Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cocotte

2930 NE Killingsworth Avenue
Happy Hour: 9 - close, Tuesday through Saturday
ALL Night Happy Hour: 5 - close, Sundays and Mondays
cocottepdx.com

When I first moved to Portland as a freshman in college, I knew three neighborhoods: Ladd's Addition (where my oldest sister lived), PSU (where my other sister lived, worked, and went to school), and Concordia (where I would spend the next four years of my life). The Concordia Neighborhood wasn't as established as it is now and it certainly didn't have all that much to offer. Back then, the closest grocery store was Food Villa (more commonly referred to as Foodzilla), the Kennedy School was a piece of condemned property, and there was a boarded up building that probably hadn't been used for years in the space that now houses New Seasons. Concordia University has grown a lot since I first started--building a new library, an athletic complex, and a number of dorms and apartments--but the neighborhood has grown even more.


While waiting for the doors to open at Cocotte earlier this week, I made the rounds to all of the restaurants that line the streets at the intersection of Killingsworth and NE 30th. It took less than a minute to add six restaurants to my official "to do" list. I can barely believe that there are so many notable spots in a space that used to house so little. I'm excited to continue exploring a neighborhood that I once knew so well.


Cocotte is so charming, it's almost unbearable. I love the lighting, the windows, the fancy cocktails, and the cheese board. I love that they offer fancy butter with their bread and that the servers are beyond exceptional. (I don't love rillettes or chicken liver mousse, but I'm a vegetarian so it makes complete sense.) And I love that the bill comes accompanied by soft and deliciously satisfying cookies. Without spending a fortune, though, I'm afraid that I will have to remember Cocotte as a place to merely taste deliciousness--and not a place where happy hour can replace a full-sized meal.


The cocktail menu at Cocotte includes many traditional gin and whiskey drinks along with a number of their own original recipes. Each drink is marked with its place of origin and the year it was created. I opted for one of Cocotte's original cocktails and am so glad I did. Made with Plymouth Gin, egg whites, lemon juice, Grand Marnier, and orange bitters, the Pommes Bascule is something that I will order again and again.



To sample the menu, we ordered the daily cheese selection ($5), the caesar salad ($5), and the crepes ($8). There is so much more available on the regular dinner menu that I hope to return in the near future. I might have to save up or wait for a special occasion, but I will be back.



The caesar salad was lightly dressed bib lettuce with an abundance of croutons.


Served with pickled white asparagus and mushrooms, the crepes were folded and topped with a mushroom ragout.


I was most impressed by the presentation of the daily cheese selection. Offered on a traditional bread board, the wedge of cheese--made in Madras, Oregon--was accompanied by fruit preserves and additional baguette slices.


Although the cookie was a sweet surprise and could easily finish the meal, the dessert menu at Cocotte is quite tempting. Both the butterscotch pudding and the carrot cake--made with chestnuts and salted caramel--sound delicious. I guess I'll just have to order both.

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

-b

Cocotte on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 30, 2013

Noble Rot

1111 East Burnside Street
Happy Hour: 5 - 6, Monday through Friday
noblerotpdx.com

I met my husband on the dance floor at the Goodfoot. Our first date was at Pok Pok. That same week we went to Davis Street Tavern. All of these are fantastic date night locations. So is Noble Rot. It's perfect for a first date, a third date, number seventeen, and two-hundred and ten.


It's not just the food that makes this place so suitable for a night out, it's the ambiance. My husband and I were happy to be seated at the small table in the corner. We had the BEST view. It had been clear out all day--and still just light enough when they opened at five to see the last bit of light over the West Hills--but we were able to watch as the fog rolled in over the city. It was quite remarkable.


The happy hour menu includes plenty of options at a discount. At first glance, the price for a hamburger might seem a bit high BUT it includes fries or a salad, which is not as typical during happy hour. And when you compare these prices to those of their regular dinner menu, it's reasonable--in the most proportional way possible.


Having a choice of fries or a salad didn't work for the two of us. We both wanted salads...and fries. Thankfully, the menu included all sorts of small plates at small prices. A plate of fries was only three dollars (onion rings, too). There were plenty to the plate and they were my favorite petite-cut fries with just the right amount of salt. I would have preferred a fancy dipping sauce to the ketchup supplied, however. That was my only disappointment.



The fries arrived first (at our request) but the rest of the meal came soon after. My husband ordered the hamburger (with cheese for an additional $1) and I had the vegetable Panino. I can only assume that the filling changes with the season. On the menu that night was a butternut squash and caramelized onion sandwich. Along with the vegetables was just enough goat cheese to finish the flavor. Both the burger and the sandwich were served with a side salad made of butter lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, and sunflower seeds.



The drink menu includes discounted beer and wine (just $3.50 each) but also a list of four fancy cocktails. (My co-bloggers and I are always most impressed when the happy hour discounts include something more than just wine, beer, and well drinks.) These fancy cocktails are priced at $5.50 each and include the same house-made ingredients as their regular drink menu. I started with the Pomegranate Lemon Drop but after taking a sip of my husband's Moscow Mule, decided that if I were to order anything more it would be that.

I also decided (based on what foods I saw delivered to the table closest to us) that the next time we are in, I will definitely order the mac and cheese--which appears to have the perfect ratio of breadcrumb topping--and a plate of onion rings. Hopefully they won't change the menu before then.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds (it's a great view)
Value: Meets

-b

Noble Rot on Urbanspoon

Guest Post - San Diego Compilation

Restaurants in San Diego, CA
A Compilation of Options I Tried



While I was visiting San Diego, enjoying the blue skies and mid-70 degree weather, I ate at a variety of places… enough for me to ask b if I could do a compilation (and she said yes). So here’s my two-cents about the places you might want to check out if you find yourself in sunny San Diego.

The Yard House
1023 4th Ave. (Downtown San Diego)
(Opening in downtown Portland - summer of 2014)



This place was awesome. They have anywhere from 130-250 beers on tap. Happy Hour is 3-6 Monday through Friday, and 10-close Sunday through Wednesday. The menu is a thick booklet with specialty beer blends, and the chicken nachos were the best nachos I’ve ever had (they’re spread out on a big platter and are NOT in a pyramid shape so every chip has toppings).

Yard House - San Diego on Urbanspoon


Wonderland
5083 Santa Monica Ave. (Ocean Beach)


Wonderland has a reverse Happy Hour from 10-close Monday through Thursday. I came on a Saturday, so I missed the Happy Hour. However, the view of the ocean from this second story location is worth stopping by for a drink regardless of the time of day (although sunset would be the optimal time).

Wonderland Ocean Beach on Urbanspoon


Newport Pizza & Ale House
5050 Newport Ave. (Ocean Beach)



Daily Happy Hour plus pizza? Hold me back! Newport Pizza & Ale House has a daily Happy Hour from 3-6pm. Deals are on beer and pizzas - no matter what size you order. They sell pizza by the slice and whole pies (with names like Ron Jeremy – pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, and salami to The Hulk – pesto, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomato, feta, and mushroom) and they make their own pizza dough. I had the Sargent Pepper and a side Caesar salad…and the crust was perfect.

Newport Pizza & Ale House on Urbanspoon


The Fish Market
750 N Harbor Dr. (Downtown, near the waterfront)



The Fish Market has a Happy Hour from 3-6pm Monday through Thursday in the Bar Lounge only. There is a sample menu online. We did not make it for Happy Hour, but were treated to a full-fledged dinner menu. This restaurant has an extensive wine and beer selection, but save your admiration for the dinner menu. Must. Go. Back. I ordered the cioppino which was okay (I would recommend ONLY getting the cioppino at Sharks in Newport), but everyone’s dish looked incredible. My boyfriend really liked his Mahi Mahi.

The Fish Market on Urbanspoon


Fathom Bistro
1776 Shelter Island Dr., (on Shelter Island Fishing Pier)



Fathom does not have a Happy Hour, but they do have a nice beer list plus a Sunday brunch item called a Drunken Fruit Bowl (which does require I.D.). This bistro makes their own sausages, which the table gave mild favorable reviews. The Jacques Cousteau theme, plus the bouncer dressed as a pirate, is enough to bring me back.

Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle on Urbanspoon


Anthony’s Fish Grotto
1360 N Harbor Dr.




