grayelf's Profile

Title Last Reply

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Thanks for the link to your photo and to that thread. Looks like they are back to taking limited reservations at least.

about 3 hours ago
grayelf in San Francisco Bay Area

Farmers Market Feedback

I only made it to the Kits FM twice this year, including today, busy Sundays I guess. I was happy to see fresh padrones, first time ever in Vancouver for me. Less happy to pay $12 a pound, gulp. I got shisitos at Fujiya on Friday for $13 a KILO, which is a much better deal, albeit they aren't organic. Neither were the padrones, at least not certified.

Snagged a quarter loaf of dark rye from Rise (love that he sells it by the quarter or half) for $4, as well as a rustica scone which the SO scarfed before I could get a bit (he said it was not too sweet and had a hint of cardamom). Also bagged a jar of Chris' award-winning marmalade, gold this year, to send to my FIL who is a marmalade fiend. Looking forward to having access to his stuff at Batard when it opens on Fraser soonish.

Excellent apples called aromatic Russets for $2.75 a pound and a handful of heirloom toms for $4 a lb, worth it for the flavour. Snagged the last six zucchini blossoms for a painful $1 a piece but at least they were large. Paid $1.50 for a smallish zucchini and then saw them for $1 a piece for larger ones, doh.

Tried a twisty bacon and cheddar bread from Pig On The Street which was tasty if greasy. Very nice asiago and black pepper scone from A Bread Affair with some whole peppercorns, woot.

Sieglinde spuds aka German butter potatoes for $2 a pound seemed a good deal. Corn is still at least a dollar an ear and didn't look great anywhere so I passed. Bad corn year for me at least. $4 for a small tray of blackberries -- I hate to pay those prices but I know how hard they are to pick :-).

Crowded with people, dogs and strollers as usual but bearable before 11.

about 3 hours ago
grayelf in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Chicagoans 3rd visit to Oregon

They hand out the photocopied tap list which is handy. We stumbled on the event when we were out in Sellwood in Oct 2012 and had a disappointing snack from a food cart and a less-than-stellar antiquing experience in the morning. The poster the SO saw sent us willy-nilly to the Oaks, and all was well. We arranged our fall Portland trip to coincide with the Fest in 2013 and enjoyed it just as much. I hope I haven't oversold it and that you will love it too. Just remember to eat first as there are only one or two carts and neither appealed to us. Plus you want to spend your time getting beer samples, right? BTW tons of free parking right by the big tent which is a bonus.

Just realized you never got any answers on your resto picks -- we love Little Bird and have been three times. Clyde Common has yet another new chef and we're planning to check him out this trip. Tasty'n'Alder we haven't been to because we weren't impressed with the brunch we had at Tasty'n'Sons but I believe the latter's menu recently had a big shakeup, not sure about T'n'A (and that is an acronym they might have wanted to avoid...) Imperial has also been on my radar for a while but I think we're gonna do Paley's Place for the burger instead this time.

about 6 hours ago
grayelf in Metro Portland

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Thanks for the additional intel esp the communal tables which we're not huge fans of. Bars on the other hand are great, and talking to the chefs when they aren't too busy is a nice adjunct to a meal for sure.

This thread is just wonderful -- so much great info. Thanks and feel free to keep it coming :-).

about 6 hours ago
grayelf in San Francisco Bay Area

Does Seattle have it's own cool coffee place like Intelligensia or Blue Bottle?

Thanks Mr Taster for reviving this thread, which I missed when playing catchup on the Seattle board in preparation for our June trip. Lots of interesting posts here.

We really liked Slate of the various coffee spots we were able to try (there are many more of course) but it skews more third wave than Vivace, we thought. It also is a very cool if small space which might appeal to the OP if he is still around.

We happen to be big Coava fans, and have become acquainted with one of the roasters there over our several visits, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that, but if you find yourself back in Portland, you might want to check out their newish space on Hawthorne, which is cozier than the original. We like to drink our coffee off a drill press, so we'll be heading out to SE Grand in October :-).

about 17 hours ago
grayelf in Greater Seattle

Chicagoans 3rd visit to Oregon

Just for you, Dee, I had a quick paw through my Portland archives and ran across the 2012 beer menu for the fest. There were 46 beers available from these brewers (some had two beers on hand, most just one -- it was a similar roster albeit different beers and brewers the following year): 10 Barrel, Alameda, Base Camp, Beer Valley, Bridgeport, Burnside, Cascade, Cascade Lakes, Coalition, Crux, Deschutes, Double Mountain, FOTM, Falling Sky, Fort George, Full Sail, Gigantic, Green Dragon, Hopworks, Klamath Basin, Laurelwood, Logsdon, Lompoc, MacTarnahan's, McMenamin's, Migration, Ninkasi, Oakshire, Old Market, Pelican, Philadelphia's, Portland U-Brew, Rock Bottom, Rogue, Sasquatch, Silver Moon, Solera, The Commons, Three Creeks and Track Town. Phew! That is to some degree at least a who's who of Oregon brewers, if I'm not mistaken.

