Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

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

I don’t know what possessed me to order another Sports Bar/Grill Living Social voucher.  I guess I am a glutton for punishment!  But, I was kind of excited about this place, if for no other reason than because it was in Vancouver.  We wouldn’t have to worry about the rush hour traffic if we’re a little late headed home after lunch, and even though I call my blog “Hungry In Portland,” I do love the city I call home:  Vancouver, Washington.  So I tried to remain optimistic, and hoped that this would not be a repeat of the past sports bar experiences (the food was great; the atmosphere just wasn’t my thing.)

The Adult Mac & Cheese

Location:  800 Main Street, Vancouver

Order:  I ordered the Adult Mac & Cheese along with a Watermelon Lemonade while my husband ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger with Fries.

What I Think:

My “sports bar” concerns were not assuaged when I first walked into the Main Event Sports Grill and to my left, I saw a stripper pole.  Oh great.  This place is SCREAMING sports bar with television screens on every wall at every angle so that no matter where you might be sitting, you can watch a game, and it’s dim lighting and dark decor.  However, after looking past the stripper pole and seeing that most of the patrons were actually female, my spirits began to lift.  Maybe this place might not be so bad after all…

I found a nice table (or so I thought) that was located near a window.  However, it happened to be located next to a table that had been occupied by several women, and my husband complained about their tendency to … well … talk.  A lot.  But that certainly is not the fault of the establishment.  I guess I should have chosen the other side of the booth, so that I would have been the one to endure most of the chatting.

We were served our drinks pretty quickly, and let me just say:  the Watermelon Lemonade ROCKS!  Oh my goodness.  So sweet and delicious.  The sweetness of the watermelon softened the tart lemon, and made for a very smooth beverage.

My “Adult” Mac & Cheese was also delicious.  The “mac” was represented by penne pasta that was tender and not mushy, and it had been smothered in a spicy cheese sauce … seasoned with what I surmised was chipotle pepper and onions.  Bacon was crumbled and tossed in with the pasta, and then the whole cheesy mixture was topped with breadcrumbs and then put under the broiler until it was golden brown.  Finally, the whole thing was topped with some Bleu cheese and served with a lightly buttered breadstick.

Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries

The first thing I noticed is that this bowl was HUGE.  Then, I noticed that the sauce was very … well, saucy.  That is to say, it seemed to be rather thin.  But by the time I’d reached the halfway point, the sauce had thickened up quite a bit and was no longer a puddle of sauce at the bottom of my bowl.

This Adult Mac &  Cheese is a delightful medley of flavors – but it is definitely not for sissies.  It has a real kick to it … and is one of the most flavorful macaroni and cheese dishes I’ve enjoyed in a long time.  The cheese was creamy and tangy, the spice sort of crept up on me, starting out as just an enjoyable warmth but before I knew it, it was a real kick in the mouth!  (It’s a good thing I had that watermelon lemonade!)  The bacon added a pleasing texture and smoky, bacon-y flavor to it all.  Even the breadstick was enjoyable – buttery and a little bit crisp, but warm and tender on the inside.  YUM!

My husband enjoyed his burger, but I think the atmosphere sort of wore on him, and I think he would have enjoyed the experience a bit more if I had selected a different table.  I did manage to steal a fry or two, and they were deliciously crisp, shoestring fries.

My Final Thoughts:

I think I enjoyed this experience a bit more than my husband.  I don’t think we’ll be back, because I think that the atmosphere left a very unfavorable impression on my husband, but as for me, I’d go back if only for the Watermelon Lemonade and Mac & Cheese … maybe a to-go order?  The menu is a bit pricy for us though, however, when one takes in to account that you leave there STUFFED because the portions are large, it seems to soften the blow of the price tag just a bit.  I enjoyed it, my husband not so much, and there are many other places we can go to that are just as good that my husband will also enjoy.

