Posts Tagged ‘Living Social’

I was so excited when Living Social offered this deal that I ordered without even stopping to check where Abella Italian Kitchen was located … Wilsonville?  Yikes!  My husband has been really awesome about taking me to these different restaurants but he doesn’t really like it when I select a place that’s outside Portland.  So, I asked my daughter to join me instead, and I had a nice luncheon with her. 

Broiled Polenta

Location:  8309 SW Main Street, Wilsonville, Oregon

Order:  For an appetizer, we ordered the Broiled Polenta ($6.95).  I ordered the Chicken Piccata entree ($13.95) and a refreshing glass of Marionberry Lemonade.

What I Think:

It was such a lovely day when we visited Abella Italian Restaurant that we decided to dine outside on the patio.  Our server, Cody, was an exceptionally nice and attentive server.  Very friendly and personable.  If you’ve been reading many of my restaurant reviews, you know that I don’t make it a habit to comment on the service unless it really stands out for being either very good or very bad … here, it was VERY good.

My daughter ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad and she loved it!

We were served our drinks right away, and the Marionberry Lemonade was really good.  I liked that while it was a little on the sweeter side than your typical lemonade (thanks to the marionberries), it wasn’t too sweet.  Cody told us that he makes the marionberry puree himself with fresh marionberries, and the freshness of these berries could be tasted.  A nice balance between sweet and tart, and I enjoyed it so much that I’d revisit this restaurant for nothing more but a glass of the refreshing lemonade.

The Broiled Polenta was delicious.  The polenta was creamy on the inside with a slight crispiness from the broiled crust.  The gorgonzola cheese added a palate-pleasing tangy note to the dish, and the tomato sauce tasted freshly made.
I found it to be very filling, though, I think I would have been satisfied to order just this as my luncheon appetizer.

But then, I wouldn’t have had the Chicken Piccata, and really, this was the highlight of the lunch.  Not the service (which was exemplary), not the lemonade (which was stunning), not even the polenta that I enjoyed so much.  The Chicken Piccata outshined everything, and really, isn’t that what you want when you visit a restaurant?  For your entree to be the crowning moment of the event?

The best Chicken Picatta I’ve ever had.

I love Chicken Piccata anyway, it’s one of my favorite dishes, but it’s one that sometimes just isn’t done right.  Even when it’s not done right, it is still good, but, it isn’t something that I’d sing praises over like I’m doing with this dish.  The chicken was so tender it seemed to melt in my mouth, and the sauce was a perfect balance of flavors and textures.  I could taste the garlic and the touch of wine, it was buttery and sweet and the capers gave it just the right amount of salty taste.  The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was a creamy delight.  It was a medley of flavor and texture.  Sublime!

My Final Thoughts:

While the place is a little pricy, if I had the chance to visit again (hopefully another Living Social voucher will come my way!) I would.  And, while I’d like to say that I’d explore the menu and try something new, I probably wouldn’t.  The Chicken Piccata was just too good, I would order it again in a heartbeat.  Perhaps my exploration will take place with the appetizer!

Abella Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

When I saw the LivingSocial offer for Manao Thai Restaurant, I was very excited (more Thai food!) so I checked the location, and immediately purchased it without checking the menu.  I figured, they probably have Pad Thai … most places do.  But then, when I checked the menu when we got ready to visit Manao, and noticed that they didn’t have Pad Thai on the menu, I was a little worried … uh oh!  I had won my husband over on Thai food based on the flavorful dish, but, what was he going to eat when there was no Pad Thai on the menu?

Haw Mok Kai

Location:  7202 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na with Chicken ($8.50) while my husband ordered the Haw Mok Kai ($9.50).   We shared an order of Spring Rolls ($4.50) for an appetizer.

What I Think:

The atmosphere reminds me very much of a “ma & pa” type of place with it’s simple, home-y decor.  Nothing really overly stylish or glamorous, this place looked like a typical kitchen table at dinner time in the 60s, complete with retro-style vinyl tablecloths. The place was empty when we arrived, but as we waited for our lunch, more diners arrived.

