July 19, 2009

Frieday Night Bliss. And Pickles.

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I have lots of friends. I think. But sometimes my favorite thing in the world is to chill out by myself. So that's what I did on Friday night.

I was walking along the sidewalk, laptop in tow, and stopped to look at the menu at Tapalaya. I have been there before and it was fabulous. As I was looking, the owner came out and offered me a housemade Cajun potato chip. Crunchy, spicy and perfectly seasoned, it lured me in.

I was there for happy hour, which means $2 fried pickles and $2 cornbread. And a bunch of other things. The waiter, long dark hair in a ponytail and a deep Southern accent was affectionate in his customer service. "All right, love, you want to hear the specials?" He rattled off a list of three things and after each one I was ready to interrupt him and say, "I'll take that." But I waited. Meatloaf was the last thing. "Pork and hanger steak through the grinder... green beans in the middle... puff pastry." I can't remember all the other things he mentioned that were in the meatloaf. Oh wait! Topped with a salad with bacon vinaigrette. Right. So no choice. I'll take the meatloaf.

Fried pickles, love. Cornbread, hun. And meatloaf, darlin'. The waiter was almost as good as the fried pickles. Which. By the way. Are better than any that I have had in Portland. And lest you think "Fried pickles? In Portland?" Yes, at least three places sell them. Probably more. And these are the best of the three.

I ate slowly, wanting to make it last a long time. I'm not sure if the pickles were housemade, but they tasted it. The thin sliced pickles were dipped in thick, peppery batter and then deep fried until golden and crispy. Served with a sweet tomato relish-y kind of sauce. I never would think that pickles would go with a sweet tomato relish, but served this way, they do.

Growing up, we always had moist cornbread, made with buttermilk and sugar. Here, the cornbread is a little drier and not sweet, which is good for the sweet butter that is served with the bread. The top of the cornbread is almost like poundcake - thick and crumbly and full of buttery flavor.

The meatloaf was packed with flavor into the puff pastry. The green beans in the middle tasted like they had been marinated - they had a vinegar-y bite. Refreshing with the subtlety of the pork and beef. The sweet tomato relish-y sauce was swirled on the plate and made a nice complete mouthful. The salad on top was dripping in bacon vinaigrette.

I was sad when it was over. Because I wanted to eat more fried things, more buttery things and hear more of that Southern accent.

Hey waiter, love, I'll be back.

Tapalaya on Urbanspoon


Amy I. said...

One of the only great sadnesses in my life is that I've never had a fried pickle. Good to know they exist not too far away! I relish alone time too.

Jon said...

I've only had fried pickles once. At Hooter's, strangely enough. They were better than I thought they'd be.

L A M A R T I N É said...

mmmm...you had me at cornbread!