June 27, 2007

The Green Room - Take Two (2280 NW Thurman St)

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So I went to the Green Room about a year ago to listen to music and just recently returned this past weekend. A couple of improvements: it wasn't nearly as smoky and the patio was open. The service is still excellent (I'm pretty sure we had the same waitress this time as last year) and friendly. The food is still good - I had a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat, with provolone cheese and tomatoes, which was just crusty enough and melty enough to satisfy my hunger. The tater tots were so crispy, just like I like them, and I would venture to say that they give McMenamin's a run for their money where tater tots are concerned.

The people watching is as good as it can get. A few young women were dressed up in prom-like dresses, writing on each others' chests with the ketchup and mustard bottles. A couple of other women were standing next to us on the patio divulging their secret crushes on the woman who was singing. "God, I'm in love with her. She really knows what she wants." A man offered to fight me for the next spot in line for the bathroom and then after we bonded in the bathroom line, got the waitress's attention for me at the bar so I could buy a drink a few minutes later. Seriously, good strange people interaction. I love that.

The music - I liked it okay. My sis hated it. It was Women Who Rock Night. Two women who looked like they were straight from the 80s, both in age and dress, sang their hearts out. Really, when it's that late at night (11:00), I don't care so much about the quality as I do the loudness and the beat of the music. That girl was right - the singer did know what she wanted and she sang about it loudly and with all her heart. She certainly fulfilled the titular role of the evening.

We really came to hear the third woman singer - a rockabilly (still have yet to hear that kind of music) singer, but it got too late and we were too tired to stick it out. So for the second time at the Green Room I've missed the people I came to hear. And for the second time I didn't try their barbeque. What is WRONG with me??!!! (That is a rhetorical question, please don't post a comment with an answer. Because I already know. And you are right.)

June 26, 2007

Laurelwood Brew Pub (1728 NE 40th Avenue)

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Another brew pub. Another spinach salad. This one with grapefruit and tomato. Weird. Not good. Too many children running around without parental supervision. The service was slow. No dessert menu. Me and the Laurelwood Brew Pub must part ways. Our relationship was short lived. One memory to warm my heart: the specialty non-alcoholic drink with cranberry, pineapple and orange juice, mixed with soda water. $4 was worth it, baby. At least I could love that.

June 21, 2007

Alameda Brew Pub (4765 NE Fremont St)

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I think I'll start a blog called Adventures in Spinach Salad. I seem to have eaten a lot of them lately. Or maybe I should just start eating different food. That seems like a better option.

We had a surprise party for my friend Erin at Alameda Brew Pub a couple of weeks ago. There was probably 20 or so people there, stretched out over about 5 or 6 tables. I was at the very end with some cousins and my friend Sherri.

The harried looking waitress came around and took orders. I had the benefit of being the last one to order, so I got to hear what everyone else was ordering. Here is the argument I had in my head:

Good Self: All the girls at the table are ordering salads. You should too.
Bad Self: That is such a cliche. I hate it when girls order salads. You know they would totally order a cheeseburger if their boyfriends/husbands/single male friends weren't here.
GS: Sometimes there is a reason for cliches. Such as healthiness. All of these girls are healthy.
BS: I don't want to be like all those girls. Besides, my blog readers expect reviews of real food, not rabbit food.
GS: But you have to. It's good for you. You will feel better
BS: All those girls just ordered exactly the same thing. Diet Coke, salad, with dressing on the side. How do the men even tell them apart?
GS: There's more to life than what you eat for dinner. Your blog readers will still want to hear about a delicious salad. It's you they like, not the food that you eat.
BS: I hate you GS.
Real Self: Oh, yes - I'll have a Diet Coke and a spinach salad. [You will note here that I did not order the dressing on the side. That was a statement about my individuality.]

So anyway, I got my salad, which was dry and not full of the walnuts, mushrooms or parmesan cheese that the menu promised. And there was so little dressing on it that I had to put salt and pepper on the spinach just to make it bearable. I resented the little girl next to me who was chowing down on some kind of cheesy pasta.