Main Event on Urbanspoon

On the afternoon of April 17, aka Tax Day, my husband and I took a short drive to Tigard, Oregon to visit PF Chang’s which is located in the Bridgeport Village Mall.  (My review of our visit to PF Chang’s will be published soon!)  After lunch, we walked across the way to visit Sweetest Thing Cupcakes because … well, I Love Cupcakes

Location:  7413 SW Bridgeport Village Road, Tigard, Oregon

Order:  2 cupcakes – Lady in Red ($2.50) from their Daily Menu and Turtle Cheesecake ($2.75) from their Tuesday/Saturday Special Menu.  Also, I ordered a cake pop ($2.25) for my youngest daughter.  Since the cake pop actually managed to arrive intact to my daughter (I didn’t even sneak a bite!), I can only tell you what she thought of it, which was “It was good.”  When I attempted to get more details, I was told “I don’t know!  It just tasted good.”  She’s ten… but, somehow she’s already managed to get the attitude of a teen-ager.

What I Think:

I haven’t had a lot of luck with Red Velvet cupcakes, but, I’ve really WANTED to like them.  They’re so popular, it seems, and it would also seem that every cupcake bakery has a Red Velvet cupcake.  But to be honest, I’ve never really understood it.  I never really got it.  Red Velvet, well… tasted just kind of… meh.  I love the frosting, which is typically a cream cheese frosting.  But, the cake part just never really made me jump up and down with excitement … and I felt like I should be jumping up and down with excitement with a red velvet cupcake because it’s basically a cupcake (like ’em) with a light chocolate flavor (um… LIKE chocolate, uh huh)… so then, why don’t I love red velvet more than I do?

Cupcakes on Display at Sweetest Thing: I chose the Lady in Red (top right) and the Turtle Cheesecake (Bottom Left)

Well, that all changed this evening when I tasted Sweetest Thing’s Lady In Red cupcake!  This cupcake is not “meh” … it is YUMMEH!

The cake is light and moist, and it had a red-brown color to it.  I could taste the chocolate, and yes, the chocoholic in me was kinda sorta saying … “hey, more chocolate please!”  but since I realize that red velvet is only lightly chocolate, I wasn’t upset by the light chocolate flavor here.  I was pleased by the balance of flavor, it didn’t taste too heavy or cloying.  It has a very palate pleasing taste with just the right amount of acidity to offset the sweet flavor of chocolate, and also the sweetness of the decadent cream cheese frosting.  To top this cute cupcake off there was a little flower on top, made of a paste of some sort.

After finishing this cupcake, I thought that there was no way the Turtle Cheesecake could top it and I saved that one for last because I knew I’d love it … so that is to say that I really LOVED the Lady in Red … and I can now happily say that I like red velvet cupcakes.

But, I quickly forgot about how stunning the Lady in Red was after my first bite of the Turtle Cheesecake cupcake.  Oh. My. Goodness!

I had cut this cupcake in half with the intention of sharing it with my husband.  But, as he was asking me how good it was, I had already started to bite into his half of the cupcake.  (Sorry my love!)  And I told him this:  “It is really good.  I would share it with you, but it’s too good to share, and I want it.”   So, I ate his half too.

And, I might feel guilty about that if it hadn’t tasted SO GOOD.  But, it did, so I don’t.

The cupcake was rich and moist and deeply chocolate.  It was filled with a deliciously creamy caramel filling, topped with a bit of cheesecake-like filling, and then frosted with a rich chocolate cream frosting, and topped with crunchy toasted pecans.

Seriously … that was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted in my life.  And my only regret is NOT that I didn’t share it, but that I didn’t buy more than just one of them.

My Final Thoughts:

I am very happy that I had the chance to visit Sweetest Thing, and I will be definitely be bugging my husband to return … hopefully next time on a Sunday, so that I can try their Breakfast in Bed and their Salted Caramel cupcakes.  And this time, I’ll remember to get my husband a cupcake or two, as well.

