Our final day in Portland started with a bang-zoom-wow for the bellies with breakfast at Mother’s Bistro & Bar. Walking in the drizzly rain, we thought ourselves lucky when first spotting the Mother’s sign, as we’d anticipated a line. Seeing none, our stomachs hooped and hollered until we realized the entrance was around the corner. And there, we found them – the people. The crowds, who’d arrived as did we for Saturday morning vittles. The wait, however, proved short and we were seated after just 15 minutes or so, though a tortuous 15 since we had front row seats to all the steaming plates coming out of the kitchen en route to the diners who’d gotten to Mother’s earlier than we.
Though their specials for the day sounded delectable, I was torn once we were ready to place our orders between the Wild Salmon Hash and the Crunchy French Toast. My co-eater Christabel also thought the hash sounded good, and told me she’d be willing to share a bite (Yippee!! Although for a split-second, I considered ordering both the hash AND the toast – because what if the hash was so amazing that one bite wouldn’t do and I’d have to wrestle Christabel’s plate away from her? Then I came to my senses and decided if the hash was bomb-diggety, I’d just have to buy another round-trip ticket up north – it’s just a 2-hour flight from home).
After sampling the hash, I’m pretty sure I’ll be racking up the frequent flyer miles. With just one bite, I was in hash heaven. Not only were the potatoes firm and the fish perfectly cooked and seasoned, but all was snuggled in a rich creamy sauce. If I had a second stomach, I would have called the waitress over and ordered Breakfast Part II.
Thankfully, I was fully pleased with my singular order of french toast. Actually, I would purchase a flight as well for my plate – thick slices of Texas toast coated with cornflakes and richened with a buttery cream. My side of potatoes (just couldn’t resist) were awesome as well. With the exception of my Bellini, I didn’t finish anything. That doesn’t mean that the meal wasn’t memorable. In truth, it will not soon be forgotten.
Neither will our next stop, one of the McMenamins properties in the Pacific Northwest. Mike and Brian McMenamin operate a chain of 65 brewpubs, microbreweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs in the Portland area. We found our way to the Zeus Cafe at the Crystal Hotel.
I was still stuffed with hash and toast, but Sandy was down for their burger, sharing with me her truffle fries. These were DEE-licious, especially when dipped in their homemade ketchup. I might have eaten all of them but that would have been rude. And I would have had to get my stomach pumped – not how I wanted to spend my last day in Portland.
Our biggest delight, however, was that sitting at the bar right behind us was Mike McMenamin himself, who was kind enough to say Cheese with us and encouraged us to go downstairs to check out the pool in the hotel. The next time I’m in Portland, I’ll surely stay in a McMenamin property – homey and quaint and full of history and stories, each one. Running into Mr. McMenamin was certainly one of several highlights of our short trip.
Our final eat-venture was at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District, just north of downtown. This ultra-cool pizza restaurant has an LA vibe without the pretentiousness. It was a wonderful way to end our visit. I stayed boring with the Margherita, while Sandy embodied the spirit of the trip by taking a risk, ordering the Goat Cheese (with fig jam, basil, mint, arugula, and pistachios). Yes, she let me taste it. And yes, I was jealous. That pizza was a piece of work. Mine was pretty good too, made awesome with it’s crispy thin crust. And I was able to chalk up another tasty cocktail – my Honey Vodka Collins.
So I left Portland a few pounds heavier and very pleased with the venture. While this was my very first eating trip, it surely won’t be my last.
What I loved most is that Portland stayed true to it’s motto in keeping weird. After this trip, my personal motto has become Keep Diane Full. Portland surely did it’s job in doing this. Thank you, PDX. And happy eating!
Mother’s Bistro & Bar
212 SW Stark Street
Zeus Cafe at the Crystal Hotel
303 SW 12th Avenue
Oven & Shaker
1134 NW Everett Street