heard about them, from the mouth of my favorite author, I was excited that volunteering could include something as exciting and freeing as creative writing.

Write Around Portland provides free creative writing workshops, in a safe environment, to low-income, socially isolated individuals and others who would not ordinarily have the resources to participate in a writing workshop. At the end of the 10-week workshops, an anthology is published that includes writing from each one of the participants. It is sold in local bookstores around the city. When an anthology is published, Write Around Portland holds a public reading, where the participants read from their work.

Write Around Portland participants have gone on to win scholarships, publish magazine articles and poetry, and even facilitate other Write Around Portland workshops. This is a true marker of successful program.

I started volunteering back in 2003, tabling events, providing childcare at the workshops and then moving on to facilitate workshops for incarcerated women and survivors of domestic violence. I love this organization. It has changed my life in so many ways. The people I have met, the stories I have heard - all essential in creating the person that I want to become.

I am starting another workshop in a few weeks and am very excited to have another character-defining experience. If there is one organization in Portland that deserves your time and money, this is it. If you want to find out what Write Around Portland is all about, you should attend the upcoming reading:

Anthology Release & Reading May 24

Mark your calendar now for the release of our newest anthology, Called to Speak Stories, featuring spring workshop participants reading their works. Thursday, May 24th from 6:30 - 8:30 at the First Congregational Church at SW Park & Madison in downtown Portland.

The reading is free, ADA-accessible and everyone is welcome. Light snacks will be provided. We will be collecting donations of new journals for writers in our summer workshops, and anthologies will be available for purchase.

Write Around Portland's motto is: Respect. Writing. Community. Three things that everyone can do and participate in, no matter who you are. You are invited!

May 7, 2007

Bread and Ink Cafe (3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd)

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A couple of weeks ago I went to Bread and Ink Cafe for breakfast. I had two giant whole wheat blueberry pancakes. They tasted like the whole wheat pancakes my mom used to make, with all whole wheat flour, not very sweet- but tangy, with buttermilk.

I went back with a friend this past Saturday and was immediately impressed with their special of the day: Monte Cristo French Toast. That is: Bolo bread, stuffed with ham and Gruyere cheese, soaked in spiced custard and grilled to perfection. Served with Rhubarb Red Onion Marmalade and fruit kabob. Of course that's what I ordered.

I also ordered a glass of grapefruit juice, which was perfectly fresh squeezed, no sugar or color added. Totally worth the $3.95 price.

The french toast was SO good, the cheese was just enough without being overpowering. It was grilled to perfection, exactly as their menu said. And the Rhubarb Red Onion Marmalade was the perfect complement.

I love this place. It's not too crowded, has excellent food and the walls are decorated with lovely prints like this:

I will definitely go back again to try out their other specials... and their regular menu items. Yum!

Bread and Ink Cafe on Urbanspoon

May 4, 2007

Jimmy Mak's (221 NW 10th Ave)

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Happy hour with friends. Stephanie Schneiderman performing. At the same time. I know - stop! I am getting overwhelmed. It's not often cheap food, good company and good entertainment come together to make beautiful music. Wow that was cheesy.

Food was good. The menu said that their curly fries were the best in Portland. But I'm pretty sure that they're the same curly fries that I cooked when I worked in the grill on my college campus. They were good, just not outstanding. Pizza was good. Lemonade was a little bitter and not quite sweet enough.

Stephanie Schneiderman was great. She plays happy hour at Jimmy Mak's on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month. You should check out her music. Jimmy Mak's seems like a good place to be on the weekends. I'll have to go back to try dinner.

North 45 Pub (517 NW 21st Avenue)

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Here's the thing: I was going to wait and post this later, but I am so excited about what I ate tonight that I simply cannot withhold my enthusiasm any longer. I am not a seafood person. I have just recently begun to eat prawns, crab, and tonight - mussels. I am so proud. I am 34 and yet my palette is not fully formed. I can still add appetite likes and dislikes to my brain. So cool.

North 45 Pub is a tiny place on NW 21st that has a casual feel. Maps line the walls - a perfect complement to the marble-ish tables and comfy booths. It's busy, but not overwhelmingly so. They specialize in mussels. Which I had never eaten before tonight. But they sounded so damn good that I could not hold back. This is what I ordered: Mussels with Chorizo sausage, tomatoes, toasted cumin, and garlic with chili-lime frites. I know. Delicious, huh?