I know that we should not judge a book by its cover, but based upon this setting, I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot from Manao.  The Spring Rolls seemed to further support my low expectations, because, while they were tasty, they were kind of boring.

Then I tasted my Thai Iced Tea!  YUM!  Easily the best Thai Iced tea I’ve had since we moved to the Pacific Northwest.  You might be thinking … how can one mess up iced tea?  But, trust me, I’ve tasted some not so great Thai Iced Tea, some average Thai Iced Tea, as well as some good Thai Iced Tea.  But this stuff – this is the way Thai Iced Tea should always be.

Mii Krob Lad Na with Chicken

The deliciousness of the iced tea raised my expectations, and I had high hopes again for what was to come with the entrees.

The Mii Krob Lad Na … amazing.  This is so good – good enough that if I find this on another Thai restaurant’s menu in the future I will order it.  I don’t know that I like it as well as I like Pad Thai, but, I certainly found it to be incredibly filling and very satisfying, definitely the kind of meal that you would want to sit down to if you were ravenous, because it is so good that you’ll want to finish it!  Sadly, I couldn’t finish it, but not because I didn’t want to.  I was just too full!

The gravy/sauce is rich and savory, and very flavorful.  The crunchy noodles soak up the sauce and become somewhat soft – and the softened/soaked crunchy noodle has such a delightful texture to it.  It’s one of those very satisfying kind of experiences with both taste and texture – like soaking up a delicious stew gravy with crusty bread.  This is Thai comfort food.  The broccoli and carrots add a nice flavor as does the chicken, but really, the real stars of this dish are the gravy and noodles.

My husband’s Haw Mok Kai seemed promising based on the menu description of the dish:  seared chicken thighs that had been marinated in herbs and served with a chili sauce.  Unfortunately, this dish was just alright.  The chicken was a little on the dry side and not really flavorful, and its real redemption came from the sweet chili sauce which I found very tasty, and seemed to add a much needed flavor boost to the chicken.  My husband found himself wishing he had ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na.

My Final Thoughts:

I don’t think there are enough fine words that I could come up with to describe the Mii Krob Lad Na.  I really, really loved this dish.  I am getting hungry now, just thinking about how good it was.  I had not expected to enjoy it as much as I did!  I do wish that my husband’s experience was as favorable as mine, his enjoyment of the meal would have made the experience even better.  I left very satisfied … him, not so much.  But I don’t think that will stop us from visiting again in the future, because he knows now to order the Mii Krob Lad Na!

I love Thai food.  My husband, on the other hand, is a bit apprehensive, because unfortunately, until now, he had only been to one other Thai restaurant, and he didn’t really care for the dish that he ordered.  But, when I saw Soi 9 Thai Eatery featured on Living Social, I jumped at the chance to try another Thai Restaurant. 

Pad Thai Lunch Plate

Location:  1914 W. Burnside, Portland, OR

Order:  My husband and I both ordered the Pad Thai with Chicken ($7.50 per plate), and an order of Poh Peah Tod (Crispy Spring Rolls, $4.50/plate) for appetizer.

What I Think:

This has been my first Thai food in a long, long time.  Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes, but, it has been my experience that not all plates of Pad Thai are created equal.  I’ve had some really bad Pad Thai, in fact, it’s been many years now, but, once I had Pad Thai with bad shrimp.  As in rancid, spoiled, rotten … you know … bad.  Since that time, I request no shrimp on my Pad Thai.  The horror of that plate haunts me to this day.  I have been on a quest of sorts to find a good Thai food restaurant, one I can trust to deliver good Pad Thai.  And I think I have found it with Soi 9!

This place rocks.  I love the atmosphere:  a kind of modern-minimalist with touches of industrial kind of feel.  But, as much as I enjoyed the atmosphere, the best part of the place is the food, and that’s just the way it should be.

