Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thirsty Lion Pub and Grill

71 SW 2nd Avenue
Happy Hour: 3 - 7 PM, Monday through Friday

The Thirsty Lion is very much a pub. The sports decor and big screens say pub. The fried foods say pub. Even the wooden booths have "typical pub atmosphere" written all over them. This place is exactly what I expected it to be. There's a chance that I'll go back (if I'm in the neighborhood and not walking into one of the other 9 bars within a 1-block radius) but there's nothing calling me there. And that's okay...because there are plenty of people in Portland who like the atmosphere and they'll be there instead.


I walked in to find that my boyfriend had already started without me. He HAD been waiting for more than forty minutes. (The drive from outer SE Portland took longer than expected.) He had ordered the frou-frou lemonade off of the specialty cocktail menu and the Traditional Scottish Eggs. According to him, the lemonade might not have actually had any alcohol in it and the eggs were, quote, disgusting. Perhaps if he were Scottish he'd appreciate them more. The menu said hard boiled (they were most definitely soft boiled) eggs encrusted in pork sausage and fried to a golden brown.

There were three of us in the end...and that meant a lot of food at the table. And most of that food contained cheese. You see, the menu during happy hour at the Thirsty Lion is made for meat eaters. And if you're not a meat eater, than you'd better like cheese. And fried things (which, again, seems just right given that it's a pub). The only non-meat, cheese-less option was onion rings...which are, of course, FRIED. If you're on some sort of diet, just don't even walk in.


I ordered the beer cheese fondue. It came served with a pretzel that was warm and perfectly chewy but caked in salt. I brushed off most of it and worked may way through the plate.


To accompany my fondue, I ordered a salad. The only salad on the happy hour menu, however, is a Caesar salad which--as most vegetarians know--typically contains some sort of anchovy something or other in the dressing. So I went without. The romaine lettuce wasn't too plain, though, as it was topped with CHEESE.


My boyfriend ordered a plate of mozzarella sticks to fix what disappointment came with the eggs. They were tasty but fairly typical.


Also at the table was a plate of Reuben sliders. They were the most adorable things ever created. (As are all sliders.) I can't wait until someone opens a restaurant that only serves sliders...sliders of all makes and models. Knowing Portland, they'd probably be served out of a cart. Maybe this place already exists. If you know of it, please tell me NOW. Really, send a message or something.


To wash down all of my food choices (and relax after three hours of rehearsal for the upcoming diversity assembly during what should have been my very relaxing end-of-the-quarter grade prep), I ordered the fresh fruit margarita. It was full of freshly muddled fruit and came in a well-salted pint glass. I could have ordered many more but knew that the price tag was not quite worth the contents. So instead of a second, I ordered a $2.50 well drink. I'm fairly certain I ordered a vodka gimlet but am not sure what I actually drank. It tasted a bit like a sweet tart and might have contained a splash of midori...all of which are not typical of a gimlet (good or bad).


Even with all of my complaints (and the use of the word disgusting), the Thirsty Lion still ended up meeting the standard in all areas. The service was close to great, the atmosphere was appropriate (especially if you're interested in watching sports), the food options are priced from $2.95 to $4.95, and the happy hour starts early and runs late.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets (just don't order a gimlet)
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b


Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 17, 2011

Riverview Restaurant

29311 SE Stark St.
Troutdale, Oregon
Happy Hour: 4:30 - 6:30 PM and 9:00 - close

This place is gorgeous! I was expecting to find a restaurant but it is so much more.


The Riverview restaurant is located at the east end of Stark Street. I honestly didn't know that there could be something so serene and so remarkably beautiful hiding out past the strip malls and car lots that line Stark Street closer in. The restaurant is owned by the Yoshida family and situated just before the bridge that connects Stark to the Historic Columbia River Highway. It's a beautiful establishment that serves more than fine food. The restaurant and surrounding acreage is available for weddings and other receptions. Their grounds are beautiful and well-kept even during the winter months. I can only hope to go back again and see how gorgeous it becomes when the flowers start to bloom and things dry out a bit.


We walked through the restaurant and into the bar for happy hour. It was a little early for dinner but the three of us were to attend a play in Corbett later that evening. The restaurant was perfectly located for our evening plans and the discounted prices made a fancy dinner out that much more affordable.


The bar is beautifully decorated and quite comfortable. There's a fireplace, a big screen television and gorgeous paintings with water effects. Seating is available at the bar itself or at the long stretch of tables that line the wall. We went straight for the tables closest to the patio door so that we could enjoy the views. It was a little too cold and a little too rainy for us to enjoy the patio, but the views through the window were definitely something that we didn't want to pass up.

The server was quick to greet us and maintained his high level of service throughout the evening. He didn't seem to mind that we were taking our time as we ordered one thing at a time.


We started with drinks and two plates of the bruschetta. The bruschetta made its way to us quickly and didn't last long. The two dollar price tag prompted us to order two plates and the quantity was perfect. The bread was toasted but not too hard (like it can often be) to bite into without making a mess. The tomatoes seemed better than any I've had recently (it being out of tomato season and all) and the balsamic reduction added a great finish to the dish.


Although a glass of red wine might have been a better accompaniment to the dishes I ended up ordering, I went with my new favorite, the vodka gimlet. This one was served on the rocks. I think that I prefer it served up and will be more specific next time...but it was still refreshing and a great choice. The mix of vodka, fresh lime and added sweetness was right on and made up for the overly limey one I had last week.


For dinner, I ordered the fried ravioli and a side salad. The salad came off the regular dinner menu but was just four dollars and seemed worth the price. The ravioli were unlike any I've had before. Traditionally (or at least as far as I know), fried ravioli are a bit greasy and obviously covered with breadcrumbs or panko breading that sticks to my fingers and makes a mess out of my dinner. These were nothing like that. They were stuffed with butternut squash and topped with blue cheese crumbles and more of that balsamic reduction. The combination was fantastic and something that I'd like to try at home.


Also at the table was an order of the sliders (served with a side of fries) and the wontons. Both seemed to be enjoyed immensely as the three of us all agreed that this was an excellent meal.


Food: meets
Drinks: meets
Service: meets
Ambiance: exceeds
Value: meets

-b

Riverview Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Muu-Muus

612 NW 21st Street
Happy Hour: 4 - 7 PM

It was NOT my first time in Muu-Muus. It probably wasn't even my first time being there for happy hour. I actually had to check the blog postings from the past to see if I had, in fact, already posted a review about this place. I hadn't and it was definitely time. And, like usual, I was impressed.

Service isn't always the best at Muu-Muus. It's obvious, though, that it has nothing to do with the servers themselves. They are quick to get to the table and all, there just seems to be too few of them. This time there were just two men (both wearing plaid shirts and with similar hair cuts--how confusing) and the place was pretty much packed. It was a Friday on NW 21st, after all.

I have two favorites on the menu and neither include a happy hour discount. Oh well. (I still ordered the Thai Coconut Soup...and I'll be back again soon for the grilled portobella sandwich. It's SO good.) Their happy hour menu consists of a list of small plates ranging from 4 to 6 dollars. It's a pretty long list and will keep most people pleased. At our table, we selected four items to share (some I didn't taste due to the meat factor, but I thought I'd include the pics just the same).


We started with guacamole and chips. It was pretty basic and an item quick to hit the table with little prep required. I'd suggest it anytime you feel the need to eat as soon as you are seated (which happens too often these days).


Next out was the roasted garlic plate. It came with a hunk of soft (but toasted) bread, a pile of blue cheese, and some kalamata olives. And the roasted garlic, of course. The combination of garlic and blue cheese was fantastic. I don't think I'd ever mixed them so strategically before and I loved it. My boyfriend did not. Something about garlic. His loss, I say.


Also at the table was a plate of pot stickers. The menu has quite a bit of an Thai influence. (One of the two favorites mentioned above is the Thai Coconut Soup. It's a must every time I'm there...even after ordering so many small plates at happy hour.)


And last was an order of tuna. I can't say much about it other than it's always so pretty to photograph. The lighting wasn't quite right to pick up all the color, but I'm sure you can imagine.


To drink, I went with a vodka gimlet. (I'm fairly certain that I've mentioned at least twice before now that it's one of my new faves.) This one was not as yummy as so many others. The lime to vodka ratio was a bit off. And, unlike the typical complaint, it was too heavy on the lime. Seriously, the acidity in that drink caused some pain. I usually order the strawberry-infused vodka lemonade at Muu-Muus but thought it to be too summery. I guess I'll just have to stick to what I know to be so tasty, despite its being out of season.

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

-b

Muu-Muus on Urbanspoon

Teardrop Lounge

1015 NW Everett St
Happy Hour: Weekdays, 4 - 7 PM

I was REALLY excited about the concept of the cocktail menu available at the Teardrop Lounge. I actually came across an article (a snipit, really) in a copy of Sunset magazine that I found at the gym describing all of the award-winning concoctions designed by bartenders worldwide and made available at our own Portland establishment. I was so excited, I made the mistake of stopping by on a weekend afternoon. Happy Hour at the Teardrop is weekdays only! So after two visits, one at full price and one with a discount, I feel especially prepared to write this review.

The Teardrop Cocktail Lounge is awfully classy. It's in the Pearl, though, so what isn't. They've got random videos playing on a big screen in back, a zen-like sand garden in front, and seating that allows you to be seen (without being too incredibly comfortable). Okay, when I say classy I really mean trendy. And the prices match...so I suggest you either come prepared or stick to those drinks that are discounted during the three-hour happy hour.


I started with a glass of wine because I was a little overwhelmed with the cocktail menu when the server first approached our table. Even with a glossary, there were some ingredients that I was just too unfamiliar with to place. My boyfriend must have felt the same way because he selected a beer. Later on we both tried something off of the cocktail menu.


My choice was the milk punch. It was served in typical punch glass and was garnished with enough nutmeg to convince me that I was really drinking eggnog. It was a little too fruity for that, though. I did finish the glass but never quite decided if I enjoyed what I was drinking. It was a strange mix of fruit and dairy that didn't quite sit well with my palette.

The food options only allowed for a light snack. We ordered a cheese plate and the truffle oil popcorn. My boyfriend also ordered a bowl of the soup which he found to be a bit too smokey for his liking. I don't pay too much attention to chicken noodle soup offerings, but even I found the added smokiness to be a bit odd.


The cheese plate was SO not worth the price, even at just a few dollars. Even though each sliver of cheese was paired with some sort of fancy fruit, it seemed as though the portion was so small that there wasn't enough to really get a hold of the flavor.

The truffle popcorn was easy to consume though, but didn't seem like anything more than really buttery popcorn. And it was the buttery quality that made it such a go to. The popcorn itself was very much the "bottom of the bowl" with little itty-bitty pieces and some kernels that didn't quite pop as much as they should have.

There was a lot of build up behind visiting this place. (It was in the Sunset magazine after all.) After two visits, I can say that I probably won't be back.

Food: Does Not Meet
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

-b

Teardrop Lounge on Urbanspoon