It was surprisingly filling and the broth that the mussels were steamed in was especially tasty, with chunks of tomatoes and garlic. And the chili-lime frites were delicious as well. For every type of mussel they have, they have a matching type of frite. Here are some of the other choices of mussels:

PROVENCAL – Diced tomato concasse, garlic, fresh lemon, and herbs de Provence with sea salt herb frites

GREEN ONION CARDAMOM – Scallion, chive, toasted cardamom, and clam broth with old bay frites

COCONUT LEMONGRASS – Coconut milk, garlic, smashed lemongrass, ginger, and lime juice with curry frites

CRISPY PANCETTA AND ROASTED SHALLOTS – Cured pancetta ham, oven-roasted shallots, and garlic white wine butter with sea salt herb frites

LEMON PARSLEY CAPER – Fresh lemon juice, Italian parsley, toasted garlic, and crispy capers with old bay frites

STOUT – Stout beer, pan roasted garlic, fresh thyme, and bitter cocoa with sea salt herb frites

COGNAC CREAM – Toasted garlic, thyme, fresh cream, finished in butter and cognac with old bay frites

Can you imagine how many times you could go back and try something so completely different? And I'm just talking about the mussels, here - not even mentioning the portabello mushroom sandwich, the spinach salad or the fish and chips.

We sat and talked for a while - they played great music, loud enough to sing along, but still able to converse without shouting. Postal Service, Jack Johnson, Moby, Pink Martini and Silver Sun Pickups. I'm not sure if it was the mussels, the atmosphere or the music, but that was the most enjoyable dinner I've had in a long time.

North 45 on Urbanspoon

May 3, 2007

Brazil Grill (1201 SW 12th Ave)

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This year for my company's goals, we set a theme of The Amazing Race. For each goal that we accomplish each quarter, we get a certain number of miles to get to our quarterly destination. (I know what you are thinking and we thought of it before The Office did.) Our first destination was Rio de Janiero. Since we accomplished our first quarter goals, we planned a Brazilian party for our employees with music and Brazilian-ish food. This was my first encounter with Brazil Grill.

Their website says that they do catering. Perfect. I called to find out the specifics. A lunch. In Canby. For 80-90 people. Sample menu? No. You have to tell us what food you want. And it's going to be expensive, he said. At LEAST $28.95 a head, just as if you came to the restaurant. Well, could you give me some ideas of what kind of food you could serve? No. Look at our website or come in for dinner, then you tell us what you want. And we don't have people to come around with the meat like they do in the restaurant. It would be in serving dishes. Well I kind of expected that. After 10 minutes of going around with the "catering" (and I use that term loosely) person, who clearly was not into catering to his customer, I called it quits and told him thanks anyway. Thriftway did a great job for us.

My friend Tina's birthday was on Tuesday, May 1st and her choice of celebration was Brazil Grill. I was excited to see what the $28.95 flat price for dinner would get us. They open at five. We got there around 6:30. The salad bar looked good from afar, but as I got closer, saw that everything had been sitting out for a while - it all had that slightly darker film on top that comes from not being covered or stirred for at least several hours. I took some caesar salad and some black beans. The beans were actually pretty good.

The gregarious servers brought around rounds of meat - a lot at first. Bacon wrapped chicken, bacon wrapped filet mignon, ham, sausage, chicken hearts. Then after about 20 minutes, the so called unlimited meat stopped. Are you serving the mustard beef tonight? One of my friends asked of two different servers. Yes, they assured us, we'll send some right out. We never saw it.

The roasted pineapple was good. I asked the server what was on the pineapple. He said cinnamon and brown sugar and then told me that I couldn't prepare it at home, unless my oven got up to 750 degrees and unless I could continuously rotate the pineapple while it was cooking. Is that a dare?

I'm really not sure where the evening went. By the time we left, it was 9:30. The service was excruciatingly slow. It took 20-30 minutes for our desserts to come out. The waitress refilled our water glasses only a couple of times and never asked me if I wanted a refill on my soda. The restaurant was not that busy. Half full at most. But the waitresses and servers could not keep up a good standard of service.

The food was okay, but by the time we paid for dinner and a couple of desserts, it ended up being $38 a person, including tip. The food was not $40 food. I don't even know if it was $20 food. With service that bad and a crusty salad bar, I would estimate the value at being a $10 all you can eat buffet. Izzy's? Maybe just one step up from that. Old Country Buffet. Yes, I think that's a match.