April 2007


There’s a Horsey on the Sidewalk on Two Piggies on the Table.

Can someone answer me this? Why can’t they separate the two halves of English muffins correctly? What’s with this “fork split ” nonsense? Why can’t they just cut them with a knife, so that when you put them in the toaster they aren’t ripped to shreds with pieces hanging out that burn and then your whole house smells like a yeasty crematorium? Someone please explain this to me?

Okay, could you be wondering at this point, what possible connection could there be between dinner at an up and coming Mexican restaurant and English muffins? Obviously there is none, you fools. It’s just that earlier today when I was trying to decide what to write about our evening at Authentica, I was also incinerating a badly mangled English muffin, and really wanting an answer to this “fork split” mystery. Do they want us to rip them all up so we have to buy more? Is this some kind of UK conspiracy to make us yanks look bad?
Okay, who mumbled “Andy Rooney?” That guy has to be at least four times my age.
Perhaps I should just begin again …….

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Oba! logoIn the nine years since it has opened, Oba! has always been a model of consistency in the Pearl. It has never changed ownership. The chef, Scott Neuman, has been there since day one, as well as its NuevoLatino menu. The prime rib, queso fundido, and coconut prawns are some of the most delicious items prepared on the Portland dining scene. The happy hour in the bar is one of the best values in town, and is always packed, as well as the outdoor seating in the summer, and the dramatic dining room all times of the year. In the dining area, I have never had bad service, and for some reason the waiters always seem to be tall, dark, and exceedingly good looking. And the bathrooms have always been too small to handle the crush of beautiful people huddled there waiting for those elusive two stalls (and whatever you have in the male equivalent.)

I’ve always loved Oba!, both because of its dark and surrealistically lit dining room, and it’s “NuevoLatino” menu, which according to its website touches on the cuisines of the Caribbean, Cuba, South and Central America, Mexico, and the American Southwest. These are all dramatic kinds of cooking, and most are among my favorites in the world. Although I have eaten many happy hours in the bar in recent years, it has been almost five years since I have dined in the full table luxury of Oba’s! restaurant environs (most of the happy hour tables are tiny,) but having been away five years, I must say, little at Oba! has changed during that time period.

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Wong's King SeafoodHey, traditional Easter celebrants, you missed out on our great RR shrimp and chocolate extravaganza, a journey that took our select but laughter-demented crew not only on a tour of some of the best Asian cuisine our city has to offer, but to Pix, that most wonderful chocolate paradise.

Although Marnie seems perhaps a little confused today, (probably some weird rebound from all that candy she and Leo bought at Pix,) and kept referring to our gathering as happening on Saturday (oh yeah, you know that famous holiday, Easter Saturday,) since I saved all my confusion for Sunday, I’ll let her lead off with her thoughts on our somewhat off-kilter Easter (and thank you so much Dave for saying it was your best Easter ever. It warms my heart to hear comments like that from the group. If only I had a heart. But I’m all stomach, unfortunately in multiple ways.) And Marnie, that wasn’t a corncob pipe, that was a deep fried shrimp I was sucking on…

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Vindalho logoIt was a dark and stormy night……..

Although the majority of the day had seen decent weather, strolling around in mild temperatures weather, once 8:00pm approached the weather went all kablooey, with pouring rain, blowing wind, and other NW atmospheric specialties. I mention this because the weather was so bad at one point Friday evening, the lights flickered several times, went off for a fraction, and fluctuated several times more during our dinner at Vindalho. What was interesting was how nice the experience seemed during that blipiest of outages, Vindalho being a very modern and glassy sort of place, the blowing transformers down the street and the dimmest of lighting made you think of what a fun and adventurous dining experience that might be, chatting and laughing in the near dark with your friendly dining companions. If only there wasn’t that nagging issue of lack of power equating lack of food. More restaurants should try the power outage route, if only all food could be prepared as deliciously in advance.

None of which is meant to imply that Vindalho is not an attractive place with the lights on. Although the less than two year old building is a rather shocking contrast to its early 20th century residential neighbors, the compliments of warm tones and black accents inside Vindalho creates a sleek but welcoming atmosphere. With a similar open kitchen layout to the always fine Nuestra Cocina three blocks down and Vindalho’s well- loved sister restaurant, Lauro, a scant 15 blocks down the way, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that this corner of SE Portland specializes in bustling, trend-setting, open-kitchen cuisine.

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