Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ Category

Another Sports Bar?  Yeah, well, I may not be a big fan of the decor but, I have been very happy with the food I’ve tasted in the various sports bars that we’ve visited in the last couple of years.  I think that Macadam’s Bar & Grill may just be the best yet.

MacadamsLocation: 5833 SW Macadam Ave., Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Macadam’s Dip (Turkey) and instead of fries, I opted for the Pear Slaw ($9.50), my husband and I ordered Beer Battered Onion Rings ($5) as an appetizer, and I had Iced Tea to drink.

What I Think:

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, this is a sports bar, and the decor reflected that type of atmosphere.  However, if I were to rate sports bars on a scale of 1 – 5, with one being one of those sleazy, hole-in-the-wall sports bars where you felt like you needed a shower after you emerged from the bar, and five being a notch or two above acceptable and veering into almost upper class with its decor, I’d give Macadam’s a solid five.

It was clean and the decor was almost classy, at least for sports bar type of decor.  Although it was dark (which is why I couldn’t snap photos of the food, too dark and I can never get the flash to work right in my camera), it wasn’t unbearably loud, then again, we weren’t there while a game was playing so it would be hard to say how it would be during a game.  I enjoyed the blues music that played in the background.  I felt quite comfortable in this sports bar, and that was a definite plus.  The service was pleasant, and I enjoyed that there were Trivial Pursuit cards at the tables to keep us busy as we waited for our food to arrive.

The onion rings were some of the best thick cut onion rings I’ve yet to taste.  It was a tempura-like batter that cooked up light and airy … almost bubbly, which gave it a very nice crunchy exterior.  The ranch dipping sauce that came along with the onion rings was rather unremarkable, though, and I think that the onion rings would be even better if some thought were put into the dipping sauces.

I chose the turkey Macadam’s dip because I had never had a turkey dip sandwich before.  I’m a big fan of french dip sandwiches made with sliced roast beef, and the fact that Macadam’s smokes their turkey was particularly tantalizing to me.  And I am really glad that I chose this sandwich.  The turkey was delicious.  It was moist and tender, and it was smoked to perfection.

I chose the pear slaw to accompany my sandwich, mostly because the idea of a pear slaw intrigued me.  I don’t think I’ve had one before, and I love pears, so I wanted to try it.  It was a refreshingly light and sweet, crisp salad, and I enjoyed it, although I must admit that I did wish that the pear was just a wee bit more on the ripe side, as it was a little under-ripe for my liking.  Enjoyable, but, I think with a slightly riper pear it would have been fantastic … although it would have probably been a bit more difficult to prepare if the flesh of the pear were softer.

My husband ordered a burger and fries, and I snagged a few of his fries, and they were really good.  They were so good, in fact, I found myself wishing I had ordered the fries instead of the pear slaw, which I liked, but I liked the fries better.  The burger was a little too rare for my hubby’s taste, so if you prefer your burgers to only be slightly pink, you may want to mention this to the waiter/waitress.

My Final Thoughts:

Would I return to Macadam’s Bar & Grill?  Oh, absolutely.  I really enjoyed the food.  It is what I’d call an “upscale” sort of sports bar, and the prices seem to reflect that a bit, but, in my opinion, it was worth it because the food was delicious.

My husband and I both enjoy Mexican food, and while I’ve enjoyed many of the places that we’ve visited in the past few years, I’m always on the lookout for another place to eat delicious Mexican cuisine.  So, when Living Social offers a voucher for a Mexican Restaurant that I’ve not yet tried, I am eager to buy the voucher!  Let’s eat!

When we arrived at Cha Taqueria, it was too dark to take photos (we dined outside) … I hope that Cha Taqueria doesn’t mind that I borrowed their photo from their online gallery. Please click on the pic to go there!

Location:  305 NW 21st Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Carne Asada Tacos plate ($14) while my husband chose the Chicken Las Rancheras platter ($15).

What I Think:

OK, first of all, I have to say this … the parking for Cha Taqueria STINKS!  There is no parking lot, so the only parking is along the streets, and we drove around for 30 minutes looking for a parking place!  So, if you’re visiting Cha Taqueria, make sure that you arrive in plenty of time to ensure that you can get a parking place and still have time to eat (in other words, don’t do what we did, and start looking for a parking place an hour before the place closes!)  We were nearly too late to order, fortunately, the staff was nice and let us dine so that we would not have to return another evening.  THANK YOU Cha Taqueria for being so considerate of our parking plight!

