Saturday, November 12, 2011

Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine Bar

901 SW Salmon Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, Wine Bar & Patio


I really do love the ambiance of a place like Southpark. The wine bar has a mix tall and short tables, and the long red drapery creates small little pockets of seclusion. Or there's the bar itself, where you can sit and watch the drinks being made. It was pretty slow when we were in on a late afternoon a few Saturdays ago. Downtown wasn't as busy with holiday shopping then. I'm sure that if I went back again within the next month, it'd be packed. Southpark is a perfect place to stop when shopping or before a show.


We stopped in after a long day of dress shopping. (Trying to find the perfect white dress is time consuming...and is best followed up with some sort of relaxing event. My event of choice is almost always happy hour.) I was ready to order a five dollar glass of red wine almost minutes within being seated.




The food selections during happy hour are a bit limited for someone who doesn't eat meat. My sister, the pescatarian, was quite pleased to find both crab cakes and calamari on the menu. Rather than deciding between the two, she and my fiance planned to share a few bites of each. And I stuck with the garbanzo beans.


I've had roasted chickpeas at a couple of other happy hour locations. (I've also had roasted chickpeas from a bag that were intended to replace peanuts...without as much success.) I like them. I like them so much that I really need to make them at home.


Also at the table was a cheese plate. The server did his best to suggest the charcuterie plate because it came with so much more...but without as many meat eaters at the table, it just wasn't going to sell. The cheese plate came with fruit and nuts and three kinds of cheeses but did not come with bread! Thankfully, the server was willing to bring some when requested and then bring even more when we finished the first.

Although this wasn't the only happy hour of the evening, I did enjoy myself quite a bit. So much so that I might just make a return trip before the year's out. Winter Break is scheduled to be extra long this year (thanks to the many furlough days of the school year) and a day spent at the art museum followed by another five dollar glass of red wine sounds inviting.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets

-b


Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine Bar

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Old Gold

2105 N Killingsworth
Happy Hour: 4 - 7, Monday through Friday

The Old Gold is not exactly brand new. It's been around for about three weeks, maybe four. We went as a family (mom and dad were in town) within a week of the place opening its doors. And then my fiance and I went back for happy hour (even though a lot of the food is the same) to make this post official.


The Old Gold is approximately 237 steps (my steps, and I have a long-ish stride) from my sister's house. I can't remember exactly what the place used to be used for. It was definitely a car place--like a garage or something--but it had been sitting half-finished for so long, that I kind of forgot. It was obvious that someone had started a new project...but then something happened and it just sat there for what seemed like forever...and then all of a sudden there's a new restaurant. And all of a sudden, it's packed.

And I mean packed. We were able to fit just fine with our party of six on a Sunday evening. But when just the two of us went back on a Thursday (and the neighborhood had all of two weeks to recognize that this place was finally open) it wasn't easy getting a seat. I'm fairly certain that this place is going to stay busy. The neighborhood needs it. I know that there are other places within walking distance...but this place is a pretty good fit. (And the neighborhood's been missing something ever since Roux closed a couple of years ago.)


The OG (as the door says) has some pretty fantastic snacking food. We absolutely LOVE the white bean dip. Sounds boring, I know. But it's NOT. This dip is full of flavor. It's served with crostini (that may or may not be a bit too crunchy), carrots, and celery. The celery is just so-so as a dipper...but I still ate some. (The dip is NOT a happy hour item...but still a good price for the amount of flavor busting through with every bite.)

Also not included on the happy hour menu (but a great price) is the big bowl of popcorn. It is big, I promise. And it comes with three different sprinklings. We prefer the olive oil and salt...but enjoy it as you will.


During happy hour, sandwiches are a dollar off. I had the Tofu Banh Mi sandwich (again). This time I noticed a little bit of a heavier appearance was being made by the jalapeno. (I'm a bit of a wimp.) The flavor and texture combination was still so close to perfection that I ate every bite (and dealt with the pain).

My fiance had the elk burger (again). He seemed to love it (again). Both sandwiches are served with chips (but you can add a couple of bucks to switch out to a salad or fries if you so choose).


To help wash down the spiciness of the sandwich, I finished both a vodka gimlet (which was a little sweeter than I'm used to--and I have quite the sweet tooth) and a glass of red wine. My fiance started with the gimlet but moved onto a pint of beer instead. All of these beverages were discounted during happy hour, bringing our total to a very reasonable number.

If you pay any attention to the time line suggested by my writing, you will have already pieced together that I went to the Old Gold TWICE within one week. (And that's totally okay.) It should be quite obvious that I'll be back...and not just because it is SO very close to my sister's house.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets (but you have to order at the bar)
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

The Old Gold

Sunday, October 30, 2011

North 45

517 NW 21st Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM daily, All night Monday, 10 - Midnight Wednesday

North 45 is housed on the food-filled street on NW 21st. Lined with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and the occasional nail studio, twenty-first avenue provides hungry patrons with options. If one place is too full, too pricey, or too dark, it only takes a few more steps to find something else. Finding a restaurant is easy. Finding a parking spot might require a little more patience.

We had planned to meet on Friday night (early afternoon, really) after my fiance experienced the all-night happy hour the Monday prior. (All-night happy hours are THE BEST.) He loved the mac and cheese and I loved the leftovers (which are not always allowed during happy hour...so extra points were earned for North 45 before I even walked in the door).


Vodka gimlets are considered well drinks at North 45 and priced at four dollars during happy hour. We had two to start and two to finish. They are made with fresh lime (no neon green gimlets at this place) and have the perfect proportion of sugar to lime.


I ordered the mac and cheese (partly because I already knew it was going to be good and partly because they didn't have much else to offer without meat--even the green beans were tainted). It was creamy and delicious and a perfect size for the price (just $4.50).


My fiance had the buffalo chicken sliders ($6) that came skewered and served in a tower. They were so attractive that they caught the eyes of the couple nearby and another two towers were served soon after.


Arriving to the table a bit late (it was lost in the shuffle, I suppose) was a plate of the caprese skewers. They were exactly as they sound...mini mozzarella balls and tomatoes served on a skewer and covered with balsamic and olive oil as well as a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Although every part of my experience was enjoyable, there's one thing I missed. I missed the opportunity to relax on one of "best" patios in all of Portland. Until I know for sure, I'll keep the best in quotes...but I hope it's true, because I'd love to add to my list of summertime favorites.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b


North 45

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Deschutes Brewery and Public House

210 NW 11th Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 6 PM, Monday through Friday

We stopped at the Deschutes Brewery for a quick bite to eat before an event at the Armory (they are across the street from one another, making the Deschutes Brewery a great option before any showing at the Gerding Theater). Doors opened at five-thirty, so timing was perfect to enjoy the discounted food and drinks that they offer during happy hour. The bar was packed with the majority of the crowd watching the game (what game, I have no idea) and so we were especially pleased to learn that happy hour is offered throughout the entire establishment between four and six on weekdays.

Service was pretty fantastic the entire visit. We were seated within minutes (which I was a teeny bit worried about since we had somewhere to be in just over an hour) and the server assigned to our table was quick to check on us. He was super friendly and gave great suggestions.


It would have made more sense for me to order a beer at the Deschutes Brewery (since that is what they are known for) but that's just not who I am, so I selected a glass of red wine. They have close to a dozen beers on tap at all times, offer sampler trays with teeny-tiny glasses, and include as much beer (or beer-making ingredients) into the food items on the menu as possible (candied malt on the salad, pale ale in the aioli and butter, and creamy stout in the pasta). The wine was good. Probably not as good as the beer, but still good.




For dinner, I selected a side salad (with candied malt sprinkled around the edge of the plate) and a small plate of the macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese I had had once before. I remembered it being good. It is a special recipe that includes just enough sweet chili sauce. It's good...but it is one of those things that I probably won't recreate at home (mostly because I usually only make mac and cheese at home when I'm in the mood for some serious comfort food). Just because I won't make it at home, though, doesn't mean I won't come back for more.




My fiance had the chicken wings (which was a serious risk while wearing white) and an order of the fries. He made it through the whole meal without making a mess and seemed to enjoy every bite. The fries were good (I know because I had quite a few) but were made even better when dipped in the accompanying sauce. It also had just enough sweet chili flavor.

Thanks to the great service, we made it out on time and were in line at the theater minutes before the wait time tripled. The good food was followed by a good show and made for a pretty great night.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

Deschutes Brewery & Public House

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Portland City Grill

111 SW 5th
Happy Hour: 4 - 7 & 9 - close Monday - Saturday, All night Sunday

I finally made it to happy hour at Portland City Grill. It's supposed to be one of the best. (I guess I should admit that I'd been here at least twice before...but long before the start of this happy hour food blog.)

It's the place to be according to a lot of people. They've got one of the best views of Portland (comparing restaurant views only...everyone knows the best views of Portland are found on hikes, not while dining). Getting a window seat might take some serious planning...but if you do, it should be well worth the wait (the hovering and the possible elbow jabs). I made it (close enough) to a window once during a thunder and lightening storm. It was mesmerizing.

Service at Portland City Grill is fairly stellar. They get BUSY and move fast, fast, fast to keep up with all of the customers...but they are well-dressed, friendly, can answer any question, and take pretty good care of the customer.

We were at our last stop for the evening, but this place was just getting started. On Sundays, they have happy hour all night long. And everyone knows it. They have a pretty sizable list of discounted food options...and there are more vegetarian options now than the last time I was here. It's kind of a weird mix of food, though. I guess that's what you get with an Asian-, Island-, and Northwest-inspired Steakhouse.


I tried the asparagus salad. It was A LOT like something I had recently at another restaurant and I'm beginning to think that this is a new item that's going to start popping up all over the place (kind of like that time I tried fried chickpeas...and now they are everywhere). Along with the roasted asparagus, it had a little chevre cheese, some pistachios, and just enough arugula. The citrus dressing was light but very flavorful. I'm sure it was the ginger that amplified the taste so well.


Without having a bite, I can't say much about the second dish to arrive at the table. It was a very well-presented spring roll with vermicelli and a cilantro lime sprout salad. The peanut sauce that came with it was the star on the plate, with all sorts of extra crunchiness that added to every bite. (The last bite got a little messy...so if you order this on a first date or even if you are just wearing a white shirt, be very careful about how you go about eating it.)


They've got a pretty fantastic wine selection on the thirtieth floor, but I selected the cosmopolitan on this outing. It was one of the happy hour drink specials (just $5) and went well with the flavors of the salad and the atmosphere (a martini glass is a must in an establishment like this one - everything about it is SO classy).

We didn't make it to a window seat this time. So I guess that means I'll have to work my way to the Portland city Grill an another day. (And next time, I'll be there when the doors open to guarantee a seat with a view.)

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets

-b


Portland City Grill

Pazzo Ristorante

627 SW Washington
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM

Pazzo Ristorante is another one of those fantastic places in Portland offering HUGE portions for discounted prices during happy hour. I love it. I know that I'll be back soon. I'm guessing it will be on one of the rainy Sundays when I just don't feel like cooking. Maybe it'll be next Sunday. Maybe the Sunday after.


It doesn't have to be a Sunday, through. That I know for sure. Happy Hour is available at Pazzo Monday through Sunday from three to six. So anytime you are in the mood for dinner...and you can get in before six...do it. It's good food and good service at a great price.


For six dollars I had a plate of stuffed manicotti that came out all bubbly and cheesy. It was delicious. It had been stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini as well as a whole lotta ricotta (I couldn't resist...). The veggies weren't too obvious, though, so if you are one of those anti-zucchini people, you should still give this plate a try. A bite, at least.


I used some of the delicious bread that had been delivered to our table when we first sat down to sop up the extra sauce from my manicotti. (Yes, I said bread. Three kinds of bread...including foccacia. And it was served with olive oil and balsamic.)


On the other end of the table was one of Pazzo's Brick Oven Pizza. Yes, I know that Brick Oven Pizzas aren't all that new. But these ones are extra special because even during happy hour, YOU get to pick the toppings. There's a whole lot to choose from and every pizza gets up to three. The pizza is seven dollars but big enough to reach the edge of the plate. And no one complains if you ask to take a little bit home. (In fact, they'll box it for you.)


Along with the scrumptious Italian favorites came two lovely glasses of wine (one red and one white). Wine is priced at five dollars during happy hour (well drinks and draft beer are just $3.50) but are nice selections.

I was super impressed with the service (both from the hostess and our server) as well. They were friendly, informative, and gave us the space (and the time) we needed without disappearing for too long.

Pazzo is most definitely another favorite to add to the list. (But I'm afraid that my list of TOP happy hours in Portland is getting to be too long. I guess that's good news for Portland, though.)

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Exceeds

-b


Pazzo Ristorante

Brasserie Montmarte

626 SW Park
Happy Hour: 2 - 6 PM, Monday through Sunday
Late Night Happy Hour: 10 PM - Midnight, Monday through Saturday


This is the kind of happy hour that I LOVE to write about. The service was exceptional, the atmosphere totally classy, and the food met my standards and then some. Plus, they've got $4 wine for four very happy hours every afternoon. And if one glass isn't enough, the carafe is only eleven bucks.


I arrived first and found us a place at the bar. It was wide open but we needed the space. You see, it was a department meeting. Almost. My favorite math buddy and I had some work to do...and when you have so much work to do that it requires meeting on a weekend, you HAVE to make the most of it. So we met over mimosas. (I suppose I was the only one with the mimosa...but it was Sunday afternoon and a mimosa felt right.)


My mimosa was officially on the brunch menu (which ended earlier in the day) but was offered to us by our lovely server (otherwise known as the bartender). She made a lot of great recommendations that day and even helped me to do a little party planning for the upcoming holiday. (No, not Christmas. My grandma is turning 90!) As the only bartender, she was BUSY...but didn't overlook us in the least.


Sharing space at the table with my mimosa was a glass of the discounted white wine. I'm beginning to appreciate white wine more and more these days and the price was oh-so-tempting...but the mimosa made me smile. And that's a big part of what makes happy hour so happy.


Macaroni and cheese also makes me smile...especially when it is done right. I order it so often that I feel as though I could become an expert. I suppose a lot of it has to do with my own personal preference...but I'm sure most people would agree that this mac and cheese is pretty high on the list. Not the highest, of course (I have my absolute favorite) but still quite high.


To accompany my mac and cheese, I tried their butter lettuce salad. I can't quite say what type of a dressing coated the leaves, but I do know that the quantity was just right. (I am not a fan of soggy salads.) And it was topped with yummy blue cheese crumbles. The alternative to my butter lettuce salad was a plate of mixed greens. It, too, was quite tempting and looked especially tasty with all of those sliced strawberries. (I'm not sure if that's a seasonal addition or not...so don't get too disappointed if you find yours without.)


The most interesting item at the table had to have been the Croque Madame. (It also came with the fanciest of names.) It was a pork belly sandwich made with Brioche, covered with a Mornay sauce and topped with a fried egg. Interesting, but well liked. If only it wasn't made with meat. Maybe next time I'll make a special request.

Although we were able to enjoy the discounted prices of both food and drinks, all of these treats are available in Le Bistro whenever the establishment is open. The prices go up a bit but the flavors and quality are still the same.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets

-b


Brasserie Montmartre

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Habibi

1012 SW Morrison
Happy Hour: All Day


All day happy hour is not completely uncommon. There are quite a few places around Portland that offer this sort of deal on Sunday or Monday (or whatever they have found to be their official "slow" day) as a means to boost numbers. It's a fine idea, in my opinion...but all day, every single day is something that I've yet to come across. (Or if I have, I've completely forgotten.) At Habibi -- either their Chinatown location or the one that's just off the MAX line on Morrison and Tenth -- you can enjoy happy hour whenever they are open. What that really means, of course, is that you can get smaller portions of your favorites. It's more like an ala carte menu then anything.







The smaller portions are perfect for a single serving. If sharing, you might want to order your food in waves like we did. It was just the two of us at first, so we didn't want to fill up before the table did. We started with two falafel balls (you can order them one ball at time), an order of tabouli, and a small plate of hummus to share. My fiance also had a plate of the chicken shawarma. He was impressed...but I missed the opportunity to take a picture.

All of this was served with warm pita, of course. It wasn't giant sized--like I've had at some traditional Lebanese places--but seemed much more manageable. And it's not like we were limited to one.


They don't really have any drink specials (besides a discounted bottle of Sessions) but do offer quite a few fancy cocktails for around seven dollars each. We started with Habibi Hard Lemonade (I had the strawberry version) but decided to move onto something else after one glass. Both were sweet, like Kool-Aid, and not something that I would have thought to go well with the flavors of our small plates.

During the second wave, I ordered a spinach pie and a small plate of Tzatziki. Both were delicious. And now that there were more of us, we could take advantage of the wine suggestion. (When setting the table, they include more than just silverware. A bottle of red wine waits in the center of each table.) On our table was a bottle of Pinot, but we opted for the Chianti.

Service was perfect up until the very end. They were setting up for a large (and I mean LARGE) party and took some time bringing our bill. We made it though, and I'm sure we'll be back.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Nearly Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

Habibi

Portland Prime

121 SW 3rd Avenue
Happy Hour: 3 - 7, Monday through Saturday
Late Night Happy Hour 10 - close on Saturday
All Day Happy Hour on Sunday


I didn't realize until recently just how many steakhouses Portland has to offer. When in Chicago during the summer, I felt that almost every restaurant was either Italian, a steakhouse, or an Italian steakhouse. Portland has A LOT of the same plus the Thai, Indian, and Lebanese restaurants that I love so much. I suppose I love steakhouses, too. They usually have pretty decent mashed potatoes, some sort of pasta dish, and great big salads with the freshest blue cheese crumbles. And I love all of those things.

Portland Prime is new to me (and I guess that means it's new to Portland...unless of course I just didn't ever notice it before now). They offer live music, friendly servers, and happy hour until 7. And the bar is pretty large, so there's likely to be plenty of seating without having to get there when the doors open (which is nearly required at a lot of places downtown).


We started with two of their five dollar cocktails. I went with the signature pomegranate cosmopolitan while my fiance had a vodka gimlet. It was a little too dark to take a high-quality picture, but you can see that they are both a pretty good size.


The cheese platter (which was officially listed as a Charcuterie & Fromage Sampler in the menu) was THE most artistic display of cheese and meat that I have ever seen. There were swirls of mustard and cute little stacks of sliced cheese. The flavors were strong but the quantities were small.


We also had the Spinach Dip. It was good--not great--and came with the DRIEST crostini bread. I understand that crostini is traditionally toasted...but this was over the top. Croutons would have been better and they are supposed to be dry.

Although the food wasn't too pleasing this time, the service was great. Our server was back with our drinks in what seemed like seconds. She was quick but super friendly.

I'm not dying to go back to Portland Prime for happy hour anytime soon...but that doesn't mean that I won't give their dinner menu a try. They've got macaroni and cheese AND a seasonal ravioli, asparagus, whipped potatoes, and a super yummy baked brie appetizer.

Food: Nearly Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

Portland Prime