She was also slurping a delicious looking root beer, that was brewed right at the Alameda Brew Pub. It smelled super sweet and the little girl's dad said that it tasted like sasparilla (I don't really know what that tastes like, but I do know that they talk about sasparilla in The Music Man, you know, Trouble in River City, when the town is going to hell over a pool table. Sasparilla must be some kind of scandalous.). But my friend Rich said that he tasted their root beer once and it was so bad that he only took one sip and then left. Maybe that has to do with the sasparilla thing.

At any rate, my stomach was growling because my dry spinach did not fill me up. I asked the waitress if she could bring me a piece of bread. She brought me several small warm pieces of crusty bread, which tasted delicious, until I saw a wadded up piece of damp napkin in between two of the slices. I am so done with this dinner.

But good news. My friend Erin (whose birthday we were celebrating) went to Hawaii a few days later and came back ENGAGED! Yay. We'll have to go out for a REAL dinner to celebrate!

Alameda Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

June 20, 2007

Industrial Cafe and Saloon (2572 NW Vaughn St)

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The name does not sound appetizing. Industrial. Not really a word I think of in the same thought as "yum". But the name got me there because I wanted to see what an Industrial Cafe looked like. It was very industrial-y. And cool looking.

Even the silverware was cool looking - Army Surplus silverware. The waitress was very friendly. We ordered ham and cheddar fritters to start out with. They were crunchy on the outside and moist and cheesy on the inside. They were little stars in my book.

The Industrial Menu was mouth watering. There were so many homey selections, it was hard to choose just which comfort food was going to soothe my soul. I settled on the meatloaf. My friends ordered lovely things like chipped beef on toast, reuben sandwich, meatloaf sandwich and chicken pot pie.

The meatloaf was not dry, it was firm and a little spicy and just moist enough. The mashed potatoes were a little chunky and buttery, just like when I make them at home (which I haven't done in a while - just doesn't seem like a warm weather dish!) and the green beans were so delicious - crunchy and fresh with just a little bit of seasoning on them. I think they were my favorite part of my dinner!

So for dessert, everyone at my table ordered chocolate bread pudding, except me. I ordered grilled pineapple shortcake. It was tangy and sweet and I could only eat half of it because I was so full. But it was really tasty. The bread pudding must have been good, too, because I think everyone cleaned their plates.

I don't want to write a cheesy ending line like "Industrial Cafe has industrial strength comfort food." But, I simply don't know what else to say. I love this place. It's pretty cheap, too. Meatloaf dinner only $10. That's a bargain.

June 19, 2007

Milo's City Cafe (1325 NE Broadway St)

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I had lunch with my friend Jen the other day at a lovely place on NE Broadway. Milo's City Cafe has a sign out front asking people to please not park in the parking lot next door, because a good meal and a tow truck are not a good combination. I loved that.

The menu had lots of delicious sounding items on it. I have been trying to eat better, so I stuck with a soup and a salad. Here's the problem: I ordered spinach salad. Which came with warm apple bacon vinaigrette and gorgonzola cheese. Oh and also the Hungarian Mushroom Soup, which was so delicious that I am certain it had a fair amount of cream in it. My lunch was so good and filling and probably clogging up my arteries. But at least I can say that I had salad for lunch. I don't have to tell them the actual amount of bacon that was in my "salad". That will be my own dirty little secret.

Milo's City Cafe on Urbanspoon

June 15, 2007

Mississippi Pizza Pub (3552 N Mississippi Ave)

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Have you ever seen the movie My Fair Lady? At the very beginning, Audrey Hepburn, a vagrant, is selling flowers on a London sidewalk, trying to earn her keep. An old man, a professor, is on the other side of a streetlight, writing down each word she says, in phonetics.

The other night at Mississippi Pizza Pub, we listened to the Flat Mountain Girls, a spirited bluegrass band. The room was super crowded and it was difficult to maneuver in and out if you had to get a drink or pizza, or make a trip to the restrooms.

There was a woman at our table who got up at least 5 or 6 times, despite the difficulty, to get another drink. She was there by herself - a 50ish woman. She was quiet and would occasionally yell out in support of the band. She had a little notebook and wrote in it nonstop before the concert, during the concert and during the breaks. What was unnerving was that she would look up every couple of minutes and look straight ahead - at us - and then keep writing.