As for the tastings, I just looked at the souvenir sleeves we got from both years and there is a 4 oz line demarcated on them. I believe that is the pour you get for each "ticket" and there is a minimum of five for $15. Some of the pours might have been a wee bit more. It's pretty casual. The killer deal is 10 for $20 -- that's what we got, and I just snagged a sip of each beer for research purposes, leaving the lion's share for the real beer guy. And then I drove the beer guy back into town and got some food into him, grin. It seemed like a pretty decent amount of beer, not even taking into account that it was largely beer you won't find easily elsewhere and certainly not all in one place.

FWIW I love love love cheese (once worked in a cheese shop) and I don't drink much beer but I'd still pick the Fest over the Wedge because it is unique. Hope that helps.

Here are a few pix of the Fest: Exterior, Lompoc Brewing's Red Ale (to show the average pour size), and a blurry shot of the interior of the big tent -- there are two outside areas to hang out in as well.

1 day ago
grayelf in Metro Portland

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Just to be extra clear, "special meal" doesn't have to be fancy or upscale (I don't get the impression Nopa is either, for example) and I'm not dead set on it being a hard get for the reso. Just looking for options, and finding them in spades. This thread is going to be an amazing resource for more than just this trip, so thank you all.

The SO's not a huge fan of southern/soul food, so I don't drag him to such places, considering how he goes along with all my other food obsessions without complaint :-). Though given bbulkow's treatise on it, I am more than ever keen to try Pican -- it just may have to be on another trip when I have time to strike out on my own/with other Hounds!

@bbulkow: We've been to Social Kitchen for happy hour and thought it was a nice pub/bar with decent snacks and average beer -- I was asking about Central Kitchen :-).

Also agree that the East Bay has got it goin' on. I did very well in Oaktown last trip and we've done some fun happy hour and taco crawls in the area on previous forays. We've only managed to hit Hopscotch from your list but the others are all on my radar, along with more! With luck we will spend at least one day eating "out east" :-).

@majordanby: thanks for the mention of Commissary. It may not be the one for our "date night" but I have a soft spot for the chef and we have little decent Spanish at home. Is it being in the Presidio that makes the location unique?

@missmoo and jondough: I did think the menu was a bit charcuterie leaning at Trou but that might work in our favour one night, as we tend to overeat on these trips (shocking, I know). But maybe not for the special meal... We went to Camino for dessert a couple of trips ago, very nice.

@freesnack: Miss Ollie's is delightful and I still think about our impromptu meal there. Loved Hopscotch the first time we went (the burger was stellar) but it was kind of a miss in April on return visit, alas.

@robertlauriston: Thanks for the reminder re the Kronnerburger relocation. I wasn't a huge fan, but the SO was, and since I thought the salad and onion rings were stellar, I'd surely be up for a revisit -- I'm sure the opening will come with enough fanfare to note it and check out the menu.

June trip report from grayelf and co.

Yes, very sad to verify that Spints, Matchbox and Evoe are all closed (Evoe continued without chef Kevin Gibson for a bit but I think is now transitioning to a another concept). I was inordinately upset by all three closures. Still haven't found a true replacement for the Matchbox burg, though the Grain and Gristle one was up there. Spints remains the best brunch I've had in this decade, no replacement as yet. Here's the good news: Davenport is worthy! We've been four times (twice in one trip) and Chef Gibson is continuing his deceptively simple approach to fine ingredients but with the backup of a full kitchen and commercial appliances. You should go, Mr Taster. My October reso is long made!

As for the SE bias, agree with JillO that it's partly to do with the sheer number of places out there, but there's also a different feel to the SE than to the other nabes. Not necessarily better, just different, and appealing to us. Not to mention the plethora of free parking :-).

Since you're near Beaverton, you should also check out Rama Thai, a favourite of local Hound sambamaster: "If I may (once again) offer the suggestion of Rama Thai in Beaverton. Their nem khao tod is probably the best in town. And their khao man gai kicks the trendy one at the single-item food cart downtown cleanly in the butt. (I tried 'em both in one day recently and it was no contest.) They also have what I think is the best khao soi in town also. YMMV." We've yet to make it to Beaverton but it sure sounds worth a look for Thai.

1 day ago
grayelf in Metro Portland

Ding! Round 9 in Portland for a Vancouver Hound

Another poster just mentioned enjoying lunch at Picnic House. I couldn't find much at all on it on this board, and a quick boo at y*lp was very positive with some grumbles about service. The lunch menu looks tasty but the dinner menu is enticing me as well. My current dinners are Ava Gene's, Davenport, American Local, Paley's Place and Clyde Common. Should I sub in Picnic House for any of those, or just go for lunch there?

1 day ago
grayelf in Metro Portland

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Thanks, goldangl, that's helpful. We're getting a few places like that on the short list!

I did a bit more research on Plin and it looks like the chef was formerly at Seven Hills (thought that egg yolk raviolo sounded familiar). Not sure I'd go out of my way to eat that food again...

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Plin is now on my radar (thanks majordanby) despite a teeth-gritting misspelling of carbonara. I also just remembered Trou Normande, which sounds up my alley -- hello, whole petrale! And was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on 1760. I read somewhere that the lobster ceviche was outstanding, and the rest of the menu appeals.

Where can I find actually good coffee in PDX?

Interesting about Raf Spielman -- we've hit them up a few times now and the dad whose name escapes me has always either been there or walked in. Once we arrived just as they were closing and he insisted we stay, drink lovely brewed coffee from vacuum carafes and talk coffee while he got busy roasting. He also sold us some lovely Mexican green beans that I enjoyed the best of any beans we've had when the SO roasted them at home. He seems very well versed, and it was an interesting interlude. They also occasionally have bagel chips that are pretty tasty, if you can get your mitts on some.

Sep 18, 2014
grayelf in Metro Portland

Where can I find actually good coffee in PDX?

Hey Mr Taster, nice to meet up with you on another board :-). We do a lot of coffee sampling when we head to Portland a few times a year. Seconding sambamaster's suggestion of Spella for what I think of in my own little mind as "Italian espresso" -= it's really lovely. And indeed very reminiscent of places in Italy where you stand and knock back your shot and continue on your way. I think they have a special lever espresso machine that requires some serious chops to operate. My SO's favourite coffee place.

If you want some tasty non-Third Wave brewed coffee while you're in town, I commend to you Spielman's. The owner has been roasting his own beans for more than 25 years. This is a place to hang out, sip and savour. A coffee shop, rather than a café, if you will. You might meet Gabe Rucker and his family while you're there as we did.

One other suggestion if you want to check out a place with a totally different vibe: Courier. I've found they have less citric roasts, and the shop strikes me as happily Portland-centric. They have luscious homemade vanilla syrup if you roll that way (I get it in steamed milk with no coffee at all when I need a non-caffeinated option) and their small selection of baked goods are all made in house and very good indeed, especially the canele. Really close to Powell's.

JillO's comments about Oblique and Cellar Door ring true also. They are both more like coffee shops than cafés to me, neighbourhoody and welcoming. And I also prefer New World coffees to most others I've tried for regular drinking -- I like tasting the funky African ones but they can be tricky to roast, as my SO is finding out on his home rig. We also often find that a place is much better at espresso than brews or vice versa, kinda like so many places do either good dim sum or dinner but not both, maybe? ;-)

Sep 18, 2014
grayelf in Metro Portland

Good salads in Van?

It's been way too long since I had one, but the avocado salad at Dharma Kitchen is worthy. I also like their lemongrass tofu but that is not a salad. Kinda Zen room, too, though the service can be a bit twee.

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

SPQR or Perbacco? [San Francisco]

From our one visit there 4.5 years ago, agree that Perbacco seemed more Italian than SPQR did a year ago May. I've only been to Italy once in 2007 so my experience of the real thing is pretty limited.

Cotogna and La Ciccia are our favourites so far in SF, both of which we've been to multiple times. They are pretty different in ambiance and presentation.

Tough call for the OP given that it sounds like his friends might prefer the ambiance at Perbacco.

SPQR or Perbacco? [San Francisco]

We've been to Perbacco once with a group of four (March 2010 so kind of out of date), and SPQR once in May 2013, again with a table of four, so small sample size but FWIW I agree with Euxodus that the apps and pastas were much better at SPQR than the mains, two of which were failures (severely overcooked quail and pork plus undercooked lentils). We ended up getting comped dessert wines and one dessert on the backs of these dishes. It's very squeezy at the tables which the OP won't need to worry about as much at the chef's table/bar but he should be warned that it was hotter than blazes back there the night we went (it's near the loos so I checked it out en route). We also had to wait more than 35 minutes past our reservation time, which was annoying. The excellent server, very good apps and competent pastas were the saving graces.

What's for Dinner #326 - The Fall Pursuits Edition [September 18, 2014]

And me! I dream of sand dabs and they seem to be ungettable here in Vancouver. I have had them in Portland and San Francisco and I am a serious fan.

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in Home Cooking
1

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

I did eyeball MB, but for some reason French bistro-y menus tend not to do it for me (though I'll make an exception for Little Bird in Portland, mainly for their roasted lamb neck salad). I'll think on it for sure. I've never been to La Folie and may be going there for a dinner with friends so that might be our French fix :-).

Ding! Round 9 in Portland for a Vancouver Hound

Good tip on Good Coffee (ugh, sorry, couldn't resist!). Will have to check out the affogato at Heart even though they aren't my fave. Coconut ice cream instead of regular ice cream sounds intriguing: http://www.heartroasters.com/blogs/he...

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in Metro Portland

What's for Dinner #326 - The Fall Pursuits Edition [September 18, 2014]

I was chary of creating slime so roasted them whole.

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in Home Cooking

Chicagoans 3rd visit to Oregon

I hope your change of plans works out. Be sure to wear your CH decoder ring at both events so we can ID one another :-).

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in Metro Portland

Best Italian pasta in Vancouver - what's your vote?

Glad you liked LB! I don't recall ever trying to order tea there (guess I won't now!). If you like it, they do a mean pannacotta for dessert. Cannoli are great too when they have them, as are the zeppoli. One of the few places I bother with "afters."

Sep 16, 2014
grayelf in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Thanks, OliverB, I hope you're right about NOPA, given that it'll just be for two. It was a complete gong show trying to book there for a group of six when we tried two trips ago.

Not sure how I missed it but we did try Frances in Nov 2010.

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

After a mention of Verbena on another thread, I snagged a reservation for the Friday night. I want to eat the padron, shisito and okra dish NOW, even though I just finished a plate of okra. In fact, the whole menu is appealing to me. Would this resto fall into the "special" category?

white dishes with blue fishes

I've been using the fishy soup spoons for yonks -- they go pretty well with the blue bamboo bowls and sushi plates I have :-). Got them all in TO IIRC but have deffo seen them here, most recently at Rice World in Richmond. Good luck in your quest

Sep 15, 2014
grayelf in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

What's for Dinner #326 - The Fall Pursuits Edition [September 18, 2014]

Thanks for posting the link to pistachio pea's main, suzi. I'm collecting nice chicken thigh recipes and this is looks like a super one.

Sep 15, 2014
grayelf in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #326 - The Fall Pursuits Edition [September 18, 2014]

Replying to myself to note that I think I like roasted okra. Quite a lot. I had it in there a touch too long, which will be easy to rectify. Kept it simple with just a little oil, some Korean pepper and some crunchy aka Maldon salt.

Sep 15, 2014
grayelf in Home Cooking

One week in Vancouver... The catch? Two little kids

So glad you had a good time and ate well. Your approach to chowing and to using CH as a resource resonates with me. I hope you will be back soon to eat more. Maybe we can arrange a chowdown for you next trip :-). And I'd love to hear from you on the SFBA board as I am starting my research for our November jaunt to SF.

Sep 15, 2014
grayelf in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Help finalizing restaurants, deserts, cocktail/speakeasy, as well as opinions on SF staples

We had a rather mediocre brunch at Stones Throw last trip, alas, but I'm glad that the OP going there made smatbrat post about Verbena -- just made a reso for our November trip!

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Thanks, goldangl, I think you are seconding yourself as I believe it was your comment I was thinking of :-).

Mini-trend that higher end places are doing away with "smaller" tasting menus and a la carte offerings? I like the idea of tasting menus but find I just get too full, plus I'm picky about certain things and hate to be "that customer" who is either asking for subs or not eating courses. It's why I don't do omakase much.