Category Archives: Local Restaurants

Hunnymilk Brunch for Fun and Flavor

One of the best brunches in Portland has a new pop-up home. HunnyMilk is a pop-up brunch by Chef Brandon Weeks held on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm. It has moved to the La Buca restaurant space at 40 NE 28th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.

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Both the food and the vibe are playful. The La Buca space is much larger than their former pop-up space at Hogan’s Goat. You are greeted by Alex Franzen and ushered to your table where you have coloring sheets, crayons and pencils and games like a Rubik’s Cube. There are no reservations, so the larger space is welcome for those who want less of a wait.

Hunnymilk coloring sheet and cocoa
Hunnymilk coloring sheet and cocoa

Now comes the hard part – choosing your brunch. The $20 meal includes one drink, one sweet and one savory. You can add on booze to your juice, coffee, or cocoa or enjoy one of their three extra sides. That said, the meal itself is going to fill you up and smaller appetites may be taking some home. The caramel hot chocolate with toasted milk marshmallows is likely the best cocoa you’ve ever had.

Crispy pork ribs and grits savory with poppyseed French toast sweet
Crispy pork ribs and grits savory with poppyseed French toast sweet

The savory choices include Weeks’ succulent crispy pork ribs, served with cheesy garlic grits, poached egg, avocado, and chimichurri. Once you’ve had them, it’s hard to make another savory choice for your next trip. The quiche with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and miso is served with a green salad. Another recent choice is a cronut sandwich with egg, bacon, cheddar and spicy maple. All of the savories are interesting, intricate and reveal the chef’s pedigree from Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago), Bouchon (Napa Valley), Urban Farmer, The Painted Lady, and Renata (Portland).

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Magical sausage egg savory with carrot cake waffle sweet.

The sweet choices are also creative and delicious. Recent visits included the poppy seed French toast with cabernet cherries, almond streusel and creme brulee ice cream and a carrot cake waffle with cream cheese mousse and black walnut toffee.

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Brown butter oat cake toast sweet with pork brisket hash savory.

If you have a lighter appetite, you might want to share a tray with a friend and add on a side such as the chocolate chunk monkey bread with peanut butter custard.

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Buttermilk biscuits with honey butter and jam.

On the first Saturday of the month, you can stop by and enjoy the Letters and Brunch. You’ll get the same great menu but also envelopes, cards, pens, sticker and postage stamps so you can compose missives to the people in your life who need to hear from you non-electronically.

For more fun, HunnyMilk hosts a Wake and Bake in coordination with High 5 Tours and Pure Green. It includes picking up a bag full of cannabis goodies from the partner dispensary in advance, enjoying them on the High 5 bus, and then enjoying the HunnyMilk brunch, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, coloring sheets, games, and classic cartoons on an 8-foot projector screen at a private loft location. Non-imbibers are welcome to join in. Pajamas and loungewear are encouraged, with a brunch gift card to the best ensemble.

The picnic fried chicken and bananas foster churro
The picnic fried chicken and bananas foster churro

On our most-recent visit, they offered the picnic savory – fried chicken that had first been slowly cooked sous vide to capture maximum flavor, then quickly fried for a crispy skin. I’m very picky about my fried chicken, and this chicken leg was nothing less than awesome. It came with egg salad, corn bread and watermelon. Then the bananas foster churro sweet would satisfy any sweet tooth.

Hunnymilk

Chick-fil-A vs. Portland Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Chick-fil-A is causing traffic jams around its new location at 185th in Hillsboro. But are there better choices in Portlandia, and even not so far from it in suburbia? The Atlanta chain last had outlets in Oregon in 2003, and much has changed in the interim for Portland and the rest of the country. Here’s how it stacks up to some local fried chicken sandwiches. They are presented in alphabetic order.

Basilisk Fried Chicken Sandwich
Basilisk Fried Chicken SandwichBasilisk

Basilisk

Basilisk is one of the micro-restaurants at The Zipper at 27th and NE Sandy Blvd. This is what a fried chicken sandwich should be – juicy thigh meat coated with crunchy, savory, salty-enough coating, with slaw and pickles to add a sweet/sour component.  I detected a bit of spice, but I think next time I’ll give it a sprinkle of the sriracha sauce they provide.  If you don’t want chicken, they do the same thing with tofu. This $8 sandwich will fill you up and satisfy you.  I wouldn’t have had room for their Kool-Aid soft-serve of the day.  The Pearl Bakery bun tastes buttery and holds together despite all of the crunchy fried chicken. You can sit inside at Basilisk or the dining court, or outside. Beer and cider are available as well as soft drinks.  They are open for lunch and dinner and I had no problem finding parking a couple of blocks away.

