July 2012

That’s What I Felt Like When I Left This Restaurant

For a podcast on this dinner, and our group, look here:


First of all, let me just mention that as of July, this year, I have managed to keep this often leaky but always delicious boat afloat for 6 years now (okay, I know boats in themselves aren’t too tasty.) IMG_2990Ox was Restaurant Roulette’s 6th Anniversary dinner. If you didn’t get an invite to this dinner, please don’t feel discriminated against, Ox is a really popular place, and could only give me a limited amount of seats. As I had pre-RSVPs before the end of the Gruner dinner (the dinner before) our table was almost full before I sent out the notice. Thus the tightened reservation list. Don’t give up all hope, however, Ox was tasty enough we will probably schedule a second dinner before the year is out (providing Ox lets us do that. I might have to use an assumed name.)

Restaurants come and go all the time, especially in Portland, where they are opening every five minutes. Some are really tough to see go, as they hold so many good memories for you, Lauro Kitchen being the most recent case for me (although I must say that I liked it less after reading the owner say that he basically lost interest in Lauro, largely wanting to concentrate on his big money maker downtown, Nel Centro, a very corporate sort of dining experience.)IMG_2998 About eight years ago I loved Echo, a friendly neighborhood eatery on MLK that had good food and reasonable prices. That was before Portland’s dining explosion, however, where suddenly you had 50 restaurants with great food, and even a few with reasonable prices. Even worse for Echo, many were suddenly opening in the previously gritty inner NE area where it had previously been an oasis in the rough. Before you knew it, there were great places on Russell, Mississippi, Killingsworth, and Alberta, so Echo had to suffer in attendance, not helped by a decline in the quality of the food (they used to have my favorite burger) and new ownership. Then Echo was “closed for remodeling,” soon followed by closed forever. Although I had not been there for four or five years, I did have some sad moments thinking of the previous pleasant meals I had partaken of at Echo, such a cozy place, but these sad moments were mitigated by the slippage that occurred before they closed, and the fact that we have way too many good restaurants here, it seems like you are no longer able to patronize all of them, even those you have really liked in the past.



Hey, Someone Stole All My Money, Legally!

Repeat Performance – Restaurant Roulette has previously experienced an evening at Gruner, a little over two years ago, and at that time I talked about Swiss and German cuisine, owner Chris Israel, and the particulars of that dinner, which was lightly attended (only three of us.)IMG_2979 Because of this, I should not have to literarily spew on and on over the same tired subjects this time out (instead, selecting new tired subjects.) Consequently,  this particular dinner review could be a bit more succinct and less meandering than usual, as there will be fewer topics to discuss. You notice I use the “could” word though, as the word “will” is SO limiting. And I do need to dribble on long enough to have room to add all my blurry and over-exposed photos, sadly a real consideration in my writing (I’m often conscious of the fact that each paragraph needs to be long enough to wrap around a photo.

Most people familiar with our group know we don’t repeat restaurants particularly often, in a dining town like Portland there’s often a new restaurant to try with every dinner (and I’m only referring to “nice’ restaurants, not the zillions of places not suitable for our group.) Restaurant Roulette manages about 18 dinners a year, and most of the time we end up going to eateries we have not experienced before. Sometimes I do dust off a place we haven’t been to since the early days, when most of my regulars were a different crowd; sometimes I stage a repeat for a reason (I need a certain style of place) and sometimes we experience a meal at a restaurant which is just too good not to go back to for years, especially if there is inner-group demand (we had two dinners at St. Jack in 2011 within a short time frame, largely because several in the group were going to go back without me – the nerve!!) Twice in a couple of years is a pretty tight turnaround for Restaurant Roulette though, and why we doubled up on Gruner in that time frame was largely due to a couple of parties mentioning how they liked Gruner, and also the fact that so few of my current members made it to the previous dinner (there was a whopping three that first evening.) I’ve also read a few things about the new German/Alpine restaurant that went into the Il Piatto space, The Slide Inn, by the same owners, the Binghams. As a side comment on The Slide Inn, first of all, let me say I hate the name, it sounds like a sleazy tavern, and secondly, let me mention that our group will most likely not be visiting there, because although Il Piatto was the cutest, coziest place imaginable, the food was always incredibly marginal, and that doesn’t cut it in Portland these days. Anyway, because of The Slide Inn, I had Alpine on my brain (yes, I do have a mighty pointy head.) (more…)