Bring Out the Gimp

The personal blog of Shawn Conner

Road trip – Portland, Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Shawn Conner in Portland

Blogger Shawn Conner in Portland. Photo by Robyn Hanson

A couple of weekends ago, my girlfriend and I drove down to Portland. We stopped the Thursday night (May 26) in Seattle, where we stayed at my favourite cheap-o hotel (The Moore, where they still know a thing or two about how to shape a towel into a bunny rabbit) before driving the rest of the way to PDX Friday. We stayed three nights at the Jupiter Hotel before heading home, make a brief (three hour) detour at Sasquatch, which wasn’t all that brief if you also consider how much driving time – approximately six hours – it added to the trip home.

Towel at the Moore Hotel, Seattle, May 26 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Towel at the Moore Hotel, Seattle, May 26 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Anyway, a good part of the trip was spent sampling various bars and restaurants, including some new places, and as always when I’m in the U.S. searching for the perfect Happy Hour. Here’s a brief rundown of all the places we went, which may or may not guide you on your next visit to the land of Powell’s Books, microbreweries, and Stumptown Coffee.

Jupiter Hotel marquee, May 27 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Jupiter Hotel, May 27 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Thursday, May 26, Seattle:

The Tin Table – Dead at Happy Hour, but the light is great. It’s in something called the Oddfellows Building, around the corner from Elliott Bay Books; not a bad place for a cocktail and happy hour apps. A pisco sour was one of our drinks.

The Tin Table, Seattle, May 26 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

The Tin Table, Seattle, May 26 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Earth and Ocean in The W Hotel – Have never gotten over the place since seeing Quentin Tarantino at the bar during the Seattle Int’l Film Festival thousands of years ago. Great happy hour appetizers, expensive cocktails. The harissa chicken kebabs with almond yogurt sauce were delicious.

Sazerac in the Hotel Monaco – A deal when it comes to happy hour appetizers. We had a Simplicity pizza (tomato Reduction, Mozzarella, Baby Tomato, Basil), artisan lettuces, and 1/2 dozen oysters.

Oysters at the Sazerac in the Hotel Monaco, Seattle. Robyn Hanson photo

Oysters at the Sazerac in the Hotel Monaco, Seattle. Robyn Hanson photo

Queen City Grill – Had some great food and drink here during Bumbershoot. Ordered the sauteed wild mushrooms with polenta and pecorino cheese, though there didn’t seem to be much polenta. We weren’t complaining because it was still so buttery-fantastic. Cocktails: one bourbon-based and another rum-based, from what I remember.

The Queen City Grill in Seattle. Robyn Hanson photo

The Queen City Grill in Seattle. Robyn Hanson photo

Friday, May 27, Portland:

Besaw’s – Arrived in the city at 1 p.m. and drove straight here for brunch. Excellent huevos rancheros, which I am continually on the look-out for in the “best” category.

Besaw's, May 27. Robyn Hanson photo

Besaw’s, May 27. Robyn Hanson photo

The Doug Fir at the Jupiter Hotel – We stopped at our hotel’s bar to get our Happy Hour going. I had their version of a boiler-maker – Old Crow whiskey and a PBR. Measured pour. Thumbs down.

Jupiter Hotel boiler-maker. Robyn Hanson photo.

Jupiter Hotel boiler-maker. Robyn Hanson photo.

The Guild Public House – IPAs and grilled dates with blue cheese and almonds wrapped in proscuitto and drizzled with maple syrup. Yes.

Noble Rot Wine Bar – Excellent fun, sitting at a rounded banquette w/ oldsters. Crafty cocktails like the Spiced Heaven (bourbon and ginger). Happy Hour onion rings.

The onion rings at Noble Rot Wine Bar, Portland. Robyn Hanson photo

The onion rings at Noble Rot Wine Bar, Portland. Robyn Hanson photo

The Farm Cafe – Nice and dark, a good place to when you’ve had too much to drink and you don’t want anyone to see your pupils swimming in alcohol. Also it was next to our hotel. It’s also very Portland, i.e. there’s probably a skit about it on the satirical show Portlandia. The gnocchi was so good we had to go back on our last night and make sure we hadn’t just dreamt it. We also had the mascarpone cheesecake with pecans (hey, we were on vacation) and for an appetizer the artisanal lettuces.

Shawn Conner at Farm Cafe, Portland, May 27 2011

Drunk at Farm Cafe, Portland, May 27 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Saturday, May 28:

Old Wives Tales - Don’t be fooled by its kid-friendly mien and the big, well-lit room that gives it a Denny’s-like atmosphere; the food at Old Wives Tales is seriously good, and with a tone of gluten-free options, which is good news if, like us, you’re health-obsessed in between poisoning your liver. I had Joe’s Tofu Scramble, with fresh spinach and asiago cheese.

Jake’s – With its old-school ambiance, Jake’s is the kind of cool, old-fashioned bar you imagine Elmore Leonard characters hanging out in. However it’s downtown and tourist-y, with a get-’em-in-get-’em-out feel. Still, not a bad place for a Happy Hour drink and appetizers; we had the “world-famous” crawfish.

Jake's, Portland, May 28 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

 

Clyde Common – Also downtown, and situated next to the uber-hip Ace Hotel, Clyde Common comes with some uber-hipness of its own. We just had beer because we didn’t feel like paying non-happy-hour prices for the cocktails which, admittedly, looked intriguing (sample names: the Andalusian Buck; the Nasturtium; the Tuning Fork). It definitely warrants a return visit, however.

Typhoon – After I complained to the bartender that at Jake’s couldn’t taste the booze in our drinks, she said she makes real drinks. Still couldn’t taste the rum, however. Food was excellent, or seemed so at the time – better than average Thai.

Sunday, May 29

Bread and Ink Cafe – Too big, too many people, so-so brunch food. Good scones though.

Deco Distillery – There’s a section in the industrial part of town near the Willamette River called Distillery Row. We stopped at Deco, because it was easy to find and opened onto the street. And because they have rum!

Deco rum

Deco rum. Robyn Hanson photo

Ginger-infused rum, coffee-infused rum, and just plain old silver rum. Augustina, who was very helpful in pointing us in the direction of other bars in the area (including the nearby Speakeasy, which oozed personality but smelled like an armpit) poured for us and several others in the mid-afternoon. We walked away with a bottle of the ginger stuff. I still wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have bought the coffee one as well.

Augustina at Deco Rum, Portland, May 29 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Augustina at Deco Rum, Portland, May 29 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Deco Distilling, Portland, May 29 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Deco Distilling, Portland, May 29 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Burnside Brewing Co. – More Portland craft brew, plus pastels and paper to draw on and old Talking Heads playing. Very cool place, and pretty much our last stop except for one return visit to Farm for more gnocchi in the dark.

Monday, May 30 2011

Mostly a travel day – no time for breakfast or even lunch, except for what we bought at a grocery store as well as hot dogs at the Sasquatch Music Festival. On the way home we stopped for a burger-and-brew at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in North Seattle by the University District. It’s pretty collegiate but the grub is decent and just the kind of solid food needed after driving all day, and to get us home.

Still thinking about that gnocchi at Farm, though.

On the way to Sasquatch, May 30. Robyn Hanson photo.

On the way to Sasquatch, May 30. Robyn Hanson photo.

Leaving Sasquatch, May 30. Robyn Hanson photo.

Goodbye Sasquatch, May 30. Robyn Hanson photo.

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