Sweetest Thing Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Before visiting Antoni’s Restaurant in Beaverton, I can’t tell you the last time that I had Mediterranean cuisine (and hummus on pita bread at home doesn’t count, nor does topping my salad with feta cheese!)  But, after our visit to Antoni’s, I have a feeling I’ll be bugging my husband to return … soon! 

Spanakopites

Order:  Rather than ordering an entree, I decided to order two appetizers:  the Spanakopites ($5.95) and the Scordalia ($4.95).  My husband ordered the Halibut Fish and Chips ($12.95)

Location:  10765 SW Canyon Road, Beaverton, Oregon

What I Think:

Antoni’s Restaurant in Beaverton, Oregon, is another Living Social find, and if I didn’t already love Living Social… this restaurant visit would have made me a believer.

The atmosphere in this restaurant is a little bit predictable with it’s Mediterranean tiles and wall art, but, after we sat down, we got a rather unexpected surprise – the booth had it’s own TV, complete with remote.

We were served quickly, and as I mentioned above, I went with two appetizers instead of an entree.  That’s because a)  I couldn’t decide which appetizer I wanted to try; and b)  the appetizers looked more intriguing to me than an entree.

Scordalia

The Spanakopites were tasty.  The filo dough was incredibly thin and fried crisp.  Inside there was a generous amount of spinach … but not very much feta.  I would have liked the two to be a bit more balanced, as the spinach seemed to be too overpowering.  They were tasty, as I said, but, I think they would have been incredible with less spinach and more feta.

For me, the most memorable part of the meal was the Scordalia.  This was a plate of incredibly fresh pita bread wedges and a dip made of potato and garlic, drizzled with olive oil.  The dip tasted … well, it tasted like thick mashed potatoes loaded with of garlic.  Nothing wrong with that, I love mashed potatoes and I LOVE garlic … but I wouldn’t suggest ordering this if you’re out on a date and you plan on kissing later … nor would I advise ordering this if you’re on your lunch break from work and you need to interact with clients or co-workers after lunch is over.

Halibut Fish & Chips

But… it wasn’t the potato and garlic dip that made this so memorable.  Believe it or not, it was the humble pita wedges!  Seriously.  These were the BEST.  As in amazingly good!  They were still warm and tasted remarkably fresh, and quite unlike any pita bread I had ever tasted in my life (and I would say I’ve had my fair share of pita bread).  These were soft and lightly crisp on the edges, and they tasted so fresh that I thought that maybe they had made them fresh right when I had ordered them!

My husband’s fish and chips were tasty too … the fish was tender and moist and the french fries were crispy.  I really don’t think there is too much that could have been done to mess this plate up, but it is nice that there are options other than Mediterranean on the menu.

My Final Thoughts:

As I mentioned in the review, the best part of the meal for me were the pita wedges.  And you might be thinking… really?  But, I don’t say that as a bad thing… those pita wedges were INCREDIBLY good.  But were they good enough for me to want to return just for those pita wedges?  Absolutely.  Yes, they were that good.  In fact, as I sit here and type this, my mouth is watering, just thinking about them.  Very good.

Antoni's on Urbanspoon

Learn more about Lillie Belle Farms here.

Product Description:

This decadent cup is filled with pecan butter, dark chocolate and Maker’s Mark whiskey ganache. Topped with a large caramelized pecan.

What I Think:

If you’ve read this blog much at all, you’re probably well aware of my status as a chocoholic.  (My name is Anne, I am a chocoholic, and it has been approximately 3 minutes since I last consumed a dark chocolate enrobed bon bon aka the Maker’s Mark Cup from Lillie Belle Farms).

But I’m not totally crazy for alcohol.  Tea is my beverage of choice, and I really don’t care much for the taste of most alcohol.  So, you might be thinking … why would I choose the Bacon and Bourbon box?  Mostly for the bacon… Specifically, the Bacon Jam.  That’s been on my mental wish list for many months now.

