What Do You Mean Your Invitation Didn’t Arrive? 


IMG_3706This has been a weird summer. Usually what happens during the vacation season is I can barely find enough bodies to have dinners, and this summer I’ve had two in a row where I could not send out an RSVP, because all the places were filled as soon as I made the reservation. I guess it all depends on the venue. Next summer I need to remember, great venues are the secret (although why I had such a good crowd for Marquee Bistro, I’ll never understand).

Anyway, sorry to all you folks I had to leave out for our August 2nd dinner at Ox. The people at this one were basically the group members who begged me to have another dinner at Ox after our 2012 dinner there.IMG_3690 Luckily I made the reservation a loooooooooong way in advance, since during the very next week the Oregonian was proclaiming Ox their restaurant of the year, exacerbating the already hoarding masses. Because of their relatively modestly sized space, their immense popularity, and their no reservations under six people policy, Ox is always one of the hardest places to get in that we have here in Portland. At least now they have their cool looking Whey Bar next door, which when the weather is nice includes pleasant outdoor seating. This certainly makes a two hour wait more “endurable”.

As it’s probably close to the best reviewed restaurant to open in Portland over the last couple of years (Roe and Tasty N Alder are up there too) I don’t have to heap additional praise on Ox, everyone knows it’s wonderful. Last time there were a couple of staff issues that put me somewhat on edge during the reservation making and the end of meal service, but this time everything went as near to perfect as can probably happen when you have a group of 10 all wanting what they want. There was a tiny little snafu with the original bill that made us perspire a bit, but aside from that, everything was great. What can I say, Ox is swell. (more…)

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.