After some time of her looking at us and writing, I wanted to shout out, just like Audrey Hepburn did in My Fair Lady, "That woman's taking down every bloody word I'm saying!" Doesn't that sound fun? Alas, I could not do it, but the urge was strong.

So back to Mississippi Pizza Pub. Their pizza is good. Thin crust and good toppings. It's always crowded. They have excellent music shows there and I think for the most part the cover charge is pretty cheap, $5 or so. If you are already sitting in the bar when the show is about to start, the pub girl walks over to you with a pitcher full of money she's collecting and asks you to pay your cover charge. Then, she draws a little red heart on your hand, instead of the usual ugly stamp, to show that you have paid. I think that's nice.

Good atmosphere, good music, good pizza.

Mississippi Pizza on Urbanspoon

June 14, 2007

Dots Cafe (2521 SE Clinton St)

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Their wallpaper is velvet and covered in eccentric, brightly colored paintings. The music is dark, disco-y and groovy. They have BACON CHEESE FRIES. (Can you imagine???) I tried to take a picture of them, but the room was so dark (it was a cold and rainy Saturday and even with the door open, there was not enough light for my weak little camera phone) that I couldn't get a clear shot. So, you will just have to take my word for it that the fries are excellent. Specifically, the fries were salty, cheesy, crispy, stringing cheese on my fingers as I picked them up. Exactly. Excellent.

They also have delicious-sounding vegan dishes with tofu sour cream, but I wasn't quite in a vegan mood. I had a black bean quesadilla that was hot and crispy, melty and full of onion, jalepeno and cumin-y flavors. I have a feeling that my relationship with Dots is only just beginning. I can't wait to see what's cooking for my next visit.

Dots only accepts cash. But they have an ATM in the bar in case you forget. Oh and they also have other varieties of cheese fries that I would encourage you to check out for yourself.

Dots on Urbanspoon

June 12, 2007

Da Rib Shack (3503 N. Mississippi)

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A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kristin and I went to N. Mississippi to listen to some music at Mississippi Pizza Pub (review coming!). We parked right in front of this sign. When we got out of the car, the smell of barbeque hooked me and almost overcame me to the point of being forced over to the little cart that was set up. However, we were going to meet friends to eat pizza, so no barbeque that night.

My sister and I headed over there on Saturday night, once again to listen to music. This time, as we passed the little white cart with three barbeques surrounding it, we succumbed to the addictive aroma of Southern joy. They were already closed, but the man inside the cart said he would fix us a sandwich anyway. A beef brisket sandwich. He flipped the meat and the sauce around in a pan, right there in front of us, then poured it on some thick yellow Texas toast bread.

The sauce was thick, red, sweet and sticky - exactly like barbeque should be. After a couple of bites, I had to use a fork because otherwise, the sandwich would have fallen all over me. It was delicious. We got a copy of the menu that will be in full effect next week, after their grand opening. It includes such things as catfish, red snapper with creole sauce, Louisiana salad, black-eyed peas, vegan collard greens, jerk chicken, sweet potato cheesecake, and on Louisiana Saturday, they have a Ja-Ballin (shrimp and talapia) Po'Boy.

This place is gold. Their Grand Opening is on June 19th. I'm telling you, you walk by and if that aroma doesn't grab you by the throat and force you to eat barbeque, then there's probably something wrong with you. I'm just saying.

Hours: Tue - Thurs 12 noon - 7 pm, Fri - Sat, 12 Noon - until close

June 11, 2007

Caro Amico Italian Cafe (3606 SW Barbur Blvd)

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Caro Amico Italian Cafe is okay. Not anything spectacular. The entrees don't come with salad and even the cheapest side salad is $5.50. When you are paying $13.00 for Canneloni, it ends up being quite a lot for an average meal. The service was slow, but friendly. The Canneloni was good, but average. There was an ant on my table.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about that.

June 6, 2007

Saint Cupcake (407 NW 17th)

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Cupcakes are all the rage these days and Portland is right on the band wagon. Saint Cupcake is Portland's representative cupcakery.

