May 2012


THE DINING REPORT – COPPIA

Wine With a Side of Martini

IMG_2889I’m not a big imbiber these days (preferring to spend excessive money on food rather than liquor) so I rarely visit bars, taverns, go on wine tours or to wine tastings or even to wine bars. Probably about seven years ago I was more into drinks and sips and such, and a friend and I stopped in to Vino Paradiso in the Pearl for a glass of wine and a small snack. At the time I remember thinking the space was pleasant, there was a decent selection of wine by the glass, and the snack was tasty. This being said, we waited FOREVER for service, even though there were few patrons, and the waiter was not particularly friendly. The upshot, with wine places bursting out at the seams, especially in the Pearl (remember, this was around 2005) why bother going back to a place that makes you feel unwanted?

Several months ago, I read on eater.com that the owner of Vino Paradiso, Timothy Nishimoto (who is also the male singer in Pink Martini) had decided he wanted to upgrade his space and start serving more serious food. I also remember reading, a bit later,  that he had decided to rename his rebooted establishment Coppia. Slightly after this, I forgot about the whole situation, because as I mentioned before, my previous experience with this business was not the most positive, and since he was a local celebrity, I’m sure my disinterest in his business would hardly be a crushing blow to his entire life.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate myself about a 9, as far as keeping up with the new restaurants opening which are suitable for our group (the average food cart or pop up does not work for group dining due to size/kitchen capacity issues. They would be FUN though!)IMG_2888 Anyway, Coppia fell off my radar, as it wasn’t exactly getting heavy publicity, and I was focusing on lots of other places soon to come. Recently, however, the A&E gave Coppia a relatively decent review, especially noting the pastas made in house, so I thought, hey, here’s a “new” place I can shove on the roster until all these other new places that I’ve been talking about actually open. I was still a bit uncertain about restaurant size, but Open Table happily gobbled up our reservation, so we were all set. Although we had experienced some nicer weather, it was as relatively cold May evening, and most of us were bundled up in sweaters and other heavy layers of clothing. As this is the heart of the Pearl, I was quite glad to find a parking space about a block and a half away, as it had earlier been raining quite hard. (more…)

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THE DINING REPORT – RED ONION THAI 

It Will Bring Tears Of Happiness To Your Eyeballs

I don’t really know what to say about our recent dinner at Red Onion Thai.IMG_2805 We had a dinner there about two and a half years ago, and at that time I talked about the owner Aut “Dang” Boonyakamol’s previous Portland area restaurants, his tasteful décor, and his unusual specialty menu of Northern Thai dishes. This time out, four people repeated the Red Onion dinner, with three newbies and a special guest, many of us ordered the same things as last time, and while everyone was warned that this is a restaurant where it’s really easy to end up with too much food, we still all over-ordered and ended up with way too much to eat. David, in particular, once again got carried away, and seemingly could barely make it to his car after much over-indulgence (the soup with coconut milk gets you every time!) Once again the restaurant seemed decently busy, the food came rapidly and very hot, and everyone found almost every item delicious.

As far as the newbies, they are some of my recent well-treasured regulars, Tracy, Peter, and Cora. Poor Peter, a few times recently he has had to come directly from the operating theater (how dramatic) directly to the dinners, negotiating annoying North/South or SW traffic along the way, but we are happy that he still manages to join us, stress inducing though his journey might be, and feast on our evening of good eats.IMG_2803 Sometimes I think we should go back to those earlier RR days when the dining times were a bit later, but I’ve learned over the years that when you have a group, 6:30 is much more manageable reservation-wise than 7:00 or after, and since our dinners commonly last between 2.5 – 3 hours, we still finish eating at a fashionably late time. Also, as people work on Fridays and the weekdays before,  they tend to start getting tired once 9:30 or so rolls around, other of us have babies that can only stand the “dining ordeal” for so long, and still other have chickens to put to bed, after they get home from the dinners (the dinees, not the chickens, they rarely get to go out for KFC.) So although it makes some people have to rush (sorry, rushees) at least for now, 6:30 remains the preferred dining hour. (Maybe 10 years from now, when we are all elderly, we’ll switch to a more acceptable dining hour like 4:30.) (more…)