After shaking off the annoyances of the lugubrious parking situation, we decided not to allow it to taint our dining experience since the staff was so pleasant and kind.  We sat outside – it was a lovely evening! – and placed our order.

Instead of the customary chips and salsa that most Mexican restaurants serve before the meal, we were brought a platter of chips topped with melted cheese and beans.  This was absolutely delicious, and really put us in the right mood for the yummy food that would follow.

Our food arrived surprisingly fast.  The Carne Asada plate was comprised of two soft corn tortilla Carne Asada tacos and black beans.  The steak strips were incredibly tender, it seemed to melt in my mouth!  The flavor of the taco was balanced out with a light squeeze of the lime garnish, this gave it just the right acidic touch to brighten up the flavor of the taco – the meat was succulent and tender, the vegetables were crisp and the salsa provided was SPICY … be sure to use this sparingly!  My husband gave me a bite of his Chicken Enchilada and the chicken was even more tender than the flat iron steak in my Carne Asada Tacos.   Absolutely delicious!

My Final Thoughts:

My husband and I both really enjoyed our meal at Chai Taqueria and I daresay that we’d be happy to visit again … but next time we will be mindful of the parking situation!  The food was absolutely vibrant, tasted so fresh and delicious!

Cha Taqueria on Urbanspoon

When I saw My Brother’s Crawfish offering a voucher on Living Social – I jumped on it!  I love shellfish, but, as I’ve lived exclusively near the West Coast, I can’t say that crawfish is something with which I’ve had a lot of experience.  Read:  I’ve never had crawfish before.  I was eager to try this Louisiana favorite.

Crawfish Boil

Location:  8220 SE Harrison Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered a Crawfish Boil, of course!  (Market Price on the day we visited was $9)  I also ordered a few add-ons:  Corn on the Cob, Mushrooms and a french roll.

What I Think:

The restaurant is very small with dark walls that made it seemed more closed in than it probably was.  The decor is distinctly New Orleans, with an emphasis on a Mardi Gras theme.  One thing that kind of caught my eye in particular were the birds on the wall, mostly because I’m a Portlandia fan, and whenever I see bird decor now I think back to the skit they did “Put a bird on it.”  Hilarious!

Before visiting any restaurant, I like to visit their website, if they have one, and check out their menu, and get an idea of what I’d like to order.  Before visiting My Brother’s Crawfish, I had pretty much decided that I’d like to try the Crawfish Etoufee as this is a dish that I have never experienced before, but something that I’ve always wanted to try.

However, on the occasion when we visited this restaurant, the Etoufee was not available, so I went with the Crawfish Boil, and I’m really glad I did.  A huge bowl of Crawfish was brought to the table, and inside the bowl was a couple of halved cobs of corn and about a dozen mushrooms.

I chose the mild spice, and it is spicy, but fortunately as the name “mild” would suggest, its not overly so.  But, for those who tend to shy from spicy, they might want something even more mild than the mild spice, because the heat does slowly creep up on you, and by the time I was finishing off my last crawfish and mushrooms, my mouth was pretty warm.

Chicken Strips and French Fries

The best part of the meal?  I loved the mushrooms!  They cooked up in the spicy boil liquid, absorbing the flavors of the crawfish and the spice.  YUM!  Also good was the french roll, because I used it to soak up the liquid and that was pretty darned tasty.

For those of you who haven’t had crawfish before, they look and taste a lot like mini lobsters.  They’re a little chewier though, as I tend to associate lobster with a buttery texture, these crawfish didn’t have that texture.  I felt a little out of place eating the crawfish, because I’m sure there’s an art to it, and I fumbled my way around the shells, trying to break into them to reach the tasty meat.

However, despite my bungling with the crawfish, they were still very delicious.  The corn on the cob was juicy and tender, and overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable meal.

However, I doubt we’ll be returning, mostly because my husband was less impressed.  He ordered the Chicken Strips and French Fries ($10) and this just wasn’t to his liking at all.  The Chicken Strips were not very crispy, and they had an unusual breading that he didn’t find very appealing.

My Final Thoughts:

If you’re going to My Brother’s Crawfish, do yourself a favor and go for the crawfish!  They’re delicious!  I probably won’t be returning to this establishment for the reason I mentioned above, but, even though I won’t be returning, I still really enjoyed what I ate.

My Brother's Crawfish on Urbanspoon

When I found this restaurant on Living Social, I was quick to purchase the voucher.  I think I was most enchanted by the name.  I consider myself to be somewhat eccentric or odd (my family just calls me “weird”), and I like it when some place embraces their uniqueness.  So, I was very intrigued by the name, not to mention by the fact that Eclectic Kitchen boasts a “Local – Seasonal – Comfort Food” type of menu.

The #2 Scramble

Location:  4936 NE Fremont Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the #2 Scramble (Bacon, Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Sun Dried Tomato & Gorgonzola – $8.50) while my husband ordered the “Big Breakfast ($9.50)

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Eclectic Kitchen is a very homey one, in fact, it appears that it plays “home away from home” to a child or children on a regular basis with a corner set up with toys and the artwork on the walls appearing to be created by a young artist.  The walls are painted a bright, cheerful yellow, and maybe it was just me and my interpretation and consideration of the name of the establishment, but it felt very eclectic.

The water and coffee self-service station

I was kind of surprised by their self-service water and coffee station.   I don’t think I’ve been in a restaurant that has no real drink service … one either served themselves water or coffee, or grabbed a cold soda from the refrigerator located next to the cash register.  The only drinks that appeared to be “served” were fancy, latte style coffees or teas.

I didn’t let this lack of drink service dampen my excitement for this restaurant though, I didn’t mind getting my own water, as that is what we wanted to drink anyway.  I still looked forward to some local comfort food.

Unfortunately, much of the meal was somewhat disappointing.

My husband’s poached eggs were woefully overcooked (he likes a runny yoke, and this one looked almost fully congealed), the potatoes that were on both our plates were about barely warm, and my husband mentioned that his second piece of french toast had an almost meat-like taste to it that he found unpleasant.

In fact, the only bit of food that had any redeeming quality at all as far as my husband was concerned was the biscuits which were really good.

The Big Breakfast

My experience at the Eclectic Kitchen was a little better than my husband’s.  I, too, really enjoyed the biscuits, and especially tasty was the biscuits and gravy which came with my husband’s big breakfast platter.  I would have been happier, I think, had I ordered just a platter of biscuits and gravy.  The biscuits are tender, flaky and buttery.  Like something gramma would have made.  And the gravy was rich and thick and had a certain spiciness to it.  These biscuits were indeed something I’d call “comfort food.”

My scramble was alright, but it wasn’t anything I’d rush back to the establishment to eat again.  The eggs were cooked well enough, and I enjoyed the filling.  But, it wasn’t exceptional or really very memorable in any way.  It was just “OK” – not great, but not bad either.  I did enjoy the bacon, which my husband offered me off his plate because it was a little overcooked for his taste (I like my bacon crispy and he likes it a bit on the chewy side).

The potatoes were not really all that enjoyable, although they did have promise.  They had a nice amount of spice to them, but I think they would have been better if they were served at a warmer temperature and maybe if they had some crispy edges to them.  They were very tender, and cooked through, but, they tasted as though they were prepared earlier in the morning, and put on a steam table or something to keep warm, and the steam table wasn’t turned to the right temperature … resulting in lukewarm potatoes.

My Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, with the biscuits being the only thing worth talking about, this is a place I won’t return to again.

I realize that this blog has been on a slight hiatus.  As I mentioned in my previous review, I came down with a really bad cold, and it really affected my taste buds terribly!  I couldn’t taste much at all!  So I needed to wait until I was feeling better before I could start writing.  But, then, I forgot that I still had several notes on restaurants that I had visited recently … and those didn’t require my taste buds to be functioning since I had already eaten the food while they were operating at full capacity.  So… let me get the blog rolling again with my review of Lorena’s Mexican Restaurant … and yep, you guessed it, this is another Living Social find!

Cochinita Pibil

Location:  4160 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR

Order:  We arrived for lunch, and the lunch special for the day was their Cochinita Pibil, and it sounded so delicious, I had to try it!

