Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Andina (Pearl)

The band playing in the bar at Andina couldn't have said it better as they belted out a Paolo Conte cover--"It's wonderful, it's wonderful, it's wonderful, I dream of you!" Come to think of it, once I really did dream of Andina's mango and green prawn ceviche, but I have a serious food addiction so that happens now and then.

My friend Sian and I started dinner with a couple of Andina's legendary mojitos (legendary to me, anyway)($8.50), the absolutely perfect marriage of lime juice, mint, and Appleton white rum over ice, garnished with a stick of sugarcane. We sipped gaily as Matt perused Andina's carefully-assembled wine list and selected a bottle of 2005 Regis Minet Pouilly-Fume Vieilles Vignes from the Loire Valley ($39), which was light and crisp with citrus and mineral notes.

Andina's menu offers a long list of superb small plates that can be ordered in three sizes--pequeno ($7), mediano ($13) and grande ($24), so you can order just enough smoky grilled asparagus to tantalize everyone's palate and leave them dreaming (maybe literally) of more, or you can order a plate large enough to turn your pee yellow for a week. Just kidding.

Sian and I got a little over-excited ordering, and pretty soon the entire table was covered in small white dishes bearing exquisite things like tiny bright red piquillo peppers stuffed with quinoa, cheese and serrano ham; deep green avocado halves overflowing with crab and prawns, marinated chicken kebobs served with huacatay-peanut sauce, cheese-stuffed yuca with aji Amarillo and cheese sauce, salty smoky curls of serrano ham, tiny tender bay scallops baked with parmesan and lime butter, grilled octopus kebobs, and my personal favorite, the Causa Mixta Nikkei, a traditional Peruvian preparation of freshly mashed key-lime juice infused potatoes pressed into a cake and topped with crab salad, spicy tuna, and a huge crispy prawn. If I was forced to choose only one Andina dish to consume thrice daily for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Matt was too dignified to join our admittedly rather appalling face-stuffing-fest, so he largely confined himself to the Dorado Al Rocoto y Kion ($25), which apparently is Peruvian for "Roasted mahi mahi over a shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon and bok choy broth, topped with slivers of ginger, rocoto, and scallion basted with smoking sesame oil, served with asparagus-quinoa fried rice." Matt allowed Sian and I to taste his solitary dish, and yes, it was as good as it sounds. You should probably run to Andina this instant and order it, it was so good. I think I might. Or I'll just take a nap and dream about the wonderfulness of it all.

Andina * * 1314 NW Glisan St. * 503.228.9535 * order everything. I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vinopolis + Sofia Sparkly

My sis and I are pretty fond of the bubbly and even more so of bubbly that comes wrapped in pink cellophane. So we are huge fans of the Sofia Blanc de Blancs, the beautiful packaged, slightly glamorous and oh-s0-bubbly sparkling wine by Francis Coppola. 

This lovely sparkly, with its soft honeysuckle, peach and tropical fruit notes, usually retails for around $20, but we get ours at downtown Portland's Vinopolis Wine Shop for the low price of $15.26. Or, even better, we just have parties and people bring it to us!

Sadly, one of our less mature friends decided to submerge my rubber chicken in Sofia at our recently held Bangers 'n Mash Ball (in honor of the visiting Brits of course).  RIP, little rubber chicken. I suppose there are worst ways to go. 

Vinopolis * * 1025 SW Washington St. * 503.223.6002 * visit Vinopolis very soon, and hide your rubber chickens when the Sofia cork pops.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Good Drink

Have we mentioned how fond we are of North 45's speciality drink, the California Chillum? We have? Well, we just had to mention it again. So there. $6! What a deal! Sort of! Whatever, we love them!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Leonardo's on Lovejoy (Pearl)

Both my sis and I used to live in the Burlington Tower apartments on NW Lovejoy, so we've had a front row seat from which to watch restaurants enter and promptly exit the space at NW 10th & NW Lovejoy over the past few years. When I moved in, Nina's was there serving totally uninspiring fare and watery milkshakes and when I moved out small-plates-themed Graze was trying to make a go of it and failing miserably. My friend B, who still lives in the Burly, called the other day to tell me that based on her 9th floor perch observations of the newest tenant--Leonardo's on Lovejoy--she thinks maybe third time's a charm. 

B, Me, and The Brits popped in for a casual lunch and were pleased to see that the new owner had spruced the place up, adding some brightly colored architectural features to break up the modern, high-ceilinged, glass-window enclosed dining room. It makes for a much warmer environment than before.

 Also warm was my minestrone soup, which I prefer to be scalding hot when served, but I shan't quibble. It was good hearty soup, studded with beans and vegetables and pasta and bits of Italian sausage. Oh yes, and check out that lovely flat leaf parsley garnish in the picture, I forgot about that. Also nicely done was B's Caprese salad, with its lively AB pattern (sorry, former kindergarten teacher here) of fresh mozzarella and tomato, and smattering of fresh basil and drizzle of balsamic & olive oil. Matt had the calzone, a tasty blend of spinach, sausage, and mozzarella wrapped in a bundle of thick dough and served with marinara sauce for dipping. Sian chose the calamari, which was lightly battered and served with an undersalted cucumber sauce and what tasted like cocktail sauce. Even though I'm not a huge fried sea creature person and although my evaluation of this dish was hampered by the fact that Sian hogged all the tasty tender little rings and left me with the twisty crunchy tangly sort-of-gross squid legs part, I thought the calamari was good. 

Sadly, I lost the menu I pilfered after lunch so my specifics on price and detailed dish description are lacking here, but I'll try to stroll down to the Pearl soon and get another one and update this someday. As I recall, I thought the dishes were very reasonably priced, especially for the Pearl. The wine list was priced reasonably as well. Six-dollar glasses of Prosecco in the Pearl make me happy. So...I suppose I'll wrap up this rather vague posting with the assertion that while I wouldn't make a special trip to NW 10th & NW Lovejoy to eat at Leonardo's (unless you are seriously sick of the restaurant turnover there and would like to help the newcomer survive a little longer), if I were hungry for a big 'ol calzone and it was convenient, or if I wanted a $6 glass of Prosecco and it was convenient, or if I wanted a mellow & friendly atmosphere and decent Italian food and it was convenient, I'd definitely eat at Leonardo's again. 

Leonardo's on Lovejoy * 939 NW 10th Ave. * 503.546.2223 * can't find a website, boo * forgot to mention they have a full bar, yay

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Everett St. Bistro (Pearl)

So my favorite British couple, Sian and Matt, flew into Portland last night for a visit, and despite battling severe jet lag they bravely managed to drag themselves out of the Benson and into one of Everett Street Bistro's comfy chairs for a leisurely Saturday morning brunch in the Pearl District. For my part, I also bravely managed to drag my un-jetlagged but possibly slightly hungover self out of my Northwest apartment and into one of the aforementioned comfy chairs, where I ordered a black coffee and eyed the pretty pastries piled on the counter.

I suppose I'll just say up front that I've never been bowled over by the food here, rather I think Everett Street Bistro's greatest accomplishment is the atmosphere--it has a very cozy European feel about it with the white linen-covered tables, tiny bar, well-stocked cheese 'n charcuterie case, and pressed-tin ceiling. If I ignore the big shiny Hummers whizzing down NW Everett Street and the pasty North Face apparel-wrapped masses streaming past the restaurant's front windows, I can sort of pretend I'm back in a cafe on the rue de Seine. And every time I'm in Everett Street Bistro there's a decent-sized crowd, which adds to the conviviality.

This particular morning we dined on the Ham Scramble--Black Forest ham, Tillamook white cheddar, carmelized shallots; the Everett St. Benedict--Dungeness crabcakes, poached eggs, spinach and creole hollandaise; Grand Marnier French Toast--slabs of country-style bread soaked in Grand Marnier custard, and the Croque Monsieur--Black Forest ham, Gruyere and dijon topped with bechamel sauce. Nothing really made me cry oo-la-la, in hindsight I should have just taken the hair-of-the-dog route and had a few bellinis off ESB's well-stocked classic cocktail list. 

