Friday, July 27, 2012

Swift Lounge

 Swift Lounge
1932 NE Broadway
http://www.swiftloungepdx.com/
Happy Hour 4-8 p.m. daily, all day Sunday

I stumbled across Food Freak Unite's blog entry about fondue fries at Swift Lounge and knew I had to try this place. Although I had never noticed it or heard of it, the extra long happy hour (they call it "jolly hour"), mason jar drinks, and fondue fries made it a must try!


And I wasn't disappointed. I met up with two friends here, and we all had a variety of snacks and drinks, so I got a really good feel for what they had to offer. We started out with the mason jar drinks, and they were so good that we stuck to them for the rest of the night. My friends shared a 32 ounce Bitchy Parrot ($8) which tasted similar to a spicy margarita.  I ordered a 16 ounce Stoned Finch, which was just $5 during happy hour. This was definitely my favorite drink of the night, with cucumber, basil, lime and vodka.  I have had a similar drink at other places, but never shaken up in a mason jar!  Later on, I also enjoyed the Guilty Sparrow, which had citrus vodka, juice, lemongrass, and limoncello.  I have to admit that at this point I was encouraged to switch to the 32 ounce size since I was not driving, and I also have to admit I got a little tipsy. So either their drinks are strong, or I drank too much...I'm not quite sure! My friends also tried the special drink, which had a peachy, gingery flavor (which is not my thing, but they seemed to enjoy it). They also have a variety of other happy hour drink specials, so there really is something for every kind of drinker.



We started with the fondue fries ($4), which look kind of gross but taste pretty great.  I loved the french fries, especially, and wouldn't have minded just eating them on their own with ketchup. The male in our party liked them so much he ordered another batch.  I also had a Caesar salad ($3), which was good, but nothing special.  My friends also ordered pulled pork sliders ($4),  which came with two.  They said they were good but felt there was something missing.  I think what was missing was coleslaw!  There were pickles but no slaw.  Also ordered was the Kim Chee and brown rice ($2). Kim Chee is one of those things either you love or hate, and I happen to love it.  This was a simple, extremely spicy version that was really good (and cheap!) Definitely not for people who can't handle spice!  Luckily, there are lots of other interesting and cheap options on the food menu.



I also enjoyed the atmosphere.  There is a small amount of outdoor seating which we were able to take advantage of, and the inside area was also comfortable.  You do have to order at the bar, but during the time we were here there was never a huge wait.  The bartenders were friendly and quick even while making elaborate drinks.




Although we didn't stay long enough to experience it, they also have DJ nights and Monday Movie Night. Overall, I thought this was a really cool, affordable happy hour!  I would definitely come back to try some of the other specials.

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

-E


Swift Lounge on Urbanspoon


Pub @ The Yard (The Lumberyard)

2700 NE 82nd Ave
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 and 9 - close, daily

This place is AMAZING. Seriously. And it's like no other place I've ever set foot in. Yes, the restaurant is new and it's clear that they are still getting things in order...but The Lumberyard--as a whole, even knowing that they are still growing--is a concept that I feel will be more than successful. I am already convinced that there will be more popping up in the near future, all made to resemble just how complete The Lumberyard has already become. It's an indoor bike park...but it is so much more. They've got tracks for all levels, a shop, space for maintenance, a restaurant and bar, a community space, classes, summer camps, and an art gallery (opening tomorrow).


Before settling into the bar for happy hour, I was able to take a quick tour of The Lumberyard. I suppose it wasn't so quick. This place is huge, after all. (The building itself was once a bowling alley...that's how big it is.) I don't know much about mountain biking or trail riding, so the tour also including some of the basics. I saw the jump lines and pump tracks, watched some of the kids there for summer camp attempt the cross-country track, and learned about the many levels indicated by color (and that they are planning to add an even more advanced track in the future). There was so much to see...and so much to do (if you are willing to climb on a bike--which I suppose I should work up to so I can come back for more than just dollar tacos and house-made barbecue sauce).

The dollar tacos might be enough, though. That, and the never-ending entertainment provided by those on bikes. I'm sure that there was some strategy involved when they put the restaurant and bar at the same end as the more advanced tracks. There were kids (and I say kids because of the summer camp...this place is for all ages) jumping and twisting and riding vertically up a wall without any mishaps. It was SO exciting to watch. But I did turn my head away long enough to study the happy hour menu...and since that's what this food blog is all about, I'd better start talking about it.

