Thursday, July 10, 2014

A weekend in Portlandia (Must try restaurants)

Good morning/afternoon/evening,

I am back! After a 7 month hiatus, I'm blog-ready to share with you with some new restaurants we got to explore in Portland . This post will be distributed among various yelp reviews so please bear with me as it'll contain quite a few places we got to chow down at this weekend!

Here's a section break-down if you'd like to just scroll down and see the ones that interest you:
[1] Aloft Hotel Portland
[2] Miss Kate's Southern Kitchen Food Cart
[3] KOi Fusion
[4] Screen Door
[5] Voodoo Doughnut [Coming soon]
[6] Pok Pok [Coming soon]
[7] Toro Bravo [Coming soon]
[8] Deschutes Brewery & Public House [Coming soon]
[9] Salt & Straw [Coming soon]

[1] Aloft Hotel Portland
3.5/5 (if only yelp had half stars to give!)

I can't say I was a fan but it also wasn't terrible. I convinced my bf to book this hotel because I've had a super pleasant experience with them a few years back. As SPG Platinum members now, my bf was very picky at where he wanted to stay and "spend"/"receive" our points so he def. had higher expectations. The biggest push for me was that they're super dog friendly and their soup/lotion collection is "bliss" which I've always liked. The room was clean, reminded us of a glamorized hostel but I enjoyed the layout. The bed always faces the window and the windows were sound proof and we barely heard any noises from the planes from so close.

The location was prime because it was directly across an outlet - BANANA REPUBLIC (needless to say, we dropped a couple bills there) and relatively close to downtown Portland. There were plenty of restaurants walking distance away. The room rates were decent at $119 and when we couldn't get the second night (we were there for three nights), I called the manager Javier (?) and he was able to bring down the second night's rate from $229 to $119 for us, pretty nice. Another plus is that it's near the light rail and also had free wifi in the rooms.

The only complaints I had are that the receptionists are kinda ditzy. We checked in at 3 AM and they gave us keys that didn't work and we had to go all the way back downstairs to get a new set. Then we asked for new towels and lotion and they forgot to put it in and told us that on the way out... Also, the rooms/hallways/doors aren't sound proof and we heard an old couple doing you-know-what at like 2 in the afternoon super loud, couldn't decide if that was a complaint or a good laugh. Oh, another thing was the pool, it def. wasn't heated and there are constantly screaming children.

Either way, I'd try staying at the Sheraton next door next time just because they had reach out to us and was going to provide us with an upgraded suite and chocolate-covered strawberries for the weekend but we denied them because I had wanted to go with the Aloft. Overall, it's not a bad place for your money. Pics below:
 Hallway at 3 AM because we didn't get the right keys...

Big sign right outside - sister hotel of the W

Side inside of the hotel


[2] Miss Kate's Southern Kitchen Food Cart
[3] KOi Fusion

4/5 stars for Miss Kate's Southern Kitchen Food Cart
2/5 stars for KOi Fusion

The first order of business was to find a good food truck! Portland is surprisingly well-known for their food trucks and we were not disappointed (at least no more than half disappointed). We set out to find a place the hotel concierge from the Sheraton recommended us called "The Big Egg." Upon arriving at this little food truck parking lot, we saw that it was close. Naturally, we didn't want to re-find parking or go elsewhere for food. We decided to stay and I yelped the two places: Miss Kate's Southern Kitchen Food Cart and KOi Fusion.

I was impressed with the menu at Miss Kates and appreciated the long line - just because I knew that the locals thought this truck was worth waiting for in the blaring sun (it was super hot in Portland when we went...)

We opted for the Miss Kate's Chicken Biscuit and boy was it good! It had fried chicken maple glazed with bacon, egg, on a large topped with bacon gravy with a side of collard greens. Pretty reasonable too for $7.50. The biscuits were fluffy and buttery and bacon gravy was just wow... I mean it's bacon gravy. A little on the heavier side but no complaints since it was the first meal we had. We proceeded to order the Chicken Waffle as well which was fried chicken served on top of a golden waffle with syrup. The fried chicken was a little over-fried in this dish for me (as opposed to the biscuits probably covered with gravy helped) but the syrup was the winning factor here. My bf and I were clamoring to finish the the portion of the waffle ONLY with the syrup on it. Also at $7.50, huge portions and def. enough to feed two to three people.

Amazing chicken and waffle!

Even more amazing chicken biscuit!

The whole sha-bang

Then, being the greedy person that I was - I wanted to try another place at the food truck location - I looked up KOi Fusion and decided that I would get a small taco since it was cheap and I probably wouldn't be able to finish it. I got talked into buying a whole bibimbap bowl from the "Family Guy" hat wearing dude and had relatively high expectations. Sadly, their "second most popular" dish was terrible. It tasted funny with its warm rice and cold veggies and then the cold mango with the warm galbi meat. I was extremely disappointed that I didn't even take a picture of it. I tried to eat as much galbi as possible but it was dry and their "mango-esque" salsa didn't help. The whole Mexican/Korean fusion thing only works when it tastes good and for $7.50, I shoulda just gotten something else at Miss Kate's Southern Food Cart right next door.


[4] Screen Door
Ratings: 5/5 stars

This restaurant was my favorite restaurant in all the places we tried out in Portland. The vibe, prices, service, and food were simply excellent. There were a few dishes here and there that were more average than the others but the overall averages out to a good eats.

We got there around 6:30ish and the line was already 45 minutes long. They were open on July 4th so I wasn't surprised especially every top-rated restaurant was closed in the city that day (I know, I called them all.) We lounged around the waiting area and my bf got a local Portland beer recommended by the bartender, it was light and citric-y and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

We were sat right next to the kitchen, needless to say, I was nosy and kept peeking in to see their methods of cooking/handling food. The whole restaurant had a rustic look to it and we loved it. Our waiter was simply delighful, she had short hair, tattooed arms, piercings in places that I could/could not see probably, and a row of colorful pens on her apron. Loved her.

Onto the food!
First, picture of my cute boyfriend with his second beer from Germany

Special of the day - Pan-seared sea scallops with chicken fried pork bellay, yellow grits finished wtih a pork jus. This probably won't be available the next time we go but the star of the dish wasn't the scallops but the chicken fried pork belly (whatever that means) so if you see that, get it! Grits were not flavorful and the pork jus was a little different than what you'd expect. Overall, the dish was decent, just not out of this world.

Omg, this was out of the world! So delicious! This was single handily the best thing I had the whole weekend. The chicken was cooked perfectly and it was so tender and juicy. The honey mustard sauce was SO good, I am salivating just thinking about it. I know their most popular item is the chicken waffle for brunch and since we were there for dinner, they didn't serve it. Luckily, I had asked if this was the same chicken and they said yes - Portland trip, made. Thanks Screen Door Chefs!

The screen door sampler - also recommended if you wanna try a couple of their things all at once. It can be used as an appetizer or side dish or someone's main entree. This was the mac and cheese, bacon and hock collard greens, smoked chicken and andouille jambalaya (which we sent back because we had wanted to get the gumbo instead) and a slice of cornbread. 

My bf said this was the best mac and cheese he's ever had, pretty powerful statement. I thought it was pretty good. By the time I had finished my entree, it was gone because he ate it all... 

Gumbo - a little spicy for my taste but another side that was gobbled up by the boyfriend...

This was the disappointing dish of the night - the shrimp and grits. The grits just wasn't buttery and this was the appetizer order which only had 4 shrimps opposed to the 8/9 for the main entree. We had to add our own butter and salt to season it, which made me sad, especially this dish came highly recommended on yelp. Either way, we were able enjoy the rest of the meal while picking at this dish randomly.

Our delicious Southern cooked meal - so weird that we had such good Southern food in the Pacific Northwest...? But must go and must try! Enjoy Screen Door!

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