But while ESB's food lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, I still let my British friends lure me in there now and then because I enjoy the psuedo-European dining experience. So if like me, you're  longing for Paris in the Springtime but all life seems to be dishing up lately is Portland in the Endless Grip of Winter, either feng shui the Travel corner of your apartment and hope fervently to win that Dream Trip for Two to Italy contest you entered on the Gourmet magazine website yesterday ( on, PLEASE let me win one of these JUST ONCE!) or head to Everett Street Bistro.

Everett Street Bistro * 1140 NW Everett St. * * 503.467.4990 *ESB serves breakfast and lunch daily and dinner every night but Monday so you can get a bellini there pretty much any time, any day, with or without a British friend. Smashing! 

Friday, February 8, 2008


For a long time, I've been wanting to try Rocket on SE Burnside, for two reasons mostly. First, a friend whose gastronomical insights I trust ate there and had a good meal, and secondly I wanted to eat a Pocket Rocket cooked by a chef named Leather Storrs. It's quite a name!

So my sis and I met last night at Rocket, and since the rooftop restaurant was probably only at 10 percent capacity, our gracious server, whom we'll call David because that's what the receipt says his name is, allowed us to play musical tables until we found the booth that best showcased the restaurant's stunning view of Downtown Portland. The booths are great--big plush and u-shaped--I pitied the people sitting in the hard space-age looking chairs a few paces away.  

We prefaced dinner with a Chanel Royale ($9)--a light 'n lovely combination of hibiscus flower syrup and prosecco, and a Dark & Stormy ($7) -a pleasantly tangy blend of Goslings rum, Reeds sharp ginger beer and lime. Rocket also offers a list of 50 or so sparkling, white and red wines, three or four by the glass per category, the rest by the bottle. The list featured a healthy selection of local wines as well as French, Italian, and Spanish wines. Prices per glass ranged from $7 - $18 (Domaine Bruno Gobillard, in case you're wondering) and the majority of the bottles were between $30 and $50. 

Rocket's minimalistic menu is divided into three brief sections, Prefix (starters), Matrix (entrees), and RX (upscale carnival food). We'd had a big lunch, so we just chose one thing off the Prefix menu--the potato dumplings--and then ordered several items from the RX section, mostly because like chef Leather Storrs, they had interesting names. (And yes, we often buy wine just for the label too.)

The Pocket Rocket ($7) was our favorite--a soft french roll slashed on top and stuffed with chunks of fried shrimp, moistened by a subtly flavorful slaw. The tiny fried gnocchi-like potato dumplings were tasty, studded with cubes of bacon and sliced green onions and set on a bed of what we think was sour cream and potato puree. The Lamb corndog ($5), while a value to be sure, was massive and overpowering, even to my sister--a fiercely devoted lamb/hunkameat lover. I think I'd enjoy the dish more if it was presented as several mini corn dogs. The Scrapple ($5) is Rocket's take on an old Amish dish created to utilize pork scraps, according to our server David, and consists of crispy bits of pork shoulder mixed with cornmeal and served as two slabs of what resembles French toast, right down to the small pitcher of syrup to be poured over the top. It's an in-your-face sweet 'n savory flavor combination, but it's done well. 

For dessert, we shared the cherry pop tart, which was basically a soft, cobbler-like cherry bar with creme fraiche ice cream ($8) and a syrupy cherry sauce. The dessert was lackluster, the pastry overly sweet and the ice cream lacking the true kick creme fraiche is willing to provide. My sister was forced to unceremoniously spit out the ornamental cherry that accompanied the pop tart when she discovered it was pickled (Thank goodness there was hardly anyone in the restaurant to witness THAT). I think if you are going to call a dessert a pop tart, it should look (if, hopefully, not taste) like one. Where was the pale pink icing, the sprinkles, the unnatural sheen belying the malevolent presence of at least three types of hydrogenated oils? I know, I'm nit-picking, but it was kind of a letdown. We cheered ourselves up by openly ogling thesuper-cute guy washing dishes at the bar. Oh my! (Just kidding, Michelle's darling bf!)
We left Rocket feeling like kids who'd eaten too many hotdogs and bags of caramel corn at the fair--a little queasy and regretful. I think this sensation could probably be remedied by ordering a more conventional starter-entree combination (and yes, Rocket has this, check out for the whole menu) and not a tableful of things that are fried and doused in maple syrup or dripping with sour cream puree. But since we opted for the latter dining strategy, we can't vouch for the rest of the menu. 

Rocket has a wide wraparound outdoor patio that must offer stunning views in summer, so when summer rolls around in approximately seven months, we plan on returning, if only for a Pocket Rocket and some Scrapple after a night at the Doug Fir. (Rocket offers most of the items we ate at a discounted rate on their late-night menu.)


Rocket * * 503.236.1110 * 1111 E. Burnside St. * yes reservations, yes super-cute bar dishwasher * get the Chanel  Royale and a Pocket Rocket and try not to dwell bitterly on the fact that your totally square parents named you something insipid like 'Jen' and not something nifty like 'Leather Storrs' 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mother's Yourself

My poor sister is still under the weather and even staying home from work couldn't cheer her up. Since what you really need at a time like this is Mom, and Mom was unavailable, we bundled her up and headed downtown to Mother's Bistro, decreeing that Michelle's sniffles and woe-is-me moaning was nothing a little home-cooked chicken noodle soup and mimosas couldn't cure. 

As always the understated elegance of Mother's Bistro put us immediately at ease; the large dining room welcomes you with its homey feel, soft floral fabrics, vintage-style mirrors and artwork, muted green and yellow striped wainscoting and golden chandeliers suspended from the high ceilings. Less at ease was the poor woman I walked in on in the restroom--make a note to be sure and lock the door securely if you use the loo when you go. After that experience I was slightly shaken, so I ordered a mimosa ($6.50) to calm my nerves--a thing of beauty with its layers of orange juice and strawberry syrup. My poor ill sister chose a refreshingly curative bellini ($7), with fresh peach puree, peach Schnapps, champagne, and fresh mint.

Our lunch order was simple--two large bowls of Belle's Chicken Noodle Soup please ($5.95). The soup was steaming hot and studded with cut carrots, celery, linguini noodles, and tender threads of shredded chicken in an unmistakeably homemade broth that made me want to go home, toss out my boxes of ready-made broth, and get out my stock pot. Served alongside were several of Mother's massive French rolls and a pat of butter. Bearing in mind that some of you reading this may desire a lunch of greater substance than soup and cocktails, Mother's Bistro is the Mother-ship of comfort food, with its thorough selection of hearty sandwiches, burgers, salads, and famous Cheddar Cheese Mac n' Cheese. I'm sure someday when 
Michelle regains her health, we'll be back for Mother's Reuben and a Mom'sStrawberry Mountain Meatloaf. 

After polishing off our soup, another round of bellinis, and the plate of tiny homemade chocolate-mint, macadamia nut, and shortbread swirl cookies Mother's bids you adieu with, I have to say Michelle looked considerably healthier. Frankly, I'm surprised more medical professionals don't recommend Mother's Bistro as a salve for the common cold. Consider yourself enlightened.


Mother's Bistro * * 503.464.1122 * 212 SW Stark St. * closed Mondays * yes reservations * remember to lock the bathroom door 

Pambiche- Step into Summer

My sister and I were fed up with this Portland weather and craving summer on Monday... so we decided to go to Cuba. Well not really Cuba, but Pambiche was close enough. We walked in and felt like we'd stepped out of the PDX gloom and into the tropics.
We rolled in famished at about 9pm after a meeting about launching the Table Talk Portland website (stay tuned...we'll have it up soon!). There was a real need to try all the food and Pambiche has a giant menu, so we decided that we would begin with their sampler appetizer plate, the Primera Vuelta ($13.75). It has one large empanada, 2 croquetas, 2 frituras, ensalada caribeƱa and ensalada de remolacha. Jen and I chose the Picadillo empanada, which is filled with cuban beef hash and I have to say it was my favorite item of the evening. The beef is so tender and seasoned and it is all surrounded by a pie shell that is crisp with a pinch of salt. If you like corn bread, you will love the maiz frituras.

The appetizers were such a success that we could hardly wait for our Plato Cubano ($14.50)-adobo marinated roast pork, yuca con mojo, served with cuban beans & rice. The tender, savory pork was perfectly complimented by the slightly sweet yuca.

We were still pretending it was an endless summer evening and so even when the clock struck 10pm, we figured we should carry on with a giant slice of Lime in the Coconut cake ($6.75). The cake was so moist, because it is laced with saoco syrup and has coconut natilla filling. My only issue was that the lime was a bit overpowering and you could barely taste the coconut. My sister said that she loved that the lime was so powerful because it made her feel even more summery...

Pambiche** 2811 NE Glisan* 503.233.0511 Ext. 3* Open every night for lunch and dinner* Saturday & Sunday Cuban Breakfast* no reservations

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Apizza Scholls- a Cure for the Common Cold

I was a little under the weather on Thursday and not sure that I wanted to go out, but then the bf proposed Apizza Scholls and I just couldn't turn it down. I know that people say to avoid cheese when you have a cold, but I am sure that whoever they are, they didn't mean Apizza Scholls cheese. There is typically a wait, but my bf and I were lucky and got right in- a clear sign that I was supposed to go there sick and all! My remedy for my cold was to start with the caesar salad ($8). Vegetables are always good for a cold and combined with garlic, egg, and anchovies it sounded like an old home remedy and tasted so much better.

I was still feeling under the weather, so we decided to continue the cold therapy by ordering Pizza Amore ($24) and root beers. I have to just come out and say it... it is the Best Pizza in the entire world. The crust is perfectly thin and gives you the perfect amount of crunch as you bite through the hot cappicola, fresh basil, creamy whole milk mozzarella, and amazing tomato sauce. Apizza Scholls is not for the type of person who likes non-traditional pizzas (alfredo sauce pizza, barbeque chicken pizza, gorgonzola pizza, etc). They pride themselves on making traditional pizza with their famous dough and fresh ingredients. The have limited ingredients and actually don't let you put more than 3 items on the pie, so that you can really taste each ingredient.

Who couldn't feel better after a meal like that... I seriously think that people should toss out their Airborne and go to Apizza Scholls to cure their colds.

There is only one downside to the pizza... the crust is soooo thin and crispy that it is best enjoyed in the restaurant because if you take it home to reheat it gets soggy. I think this is why they do not offer delivery or takeout. So, make sure that you eat the entire pie in the restaurant, which isn't really that hard to do!

Apizza Scholls ** 4741 SE Hawthorne * 503.233.1286 * Tuesday- Saturday* 5 to 9:30pm or until they run out of dough* reservations for 8-12 pp only

Monday, February 4, 2008

This Week in Food: Feb. 4 - 10

So we're sure you're cutting back on dining out this week so you can afford to take your honey somewhere uber swanky next week, but in case the larder is bare and you simply must venture out, here's where we'll be this week!

Monday, 2.4: Pambiche * * 503.233.0511 * 2811 NE Glisan St. * no reservations * cuban food in an intimate, tropical-hued restaurant is just what we need to remind us that somewhere out there over the rainbow, there is a place that gets above 39 degrees farenheit

Tuesday, 2.5: Andina * * 503.228.9535 * 1314 NW Glisan * yes reservations, you can make them on opentable too, tell them tabletalkportland sent you, maybe we'll get a free mojito (fyi: Andina is the only place in town whose mojitos rival mine)

Wednesday, 2.6: tba

Thursday, 2.7: Whole Foods ChocolateFest * * 503.525.4343 * 1210 NW Couch St. * 5-8 pm * $10 donation goes to ChristieCare ( * line up at chocolate tasting stations set up across the store, please ignore belligerent fudge sauce double dipper who very closely resembles my beloved sister

Friday, 2.8: Rocket * * 503.236.1110 * 1111 E. Burnside St. * yes reservations * haven't tried this place yet, really want to eat pocket rockets (?!)  cooked by a chef named leather storrs, have also heard the view is excellent

Saturday, 2.9: Paley's Place * * 503.243.2403 * 1204 NW 21st Ave * yes reservations * planning to have the tartare and a Negroni at the bar...perfection

Sunday, 2.10: J & M Cafe * can't find the website, just google it * 503.230.0463 * 537 SE Ash St * no reservations * dungeness crabcakes benedict, inventive scrambles, and serve-your-own Stumptown helps one speedily recover from a Saturday night of excess, if you know, you're prone to those