April 2013


THE DINING REPORT – TASTY n ALDER

Ya Gotta Beat The Clock! (But deliciously)

IMG_3465As I’ve mentioned ten quatrillion times before, I love John Gorham’s restaurants. As I’ve mentioned about three times less than that, his restaurants are incredibly difficult for group dining. None of the Gorham restaurants is overly large, and they have many “table regulations” that make bringing more than four people really tricky, like the fact that you need to have at least seven people for a reservation, but can bring no more than ten, and that you need to guarantee each space you have reserved with a credit card. Since our group is all about knowing we have a place waiting for us when we get there, RR has not been able to set foot in Toro Bravo (my fave) for at least five years now, TB having the most restrictive reservation policy of the bunch (no reservations on Friday or Saturday.)

When I heard, last year, that Gorham was opening a new restaurant in downtown’s West End in the early part of 2013, I was excited, because I thought this could potentially be a bigger space, with a looser reservation policy! As it turned out, Tasty n Alder is about the same size as Gorham’s other restaurants, but at least for now, a couple of months in, they do accept three group reservations an evening, for seven to ten people. You still have to guarantee your spaces with a credit card. You also have to promise to only stay two hours as well, for they have three seatings each night, 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30.

When the hostess called to confirm my spaces the day before the dinner and to snatch my credit card number, she once against asked me if we willing to turn the table in two hours.IMG_3467 I told her we would do our best, but asked what would happen if the party before us straggled and cut into our time. She told me she would personally boot them out at 7:30. I know when we arrived at the restaurant we waited a few minutes past 7:30 for our table, and didn’t see if the party before us left on their own volition or were given the hook, but I really do wonder what happens when your two hours are up if people are still eating dessert or haven’t finished paying yet? Do they make you stand in a corner until you are done, or maybe do you have to relinquish any uneaten food, or if time is tight, do they come and tell you you don’t have time to order dessert? I really don’t know this, as I was in the restroom right before the check came, and don’t know if the waitress even offered dessert or tried to hurry us out. It wasn’t an issue on this evening anyway, as we were all over satiated with savory foodstuffs, and none of us was planning on having dessert anyway. Obviously, we could hardly wait around for our food to settle and make more room for sweet items. (more…)

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THE DINING REPORT – MUCCA

Yes, Mucca, Not Lucca, And Certainly Not La Buca!

Around a year ago Glenda mentioned visiting a somewhat upscale Italian restaurant downtown, although she struggled with the name and exact location.IMG_3421 She said the food was good, but the prices were on the high side. Then a bit after that, someone else in our group was talking about Mucca, and that they thought it was a worthwhile dinner venue, and it turns out this was the same place Glenda had previously alluded to. Although many of them aren’t great, we have so many Italian restaurants here, I tend to have no trouble finding one to add to our itinerary. For this reason (and the fact that the online menu did seem really expensive for casual Italian) I filed Mucca in the back recesses of my Swiss cheesy brain.

The odd thing about Mucca was that I had never heard of it before. Through daily reading and perserverance, I’m really pretty good at knowing about any decent restaurant that opens in this general area (unless they are in that crazy BeavTigard farther West than downtown area.) I think Mucca has been open about two years, and I’ve never read one reference to the name or any articles tracking their opening or a review of the food. IMG_3425This is really strange. The owner is from Rome, and usually when real Italians come here to open restaurants, someone gets hot and bothered and mentions there is real Italian cooking to be had. The location is certainly not out of the way; long ago, before the “Portland Food Revolution” this block of Morrison between 10th and 11th used to be one of the best for finding an interesting ethnic restaurant (and while this block still has a Persian restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a Lebanese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and an Indian restaurant, it’s become rather passe – although a good place to find lunch if you work downtown.) Even the Mucca space, 25 years ago I used to come in here regularly, when I worked downtown, and it was Kent’s Bento (still my favorite bento.) After that, about 15 years ago, I ate at this address  a good number of times, when it was Pasta Veloce, the predecessor to Pastini. The first time I visited the Mucca website I recognized it immediately, the brick East wall and long, narrow space are very distinctive. (more…)