The happy hour menu is pretty lengthy. And they've got plenty of vegetarian options (which is always something that I look for). And it's all fairly inexpensive. They've got a couple of things listed at a by-the-item price (one dollar per taco, $1.50 per slider) making it really easy to try a lot of different things without spending too much.

I selected one of the tacos (after learning that I could substitute black beans for the meat options) and a bowl of the skinny dip. Before they arrived, though, we sampled all of the house-made barbecue sauces. I've never even heard of a white barbecue sauce. There were a couple of hot sauces, too. Hott, with two Ts to really emphasize what you're getting into.


The skinny dip was a spinach artichoke dip made with a recipe very similar to one I've had before. This one, however, was topped with diced tomatoes and onions and served with tortilla chips. It was good and a great price.


The taco (also a great price at just one dollar) was served on a soft flour tortilla and topped with tomatoes and a bit of shredded lettuce. If I wasn't already planning to go out for dinner later, I could have easily ordered a couple more and called that a meal.


My tour guide (co-worker, and very good friend) ordered one of the sliders. I was excited about the house-made coleslaw and quickly convinced her to have it served on the side so that I could have a bite. I love coleslaw.


The happy hour drink of the day is discounted by a dollar and (for today's choice) hadn't been decided on until we placed our order. I wasn't attempting to make any suggestions...but my gin and tonic officially became the drink of the day from that point forward. And so I had to order another. (No worries, though, they have a system in place to make sure that those riding the tracks have not had too much to drink.)

In the end, my bill was the cheapest I've seen in a long, long time. And when it was time to close out, I was able to do so using an iPad (second time this week and after never seeing this sort of technology before). So convenient!


I'll definitely head back to this place in the near future. And even if I'm not ready to ride, I'll bring some people who are.


Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds (like no other place, ever)
Value: Exceeds

-b

Pub @ The Yard


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub

112 SW 2nd Avenue
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday 4:30-6PM
Sunday through Thursday 10PM-close
www.kellsirish.com/portland

I'm having a really hard time believing that we've never been to Kells. We've been working on this happy hour food blog for four summers straight. And even during the school year, we make it out for happy hour now and then. You would think that one of us would have made it into this place in that amount of time. Weird. Kells is a mainstay in Portland. So many people depend on this place for watching international football and rugby games. That, and St. Patrick's Day. Where would the people of Portland celebrate St. Patrick's Day if it wasn't for Kells? So, again, I find it absolutely baffling that we haven't been in for a review until now.

We were there with a large group yesterday afternoon (there were twelve of us, I think) and service was fantastic. I love places that can handle big crowds without any issues. I was one of the last to arrive (and I was late enough that the majority of the food they had ordered was close to gone). Our server was on it, though. He came out almost immediately to take my drink order, was back to see if I wanted any food, and didn't even question splitting the bill. He took care of it all.


There were pints of Guinness and Drop Top all around, but I stuck with something safe. I ordered a gin and tonic (with extra lime, of course). A glass of red wine just wouldn't be refreshing in that heat...and, well, I'm a little too hesitant to order a gimlet when at a pub.


The french fries seemed to be one of the biggest hits at the table...and since there were only a few left for me to try, I decided to order my own plate. I shared, of course, but I needed to get a good picture in first. These fries were thick and salty and came with a buttermilk dipping sauce. And they are only three dollars during happy hour.


For five bucks (down from $8.50 during happy hour), I also ordered the hummus plate. It came with plenty of sliced cucumbers, tomato wedges, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. (Red onions, too...although I didn't touch them.) The bread, though, was a little questionable. There were three types of bread on the plate: one was a grilled pita bread that was a little too oily for me; the second was a white bread (maybe potato?); and the third a wheat bread with all kinds of seeds and things. The white and wheat bread were both good (especially the wheat) but aren't really what I'm used to seeing served with hummus. They still did the job of transporting food to my face, but they seemed a bit out of place. (I did really love the wheat bread, though...and hope to find it someday served with butter and maybe a bowl of vegetarian potato chowder. I'd order that, for sure.)

There were about a million other things that I could have ordered on their happy hour menu. A lot of the items are vegetarian friendly (some vegan, too) which means I can return again and again and always have something new to try.

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

-b

Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Carpaccio Trattoria - CLOSED

3500 NE MLK Boulevard
Happy Hour: 4 - 8


Happy Hour at Carpaccio goes late into the evening. You will be confined to the bar, the bistro tables along the wall, or the outdoor seating...but it still goes until 8, making this restaurant a place you could easily go for a discounted dinner.


We drove by Carpaccio Trattoria for the first time just last weekend. Immediately, I put it on my to-do list. (And with the ultra-long happy hour, I knew it would be easy to get to within the week.) Carpaccio is filling the hole that Belly left behind earlier in the year. We only made it to Belly for happy hour that one time, but I do remember that I loved their polenta tots. They were SO delicious. The polenta served now at Carpaccio, not so much (but I'll get to that a little later).

Walking in to Carpaccio, we were quickly greeted by a very friendly hostess. She gave us the options for seating, brought over the menus, and set the table with everything that we would need for our meal...but she was not our server. It took some time for our server to make it to the table to fill our water glasses. And it took some time for him to take our drink order. And it took some time for...well, everything.


Despite the long wait for service, the food came out quickly. It was also all very well-priced for the portions presented. We started with a salad to share.


The salad was made of chopped romaine and was topped with olives, grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and crumbled feta. I added a little olive oil and fresh ground pepper from the table and, with that addition, enjoyed every bite.


For dinner, my fiance ordered the chicken Marsala and a plate of penne. (There were two fairly simple pasta dishes on the menu and when he ordered this one, I opted for the other just so we could taste them both.) His description of the Marsala was quite comical. You see, it was just a little too sweet. He found the flavor combination to be similar to french toast. French toast with chicken and mushrooms, but french toast just the same.


He did enjoy the pasta dish very much. The penne was topped with tomato sauce that had just a little bit of a kick to it. I had a couple of bites and appreciated the strong flavor. It was spicy, but not in an overwhelming way.


My pasta selection was a simple spaghetti dressed with olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley. It's something I've had before and have always enjoyed. This one had just a bit more olive oil than I'm used to (which caused me to be very cautious near the end as I didn't want it to splatter out of the bowl and onto my clothes).


In addition to the pasta dish, I ordered the polenta. (I almost always order polenta when I find it on the menu during happy hour.) At Carpaccio, it is a baked polenta and comes topped with sauteed mushrooms and a Gorgonzola sauce. The flavors were pretty fantastic (only if you like Gorgonzola, of course) but had to be portioned off rather carefully. You see, the ratio wasn't quite right for this dish. I was left with far too much polenta in the end. And I'm fairly certain it was this way because the polenta alone had almost no flavor at all. It was a white polenta (I've only had yellow in the past) and seemed a bit spongy. Perhaps it just needed a little salt and pepper.



We both ordered drinks to go along with our dinner. My fiance ordered a Vodka Gimlet (he loves gimlets as much as I do) and I had a glass of the house red. Wine, beer, and well drinks are all discounted during happy hour. Even the gimlet was listed as a well drink on the bill with just a dollar extra to make it into a cocktail. We opted to not stick around for a second drink after finishing our meal, though. It might have been a relaxing way to spend the evening if it wasn't so warm in the restaurant. Both doors were propped open, making me think that they do not have air conditioning. Hopefully that's something that they are working on. That, or a better ventilation system. Not only was it warmer inside than out, but the smells from the kitchen were quite strong the entire time we were there. I have a sensitive nose, but--this time--when I say strong, I really mean it.

I'm not a fan of giving a poor rating without giving a second chance, so there's potential for me to return to Carpaccio (after they've had more time to settle in, of course). There are plenty of other options still remaining on the happy hour menu for me to try. It was a good value, after all.

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

-b


Carpaccio Trattoria

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mac! Mac and Cheesery

3936 N. Mississippi Avenue
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM daily & ALL NIGHT on Mondays


I love macaroni and cheese. It has to be homemade, though. I'm not the kind of person that will eat what comes out of a box...even when the cheesy sauce doesn't start as a powder. I ate WAY too much boxed food as a kid. I can't eat anymore. I'm the same way with TV. I watched it nonstop growing up and now I hate staring at that screen. (I can do movies, but I rarely turn the TV on.) Loving mac and cheese as I do means that I often opt for the gooey, cheesy, creamy goodness when I spot it on a happy hour menu. (Like, almost every single time.) I can tell you where it's good and where it's just so-so. I can even tell you who goes overboard on the breadcrumbs. But this place, this Mac & Cheesery, they specialize in the stuff.


We started with Mojitos. Fresh citrus mojitos were on the board as the official drink special. They had three to choose from: the original Mojito, a citrus Mojito, and a raspberry Mojito. I opted for the raspberry Mojito. I was expecting muddled raspberries to be in the mix, but it seemed more like an infused vodka. I can't say for sure if it's a house-infused vodka, but I can say that it was good. Across the table was a citrus Mojito. It was made with fresh lime (of course), lemon, and orange juice.

