Friday, May 01, 2015

Cafe Nell

1987 NW Kearney Street
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday 3 - 6 (3 - 10 Wednesdays) & Saturday 4 - 6

Ahhhh, sunshine! The forecast for the weekend looks quite promising. It's not summer, yet. There's still bound to be a few weeks of rain (it is track season, after all). But it seems that all of Portland has had a head start on the outdoor dining scene.

Patios tend to fill up fast around here. Even today--with the high reaching just into the 70s--the picnic tables at every local brewery are likely to be packed before four. But sidewalk seating isn't always all that bad. Sure, it's often accompanied by the noise of steady traffic. But that's not always the case. Not at Cafe Nell.

Cafe Nell offers Happy Hour weekdays from three until six and on Saturday starting at four. The discounts are limited to the bar area only, but when the sun's out--and it's warm enough--that includes the tables that line the sidewalk on both Kearny and NW 20th Avenue. (Parking in that neighborhood can often be a pain, but there's a little parking lot hidden away just behind the restaurant.)

The discounted menu includes a number of items regularly available during dinner, but at a much lower price. There are also a lot of "daily" items--which means seasonal ingredients and the freshest of flavors. While sipping on cocktails, we enjoyed the daily salad ($5), an order of the mac and cheese ($5.50), fish tacos ($7), and some fries ($5).

The prices are reasonable compared to those listed on the dinner menu and seemed appropriate given the quality of the ingredients used...for everything but the fries. They were deliciously salty and came with a small dish of aioli, but the five dollar price tag seemed a bit steep.

I was most impressed with the daily salad. Of course, it being a daily item means that I am likely to not come across the exact same mix again. (Having been there more than once and ordered the daily salad each time, however, I trust that the combination of flavors will always be quite pleasing.) The fresh flavors and crunch made me feel SO much better after having also ordered yet another plate of macaroni and cheese.

A favorite of mine, this macaroni and cheese was made with a mix of three cheeses and topped with breadcrumbs.

Although I didn't sample the fish tacos, I was quite impressed with the appearance of the dish. Must have been something to do with the vibrant colors of the cabbage and house-made salsa. The fish and the tortilla alone might have carried enough flavor but wouldn't have been nearly as pleasing to the eye.

Having filled up on all that we ordered, I was not ready to try the brownie caramel sundae. (I know, it's not like me at all.) Next time, I will be sure to save space.

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


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