What I Think:

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years now, and I don’t recall ever having been to the Hollywood District of Portland before this day.  I probably have, but nothing really caught my attention to make the time memorable … and the Hollywood District seems pretty memorable to me.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention…

Lorena’s Mexican Restaurant is located in the K2 Building on Sandy Boulevard.  The decor of the establishment is very tasteful, and noticeably “low key” for a Mexican restaurant.  Perhaps I’m just so used to seeing the flamboyant colors of typical Mexican restaurant decor, with the sombreros and pinatas and colorful woven blankets.  Lorena’s is much more subdued, choosing instead very tasteful paintings to decorate its walls.

But one thing that wasn’t different about Lorena’s is the customary, complementary chips and salsa that was brought out with our menus.  The chips were crispy and warm, and the salsa was spicy!  But even though it was spicy enough to ignite the taste buds, it was still very flavorful.

Usually when I visit a Mexican Restaurant, I go with chile rellenos.  As I’ve probably mentioned before, this is my usual measure of a “good” Mexican restaurant … how good their chile rellenos are.   That, and if they have any horchata.  Well… they didn’t have horchata, which was disappointing, and while I was very tempted to try the chile rellenos, I instead opted for the special of the day, which was the Cochinita Pibil.

And I’m GLAD I chose this dish!  Oh my goodness!  This is so delicious!  The pork is so tender it seems to melt in the mouth, and there was a very pleasing level of spice to the dish.  It wasn’t set-the-mouth-on-fire spicy, but it was warm enough to remind me that I was eating Mexican food, and not some watered down, wimpy version of it.  I piled some of this stewed pork into the warm corn tortillas that came with the dish, and enjoyed this “taco” style.

Chicken Enchiladas

To spice it up further, there was a side of pickled onions and peppers, but I only added these to one of my three self-made “tacos” because it was a bit too hot for my liking.  I could handle it, but, I wanted to taste the pork, and the heat of the onions and peppers muted some of the flavorful spices that had been cooked into the pork.  While this was incredibly delicious, I think it could have used a touch of acid.  A thin slice of lime was offered on the plate as a garnish, but this was barely enough for one of the tacos, I think it would have been better if the dish was garnished with a wedge or two of lime, as the addition of the acid to the “taco” made it taste so delicious and well-balanced.  Perfection!

My husband ordered the chicken enchilada  and he offered me a bite.  It was very flavorful, tender, and mildly spiced.  My husband enjoyed it so much that he even told the host that we’d be returning soon!  He doesn’t do that very often!

My Final Thoughts:

Delicious food that is well prepared, so good that my husband wants to return?  Nuff said!

Lorena's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bridge City Cafe is not our (my husband and my) ordinary kind of lunch stop.  Especially the Bridge City Cafe in the Lloyd Center Mall.  We generally avoid the mall food court because it seems like they’re usually more expensive than other lunch stops.  After all, they do have the high overhead costs for their prime location in the mall, and they’ve got to recoup those expenses. 

But, because we were going to be in the mall anyway (we had to rent a suit at the Men’s Wearhouse for my husband), and there was a great deal on LivingSocial, we decided to “break the rules” and visit Bridge City Cafe in the Lloyd Center Mall.  We enjoyed it so much that when we had to return to the mall the next day, we stopped in again!

Location:  2304 Lloyd Center, Portland, Oregon

Order:  The Living Social voucher entitled us each to a sandwich of our choice, a bag of chips, a drink and a cookie.  On day one, I ordered the Steel Roast Beef sandwich, and on the second day, I ordered the St. John’s Turkey Cranberry sandwich.

What I Think:

The atmosphere … well, you know the atmosphere.  This Bridge City Cafe location is in the food court in the mall.  Kids running around and screaming, babies crying, mothers yelling, cell phones beeping, and generally a lot of hurrying and scurrying around.  As an agoraphobic, it isn’t my favorite kind of atmosphere … not at all conducive to a comfortable place to dine out.

But, sometimes, when one is hungry and time is short … my daughter was getting married in a matter of days and I didn’t have a lot of time to go out and enjoy myself.  So, we picked up lunch where we could and how could we NOT take advantage of the LivingSocial voucher!  We each got a whole sandwich of our choice, a bag of chips, a drink and a cookie!

The word of this paragraph is FRESH.  That’s because everything about the sandwiches is FRESH!  The sandwiches are all made fresh to order, the bread is fresh (and soft and amazing!) and all the trimmings were fresh.  The lettuce wasn’t wilted, it was crisp and … yes, fresh.  Everything looked really appetizing.  The one exception was the tomatoes, which were a bit more on the pink side than the red so I picked those off of the sandwich.  I usually only want a tomato on my sandwich if it’s really ripe and tender.

Truly the best part of these sandwiches IS the bread.  I love that I had a sandwich made with bread that was baked in the shop that very morning.  The sourdough used to make the Steel Roast Beef was soft but with enough of that sourdough texture to give it some real substance.  The St. John’s Turkey Cranberry was made on a honey molasses bread and it was sweet, soft, and delicious, and really complimented the tart cranberry and the mild, juicy turkey very well.

We also got our choice of cookie, and I chose the lemon cookie.  Let me tell you something, if you’re ever near a Bridge City Cafe and are hungry for a fresh, homemade cookie … stop in and TRY the lemon cookie!  It tastes like a lemon bar!  You know the kind with the shortbread crust and the lemon curd-like filling?  Yes… it tastes just like that… with the shortbread and the lemon curd baked right in.  It’s amazing.  If you’re a fan of lemon-y baked goods, these cookies ARE NOT to be missed!

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed both visits to Bridge City Cafe.  Sure, I’d rather not eat in the mall – the atmosphere is a bit much for me and tends to make me anxious.  But, if I happen to be in the mall and find myself hungry, I know where I want to go.  This is definitely one of the best stops at the food court!

Bridge City Cafe on Urbanspoon

OK… I’m a little behind on my restaurant reviews.  Fortunately I do take notes … these aren’t based on my memory!  My memory just isn’t that good!  I do remember though that on the day we visited this restaurant for lunch it was a dreadfully HOT day.  I think we both just wanted to get out of the house, and out of the heat, which is what brought us to Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver.   And the fact that we had a LivingSocial voucher was certainly another incentive…

Location:  612 N. Devine Road, Vancouver, Washington

Order:  I ordered the special of the day which was an Artichoke and Feta Cheese Ravioli with chicken and pesto sauce.  The special came with a choice of soup or salad – I chose the Caesar Salad.

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver, Washington is very comfortable, very homey.  From the artwork from local artists hanging on the wall to the friendly waitstaff that treats you more like family than like patrons, it is a very warm and inviting kind of place.

The service is pretty quick, too.  My salad seemed to arrive almost immediately after placing the order.  The salad was composed of very fresh, crisp romaine, Parmesan shreds, croutons and dressing.  The lettuce was ice cold, and this was especially refreshing on such a hot day.  But … there was just too much dressing!  Had I known that the Caesar salad would be so drenched in dressing, I would have preferred the soup (although, it might have been too hot to really enjoy the soup!) or the house salad with dressing on the side.  It was still a tasty salad, but, there was just way too much dressing.  The croutons on the salad were a little “off” too, they tasted stale and they were kind of chewy.  I appreciated the freshness and chilly temperature of the romaine lettuce, but the rest of the salad was kind of disappointing.

Fortunately, the ravioli made up for whatever the salad was lacking.  When the plate was first brought out, I noted that the pasta sauce was a little soupy, but it was incredibly flavorful.  So flavorful, in fact, I was kind of wishing I had a soup spoon to dish out the sauce and eat it by itself!  By the time I was about halfway finished with my dish, the sauce had thickened up nicely, though.  The chicken was very tender, and the ravioli was delicious, filled with lots of tangy feta cheese.  There wasn’t much artichoke in these pillows of pasta, but, I like feta cheese, so I couldn’t really find a whole lot of fault with them, except that I did notice that the pasta of the ravioli was just a little bit chewy.  Other than that, though, everything about this dish, from the sweet, juicy tomatoes and olives to the juicy chicken and flavorful sauce was really, really enjoyable.

My husband ordered a burger, and he really enjoyed it.  At the time of our visit, Ducktales was in a competition with one of the local radio stations where patrons would vote on their favorite burger, and Ducktales was in the top three.  We helped out by texting in a few votes, and in return we got a free dessert!

For dessert, we chose the berry cobbler, and it was so yummy.  Filled with marionberries, this dessert tasted like something that would have come out of my gramma’s kitchen.

My Final Thoughts:

I think that the dessert exemplifies what I really liked best about Ducktales Kitchen.  The food may not have been perfect, but it was really good.  It tasted like it was made with love and care … just like gramma would have made.  It tastes like a good, home cooked meal that I didn’t have to cook, and I really like that!

Ducktales on Urbanspoon