Anthony’s Fish Grotto is a mixed bag…I’ll explain in a minute. Anthony’s has Happy Hour from 3:30-6:30pm Monday through Friday in the bar only. They have $3 draft beer or white wine, $4 well drinks, sparklers, or sangria, and $5 call drinks, margaritas, or signature drinks. There is also a bar menu that I didn’t get to see, but the sign proclaims the snacks start at $2.75. Honestly, I would avoid the main restaurant if you can, and instead go to the bar OR the outdoor window called Fishette. At Fishette, you can get the same food items (and beer) and sit outside…the inside reminds me of a blend between a retirement home and Mo’s. The inside is perfect if you have grandma with you OR you’re part of a large family. Otherwise, I’d recommend the outdoor Fishette window.

Anthony's Fish Grotto & Fishette on Urbanspoon



My San Diego Wish List (places I just didn’t get to but want to)
Hodad’s – apparently good burgers and shakes with real ice cream
El Indio – there was a line around the corner just to get in
El Fandango – it’s in old town and is my uncle’s favorite
Odysea Lounge – it’s in the Hilton and has Happy Hour from 4-7 daily
OB Noodle House – Japanese noodles etc.
Pizzeria Luigi – pizza mentioned on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives
Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop – a Mexican-wrestling-themed taco shop. Need I say more?

Thanks for letting me post about San Diego. Twice.

-k


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Guest Post: Rockin' Baja Lobster - San Diego, CA

Rockin’ Baja Lobster (Gaslamp Quarter)
310 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA
rockinbaja.com
Happy Hour: 3-6 and 9-close, Monday through Friday


First, a quick introduction is in order. Hello, my name is k. I work with o,e, and b, and I often head out with b to review various happy hours (actually, I just order stuff and give my opinion). I have a background in the food service industry, so I not only look at the food BUT also watch the staff. I told b that my boyfriend and I were heading down to San Diego for winter break and she asked me to do a guest blog….so here I am.


On Christmas Eve, you run the risk of finding many closed restaurants due to the holiday season. Luckily my boyfriend and I found Rockin’ Baja Lobster in the Gaslamp Quarter. If you’ve never been to the Gaslamp Quarter, then add it to your list of places to see – in the 17 block neighborhood, there are over 90 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places (but I warn you, it can be a little touristy).


The Rockin’ Baja Lobster has Happy Hour Monday-Friday from 3-6pm, and Late Night daily from 9-close. There are a variety of drink options from a house margarita, Long Island Ice Tea, and a Shipwreck, to $4 beer or wine. Happy Hour food includes Outrageous Tacos, Tequila Lime Shrimp, and Quesadilla Rayados.


We chose to sit outside on the patio that was right next to the sidewalk (but partitioned with a railing) so that we could people watch. Inside the restaurant reminds me of a Mexican Red Robin, which can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not in the mood. Our server was friendly yet busy. We noticed there were only 3 servers on that night (it WAS Christmas Eve) and they were constantly on the move. My boyfriend decided to order a beer, and I opted for a mojito…or two.


The restaurant has a self serve chips station as well as a salsa bar. The chips were lightly seasoned, which were perfect for sampling every type of salsa they had to offer….so I did. This self-serve option was perfect while we waited for our drinks to arrive. I found the pineapple mango salsa a sweet compliment to the spicy options, but found that my favorite was mixing the black bean salsa with a bit of the spicy.




Looking at the menu, we noticed an option called Taco Tuesday, and it happened to be Tuesday so we went for the $2 tacos on the list. My boyfriend ordered a Taco Chingone and a Surf & Turf Taco. I ordered a Street Taco (chicken), a Surf & Turf Taco, and a San Felipe Style Fish Taco.




Of the tacos that we ordered, we both enjoyed the Surf & Turf Taco the best…and we wished we had ordered more of them instead of the others. We overheard a server at another table say it was his favorite taco, and we totally agree. The shrimp and steak were cooked perfectly, and the sliced avocado on top sealed the deal. The other tacos were okay, but the Surf & Turf exceeded the rest of the options.


Overall we were pleased with our Christmas Eve dinner, and would revisit for the Surf & Turf Taco on Taco Tuesdays.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambience: Meets
Value: Meets (remember, there’s tax)

-k

Rockin Baja Lobster on Urbanspoon