But even though I’m not particularly crazy for Bourbon, these Maker’s Mark Cups are tasty enough to possibly make me change my mind!  The “cup” of this confection is a thin shell of dark chocolate.  It is a delicious, bitter sweet chocolate and it has a fresh snap to it.  Inside the cup is a creamy, dark chocolate ganache that tastes faintly of pecans and distinctly of Bourbon.  The ganache is incredibly smooth and rich, and although the Bourbon is a strong flavor, I am happy to find that the other flavors lend a sense of balance to the confection.

And then there is the WOW factor … which is – at least for me – the yummy candied pecan that dazzles the top of this bon bon.  Sweet and crunchy and delicious.  I think that these bon bons would certainly be delicious without the pecan on the top, but with the pecan … it becomes a superb indulgence.

My choice of tea to enjoy with this candy was an unfettered tea as there is plenty of complexity within the confection itself.  I chose this Fancy Ceylon from Grace Tea Company.  A very memorable tea time!

My Final Thoughts:

I found this to be a very enjoyable Bourbon infused chocolate … I like that the Bourbon does not overwhelm, as I have partaken of some rather over-infused Bourbon chocolates in the past.  These have a really pleasant balance to them.  I also love that Lillie Belle Farms is a local business!

In keeping with what seems to be a trend here on Hungry In Portland, I’m about to write a review on a restaurant that seems to have closed since I visited.  The Agave Grill:  another LivingSocial discovery.  The Agave Grill is located in Bridgeport Village (or was?  I can’t seem to find it in the Bridgeport Village directory, which is what lead me to think that maybe this restaurant has now closed, an inability to complete a telephone call to the establishment seemed to cement those suspicions) 

Order:  I ordered the chilaquiles, while my husband ordered a chicken enchilada.  Bowls of chips and salsa were brought to the table with our drinks.

What I Think:

Let’s start with what every Mexican restaurant seems to start with, the chips and salsa.  What I like best about most other Mexican restaurant’s chips and salsa offerings is that its a free alternative to the appetizer.  But I have to say that the chips and salsa at Agave Grill was quite spectacular.  The chips were seasoned with what tasted like powdered chili spice, giving it a subtle kick.  The salsa was very fresh – the vegetables tasted as though they were picked from the garden that very morning.  The flavor was spicy (of course) but had just the right amount of sweetness too.  A very nice contrast.

Enchilada

My husband shared a bite of his enchilada with me, and the thing that stood out for me was that the chicken was incredibly tender.  It was a tasty enchilada, although I can’t actually say it was the best that I’ve ever had (although, I am not sure which enchilada was the best I’ve ever had), it tasted pretty much like an ordinary enchilada.  Nothing extraordinary.

I really enjoyed my Chilaquiles though.  If you’ve never tried chilaquiles before, think comfort food.  It reminds me of a casserole (or perhaps a Mexican stir-fry), of sorts.  There were options to order the chilaquiles with meat (chicken, beef or pork, if I remember correctly), but I chose to go with the vegetarian chilaquiles.

Chilaquiles

The word that came to mind (and that I wrote in my journal) to describe the chilaquiles is “harvest.”  It has a very autumnal appeal to it, with lots of roasted squash and other vegetables.  The tortilla strips were drenched in a delicious pumpkin seed sauce and I think it was the sauce that really drove that dish home for me.  The sauce was incredibly flavorful and really tied the whole “harvest” idea together.

On the side, there were rice and beans.  In keeping with my vegetarian chilaquiles, I chose for the vegetarian beans, which were very tasty.  The rice was kind of bland and wasn’t my favorite side dish I ever tasted.

My Final Thoughts:

While I’m sad that another business has closed, I can’t honestly say that I’m going to miss this restaurant.  For the most part, the food was quite delicious, but, given it’s location and my husband’s reaction to selecting a restaurant in Tigard … I don’t think I would have returned to Agave Grill anyway.

Agave Grill 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