From my last round up post about Portland, you can probably already tell that I kind of adored the place, although it can be hard to judge and compare cities when one of the cities has one of your favourite people living in it. Despite that though, I think that even if Javan hadn't been around (not that I would want to imagine that), I would have liked it a whole lot anyway.
Previously, I think I had given a pretty good idea of where I had eaten, what I had liked, so i thought I would just use this post on Portland to flush out a few more details on areas I skipped over a bit too briefly.
Firstly then, where we stayed. Although we had a bit of initial stress getting from the airport to where we were staying, all my stress melted away as we turned up on the doorstep of where was to be home for a very short two nights.
Lucy's home is just beautiful. I didn't want to leave. With a verandah, painted in a gentle blue, the house opens up into a sitting area decked out in an array of colours, bathed in natural light from the huge front window. In the bedroom we found the highest and fluffiest bed I had ever come across and a the kitchen was filled with everything necessary.
I was amazed with how spacious the place was, and how considerate Lucy was. Although we never met her in person, she made sure to leave a list of delicious places to visit, as well as a few notes for us as well. We were free to help ourselves to the spirits, but asked to leave a little bit of cash if we did. So Portland.
Her house was in the North Eastern suburbs of Portland, and so Javan quickly carted us down to Mississippi Avenue on the first day, because it's a pretty cool strip. But we were also just a short bus ride away from the city, Alberta Street and also Hawthorne Boulevard, which were the other two areas that we wandered through, ate doughnuts and ice-cream and poked our noses in and out of vintage shops.
A quick thing to note, the buses of Portland are awesome. You can either pay $2.50 for a 2 hour ticket, or the much more sensible thing to do, is pay $5 when you get on the bus for a 1-day pass. These passes can also be used on the MAX train system and a variety of other public transport options, but between buses and walking, we were pretty comfortable. Another awesome thing about the buses too, is that if you were at a bus stop, you could check the stop for the ID number, pop it into the Transit Tracker on the website, and because all the buses have location trackers on them, you are informed, to the minute, how far away your bus is! So handy.
And while we're on the topic of places that we were close to, we were literally just around the corner (or a 15 minute walk) from Tasty N' Sons, which was the only proper restaurant I had decided we needed to eat at.
Tasty N' Sons was Brad and my favourite brunch or breakfast meal in the USA, and that's because, in all honesty, it was the most like Melbourne. It's really not until you leave the country that you realise how good we've got it at home in terms of the brunching scene. Javan thought Portland was serious about their brunch, well he was quite quickly put into his place when Brad explained that in Melbourne brunch was available not just on the weekend…but everyday of the week. Blew his mind!
Tasty N' Sons is a gorgeous and open space, high ceilings, plenty of seating, a clean fit out with plenty of details. Oh and a penny farthing painted on a wall. Can anyone say hipster?
It was also incredibly busy when we arrived. We had all planned on being early…but that didn't really happen. It's a Saturday, you can't blame us for sleeping in! When we rocked up, we were told it'd be an hour and half wait…so we decided to stick it out. But man, I was getting some queue rage while waiting.
Having seen many a cafe turn tables efficiently in Melbourne, I was getting quite frustrated observing the system in place at Tasty N' Sons where people would leave their phone numbers and go wander off elsewhere, tables would then go unseated for ages as they chased people down to get them to return for their table. Honestly Portland. Lose the numbers! It should simply be: you leave, you lose!
An hour and a half later, sugar levels low, we were finally seated at the communal table, and quickly given tea and coffee upon request to warm up the bellies (which were very, very, very hungry by this point!)
I loved how Brad's coffee looked when the mild was poured in and swirled around, which was also liberally topped up by waiters running around whenever it was low. My cup was also topped with hot water, without having to request it, which I thought was quite nice and convenient (wouldn't mind seeing that in Melbourne!). However, Brad still said the coffee was pretty 'meh'.
With a big of egging on from me, Javan went for a coffee cocktail…because uh, it was Saturday? It kind of punched you in the face with a strong dose of something strong (I've forgotten what spirit), with a nice round coffee flavour finishing up on the palate.
Brad went with the Shakshuka baked eggs with red pepper and tomato stew, can take the boy out of Melbourne, but can't take the Melbourne out of the boy! Lovely rich, with the sweet tomatoes and peppers/capsicums coming through and a lovely saucy texture, this had comfort written all over it. Perfect for wiping up with the toasted bread afterwards!
Javan's Burmese red pork stew with short grain rice and eggs two ways, came out looking a little less 'stewy' than I expected, but oh man. This was so delicious. The pork belly was just to die for, marinated in a dark sweet soy that the fat just sucked all up so that it could burst with flavour afterwards. The rice had salted egg smashed through which made me think of home, I kind of wished I had ordered this myself as I was definitely due for a rice fix at that point!
I opted for the polenta and sausage ragu with mozzarella and over easy egg. Somehow, between the three of us, I managed to choose the heaviest dish! Rich and gooey, it wasn't the prettiest thing to look at, but the polenta and mozzarella together just made magic, as you scooped it out of the bowl with a trail of cheese strings following. Yum. Yum. Yum. It was perhaps a little heavy for that particular day, but if it had been in the heart of winter, this would have been just right.
Lastly, I had to order a serve of the chocolate potato doughnut with creme angalise. Silly me was thinking that it would be made of potato, which is what intrigued me, but the 'potato' aspect was just referring to the shape. Doh. Ash.
But, fortunately, it was totally awesome. It came with a slightly crystallised exterior, which gently broke away to reveal a soft and fluffy interior of diving cocoa goodness. Wipe up the puddle of creme angalise with it and you're sent off to sugar heaven. Dee-vine.
From the experience I did have in Portland, I think I can say I love how accessible and easy going the eating scene is there. You don't have to fork out a lot of money for an amazing experience, in fact, most of the more interesting things to eat, or fun places to visit, are all within the cheaper end of the scale (in my opinion anyway).
I definitely do miss the ice-cream from Salt and Straw, the array of food trucks that are everywhere and the fascination with doughnuts that look like they could kill you (but really aren't as sweet as they look!). Not to mention just the 'devil-may-care' feeling of the place, just be you, grab a craft beer and chill. I dig you Portland.
If you wanted more details on the places I had eaten in my round up post, I will be updating it soon with links and google maps of everything. Keep an eye out!
2808 N Williams