March 2009



Where A Scream Becomes A Whisper

First of all, before I dump all over Clyde Common, let me just mention that I found it a pretty impressive place. Someone sure knew how to fill a niche when they opened this establishment, (supposedly that niche is European Tavern) because the place seems to be a madhouse, or it certainly was on the Friday evening Restaurant Roulette visited there. Top this off with nice people, excellent service, a fascinating, wide reaching menu (with wide-reaching prices) and skillful cooking execution, and you’ve got a restaurant operating on all burners.

That being said, this is not a place to hold any sort of conversation. The acoustics are brutal, especially upstairs, and trying to have any normal dinner conversation, even with only four, was nearly impossible. I would have to say that this has to be the loudest restaurant RR has ever visited, certainly put over the top by the throngs of people jammed in to eat, drink, and be merry. The place struck me as a three ring circus all evening, certainly over the three hours of our visit, and it was quite note-worthy to me that both the service and the quality of the food remained first rate. I’m really glad we scored a table on the upper level though, as there was just too much action at all times on the lower floor, especially anywhere near the bar area.

IMG_0964When I announced this dinner, I really did not know that Clyde Common was THIS popular. I knew it appealed to the younger set, and it was a good place for drinks and happy hour, but I didn’t know it was crazy, insanely popular. As our table was on a balcony overlooking the main floor, it was perfect for people watching, and at one time, around 6:30, I saw about 12 people in a row walk in the already packed restaurant all at once, and they didn’t seem to be a group. I don’t know how many of these people show up from the adjoining Ace Hotel, looking for drinks, and how many people end up flowing to and from the immensely popular Kenny and Zuke’s on the corner, but this stretch of SW Stark is the happening place to be. You would never know there was any such thing as an Economic Downturn strolling these sidewalks. Everywhere you look, the young and beautiful set is lurking, rather like there has been a giant spewage across Burnside from the Pearl.

Clyde Common has a reservation system much like many semi-casual Portland eateries, reservations for tables of six of more only (with a 12 person limit on Friday and Saturday.) For whatever reason, be it the fact that we just had a dinner a couple of weeks ago, or that Clyde Common has been open awhile and people have already been there (this was Glenda’s third time) I just could not manage to come up with six bodies for this dinner. I wanted to be fair to the restaurant though, so called in earlier in the day to tell them that I only ended up with four people, although I had reserved a table for six. So it was agreed that I would release the reservation, but they said they would put me on the waiting list for that evening, and hopefully our wait would not be a long one (as previously mentioned, I didn’t know what a madhouse I was walking into until I looked in from outside and saw bodies everywhere, at only 6:15). IMG_0951 Despite all the people waiting to eat, the moment I arrived (DD was already there) my name was found on the waiting list, and we were immediately escorted to a table upstairs, away from the surging bodies and constantly opening door (although not away from the din). One really great thing about this table being right against the wall of the balcony was, I could then look out for the other two members of our arriving party, who both entered when the host and hostess were away from their post, and I could scream their names and wave my white cloth napkin until they spotted us, and knew to head upstairs (incidentally, I swear I would not try this screaming/frantic napkin waving thing at a more sedate place with an upstairs, like Ten 01 or 23 Hoyt, but this was almost like being at a rock concert, so no one seemed to frown on my behavior). So even though I fretting the loss of reservation scenario, Clyde Common made it really easy for us, still basically having a table with our name on it. I think it also helped that a couple of us actually showed up early too, so this empty table was not standing there with the hoarding masses waiting to eat.

One thing David commented on, and I noticed almost immediately, the waiter was exceptional. He was a great mix of knowledge, manners, kindness and casual good humor, certainly the most impressive waiter I have experienced in many moons, and all the staff at Clyde Common, although on the younger end of the scale, were extremely good. This is the sort of place I can really imagine being run buy trendy, stuck-up types, but everyone at CC was friendly and professional, which said a great deal to me, with their seemingly boundless popularity right now. Another noteworthy thing, I never felt rushed along in the least over our almost three hour dinner, no subtle influence to turn over our table, which I actually had felt from the speed of the food delivery and such during our last visit to the ever hoppin’ Toro Bravo. (more…)


Which Way To Machu Picchu? (and do they sell pet crows there?)


Great, just what I need, more things to worry about. Surely, with the way our economy has been going, almost everyone has to be worried about how their way of life will be damaged on a daily basis by our country being so incredibly in the porcelain receptacle. So many people are suffering right now, it’s unlikely it will not trickle down to me at some time, especially as I am just a couple of steps above a poor person as it is (But I bless my lucky stars, a person of modest but so far stable means).

I suppose it’s an offshoot of not really having a family, but I actually spend a certain amount of time worrying and fretting over things that the average person, who has plenty on their plate to consider, probably does not worry much about. For example, over the last few months, I have been worried about some of the good new restaurants who are run by nice people, but seem to be flying under the radar, and are just not busy enough. For example, I’ve been worried since we went there about Belly, it seems like a good, reasonable place, run by friendly, personable individuals, but the Friday we had our dinner there, a few days after the election, they weren’t overly busy.

IMG_0918Now, I have a new place to worry about as well, del Inti. These are really nice people, seemingly very eager to please, and their restaurant is classy and their food is interesting and well prepared, but when we left this establishment Saturday night about 9:30, the place was virtually empty. Portland has such an incredibly competitive dining scene right now, so many great restaurants to select from at every meal, it really scares me to think about the new places you have not heard much about trying to weather the economic implosion we have going on right now, especially in an overstuffed dining local like Alberta.