I arrived in Portland last Thursday right around lunch time. Which was, of course, a most auspicious time to arrive, as it meant I could jump right into the varied and yummy cuisine to be found in the eateries in Romaine's Sunnyside neighborhood.
I requested that for lunch we go to a restaurant called Laughing Planet on Belmont Street near where Romaine lives. It's a really cute little place with wooden tables and benches covered with colorful pillows and the decor is artwork and toy dinosurs. They serve a burrito there that I'd been jonesing for during most of my flight from Columbus to Portland.
But then as we were walking from Romaine's house to the Laughing Planet Romaine reminded me that last time I was here how much I'd liked the Kale Caesar Burger Bowl at Dick's Kitchen, the restaurant next door to the Laughing Planet.
As soon as I heard the words "Kale Caesar Burger Bowl" I was hit with a mental image: the ribbon-chopped kale topped with shredded parmesan, the flavorful Caesar dressing, the juicy, exquisitely tasty burger!
Yes, I had indeed forgotten how much I'd liked that Kale Caesar Burger Bowl! So much so that after I'd returned home from my last trip to Portland I'd been obsessed with trying to replicate the dish on my own, but had never quite succeeded. I immediately forgot about my fixation on the Happy Planet burrito and decided that the Kale Caesar Burger Bowl from Dick's Kitchen it must be!
So we passed by Laughing Planet and went next door to Dick's Kitchen, a plain but cute little restaurant that specializes in the Paleo diet, which involves mostly meat and plants.
So Romaine and I both ordered the $11.50 Kale Caesar Burger bowl :
Was the it as good as I remembered it?
Well, I walked out of the restaurant inspired and renewed in my determination to recreate a kale caesar buger bowl worthy of comparison to Dick's Kitchen.
We spent the rest of the day running errands, walking around and kicking around until it was once again time to eat.
As the food truck phenomenon rolls its way across the country, some cities are starting to have food trucks; Portland, Oregon has food truck parks! Food truck parks are like trailer parks except with food trucks instead of house trailers and they're all around the city.
Romaine and I decided that we'd sample some of the wares during my visit.
So on Thursday night we walked to the closest food truck park, about a mile from Romaine's house.
There were probably a dozen different varieties of food to choose from, Thai, Hawaiian, Italian, Hispanic, vegetarian and vegan among them. There were also lots of picnic benches and a nice covered shelter strung with lights.
I ultimately by-passed the lamb but went for the Chicken Greek Salad, which was the same as the lamb but with chicken instead.
The Chicken Greek salad was delicious. I asked Romaine if hers was in fact the best lamb in Portland. She replied that the lamb was tender,tasty, excellent, awesome, really, but she hadn't had enough lamb experience to say whether it was in fact the bests lamb in Portland. But we figured it must be close enough.
The next day was Friday and Romaine had to go into work, so I spent my day walking around Sunnyside, seeing the sights, snapping the flora and fauna,
And watching the people.
For dinner that night we decided to walk to another of the local food truck parks, this one about
1 1/2 miles from Romaine's house in the opposite direction of the one we'd gone to the night before.
This food truck park likewise offered a varied fare.
Romaine found a truck that sold Indian spinach and paneer over french fries:
While I saw this Egyptian eatery and was intrigued:
Anyway, mine was good and so was Romaine's so I guess that's all that counts, right?
We started Saturday off with breakfast at Utopia, another plain but cozy little local spot - tables, chairs, and a counter - also on Belmont street two doors down from Dick's Kitchen.
Romaine ordered a mushroom, cheese and sausage omelet with potato pancakes on the side to which she likewise gave an unqualified two thumbs up.
After our utopian Utopia breakfast we set sail for a day of shopping at the Lloyd Center, Southeast Portland’s shopping mall – funny thing about malls: no matter what city you’re in, when you’re at the mall you always feel like you’re back home, right?
Anyway, in spite of my substantial breakfast after a few hours of cruising the mall I felt the need for more sustenance - just a little snack to hold me over, really - so we meandered over to the food court where I found a Greek food counter and refueled on a snack of Greek cheese pie - I had never heard of Greek cheese pie before but it was very good: a warm, soft, pizza-like crust folded over a tasty cheese filling - and a couple of meat-stuffed grape leaves with tzatziki sauce, also very good; in fact, suprisingly good for mall food.
But I do allow myself to indulge in Toby's Tofu Dip while in Portland.
On Saturday evening we met Romaine’s dear (and awesome!) friend Michael for dinner downtown at a German restaurant called Gruener.
We had a wonderful time talking. laughing, and, of course, eating our way through dinner.
We started with appetizers. Michael had a fruit salad that was so lovely it looked like a piece of art. Romaine and I ordered and shared a plate of German dumplings mixed with vegetables and a bowl of meat-stuffed ravioli in broth. Michael said his fruit salad was good, but I frankly found Romaine's and my dishes kind of tasteless. And - do you believe this? - there was no salt on the table! [I guess the chief has a pretty high opinion of him- or herself! ;) ].
For our main courses Michael ordered salmon topped with cherries and Romaine and I both ordered bratwurst with saurkraut and potatoes.
Michael again found his choice to be delicious. Romaine thought the bratwurst dish was okay and I guess I'd say the same, though I can make better bratwurst and better potatoes than the ones we had at this restaurant. The saurkraut was really good, though - the cabbage was cut thicker than in most saurkraut.
So, though up until that point I was finding my meal kind of mediocre, my dessert was fantastic. It was a plate of 4 berliners, or German doughnuts. These doughnuts were sooooo good! They were small sugar doughnuts that were kind of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, served warm with a garnish of cherry sauce to dip them in - heavenly!
Michael and Romaine both ordered blueberry almond cake with a ring of white chocolate icing around the bottom of the cake - they both agreed that it was delicious.
But next to the sublime sugar doughnuts my favorite thing about Gruener was how they presented the bill: stuck inside a Hermann Hesse book!:
To be continued....