We started with our drinks, and I ordered Thai Iced tea … one of my favorite beverages.  When in a Thai restaurant, I order Thai Iced Tea!  It’s a MUST!  And this was prepared properly – the black tea base was good and strong without being bitter.  It was strong enough to withstand the sweetening it endures to become Thai Iced Tea – sometimes Thai Iced Tea can be too sweet and you don’t really taste the tea.  I’m glad that didn’t happen.  Somebody knows what they’re doing at Soi 9.

For appetizers, we ordered the crispy spring rolls, which I chose mostly because I knew that my husband would at least enjoy these.  And they were very tasty.  The wrapper was light and crisp and not greasy.  The shredded vegetables were still just a little crunchy.  I liked how fresh it tasted.

Our lunch plates included a generous portion of Pad Thai and a side of salad made of fresh spring greens and topped with a delicious curry dressing.  It was lightly sweet with a hint of curry spice.  My husband really enjoyed the dressing, which surprised me because he is usually a ranch dressing kind of guy.

The Pad Thai was amazing.  The sauce was perfect!  It was spicy … but not so spicy that I felt the need to grab the nearest glass of water to extinguish the heat.  The sauce didn’t taste overly fishy, it had a really nice balance of flavor, and I liked that the sauce didn’t goop up the whole plate. There was just enough sauce to coat each ingredient without making it a sticky mess.  I also liked that the noodles were cooked but not mushy.  They were separate, not stuck together.  The chicken was tender.  This is definitely the best Pad Thai I’ve had in a long time!

My Final Thoughts

If you love Thai food – you really should try Soi 9.  I was very impressed from start to finish.  Our server was very friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious.  A perfect lunch.

Soi 9 on Urbanspoon

One of the things I like best about Living Social is that it offers a new deal every week day, and quite often those deals are 50% savings (or more!) for local restaurants.  This is a great opportunity to try someplace new without a large financial commitment … in short, it is an affordable way to explore Portland’s gastronomy.  If not for Living Social, I probably would have never discovered Bumblekiss … they offer “ridiculously tasty” breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week.

Mini Muffins

Location:  3517 NE 46th Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  I ordered Coconut Pancakes w/ Strawberry Sauce (from the special menu board), these pancakes came with two eggs, which I ordered over-medium.  My husband ordered the Cinnamon Swirl French Toast.  We also ordered a plate of mini-muffins to share.

What I Think: 

The first thing that I noticed about Bumblekiss is that this is not the run-of-the-mill cafe.  You can’t miss this place, with its burnt orange exterior, it’s a stand-out in the neighborhood.  It is a home that has been turn into a business, and when I walked into the main entrance, it felt cozy.  It’s not an upscale dining establishment, rather, it felt like I was visiting a good friend’s home.

Coconut Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

I was happy to see that they offer Mighty Leaf tea.  Sure, I’d rather restaurants offer loose leaf teas, but, if they have to offer bagged tea, then Mighty Leaf’s sachets are about as close to loose leaf as bagged tea can get.  I ordered Orange Dulce, which is one of my favorite teas from Mighty Leaf.

We ordered a plate of mini muffins ($2.75 for a plate of six mini-muffins) to get things started.  There were 2 banana muffins, 2 lavender coconut, and 2 “muffins of the day” which happened to be a carrot-walnut type of muffin.  I thought that the banana would be my favorite, but I actually preferred the carrot-walnut.  It was moist, nutty and sweet, but not too sweet.  The lavender coconut muffin seemed to be more like a chewy coconut-oat cluster cookie that was heavily saturated with lavender than a muffin, but, since I love lavender, coconut and oats, I actually quite enjoyed it.  The banana was also quite tasty, but I found it to be a bit dry, which was a surprise to me, because typically banana breads tend to be rather moist.  It was still delicious, but, I was expecting a moister texture.

It didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted to order.  One glance at the special menu board told me that Coconut Pancakes were the special of the day and that sounded too good to pass up.  And they were!  These pancakes were heavenly.  It was like eating cake for breakfast.  Incredible!  They were fluffy and loaded with shredded coconut.  Sweet and very substantial – they filled me up fast!