I heard the owners tell their story once when I went to see Live Wire! and I had to restrain myself from running up on stage to taste the cupcakes the interviewer was tasting. The names of the cupcakes were irresistably charming. Check out their website for a full menu of cupcakes, including: Big Top, Red Velvet and Turtle.

Tonight I had one called Fat Elvis. Banana Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting. Sound too rich? Yeah, that's what I thought. Let me ease your mind. It was not too rich. It was perfectly wonderful.

I also had two dot-sized cupcakes: vanilla toffee with chocolate buttercream and toasted coconut cream. If I were to describe the experience of eating them it would involve words like buttery, sugary, delish [damn you Rachel Ray], amazing and would also involve a description of the moist crumbs escaping my lips to fall bouncily down my shirt. But all of that would be hopelessly inadequate and would not give you a description that measures up to these little delights. You simply must try them for yourself!

Okay, well, I better get to bed to have sweet dreams and a small heart attack. Another post tomorrow!

June 5, 2007

Willamette Greenway Trail (SW Macadam Ave)

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Tonight I grabbed my iPod and headed out the door to walk to my favorite trail in Portland. The Willamette Greenway Trail has a magical calming effect on me. Deep breaths. Swishing water. It's perfect.

I heard a new song the other day on 94.7 by The Weepies, called The World Spins Madly On. I listened to this song over and over again tonight as I was walking by the river, clearing out all my thoughts. I memorized the words.

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you'd gone
and let the world spin madly on

Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I let the day go by

I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill

The whole world is moving and I'm standing still

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on

I thought of you and where you'd gone

And the world spins madly on.

June 4, 2007

Rimsky Korsakoffee House (707 SE 12th Ave.)

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I love Portland. One of the reasons I love Portland is Rimsky's. Rimsky's is a house. It has Christmas-y lights on the outside of it year round, but no sign. In fact, if you didn't know it was a coffee/dessert house, you wouldn't dare approach it because that would be like walking up to a stranger's house. Their blog says it is the home of the "casually threatening atmosphere." So true. One of the tables turns ever so slowly as you are sitting at it, but you may only realize it when someone else's dessert is in front of you. Another of the tables rises slowly and then descends slowly - barely noticeable, but it happens. It's just enough movement to make you think you're crazy "Is the table moving?"

Underneath the glass tabletops, guests leave souveniers of their evening out. Tickets, notes, programs to concerts or plays, pretty much anything that will fit under a glass tabletop. Various things hang from the ceiling, too. There is so much going on in this place that it is easy to get overstimulated.

The bathroom is an experience. I don't want to give away any surprises, but suffice it to say that if you go to Rimsky's you MUST use the bathroom. But try not to scream.

The desserts are delectable. This time I had the white chocolate raspberry fool. Heaven. And now I'm going to tell you about my first experience at Rimsky's.

One thing you should know about me first: I don't drink alcohol for many different reasons, but one of the reasons is that I am super sensitive and, um, I can't hold my drink.

My first time at Rimsky's I ordered some type of chocolate fudge cake, which, unbeknownst to me, was covered in rum sauce. My friends and I were discussing a topic that I usually got really upset about, but somehow, I wasn't getting upset. No, I was getting happier, the more cake I ate. My alcohol-savy friend took one bite and said "That is covered in pure rum." It was good. So good that I was slurring my words just a little and stumbling as I walked to the car. And my friends took the car keys from me as I kept saying that I couldn't believe I could get tipsy from dessert. But yes, for me, dessert can do it. I even had a hangover the next day. Headache and all.

One of the reasons I don't drink. Can you imagine what would happen if I had a real drink? Crazy.

If you are visiting Portland, or wondering where you should take a visiting friend or relative, you should always go to Rimsky's for a good dose of Portland atmosphere and character. I wish I had pictures, but my crappy camera phone doesn't work so well in the dark. Plus, photos just don't do it justice. You have to go and experience it for yourself.

**Rimsky's takes cash only. They have a pretty wide selection of desserts, coffee and hot chocolate. Prices range from $5 - $7.