Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gold Dust Meridian

3267 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Happy Hour: 2 - 8 PM, daily

Happy Hour outside of Portland typically means a dollar off this, discounted fried straight-from-the-freezer foods, or maybe a free handful of salted bar nuts. In Portland, you can find real food--maybe not the same as the regular dinner menu and definitely served as a smaller portion--but real food, nonetheless. And at certain places you can even find enough offerings on the menu to fill up on veggies. (Not just garlic fries or a plate of mixed greens, but real veggies.)

At Gold Dust Meridian, their menu is SO long and so varied that it will please any patron, especially those who prefer a more balanced approach to snacking. It's a tiered menu--with prices starting at four dollars--and they've got everything from Deviled Eggs to Ceviche to Lemongrass Clams. All that AND happy hour runs from 2 until 8 PM every single day.

We were there on an afternoon that called for patio seating (almost a daily occurrence, lately) and enjoyed their Stuffed Mushrooms ($4), Garlic Green Beans ($5), and the Classic Mac ($5). Although the menu had changed since the last time I had been in, I was happy to see that the Garlic Green Beans were still available. They are delicious--a bit salty, but delicious--and a must if you are in for happy hour or not (they're on the regular menu, too).

The Garlic Green Beans are big enough to share (but good enough that you'll want a second plate). They are sautéed with a sweet gralicky soy sauce that will likely leave you licking the plate. (Maybe you aren't the type of person to make such a scene, but I'm certain you'll at least make some attempt to get more of that goodness into your mouth even after the beans have vanished.) It's just that good.

Stuffed Mushrooms are so often stuffed with crab (or some other meat I can't eat) that I rarely have them outside of my own kitchen. At Gold Dust Meridian, the stuffing is made of ricotta and breadcrumbs and whatever seasonings it takes to make them so delicious and that's it. No crab. No lobster. No seafood of any kind. They are served just five to a plate, which means--even at four dollars--there's a bit added to the price for the amount of work that goes into stuffing each one of those little mushroom caps.

Five bucks is just the base price for the Classic Mac. You can upgrade it for a dollar more to have added bacon, broccolini, or tomato. Obviously, I paid that higher price. The broccolini was good, as was the mac and cheese with its mix of aged cheddar, smoked gouda, and mozzarella, but the crumbs--which appeared to be smashed cheez-its or something of the sort--were just a bit too overpowering for me. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoyed the mac and cheese. And I LOVE cheez-its (enough to never ever buy them for fear of finishing the entire box on the way home from the grocery store). But the ratio of crumbs to creamy cheesy goodness was just not up to par.

Thankfully, I was able to wash down those crumbs with a tall glass of their Strawberry Blade. Made with Superfly Vodka, Strawberry Nectar, Lemonade, and Soda, this was a perfect summertime patio sipper. It was so good that I sipped my way through a second.

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


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