I didn’t try the syrup that was included on the plate until toward the end, and I really wish I had tried it sooner.  Because the pancakes had been drizzled with the strawberry sauce, I didn’t really feel they needed additional topping… but the syrup at Bumblekiss is amazing!  It is like a sugar syrup that has been heavily infused with a masala chai spice blend.  It is absolutely delicious, so good, in fact, that I think I’m going to try my hand at making some at home (I have plenty of spices on hand!)  As much as I love strawberries (and this strawberry sauce was delicious), I would have rather not had the pancakes topped with the sauce, and used the syrup instead.

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

My husband ordered the cinnamon swirl french toast ($7.50 for three pieces of french toast) and they were tasty, although I must admit that in themselves, they weren’t anything extraordinary.  It was the syrup, in my opinion, that made them special.

 

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed my visit to Bumblekiss.  The food is indeed “rediculously tasty” and comforting, and I appreciated the cozy, friendly ambiance.  The service was good, our server was attentive and made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Bumblekiss on Urbanspoon

il Piatto (or Il Piatto, or il piatto … I’m never sure about the whether or not I should capitalize with this restaurant…) is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland.  The food is delicious, but what inspires me most about this place is the surroundings – it is very free in spirit.  From the blue-green European plaster walls and the bold-colored curtains that lend a sense of privacy to each booth, to the antique collectables that line the high shelves throughout the restaurant and the crystal chandeliers that hang from the ceilings:  every decorative touch gives this restaurant a sense of artistic ambiance.  This place really appeals to the artist in me. It is the kind of place that – if I lived close enough – I’d want to visit daily just to sip on some tea and possibly sketch a while in an attempt to capture some of its charm.

Bruschetta

Location:  2348 SE Ankeny in Portland, OR

Order:  Grilled Bruschetta ($9), Rabbit with Polenta ($25)

What I Think:

My husband and I went for lunch, but they allowed me to order from the dinner menu.  It had been years since I’ve had rabbit, and I was really looking forward to trying the rabbit dish at il Piatto.

We ordered the Bruschetta as an appetizer.  Two of the slices were topped with hummus while one was topped more traditionally (or at least, what I would consider to be traditional), with fresh tomatoes, onions and capers.  The fourth piece of grilled toast was topped with a bright green pesto.   My favorite of these was the toast topped with the fresh tomatoes, onions and capers.  The tomatoes tasted as if they were fresh from the garden:  sweet and juicy.

Panini con Pollo

My husband ordered the chicken panini ($9).  The chicken was grilled, and it was juicy and tender.  The portabello mushroom was delicious and meaty.  A tasty sandwich.

But the rabbit!  It was amazing!  My father raised rabbits when I was a teen, and so rabbit was something that we ate pretty often.  Since moving out and on … I think I’ve only had rabbit once.  And I’ve missed it.

The rabbit was perfectly cooked; it had been braised until it was so tender it fell right off the bone!  Based on my experience with eating rabbit in my youth, I would guess that this rabbit was a farm-raised rabbit.  Game rabbits tend to be much tougher and have a strong, wild taste to them.  This meat was sweet and succulent, although because it was cooked on the bone, it did still have a slightly wild taste.

Rabbit Simmered in Wine with Grilled Polenta and Spinach

The sauce that was served with the rabbit was a flavorful, savory sauce.  It had a tart flavor with just a hint of sweetness.  This was an excellent contrast to the sweetness of the meat, as well as the sweet, starchy taste of the polenta.  The polenta was grilled, giving it a crisp exterior with a creamy, soft interior.  A mound of steamed spinach rounded out the plate.  A nice texture to the spinach, not mushy or over-cooked.

My Final Thoughts: 

il Piatto is one of my favorite restaurants in the Portland area.  I love the atmosphere and I love the food.   If you’re in the Portland area, I recommend visiting.  Watch Living Social for deals!

Il Piatto on Urbanspoon