We had a lot of catching up to do and held off on ordering food for a bit. The server seemed to understand and was good about checking in but didn't get too pushy (which can happen all too often). He did recommend that we order a starter plate of fried mac & cheese balls, but knowing that I was going to get a plate of mac and cheese I felt that would be too much. (I did catch a glimpse of the order at another table and they look pretty good. Freshly made, too.)


When the time came, I decided on the four cheese mac and cheese. It's only four bucks during happy hour and the portions are HUGE. The original mac is a dollar less and still HUGE. I can't imagine ordering from the regular dinner menu. I would have to ask for a box from the very start. It's good, though. Super cheesy and with just the right amount of breadcrumbs.


I also got a glimpse of the original mac served with hotdogs. The hotdogs were sliced super thin so that there were enough to include in almost every bite. (Be sure to really work your plate, though. I wouldn't want anyone else to be left with a hotdog-less last bite. The last bite always needs to be the best bite.)


We also shared a salad. It's important to get in your veggies when pasta is involved. It's actually super important to get those veggies in no matter what. I love veggies. And this salad was piled high with 'em. There were fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers. And, like the mac and cheese, the portions were HUGE. (Especially considering the price.) It was just four bucks.

There's no question as to whether I'll be back to this place. They specialize in one of my favorite foods. And the service is good. And they have outdoor seating. And the Mojitos are fresh and served at a fairly decent price. (And there's my favorite frozen yogurt place next door--which we didn't make it to this time...but in the future, I'll totally find a way to squeeze it all in.)

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

-b


Mac! Mac & Cheesery

Pambiche

2811 NE Glisan Avenue
Happy Hour: weekdays 2 - 6 PM and 10 - midnight on Friday & Saturday

It's been just over three years since the last time any of us reviewed Pambiche. Almost three years exactly...I checked. And--in my opinion--that's long enough to say it's okay to go back and do a re-review.

My sister and I were out running errands yesterday (including the final wedding gown fitting!) and we knew, for sure, that we needed to stop and eat something before moving onto our final destination. You see, we were headed to our grandmother's house. You never know how long the visit will be. It was just barely two in the afternoon and I wasn't about to make a suggestion without first doing a little happy hour research. (I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity.) Cellphone applications have made finding happy hour on the go SO much easier. It's reason enough to have a smartphone and a data plan. Within minutes (my phone's smart...but a little slow), I knew exactly where we were going.

The sidewalk seating at Pambiche is usually pretty crowded and often requires a short wait. Today, however, it was both early enough in the afternoon and a bit overcast, so there was no wait at all.

Service was pretty fantastic (and I don't think that's just because they weren't as crowded as usual) but our server might have been TOO good. You see, she was quick to observe and noticed that both of us were ordering vegetarian options. And then she gave us the bad news. (Sigh...) They've changed the way they prepare their empanadas. They are now made with LARD. I'm glad she told us, but I'm going to miss those delightful little treats. Hopefully they change back to the old recipe soon and make them vegetarian-friendly once again.


Knowing that the empanadas were no longer an option, my sister and I were forced to branch out a bit. (Which was a very good thing since both of us tend to order the same things again and again.) The only thing that wasn't new to us was the Insalada Carebina. It's one of my very favorite salads at Pambiche (although I love the avocado salad, too) and it's made of shredded cabbage and carrots. It's uber-healthy and has the most amazing flavor.


We also ordered two plates of frituras, one corn and one yam. The yam fritters were like teeny potato pancakes...but ten times better. There was a mix of onion with the shredded yam and the four fritters were perfectly golden and had just the right crispiness.


The corn fritters were a bit on the sweet side and could have easily been listed on the dessert menu. They were HOT but very, very tasty. I tried them with the banana sauce provided on the table but decided, in the end, that they were better off on their own.


We also had a small order of black beans and rice. (They offer brown rice now, too...which is new since the last time we reviewed.) I wish I could make my black beans taste as good as theirs. I suppose I have to do more than just open the can to make that happen. Someday.

Both of us were adventurous with our beverage selections, too. I think I've only ordered the one thing every time I've been here. (Well, that and the fancy Cuban Coffee I've ordered to go with the fantastically yummy desserts that always tempt me from the case when dining inside.) I ordered the Canchanchara and my sister ordered a Cubanito.


The Canchanchara was a perfect choice for me. It was sweet (served with the sugar cane, even) and full of limes. I absolutely LOVE that combination. I'm not sure if I've ever had a sugarcane brandy before...but I'd have it again.