Cackalack Hot Chicken Shack - The Blazer
Cackalack Hot Chicken Shack – The Blazer

Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack

If you’re on Hwy 26 west, take a short detour over to Bethany Village to Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack micro-restaurant. Their fried chicken sandwiches come in three versions. The Blazer has homemade pickles, smoky slaw, and garlic herb aioli and comes with a side. It stacks up as superior to Chick-fil-A, but seating is only available at picnic tables on the sidewalk. Worth the additional mile off the highway.

Chick-fil-A Sandwich
Chick-fil-A Sandwich

Chick-fil-A

The basic Chick-fil-A is prepared and breaded fresh on site, a step up from the frozen, pre-breaded filets and processed chicken burgers you will find at other fast food. The store is large and nicely appointed and the staff is astonishingly friendly and helpful. However, if you want more than a good fried chicken filet on a standard hamburger bun with only lettuce and tomato and packets of condiments, look elsewhere.

CHKCHK Fried Chicken Sandwich
CHKCHK Fried Chicken Sandwich

CHKCHK

CHKCHK on NW 23rd takes direct aim at fast food. It has an impressive chicken sandwich that is make with natural hormone-free chicken, housemade buns, and comes with romaine lettuce and truffled pickle. Housemade sauces are available for 25 cents each. Seating is at picnic tables inside and service was speedy. They also have rotating taps of local beer, plus boozy soda pop creations.

Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich
Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich

Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich

With east side and west side locations, Lardo serves up a bacon-strong fried chicken sandwich.  It features bacon, pickles, ranch, and Crystal hot sauce. They give you a real knife to slice through the custom bun.  For $10, it’s a deal, and you can match it with those great Lardo fries.

Laurelhurst Market Fried Chicken Sandwich (Tuesday only!)
Laurelhurst Market Fried Chicken Sandwich (Tuesday only!)

Laurelhurst Market

On any list of great fried chicken in Portland,Laurelhurst Market is mentioned. You can only get their fried chicken sandwich on Tuesdays. It is delightful and the wait is minor, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s not fast food, but it is great food just as fast.

The People's Pig Smoked Fried Chicken Sandwich
The People’s Pig Smoked Fried Chicken Sandwich with Collard Greens

People’s Pig Smoked Fried Chicken

The winner for “close your eyes and savor each bite” is the smoked fried chicken sandwich at People’s Pig. Deep smoky flavor, delicious breading, spicy mayo, jalapeno jelly and greens on a fantastic housemade sourdough roll. It comes with a hearty side such as collard greens. It’s big enough for 2 meals at $10. The wait is pretty short. The drawback is that the restaurant is very much a bbq shack, nothing even slightly fancy. You won’t care. If you’re tempted by Chick-fil-A, stay on the freeway, cross the Fremont Bridge and head to this N. Williams bbq shack.

Marukin Ramen Graces Portland with its Presence

Marukin is an authentic Japanese ramen house, the first of the chain to open in the United States, right here in Portland, Oregon.  As they are open for lunch, I had to stop in to give it a try. It’s purported to be some of the best ramen on earth.  It’s a big, hairy deal according to Eater PDX, with these 10 Reasons Why Ramenheads are Excited About Marukin Ramen.

Marukin Ramen
Marukin Ramen

The location at 609 SE Ankeny St., next door to Nong’s Khao Man Gai is not a place to easily drive to and park. If you work or live in the area or take the streetcar, that’s another thing. But the two places next door to each other makes it a destination for people who want Asian comfort food.

Tokyo Shoyu Ramen
Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

I ordered the standard Tokyo Shoyu: Clear chicken and Carlton Farms pork bone broth base with shoyu. It had a nice bunch of veggies on top. I also got a side of their chicken karaage (4 pieces, small) Japanese-style fried chicken.

Chicken Karaage
Chicken Karaage

The noodles and broth are handmade with care. You get chopsticks and a spoon, but are encouraged to slurp away.  You order at the counter and they deliver to the table, with a minimal wait. The staff seemed friendly and helpful. Most of the tables are made for sharing, and there are long counters to eat at as well.

All of this would be great if I loved ramen.  As I’ve previously discovered with ramen and pho, I just don’t understand the attraction. I might like the spicy varieties I see they had on the weekend. But the Tokyo Shoyu would be a big, satisfying bowl of comfort noodles if you were a ramen fan.

The chicken karaage had a nice crisp coating that tasted mostly of garlic to me. I preferred what I’ve had at Noraneko and Boke Bowl. I have decided that it is verified that I am a ramen Philistine.  I’m a big-flavor gal. I’ve never been a fan of noodle soup in any cultural cuisine.  I am probably in the minority on this. All the better for true ramen fans as I won’t be blocking them from their nirvana.

