Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Portland Picks: Portland, Oregon, That Is

Not that Mrs. Yi and I didn't dine just fine between San Francisco and Portland. We lacked only time and perspective. Having two full days in Portland with the benefits of local friends and our own prior research, we got a true taste of the cleanest city in America's restaurant scene. Four noteworthy meals were involved. Two of them truly pushed the envelopes of our Baltimore points of view.

Pictured above is the dining room of Park Kitchen at 422 NW Eighth, where we had lunch on Friday, August 11. I only regret that the photographic angle isn't a little wider, because just off to the right is the kitchen. Although separated by a counter, the kitchen is almost like a part of the dining room. Note the way banquette seating lines the walls. Here's how Chef/Owner Scott Dolich describes it: "This setting and its scale allow me to create food that is very personal--- dishes that reflect and are inspired by our surroundings. When people come into a restaurant, their first impression is of the physical space , and that sets up their expectations---before they ever taste the food or see the menu." The New York Times Style Magazine has a different take: "With the Clash Kitchen on its stereo and its glass garage door, Park Kitchen may look like other Portland restaurants, but there's something magic afoot." My own take is to describe Park Kitchen as an intimate slow food emporium where like-minded foodies gather. Pictured to the right---remember we were guests for lunch---is the house made hot dog with house made ketchup and house made chips. If you read this post with any regularity, you know that hot dogs aren't my thing. But if I'm going to eat one, let me eat it here. The Park Kitchen also has a bar that's as intimate as the main dining room, along with a private dining room, and a few tables on the sidewalk. Its website is http://www.parkkitchen.com/ .

The picture at left is from the Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill at 2926 NE Alberta Street, in Portland's Northeast quarter. Rather than post another failed attempt to shoot right with my new SCHa 990 cell phone camera, I lifted it from a web site to which you will soon be directed. Lower left, I occupied the seat of the dreadlocked gentleman. Mrs. Yi sat across from me. What a coincidence that three weeks after leaving Portland, while checking facts on the Internet, I happened upon this: "Chef Eric Bechard and Park Kitchen spatula boss, Scott Dolich have connected to heap lavish praise , and perhaps ideas on one another." Notwithstanding such a relationship, the emphasis at Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill is on seafood---and after having first enjoyed two drinks at the bar, let me add cocktails to that. It's not everywhere that you can order a Via Sego---Vanilla infused Boubon, Port soaked Cherries, Fresh Orange Zest, Bitters, and a Splash of Soda. Nor are you likely to find elsewhere an Easy Spice--House infused Vanilla Bean and Black Pepper Vodka, Fresh Blackberries, Orange Juice, Simple Syrup. Served tall. Once at our table, after an order of delicious Oregon Coast oysters, my first course, tasting every bit as good as it read, was Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho, Dungeness Crab, Avocado and Fried Green Tomato. Before you go to Alberta Street Bar & Grille's web site, let me put in my two cents by saying there' no way Alberta Street Bar & Grille isn't in the the top 1 percent of the top 1 per cent of America's seafood restaurants. Learn more at the website:http://www.albertaoyster.com/