The Cubanito was similar to a Bloody Mary but with more sweetness to it. I liked it and am likely to order it myself next time (especially if we return for breakfast).

I love Pambiche. I think that's okay to say now. It's most definitely in my top five. And it's been in my top five for more than three years.

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

-b

Pambiche


Killer Burger (Happy Hour Wishlist)

Killer Burger
4644 NE Sandy Blvd.
No Happy Hour Available

Feeling a little cocky because my adventure with egg-on-a-burger at clarklewis was such a success, I thought I'd continue my weird-food-on-burger adventures at Killer Burger.  I happened to see it on my way home from the post office, and suddenly I remembered reading somewhere that they serve a burger with peanut butter on it.  Peanut butter, bacon, and pickles, to be exact. While the idea sounds kind of disgusting, many people on the Internet seemed to believe this combo worked.  I enlisted my fiance to come with me for dinner (even though they don't have Happy Hour that I know of, their prices are very reasonable).


I went with the peanut butter bacon and pickles, and my fiance opted for the Jose Mendoza, which had roasted green chiles and jack cheese.  Both were $7.95 and came with french fries, and we added on $2 diet cokes.  They also offer beers on tap, but I think burgers go best with pop.


It was pretty crowded in the restaurant with loud heavy metal-type music playing.  We had to order at the counter, but then they come find you when your food is ready.  We started out inside, but the music was not very relaxing, so we decided to move outside instead.


 My burger was...interesting.  While I didn't think the combination was terrible, I just didn't like the sweet taste of the peanut butter on the burger--it might have been more appealing to me if it was spicier.  I still ended up eating a lot of it, but I realized that I should have "girly-sized" my burger because it was just too much food for me. My fiance really enjoyed his burger--I tried a small bite and thought it was pretty good.  I think I probably should have gone with the fun guy burger (mushrooms and swiss). One thing I really liked about this place was that every burger came with bacon--usually you have to add it on for a hefty fee at other places.  I am not sure if I will be back soon, but I would definitely be willing to try out their other burgers in the future.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Nearly Meets (too crowded and music is annoying)
Value: Exceeds

--E

Killer Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paddy's Bar and Grill

Paddy's Bar and Grill
65 SW Yamhill St.
Happy Hour 4-6:30 p.m. and 10-close
 www.paddys.com

I have been to Paddy's more than once, usually with my family members. (Fun fact: one of my sisters had her 21st birthday here and threw up at the table!) I had never been here for Happy Hour, though, so when my brother suggested it for dinner I decided to go a little early to try it out.

 

We were able to sit outside, which was nice, but there was a strange fishy smell nearby.  For Happy Hour they offer a variety of flavors of mac and cheese, all for $6, and other $5 food specials.  I wish we had been a bit more adventurous with our food selections to be honest.  My fiance ordered BBQ pork sliders and I ordered nachos.  After ordering, I noticed that someone at the table behind me got the Irish corn dogs, which the server said was their bangers and mash made into a corn dog and served with french fries.  Why didn't I try that?! My nachos were very big and were made with, I think, house made corn chips.  The chips really made these nachos.  Watch out, though, they come with red onions (even though there is no mention of onions on the menu).  These nachos are not for people who are sensitive to spice--with lots of chunks of jalapenos, my mouth was on fire.  I still managed to eat the majority of them.  The BBQ sliders came with two, so they weren't as great of a value as the nachos were.  I was full and wasn't able to order anything for dinner when my brother and sister-in-law arrived, but my fiance still had to order more food.


 For dinner everyone else got sandwiches that came with fries.  No one complained, but no one raved either.  The food looked pretty good, but I only tried a few french fries.


Although they don't offer Happy Hour specials for drinks, the drinks still were the best part of my meal.  If you remember, one of my favorite things in life is a drink with more drink on the side.  At Paddy's they have more than one drink like this.  The lemon drop is served with an additional side of drink with a strainer, and so is the kamikaze (not the shot, the drink).  I love having a full drink and then being able to give myself a refill.  I recommend the kamikaze over the lemon drop, because they put orange juice in the lemon drop here.  I tend to avoid drinks made with orange juice other than mimosas. The kamikaze was perfectly made and great for people who like lime and vodka. Considering the fact that these drinks both came with extra drink, they were a great value (I think they were $8.50 each).


Service was great the whole time. For some reason we had two servers, and they both kept up on drinks and food. They even split the bill four ways without us asking, which made it easy to divide up the cost--sometimes awkward in a group.

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

--E

Paddy's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon