September 2007

The Dining Report –
Encanto – Please Hold On While We Bring Your Food From New Mexico (via donkey cart.)

Yes, it’s time again for a few words from your rude, arrogant, and factually confused hostess. Or so I’m told, via a comment submitted to the review of 23Hoyt (actually a pretty tame review). When it comes to comments, the RR blog gets more spam than legitimate dining remarks, so before we think about posting what few comments we get, Marnie and myself always need to decide whether the comments actually have anything to do with Restaurant Roulette or not. All the stuff about winning the British lottery and such we automatically dump (no wonder I’m not rich already), but when someone sends a quote from Albert Camus stating … “you are rude, and arrogant, and your facts are not correct”, there is a decision to be made, is this comment just more spam, in this case at least intellectually driven spam for a change, or is this comment directed at your kindly, innocent RR hostess/reviewer?

Obviously since I’m blathering on about it, I’ve decided to accept that this remarks was sent referring to me, and that not everyone in the entire universe enjoys my dining commentaries (what is wrong with some people?). Sure, especially when a dinner is extra quirky, I can be a tad (a tad) rude in my comments, afterall, isn’t that why many of you read them? If everything was hearts and flowers and little angels flapping their perfect wings amongst sweetness and light, would anyone even take the time to peruse even half of my insanely long ramblings discussing the dinners? I tend to doubt it.

As far as arrogant, isn’t just stating your opinion a form of arrogance in itself, just assuming that anything you have to say has any validity at any time? But hey buddy, remember me, the person who is always talking about snorfling food, and drooling on my pillow, and clumsily tumbling off of tuffets into strangers laps, don’t you know my projected image is one of delightful self-effacement, which is 50 million miles from arrogant?

It’s certainly true, I’ve always made it a point to know quite a bit about the local dining scene, this comes from reading and eating out in Portland my entire life, and I’ve never been shy with my opinions and comments on this subject, but whether I state them arrogantly or not, that’s not something I would notice about myself, now is it? Who really sits around thinking about themselves …. “oh, for crying out loud, there I go, being arrogant again”. Unlikely.

To begin with, some non-related food notes:If you like to try somewhat unusual drinking establishments, check out Thatch, the ultimate Portland Tiki Bar experience. The place is on NE Broadway, between 27th and 28th, and has been open going on 9 months. The atmosphere is like floating away in your dugout canoe and coming upon some wild hut full of wacky Polynesian decor that serves really stiff drinks. My favorite interior decoration, the brightly colored blowfish lights, but this place is decked out in the extreme with every South Seas touch you can imagine, waterfall by the door, carved tiki statues, walls made of spears, and a bathroom so cute and tropical you might want to live there, if only the rushing water sound could be an ocean lagoon outside, not a flushing toilet. The menu is relatively small, mostly pu-pu’s and things you can sizzle at your table on a little hibachi, but the crab rangoon dumplings are really good, although a bit expensive at $10.00 for four pieces. Mai-Tais are the featured happy hour drink, $5.00 until 6:30, and they are strong. The music is somewhat crazy. This is a slightly wacked out, but sweet little place to have a drink and a nice little snack.Also, a note on Toro Bravo, visited recently after a foot thrashing 3 hour Ikea mission. I once again found the food and everything else wonderful. Particularly fun, sitting at the kitchen bar and watching the chefs do their stuff. The young woman churning out the small plates and desserts was particularly nice, explaining things to us, and watching everything being prepared made me want to order one of each. Once again, the Smoked Coppa Steak was to die for (it’s actually smoked as a roast, grilled whole, then sliced into steaks when it comes off the grill), and this restaurant has vaulted into my top five in a hurry. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is great, and as most of the small plates are a decent size, it’s a good value. They’ve also revamped their air conditioning, so on this summer evening I wasn’t even hot sitting across from a flaming grill. I love this place!

Also, for anyone who has not heard, Assaggio did go out of business the week after we had our dinner (after all, once RR has dined there, what else is there for a restaurant to look forward to?). I am quite sad, they were very special in their glory days. The space is scheduled to reopen in mid-September as a new entity, this time with Olea’s original chef at the helm.

There were nine of us signed on for dinner at 23 Hoyt, although one of us mysteriously never appeared. Julia, Julia, where did you go?

As has often been the case over the last couple of months, we welcomed a new face to our humble group, Glenda, surely setting a extremely high mark for any other member of Restaurant Roulette to attain, most stylish figure to ever grace our table. Glenda, yet another San Francisco exile (most of my exiles from the Bay Area still love their wonderful town, it seems they just can’t afford to live there), set a quiet tone at the dinner, but I’m told she had some intriguing experiences during her career as a librarian in Europe, and I could tell just by looking at her, she certainly has enjoyed her share of fine cuisine and spirits in her day (who else in RR has ever been classy enough to order champagne?) So I look forward to seeing you again and talking with you further at upcoming RR dinners, Glenda, and hearing some of those wild librarian tales!