I am not writing this as a bad review, more as an admission that I gave it a shot and I’m just not a fan of ramen, no matter how excellent. You should give it a try, they will also be opening in the new Pine Street Market in May.

BBQ in the ‘Burbs – Pine Shed Smokes It

Barbecue artists end up in interesting locales. Pine Shed Ribs & Barbecue is tucked off -the-beaten path near Lower Boones Ferry Road and I-5 in what is nominally Lake Oswego. Matt Ramey set up his unique smokers in a shed in the parking lot of a tiny strip mall. He’s been serving up great ribs, tri-tip, smoked sausage and chicken “till it’s gone.”

I make Pine Shed a stop on my way back from wine tasting excursions in Dundee. But it’s probably safer to pick it up on your way to wine country, lest they run out of your favorites – they can only smoke 800 pounds of meat at time.

Pine Shed Ribs and Chicken
Pine Shed Ribs and Chicken

Since I first visited the shed, they’ve created a covered outdoor seating area with picnic tables for 60 people, plus the indoor dining room.

Ramey hosted a group of food bloggers for #BlogACue and we tore through a full slate of food and enjoyed beer samplers from their 10 taps.

Beer Sampler at Pine Shed
Beer Sampler at Pine Shed

A beer sampler is available for $10 and arrives on a cute pig tray. They also have wine available. It was great to see award-winning Pallet Jack IPA on tap.

Matt Ramey
Matt Ramey

Ramey cut his barbecue teeth in San Luis Obispo. While Santa Maria-style barbecue isn’t as smoky, he gets a good smoke ring into the meat and uses local oak. He’s been cooking it in Lake Oswego at a stand or shed since 2001 and has a big following.

A couple of years back I had brisket at Pine Shed, but Ramey has shifted to tri-tip. He thinks it meets what his customers prefer for a less-fatty sliced beef. He sources meat locally from Carlton Farms, St. Helens and Draper valley.

Pork Links - Cheddar Bacon Mac - Beans
Pork Links – Cheddar Bacon Mac – Beans

I hadn’t tried the smoked pork links before and I was impressed.  It wasn’t too hot and was wonderfully seasoned. I also enjoyed the smoked chicken.

The cornbread was super. Ramey says the bacon cheddar mac sells the most of the sides.

If you’re headed south on I-5 or west towards the coast or wine country, Pine Shed Ribs and Barbecue is worth the stop.

Pine Shed Ribs & Barbecue
17730 Pilkington Rd.
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
Open Monday – Saturday 11 am – 8 pm (or sold out)

Mei Lin and Douggie Adams Host Top Chef Reunion Dinner at Imperial

Top Chef season 12 winner Mei Lin is in Portland to cook with her runners-up Doug Adams and Gregory Gourdet. All three will cook for a pre-International Pinot Noir Celebration dinner before IPNC in McMinnville, Oregon.

But first it was a great 4-course meal at Imperial in Portland, where she shared the kitchen with Douggie. About 50 diners were served. This was a chance for me to taste her food beyond the single course she did in the blow-out Chef’s Week dinner finale. I was not a fan of her offering, duck layered under beet with blueberry and brassica. I ate only a bite of it. It was the 15th of 24 courses that night and I’d had enough of meaty/savory. But she was very personable in visiting each table.

Meanwhile, I think I’ve ended up licking the plate of everything Doug ever made.

Greg and Gabi Denton, Gary the Foodie, Mei Lin and Doug Adams
Greg and Gabi Denton of Ox, Gary the Foodie, Mei Lin and Doug Adams – cocktail before dinner

Imperial has spectacular service, and the portions are always generous at the chefs dinners I’ve had there and at Paley’s Place. We started with a cocktail of Imperial Punch and an appetizer from each chef as we enjoyed the hotel lobby/social space.

Menu
Menu

Mei Lin’s albacore tuna and puffed rice bite was super – intricate, textured, delicious. I managed to snag two of them during the cocktail time. Doug’s crenshaw melon and kimchi salad bite was good. But I’d give that round to Mei Lin.

Kimchee from Doug Adams
Kimchi and Melon Salad from Doug Adams

We were seated in the side room, which unfortunately has acoustics that enhance the noise of conversation. Everyone at our table complained of it. Maybe we were in a bad spot, but it made it difficult to talk.

1st Course: Doug Adams – Bay scallops with thinly sliced peach dusted with shaved foie gras and toasted hazelnuts. It was a dish that celebrated Imperial’s dedication to seasonal Northwest ingredients. Served with 2013 Ovum, Corral Creek Vineyard, Riesling.

Scallops with peach and foie gras
Scallops with peach and foie gras

2nd Course: Mei Lin – Congee with duck, black garlic and puffed rice, with a soft egg in the center.  She won the first round of Top Chef with a similar dish with carmelized pork, which is now a Blue Apron recipe. The serving we got was a large bowl, and we were instructed to mix it all together. This didn’t dilute any of the flavor (although the puffed rice didn’t stay crispy). The duck and garlic gave depth to each bite. It was a satisfying meal all on its own. I enjoyed the 2013 Belle Pente Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) served with it.

Congee
Mei Lin’s Congee with duck, black garlic and puffed rice.

3rd Course: Doug Adams – 24-hour smoked short rib, with bbq sauce, bread & butter pickled summer squash and white bread. Wow. The rib was juicy, the sauce intricate with some heat, and the pickled squash refreshing to take a bite to cleanse the palate for the next bite of rib. This is a dish I would definitely recommend to anyone. It was served with a strawberry whiskey Old Fashioned.

Doug Adams 24-hour smoked short rib
Doug Adams 24-hour smoked short rib

Dessert: Mei Lin – Citrus curd with toasted yogurt, burnt honey, ice cream and wood sorrel. Double WOW. This is a memorable dessert. I loved every bite, including the wood sorrel leaves (took me back to Outdoor School!). Served with coffee.

Mei Lin - Citrus Curd
Mei Lin – Citrus Curd

The chefs visited with each table after each course and graciously posed for photos. It was a very satisfying evening, and it’s always fun to finally taste what earned a chef their Top Chef win. Mei Lin’s courses were excellent. I’m happy to be able to eat at Imperial and Departure often as well!

Previous: Doug Adams and Katsuji Cook Cinco de Mayo

Wendy - Mei - Douggie
Wendy – Mei – Douggie

Coquine debuts on Mt. Tabor

Coquine
Coquine

Katy Millard and Ksandek Podbielski bring French-inspired cuisine to the Mt. Tabor neighborhood with Coquine, opening today July 17, 2015. They begin with dinner service and will expand to lunch in the coming month.

Ksandek Podbielski and Katy Millard
Ksandek Podbielski and Katy Millard

Twenty-five Portland Food Adventures diners got a full tour of the menu last night.  The spot is small and cozy (the space formerly housed Songbird), with only 32-seats, including bar, indoor and outdoor tables. Millard brings serious skills honed in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Daniel Patterson establishments in the Bay area. Podbielski is known for his wine pairing skills.

Coquine Bar
Coquine Bar
Coquine Table
Coquine Table

Each dish arrived as lovely as a floral arrangement and ready for its Instagram moment. Millard enhances the local/seasonal produce and composes plates that are delicious as well as beautiful.

Diners will be able to enjoy ala carte or a four-course prix fixe with optional wine pairings.  I look forward to enjoying lunch service when it begins.

Coquine Crispy Duck Wings
Coquine Crispy Duck Wings – with  Calabrin chile and lemon.
Coquine Snap Peas
Coquine Snap Peas – with honey mustard glaze and black sesame.
Coquine - Chilled Almond and Garlic Soup
Coquine – Chilled Almond and Garlic Soup, with English peas and nasturtiums. Paired with Savoie Rose, Eugene Carrel, France 2014.
Coquine - Carrots Roasted and Raw
Coquine – Carrots Roasted and Raw – with mustards, caper-berries, sieved egg and rosemary crumbs. Paired with Rioja Blanco, R. Lopez de Heredia, Spain 2000.
Oil cured Oregon Albacore
Oil cured Oregon Albacore – with new potatoes, cucumber and sorrel-scallion vinaigrette. Paired with Elbling Trocken, Hild, Mosel, Germany 2014.
Coquine - Summer Squash
Coquine – Summer Squash with sunflower seed pesto and shaved chanterelles, paired with Crowley Chardonnay 2013 (Willamette Valley)
Coquine - Pork Ribs
Coquine – Pork Ribs with black pepper molasses lacquer, charred onion, corn, green beans and padron peppers. Paired with Rossese Punta Crena, Italy 2013.
Coquine - Almond Milk-Cardamom Sorbet
Coquine – Almond Milk-Cardamom Sorbet with peach soda, gewurtztraminer and almond meringue. Paired with Sparkling Muscat, Archard Vincent, France.
Coquine - Candies and Sweets
Coquine – Candies and Sweets

They take reservations online via OpenTable for dinner but also hold some seats open for drop-ins.

Coquine
6839 SE Belmont Street
Portland, OR 97215
Dinner: Wed-Sun 5PM to 10PM
Cafe Hours – coming soon.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoquinePDX