You and the rest of the Vancouver hounds gave me some great recs in your area (Miku & Peaceful, we miss you so much!), so let me see if I can return the favor ...
I'd probably skip sushi in the area, but I'd do Bamboo over the two places you've mentioned. I've done Hokusei, and was not impressed by their service or the extremely long list of items that they didn't have in that day. The sushi I had there was fine but not inspiring, and the cooked food was OK but not particularly memorable. I might also slip in Mirakutei if Japanese is sounding particularly good to you.
Castagna ... I feel like everyone in town loves the place, but the one time we went we had one of the worst meals of our lives. The food didn't make us sick, but all the flavor combinations were bad, the service was ruder than hell, and the price was ridiculous given the quality of the food.
Lincoln recently entered our list of top places in Portland with a bang. Get the flat bread, and get the roasted chicken. Both are extremely good, the latter may change your worldview with regard to roast chicken.
Also on this best-of list is Podnah's. I realize that these are the "boring" choices, but I always get the ribs and my fiancé always gets the brisket. They're both incredibly good.
Bar Mingo and Doc I found OK, but not inspiring. I find Ned Ludd depends a whole lot on what they're serving, which can vary from 100% overly-cheffy nonsense to a bunch of very interesting things. I really wish they'd put their menu online, as being able to vet it before we went might increase how often we went.
St. Jack we went to once, had great food, and have never had an urge to go back. We both ordered the one appetizer and one entree that sounded good to us, so going back would probably entail the exact same meal. Again, though, what we had was very good.
Dove Vivi made me blink a bit. I like their pizza, but I guess I hadn't imagined it as a destination for out-of-towners. So if you're really in the mood for a different kind of pizza, definitely go for it, but I wouldn't sacrifice Lincoln or Podnah's (or Nostrana, Tasty'n'Sons, or Laurelhurst Market) for it.
Lastly, the last time I went to Whiskey Soda Lounge, the place stank and the food seemed to have gone downhill a bit. Possibly explained by an off night and an unfortunate fish sauce spill, but it kind of soured me on the place.
I've actually had good luck asking for them at the meat counter at New Seasons.
Really? My recollection of Metrovino is that we had really good drinks, but that the food only reached "pretty good." It's still on our list, but actually a far distant second to most of the other places JillO recommends.
Actually, to that effect, we had a horrible meal at Castagna (not just underwhelming given the press and price, but actually downright bad) awhile back. It was shortly after Lightner left, though, so perhaps they were going through an adjustment period. Anyone been recently?
Laurelhurst and Nostrana are our go-to places. St. Jack would be on our rotation, as well, but it's just a bit out of our easy commuting circle. Haven't hit Genoa yet.
Only warning I'd give is that Laurelhurst doesn't take reservations for less than six, and the waits can be long. I believe all the others take reservations, mostly through OpenTable.
A definite agree on Chiang Mai. Get the Kao Tod Nam (which I remember being Nam Kao Tod at my favorite Thai place in Vegas, but maybe the word order isn't important, or something?).
Siam Society, though ... they've been a long, slow decline. The last time I went there pretty much everything was awful (food, service, drinks; everything). I don't suppose they've picked up in quality again recently?
I agree with Pleen ... skip Voodoo if you can find a way to talk yourself out of it. I have to say, I'm a bit mystified by their popularity: you wait in a really long line for really surly employees to serve you bad doughnuts. What's the win? But every day people line up for it ...
Hit up one of Pleen's suggested bakeries, or if you really just need a doughnut, you can pretty much try any other place in town. (Recommendations: Tonalli's on Alberta, Helen Bernhard over on Broadway, ... again, pretty much anywhere but Heavenly Donuts)
The girlfriend and I just got back from our week in Victoria and Vancouver. Had a lovely time and ate some wonderful food. I figured I'd try to give back a bit by passing along some reviews:
Veneto, Victoria: We got in Sunday evening, and trios at a lounge seemed like the thing to do on our first night in. Veneto was just what the doctor ordered. We shared the beef and crab trios; we both thought the beef was the stronger of the two, although we disagreed on our favorites. Bonus, on Sunday they do a "build your own sharing board" thing, where you can pick two cheeses, two meats, and two fishes and create your own board. I believe it was $15, or thereabouts, and was a great way to start off the meal. In particular, I'd like to applaud them for not getting chintzy on the accompaniments, which many places do.
Wharfside, Victoria: Understand, in my relationship, I pick the restaurants while my girlfriend picks the things to do. It's a nice separation of responsibilities. Unfortunately, Monday was a very bad day for me. FUTURE VICTORIA VISITORS, A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: EVERYTHING IS CLOSED ON MONDAY. Basically, I'd picked out a couple places for lunch without checking their hours, and they were closed. Given a deep reluctance to pay international data rates on my phone and a failed attempt to drive around and just recognize a good place for lunch, we ended up at the Wharfside. All I can say is that it's kind of an anti-Chowhound sort of place. It has OK, overpriced food. They're trading on their view. You're probably better going somewhere else.
Ferris's Grill, Victoria: Continue the Monday madness for dinner. I spent about a half hour that night picking a place and then finding it was closed. Finally, the girlfriend got fed up with my frustrated searching, and we headed to Pizzeria Prima Strada ... which was closed for an employee event. Argh! After that, we headed to Ferris's grill, choosing the down-scale lower level because neither of us were in the mood for upscale at that point. The food was great, however. My smoked tuna sandwich was very good, and my girlfriend enjoyed her burger. Portions were huge. The brownie we had for dessert was good, but over-hyped. In the end, it was a nice dinner, and I'd recommend it. But just to continue the Monday anti-BroAdam theme, when we walked out we discovered a parking ticket for parking in a taxi zone. So other Victoria visitors, watch out for the parking signs.
Pizzeria Prima Strada, Victoria: After missing out on this place twice on Monday (first, because I went to the wrong location for lunch, and second because of the employee event mentioned previously), we ended up there for lunch on Tuesday. All I can say is that it's just as good as people say. Visitors should pick the Cook street location, by the way. The Bridge street location is in a fairly ugly industrial zone. The Cook street location, however, is in a nice little residential neighborhood right near a fabulous waterfront park. So eat your pizza and then work it off with a stroll along the water. SO GOOD.
Cafe Brio, Victoria: Our anniversary dinner. We ended up doing the Brio Family Meal, a.k.a. the chef's menu. Everything we had was good, but I have to admit I left just a little disappointed; I wanted it to be a little bit better than it was. Oh well, I still recommend it. Particular items I recall: the corn soup was amazing. The tomato spaghetti was good but needed more garlic. The halibut was just a tad overcooked, but the sauce that came with it made up for that. The salumi course was delicious.
Choux Choux Charcuterie & Chocolat, Victoria: Our plan for Wednesday was to take the BC Ferry over to Vancouver, so we grabbed a picnic lunch from these two spots for the trip over. We were not disappointed. Everything that we got from Choux Choux (coppa, a turkish salami, and bresaola) was delicious; I just wish I'd had a pounds to grams calculator, as I had trouble calculating how much I wanted of each! Oh, well. The manchego we got from there was equally good, as was the loaf of bread. The chocolates from Chocolat were also amazing.
Miku, Vancouver: Many thanks to chowhound (and NoMoreSnuggles in particular!) for this recommendation. We ended up going here twice. Partially because it was ridiculously close to our hotel, and partially because it was so darn good. Really, really good. Converted my girlfriend into someone who likes sushi good. I will warn newcomers that the place is a bit intimidating: our first night, the waiter rattled into about ten minutes of specials when we sat down, and the second time they were so busy all the waitstaff seemed a little frazzled (albeit, still helpful). So, let me help you out. First, get the aburi sashimi trio. Then, get the aburi salmon oshi sushi. Granted, everything else will be downhill from there, but you've done well to start. (The Aburi Chicken was also startling good, but the tempura soft-shelled crab was a bit greasy.)
Jade Seafood, Vancouver/Richmond: Honestly? This was our most disappointing meal on the trip. We went here for dim sum. I found the menu a little bit limiting -- it was long but a bit repetitive -- and the food we got out was good but, frankly, didn't wow us. Actually, leaving, I was wondering if we went to the right restaurant. In Richmond, on Alexandra, near a huge mall? The only thing we had that was really impressive was a baked mushroom pie type thing. Compared with our dim sum experience at Yank Sing in San Francisco earlier this year, we were pretty disappointed.
Peaceful Restaurant, Vancouver: Our day started with being disappointed at Jade, and ended with being over-the-top happy at Peaceful. GrayElf, thank you for your cheat sheet, it was very much appreciated. We left extremely full and extremely happy. The blade-sheared mu-shu noodles were amazing. We could not stop eating them. We also got their dan-dan noodles, which were more soupy than I'm used to them being but still really, really good. We also got a beef roll, which my girlfriend thought had a little too much hoisin, but which I could not stop eating. The only disappointment of the night was the pan-fried pork dumpings, which were merely "pretty good." (That night, I couldn't remember if GrayElf recommended the pork buns or pork dumplings, and guessed wrong. Still, no real loss.) Frankly, the only reason we doubled up on Miku instead of Peaceful is because Miku was physically closer to our hotel.
One thing for newcomers to Peaceful: They're cash and CANADIAN debit card only. I had to do a quick ATM run due to a misunderstanding about this. Worked off a little bit of that last piece of beef roll, I guess.
Oh, and for locals: we were at the Davies location, because it was convenient to us. Obviously I can't compare the two locations directly, but I would be stunned if the Broadway location was much better. How could it be?
Bella Gelateria, Vancouver: Very good, particularly when it's on the same block as your hotel. I will say, I was a little disappointed not to see a Pistachio flavor on their menu, but the Chocolate Noir was exceptionally good.
We also stopped at Refuel for a burger one day. Good burger, I have to say, but the fries were a little weak. I can see why people were raving about the burger, though. For other tourists like us, however, I might recommend going somewhere else. Don't get me wrong, it was a good burger, but it wasn't a change-your-life burger. For us, though, we both really felt like a burger that day so it hit the spot.
I think that's it. We had a lovely time in both Victoria and Vancouver, quite beyond the wonderful food. Thank you so much to those who responded to my earlier threads with recommendations. We didn't get to everything due to full bellies and the occasional lack of willpower to drive across town, but I'm sure we'll be back to try the rest at some point.
Choux Choux Charcuterie
Pizzeria Prima Strada
The Jade Seafood Restaurant
Ferris' Oyster Bar & Grill
Hi folks -
My girlfriend and I are doing a little trip up to Canada next week, ending withthree nights and two days in Vancouver. This board has been a tremendous help, but I had a few questions ... these are the Vancouver ones. :)
Just as background, we're coming up from Portland, OR. What Portland does well: food trucks, Vietnamese, Thai, "this egg came from a chicken named Pam who we keep in the back, would you like to meet her before you order?". What Portland doesn't do well: Any Asian that isn't Vietnamese or Thai, very high end (not populous enough).
For us in particular: we're not big fans of long waits, we tend to prefer white cloth to vinyl, and authenticity is not a particularly big concern. We will have a car and metro passes.
This will be my girlfriend's first trip to Vancouver. I was in your lovely town most recently in 2004, so I'm guessing the places I have vague memories of have changed or gone out of business. Just in case, though, I remember enjoying (but not being overwhelmed by) a Malaysian place downtown that did a fried chicken dish that was pretty darn good. The place I wish I could remember was in Richmond. It was on the second floor of a little complex (you walked up steps outside the restaurant). White cloth but midscale (we went there after being frightened by the prices of a place close by). Had some very good chicken wings stuffed with glass noodles and veggies of some sort. The thing I most remember was an amazing salt and pepper cod (I think it was cod; possibly some other white fish), which the waiter went on and on about ("It's the specialty of the house! Our specialty!") until we ordered it. Any chance anyone knowswhat I'm talking about? I realize I'm giving very little information, but Ithought I'd try. It was on or just near the main drag in Richmond.
Anyways, given the weakness of the Chinese food market in Portland, we're pretty much planning on gorging ourselves on Chinese while we're there. Having now spent a couple days with the boards here and elsewhere I'm ... confused. :) Way too many choices!
Alvin Garden seems to get a lot of nods. I know very little about Hunanese, and can't find a menu online. Any "easy" suggestions to start us off?
Peaceful Restaurant has some things that look wonderful, but their menu also looks a little scarily Westernized ... should I ignore that reservation and just order us a bunch of noodle dishes?
Is Good Choice better for Dim Sum or dinner? Is there somewhere else weshould go? Jade Seafood also appears like its a Chowhound favorite for dim sum.
Moving outside Chinese into broader Asian: Any really good, non-traditional sushi places? (I.e., places that go beyond the same nigiri and roll menu everyone else has) Bonus points for oshizushi / hako-zushi? Skip the izakayas unless they meet the previous criteria. :) Any fantastic Malaysian places?
Assuming we need breaks from the pan-Asian festival we're both looking forward to:
Bella Gelataria: As good as it sounds? Very near our hotel, so much gelato may be had ...
Patisserie Le Beau: Piques my interest, but looks like a chain ... is it a really good chain, or should we skip it?
And if we really break ... what's the Chowhound view of Salt? Would it work as a lunch place?
The Jade Seafood Restaurant
Hi folks -
My girlfriend and I are doing a little trip up to Canada next week, starting with three nights / two days in Victoria, then a ferry ride, then another three nights and two days in Vancouver. I'm in charge of the menu plan. This board has been a tremendous help, and I've pulled in some memories from the last time I was in Victoria, but I had a few questions ... these are the Victoria ones. :)
Next Tuesday in Victoria is our anniversary, so I need to find a good place. I had planned to go to a place I went to (and loved) the last time I was in Victoria, Niche, but it looks like it closed. (I weep! As an aside, I don't suppose the chef from Niche ended up somewhere else in Victoria?) Based on other posts on the board, it looks like Camille's, Matisse, Brasserie L'Ecole, and Cafe Brio usually make the list. Brasserie L'Ecole is out, because they don't take reservations. Cafe Brio has the most interesting-looking menu of the bunch ... any recent bad experiences (or tremendously good experiences elsewhere?) that suggest I should choose something other than that one?
For other nights: Do the chef(s) at Ulla live up to their menu? I've been burned a few times recently going to places with really interesting menus that the chef couldn't pull off, so I worry.
Similarly, is Aqua any good? We're staying in the hotel, so it'd be convenient, but I implicitly mistrust hotel restaurants.
Presently I'm looking at picking the three dinners from: Cafe Brio (above), Ulla, Ferris' Oyster Bar, Veneto's (sounds kind of novel)
Then the two lunches from: Pizzeria Prima Strada, Red Fish Blue Fish, or a simple bread / cheese / meat thing from Choux Choux. (Is Choux Choux still good?)
Any comments or suggestions?
Final question: Good places to buy chocolates in Victoria? I remember I found a couple good places the last time I was there, but of course I forgot to write them down.
Thank you so much!
Pizzeria Prima Strada
The Monticello is fairly close to transit; you're 4-5 blocks walk up or down Interstate from the Yellow line, which will get you downtown (and, from there, everywhere). Just be prepared to do some transferring, given your location and some of the things I'm going to mention. :) Trimet.org will be your friend. If you have an iPhone, grab the PDXBus app. It's free, and you will thank me.
First, you're going to be in Portland in November: prepare to get wet. It'll probably seem delightful compared to the bitter cold and snow from Minnesota, but hey, fair warning.
To start with your wish list:
Steak: Go to Laurelhurst Market. It's the best place in town. It's a steak place, so don't expect cheap, but I will say I consistently come out of there pleasantly surprised at the bill.
Sushi: I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because everyone else on this board seems to love Murata (downtown), while I find it (please don't hurt me, fellow Portlanders) rather boring. Bamboo Sushi is probably my current favorite, although the service and nigiri construction can be a bit hit or miss. Don't go to Masu; it's just like Bamboo, except worse in every possible way. I used to love Hiroshi up in the Pearl District, but the last few times I went there I was very disappointed. Unfortunately, my girlfriend is not a sushi person, so I don't troll through our local places quite as fast as I used to. Perhaps other folks here can give you more up-to-date info.
Other things Portland does well: Vietnamese, beer, food carts, Thai, my-food-is-so-local-my-chickens-tend-bar, coffee.
Do check out the food carts. It'll be November, and thus wet with some of them closed, but it's sort of a Portland Thing now. Plus, there's some darn good food. Check out http://foodcartsportland.com for some information about cuisines and locations, but then come back here for pointers and reviews (the site mentioned has pretty useless reviews).
I'm just beginning to discover Vietnamese, so I'd do a search on the boards for recommendations there. Or hopefully someone else will chime in.
For food and shopping events, you're not too far from the Mississippi district. Por Que No over there is supposed to have fantastic tacos ... though I'll admit I've started to go there several times, been frustrated by the wait, and ended up elsewhere. A much further walk is the Alberta Arts District, where everyone Is Very Much Cooler Than You Thank You. Grab a croissant or other wonderful thing from Petite Provence while you wander and potentially choose a dinner place.
Alternatively, take the yellow line downtown and then the 14 out to the Hawthorne district, and find out where all the hippies from the midwest ended up. Again, many shops and dining options. Pick up a crepe from Chez Machin to keep your energy up, and stroll through PastaWorks for some astonishing (and astonishingly priced) vittles. Bonus: At this point you're a 15-20 minute walk from the Whiskey Soda Lounge and Pok Pok, where you can have fantastic Thai. GET THE WINGS. THEY ARE THAT GOOD. Also, the beef jerky was second only to what I used to get at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas (this is high praise).
You say you're from Minnesota, so ... if you get down to Chicago with any regularity, you might want to skip over any Mexican here that's not out of a truck. Even then, I might find a different truck. If you don't get down to Chicago much, then pretend I didn't say anything and consider doing some searches for "best taco portland" (Tito's Burritos is at the top of my list at the moment, but I'll admit my survey of the local trucks is much less complete than many others here).
Por Que No
For some reason I had this memory of Ubuntu closing around the last time I was there, or the chef leaving, or something like that. So I hadn't even considered it. Huh. Am I going crazy, or have they survived and done well since whatever I'm remembering happened?
Thanks for the two recommendations either way. :)
Hmmm. Silicon Valley might be a little farther than I'd planned, but that menu looks great and if its the same chef ... hmmm! Thanks for the recommendation.
The girlfriend and I are taking a trip down to California in early March, to relax, eat good food, and see the sights. I've been down your way a couple times, and last time I had one of the best meals of my life at Commis. I was all excited to repeat the experience and share it with the girlfriend, but it turns out they're closed the two days we'll be in town! Argh!
There's a chance we might change our plans to make a trip to Commis possible, but if not: do you kind folks have any very similar restaurant suggestions for us? Location is not a tremendously big concern, so Oakland, San Francisco, Napa, and Senoma are all in play. A similar feel (modern but not yet all the way to molecular gastronomy, price fixe where you pick 3-6 items from a menu, etc.), great food, but open on Monday or Tuesday?
Ah-hah. Good point. Last year, I went to: Top of the Mark, Yank Sing, Redd, Bouchon, Auberge, Bund Shanghai and Brix. I also stopped at Oxbow, Tartine, and the Bouchon bakery.
Hello Hounds -
I'm repeating a trip I did down to your fair area last year, for a week of relaxing, reading, and eating ridiculously good food. Last year I read a lot of your reviews, but ran out of time to get feedback, and kept forgetting to post my reviews. This time I'm going to do better. :)
I'll be getting in mid-morning this Sunday, Feb. 21st, and leaving the following Friday afternoonish. I'll be headquartered in Yountville the whole time. You'll see a lot of driving below; I understand that. I don't own a car, so I find driving a rental a novelty. :)
So, without further ado, pending suggestions from y'all and my ability to get seats:
Sunday brunch: Top of the Mark
Monday lunch: Shanghai Dumpling King
Tusday lunch: Grazing from the Oxbow Market and friends
Wednesday lunch: ?
Thursday lunch: Fremont Diner
Friday brunch: Yank Sing
A couple thoughts:
You don't see Brix or Bouchon here; that's because these were (by a considerable margin) the worst meals I had the last time I was down there. Bad service, too.
You don't see Ad Hoc on there. I'll look up their menu when I get in town, but so far, the times I've looked, it hasn't been inspiring. Also, is it a communal dining place? I got the impression it was (so it got crossed off for that), but maybe this is a mistaken memory?
Oh, and as for the un-foodie-ish Top of the Mark: I have a weakness for big, opulant, over-the-top brunch buffets. A defect in my character, I suppose. If you know a better one, though, I'm open to suggestions.
Last thing: wearing a tie on vacation is against my religion. I didn't find this a problem last year, though, and my memory was that the area was about as relaxed as Portland in that regard. Just a thought, though.
Thanks for any comments or suggestions!