This last week was one of incredible meals. I often get asked “where have you eaten that was really good recently?” Sometimes I have a total blank and need to consult my Instagram to even remember. Not just because I am out and about so much and my memory is just not that great, but also because while I’ve had good meals, none that really stick out. This week however was the exact opposite. Between the birthday donuts and Chai from Pip’s to the recent #SupperClubPDX, the good meals just kept on rolling.
(Obviously we are really spoiled in Portland, so I do admit I have become obnoxious saying otherwise great meals were “just fine.”)
The Oldie But Goodie
Next up was an outstanding meal at Toro Bravo, John Gorham’s acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurant. To celebrate my good friend Maria’s 30th birthday, a small group of us surprised her with dinner at Toro Bravo. While it’s been open since 2007, I don’t go there that often, partially because it always has a line (and partially because there are so many new places I want to check out!). That is Part A of what made this meal especially great: if you have a group of 6 or more, you can make reservations! Genius.
And then Part B, we all opted for the Chef’s Tasting. A steal at only $40 a person, we got at least 10 courses. I think I blacked out at some point between the oxtail croquettes and the perfectly cooked scallops in romesco sauce. We all agreed it was both so fun to try so many dishes and made our night so much more relaxing to just hand the ordering over to the kitchen. That was certainly the way to do Toro Bravo.
#SupperClubPDX hit up Bird + Bear for its September outing, a new restaurant in deep SE off Holgate. Opened in June by Donald Kotler who also owns the brunch hot spot Toast and the food cart Yolk, Bird + Bear focuses on sandwiches and salads. I tried the Albacore Sandwich, which was actually made with fresh tuna seared beautifully, not something out of a can. It was served on fluffy ciabatta. The fried arancini with mixed red and white sauce was also great. The corn tomato salad was the star, made with corn prepared three ways – charred on the grill, fresh off the cob and sauteed in a corn stock, peppers, espelette, onions and quinoa. Delicious. We all agreed it was excellent and would be a regular go-to spot if it was closer to our homes or work.
(I also went to Farm Spirit on my birthday which was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I have a separate post that I’ll be sharing with you next week!)
The New To Me
Since we were already a ways out of our normal neighborhood, Meredith suggested checking out Cloud City Ice Cream. At first I was hesitant with Feast coming up, but who can say no to ice cream?! I’m glad I didn’t. Seriously good, handmade ice cream with unique flavors and creative names like the Caramelized Banana or the “Circus Friends” with circus animal cookies and rainbow sprinkles. I opted for the “Totes Magotes” made with tart goat cheese and swirls of lemon curd. It is probably a good thing this is a little drive from me so I don’t go back on the regular.
I also finally got to cross Khun Pic’s Bhan Thai off my list, where it has been for years. My friend Alyssa and I randomly both had a night free and decided after talking about it forever, we were actually going to make it there. The restaurant is in a house on SE Belmont near a busy section with Tao of Tea, Belmont Inn and Stumptown Coffee. But you likely wouldn’t even notice it as it is hidden behind a gate with tons of ivy and bushes.
As it is run by just a husband and wife duo with the woman doing the cooking and the man doing all the serving and order taking, we had heard it can take a while. So you need to be patient and preferably one of the first tables. I took this a ltitle too seriously and we showed up at 5:15, 45 minutes before they opened. But it paid off as we were the first one seated and ordered. While it only took us 90 minutes to get in and out, we noticed loads of tables get frustrated it had been 20-30 minutes just to get a drink as the husband was running around like a madman trying to get everyone taken care of.
But all of that is so worth it as the food was outstanding. We got the salad rolls which were very clearly fresh and made to order, and had a unique touch with a slice of apple inside. For entrees, we opted for a deliciously spicy and well balanced green curry with loads of vegetables, as well as their Pad Thai which was some of the best I’ve ever had, even compared to that of Thailand. Definitely worth the wait.
Where have you been lately? Anything good you’ve been raving about? Do you prefer going back to restaurants you know and love, or dining at a place you’ve never been to?