Posts filed under ‘Cities’

Serrato – Italian Restaurant

My best friend and I were supposed to head out to a nice dinner last night (we both share a love of fine restaurants and dressing up), but the weather was stunning and we got side tracked into a Coldstone Ice Cream appetizer.  We wandered a bit outside and ate our treats in the sun.

When we finally were starting to be hungry again we headed over to Northwest Portland.  We drove down 21st, and I thought we were heading to Lucy’s table, but he had some place new in mind.  We browsed one of my favorite shops for a little bit and then headed for the Italian place he was thinking of.  Turns out it was Serrato, which is a place I have passed by many times (always admiring their cute little snail decals on the windows) but had never been in.

It was your usual sort of Italian restaurant atmosphere, rather dim, with white table cloths.  The space was L shaped and had a fair bit of room for tables in addition to the bar.  The blue wall in the back of the restaurant really caught my eye.  It was the color of dusk or of certain summer storm skies that I have seen.  I really appreciated that they had a rather larger candle at the table, as I was able to read my menu without trouble, the lack of visibility being something that tends to plague nearsighted people in dim restaurants.

We ordered the calamari for a starter, though the kitchen didn’t bring it.  We ended up receiving it at the end after I mentioned that it hadn’t arrived.  They comped us the appetizer.  It was quite nice.  Tender calamari takes care in picking how long you cook it for.

He ordered the special, which was a lamb shank served over polenta and topped with tomato sauce.  The bite of polenta I had was lovely.  Just the right amount of additional flavor to make the polenta interesting, but not overwhelm its natural appeal.  It was creamy and buttery.  The lamb (by report) was very good, but not quite good enough that he felt he had to convince me to try a bite.

I order the seared sea scallops.  They were served with diced Yukon Gold potatoes, zucchini slices, sautéed chanterelles and onions with greens, and drizzled with a saffron-citrus cream.  The scallops managed a wonderful crust on top and bottom that drew out that savory Maillard reaction, but very tender everywhere else.  The potatoes would have been extremely dangerous had there been slightly more of them, as they were very tasty.  They were cooked just enough to be soft, yet retain their structural integrity and had obviously been slow cooked with herbs of some kind.  Probably at least a bit of rosemary and garlic.  The mushrooms and vegetables were also good.  Over all, the flavors balanced very nicely.

We were quite full after our meal (especially after snacking on the calamari which came mid-course with the entrées) and didn’t end up ordering dessert, though there were a few things that looked like they would be worth trying.  We certainly plan to go back another time.

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March 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Cheese Bar (formerly known as Steve’s Cheese) – yet another reason to move to Southeast Portland

I know I am behind the times, in that I didn’t catch this move immediately, but I just ran into the fact that Steve’s Cheese is no longer in Northwest.  It was one of the non-restaurant food highlights of that part of town for me.  The cheese counter would sport sometimes a couple hundred unusual and interesting cheeses, some of them difficult to find elsewhere in Portland.

They have apparently moved to Southeast Portland and are now located on Belmont.  I have been resisting the pull to move into Southeast, being as yet unwilling to give up my twenty minute walk to work in the mornings.  But the pull is increasing exponentially as the months go by.  There are tons of hidden gems to be found in Beaverton, but the plethora of amazing restaurants, food spots, and other engaging locations and events to be found on the East side of Portland (not to mention a large number of my friends) may pull me in at the end of my current lease.

For those of you on the East Side, go check out Cheese Bar.  I haven’t been to the new location, but a trip will now have to be arranged.  I will be out that direction on Saturday, so perhaps I will make a detour their way.

March 24, 2010 at 10:49 am Leave a comment

Du Kuh Bee

M suggested that we check out this Korean restaurant last night.  I was excited to see that it was located in Beaverton, close to places that I go fairly frequently on errands.  I have passed that corner numerous times and never been in.  Beaverton does have some good places to eat, but Portland has a far higher concentration of interesting and innovative restaurants, so I am always excited to find new places a little closer to home.

Du Kuh Bee was written up in the Willamette Week Restaurant Guide 2009. Oddly enough, their description of its location could fit the restaurant next door, which is also Korean and in close proximity to a hair salon.  They are mid way down the building to the east of Watson on 1st.  Their signage is minimal compared to the large windows of the other restaurant.

We were initially seated by the door, but a couple minutes later the people at the bar left, and we were able to move up where we could watch the kitchen.

The atmosphere is unassuming.  It is a long, narrow space.  There is seating for roughly 20.  A TV was playing the news in the background.  Sitting at the bar you get to see their ingredients spread out in front of you, onions, cabbage, and such, in numerous containers of mostly humble origin (at one point I saw him take sliced green onions out of a blue lidded ziplock container).  A small fridge off to the left appeared to hold their fish and meats.

We ended up ordering the two dishes that were recommended in the Willamette Week, the squid pasta and the bok choy.  They brought us plates and chopsticks, and two little bowls of appetizer while we waited for our food.  One was a kimchi, while the other was a slightly pickled or vinegared daikon radish.  Both were tasty, but I was especially partial to the daikon.

Sitting at the bar we got to watch them prepare the food.  It was fun to watch them make everything, though watching them prepare the noodles was the best part.  Long, blocks of dough were taken out of the fridge and 3/4″ square lengths were cut off of the dough.  The chef then stretched them and pulled them repeatedly, slapping the strands of noodle hard against the counter top, before tossing them into a pot of boiling water.

Their compact kitchen manages to cram in a grill, stove, prep, and storage space.  A giant stockpot of water appeared to be kept at a fairly constant boil, briefly becoming home to both noodles and seafood.  A large portion of the food was prepared in a wok on the stove.  We also watched them grill up numerous things and at one point something they were doing on the grill sent up a large fragrant cloud of steam.

Our noodle dish arrived first.  It was a lovely red-orange color and had bits of onion, cabbage, and pepper along with the noodles and squid.  The squid blended itself well with the noodles, many of which were of a similar size.  It was pleasantly spicy, without being terribly hot.  The flavors were tantalizingly on the verge of familiar.  I kept thinking that I ought to be able to identify things, but it was also uniquely its own thing.  I love asian food and eat a fair bit of Thai, Chinese, and Indian.  It was really nice to be introduced to some new cuisine.

The bok choy was also lovely and different in flavor from the noodle dish.  It was somewhat akin to the ways you might see bok choy prepared at a Chinese restaurant, coming with a liquid, light brown sauce which perhaps owed some of its flavor to soy sauce.  But it was also slightly sweet and had a lovely smokey flavor.

They do have some veggie dishes on the menu, but it looks to me like this isn’t the friendliest place for a strict vegetarian.  Luckily, I also encompass fish and seafood in my diet, which allows me to mark this restaurant some place I must return to.

Our meal was very reasonably priced (we got out of there for $26 including tip), and generously portioned.  We ended up with a meal for one from the leftovers.  I also hear tell that they are open fairly late, even on weeknights, which is rare for this part of town.  We’ll definitely be going back and hopefully dragging a few friends along.

November 19, 2009 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Places to Drink in Portland

Imbibe magazine has a rather nice article in their September/October issue on places to drink in Portland, Oregon.   Most of the descriptions for locations are brief, but the list of places covered is extensive.  I have certainly added a number of places to my list of restaurants and bars to check out and the online version of the article has imbedded links that let you visit a majority of the places mentioned.

Whether you are visiting the city, new to Portland, or live here and just happen to like learning about places you may not have been, I recommend checking out the article.

The article prompted M and I to decide that we would head out this evening.  We plan on checking out some place new which the article mentions as having an extensive whiskey selection.

October 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment