15 June 2012

Pied Cow Coffeehouse

3244 SE Belmont St, Portland, 97214

The Pied Cow definitely has its quirky charms: it's a big old Victorian house right on Belmont with seating in three parlors (how quaint!); it also has a magical outdoor seating area that's perfect for lounging on warm summer nights; it's open late on the weekends, which is especially great for the under-21 crowd; it's dog-friendly (they even have menu items for your dog!); great desserts, including a $50 sundae (for sharing, of course) and an amazing chocolate velvet cheesecake; it serves beer and wine in addition to decent coffee drinks; they've got hookahs.

On the down side, the service is pretty unreliable. It's taken me 20 minutes before just to get a server's attention to order something. Definitely not someplace to stop into on your way to a movie. Aside from desserts, I can't recommend their food, either, unfortunately. The spicy refried bean dip was downright disgusting, the hummus plate merely so-so.

In short, if you're not in a hurry, not particularly hungry, and you're just looking for a lovely outdoor spot to hang out with friends (including your furry ones) for a cup of coffee or tea or for dessert, I recommend this spot. But really: don't be in a hurry.

02 June 2012

The Florida Room

435 N Killingsworth St, Portland, 97217
*This is a Plain Jane favorite.*

You know what kicks ass about the Florida Room? Everything.

I got hooked on the Flo' Ro' when I lived two blocks away and was semi-unemployed. I probably spent more time at this bar than at home during those five months; hence it became my Cheers. Now I live an inconvenient distance away (i.e. farther than stumbling), but I keep going back. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
  1. 3-7pm happy hour every day. That's right, every day, including weekends. $1.50 for a pint of Pabst during happy hour. $1 cans of Old German all the time.
  2. This place is all about the art. No, seriously! It's weird art, but art nonetheless. Take for example the rotating front window display to the right of the door. Often features nude barbies in compromising positions, but every week a new twist. Or there are the hand-painted tables inside. Or the hand-drawn art on the chalkboard beer menu behind the bar. One of their employees does that, and she's freakin' awesome. Or the generic landscape paintings all over the place that someone added the Hamms bear and other cartoon characters into. Holy crap, that's genius!
  3. Speaking of art, they even allow you to create some of your own: the bathroom walls are painted in chalkboard paint and chalk is provided. This often ends in a lot of genitalia drawings and swear words, but every so often there's something original and worthwhile. Not that I have anything against genitalia or swear words.
  4. Bacon-infused vodka. Okay, I've never tried it, but I like that they have it. But it doesn't stop there, folks. They are, in fact, quite famous for their Bloody Marys. "Church of the Bloody Mary" menu. Check it out.
  5. There's a covered, outdoor patio for smokers that's semi-enclosed in plastic during the cooler months and is equipped with overhead heaters. So considerate! And did I mention you can bring your DOG to the patio? Hell yeah. Why leave your best friend at home when s/he can kick it at the bar with you? As long as s/he is well-behaved and gets along with other dogs and people, that is.
  6. And I can't neglect to mention the peeps: I adore the staff! They are funky and funny and quirky and kind. Unless you are a jerk or creeping out the customers, in which case they will not hesitate to 86 you. As it should be, in my opinion.

08 April 2012

Miyamoto Sushi

422 SE 80th Ave., Portland, 97215
*This is a Plain Jane favorite.*

I am by no means a connoisseur of sushi. I don't like most fish, much less raw fish. Don't like the idea of fish eggs or eel or many of the other traditional sushi ingredients. These squeamish tendencies kept me away from sushi for a long time, and when I finally tried it for the first time, in my late 20's, it was not a good experience. Nor were the second or third tries.

It was not until I tried the sushi at Miyamoto that I became a fan. They have rolls that appeal even to me, and the ingredients are fresh and tasty.

My favorite rolls include: California roll with real crab (no roe, hold the cucumbers), Philly roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese--say WHAT?!?), Miyamoto roll, Black Tiger (went out on a limb and tried eel sauce--not bad, kinda sweet), and the Montavillan roll.

Roll to avoid: Spider roll. They leave the head on the soft-shell crab. Ack! I know that it's perfectly normal in other countries to be reminded that you are eating something that was once alive, but I'm sorry: I do not want my food looking me in the face when I'm trying to eat it.

Other points of awesomeness:
-The food is beautifully presented, little flowers made from carrots and all.
-Although the prices have recently gone up, the portions are generous and I can easily stuff myself on just two rolls.
-The same people who own Roscoe's also own Miyamoto, so you can sit in the sushi restaurant and order from Roscoe's impressive selection of beer on tap, which changes every week. Miyamoto also has sake, of course.
-They just moved! They used to be in a teeny tiny little space that sat about 10 people, but they have moved one door down and now have proper-sized restaurant. Have not visited since they switched locations, but I can't wait to do so!

June 2012 Update:
Visited their new location a couple of weeks ago. A nice, simple space with art on the walls.

Two changes aside from location that I noticed:
1) The Philly Roll was smaller and still only 5 pieces. Sad face.
2) New wait staff and sushi chef that were friendly and seemed well-intentioned. However, they did not seem as well-trained as the previous staff. Possibly explains the smaller Philly Roll?

28 March 2012


707 NE 82nd Ave, Portland, 97220
*This is a Plain Jane favorite.*

When I was in Madrid I used to go to a Chinese restaurant that was literally underground. Known by the locals as "the Blade Runner restaurant," the place was small, cheaply decorated, not super clean, and run by actual Chinese people.
A silent TV hanging from a corner of the ceiling showed Chinese karaoke music videos. There was almost always a line to get in, but it never took long to get seated because the abrupt-mannered staff would rush you out as soon as they'd cleared your last plate.

There were two menus: one for the Chinese customers written only in Chinese that contained traditional dishes, and one for the Spaniards and ex-pats written in Chinese and Spanish that contained dishes more palatable to foreigners. The display case up front contained enormous white chicken feet, the bloated purple bodies of octopi, and several things I could not (and probably wouldn't want to) identify. There were additional menu items on posters tacked up on the walls--at least I assume that's what they were, because they were written only in Chinese, which I do not read or speak.

And the food. was. delicious. Addictive as crack-cocaine: we couldn't get enough of it.

When I walked into Shenzhen for the first time and saw a larger version of that little Chinese restaurant--saw the whole roasted ducks hanging behind glass by the front door, the aquarium tanks of large fish and lobsters that were destined to end up on someone's plate, the posters on the wall that no one had bothered to translate into English, saw that I was the only non-Asian person in the place--I knew I had struck gold. It has been my go-to for Chinese food for the last three years.

Shenzhen's self-proclaimed specialty is seafood (hence the fish in tanks), but they have plenty else to offer as well. Although I almost always end up ordering the same thing, I take delight in flipping through the
huge, hard-bound, glossy-paged menu. Here I can see full-color photos of such house specialties as "chilled white chicken feet," "couple pieces lungs," and (my personal favorite) "pepper with pig rectum." Someday I will get drunk enough to actually try eating these things.

Of the dishes I have tried, some of which actually contain vegetables, nothing has disappointed. My favorite, though, is the combination dinner #6: fried rice, BBQ pork, fried shrimp, and sesame chicken. Probably my least favorite part of this meal is the BBQ pork, which tends to be on the dry side and lying in a little pool of grease. Pity. But the rest of it is delicious, and the shrimp--oh my god the shrimp--practically melts in your mouth.
Sometimes I'll throw in an appetizer of pot stickers, which are at once crispy and a little doughy. All this costs about $13, and I consistently get two, sometimes even three, meals out of it. The price is right.

If you, like me, appreciate a cultural experience when you eat out; if you like Chinese food that is greasy enough to make your lips shiny but not so greasy as to leave a puddle on your plate; and especially if you think it right and proper that your Chinese food should come all in that special shade of golden brown which indicates being fried to perfection--then I highly recommend you give Shenzhen a try.

05 March 2009


1408 SE 12th Ave, Portland, 97214

The short of it: edible, but not my new favorite Mexican restaurant.

Pluses: nice outdoor seating area (love the booths and the cool tin lampshades), very friendly server, management that actually works, enchilada sauce on my companion's dish was very good, Cadillac margarita was better than average.

Minuses: had to pay $2 for too-thick chips & three kinds of crappy salsas (BOOOO!!!), the cuisine is most definitely mexicanish-for-yuppies. Take the "potatoes olé," for example: while delicious, I am not aware that russet golds mashed with corn, carrots and pepper Jack is a traditional Mexican recipe. I had a wet burrito: very large, sort of tasted like cardboard, not worth the money. I prefer Laughing Planet's burritos to Aquí's.

The verdict: wouldn't go there again. Not even for the margarita.

28 February 2009


3957 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, 97227

I ordered--and could only eat 1/4th of--the scramble with ham, cheese and onion. Ginormous! And excellent. Came with a huge patty of hash browns.

The coffee's on the weak side, but they let you drink it while you wait for a table. It was super busy, as are most brunch places in P-town. I was glad we got there before the rush; we only had to wait 10 minutes.

Not eaten but ogled was the oatmeal brulée: a mound of thick oatmeal topped with fruit and something sugary. Looked interesting & will have to try it sometime.

Was relieved there was nothing too weird on the menu...except perhaps veggie gravy, which my companion had, and he seemed satisfied with it.

Overall: would hit it again, but next time will plan to split something.

29 January 2009


6500 SW Virginia Ave, Portland, 97239
*This is a Plain Jane favorite!*

Oh. My. God. I would be happy to die here. My stomach will explode just like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life because it is so good I just can't stop.

I first heard about Porcelli's from some fellow food-fiends who took me there for brunch. Brunch at an Italian restaurant? Yes. And it was good. No, it was great. The breakfast menu is on the small side, but they have the important stuff, like eggs benedict and a plain ol' eggs/bacon/potatoes/toast combo.

But that's deceiving, because their potatoes are anything but "plain ol'." I'm not exactly sure what they do to them, but it's freaking amazing. I was expecting the same old rosemary home fries, but instead I got something more like a potato casserole with onions, cheese, paprika, and god-knows-what. Whatever you do, do not substitute hash browns; you will be sorry you missed the house potatoes.

The eggs benedict would have been perfect if I had remembered to order my eggs poached hard (I HATE runny eggs!!), but the English muffin, ham and hollandaise were divine.

On my second visit I had dinner. Since it was my first dinner experience at Porcelli's, I just had to try their fettuccine alfredo with shrimp. I couldn't believe it; it was almost too rich for me! It was a vat of heavy cream and butter and melted parmesan in which swam perfectly-cooked fettuccine noodles and shrimp.

And, oh yes, the Caesar salad was very good: fresh romaine, garlicky dressing, house-made balsamic vinegar croutons, freshly grated parmesan cheese. Drool, drool, drool...

The only thing that makes me sad about Porcelli's: no booths! But to be honest, I was so busy enjoying my food that I barely noticed. The interior is very pleasing: simple yet elegant.

The pricing, well, the breakfast was definitely average, at $8-10 a plate for a good-sized portion. The dinner is a little spendier at $12-15 a plate, but totally worth it. And you do get free bread with your entree. =*)

The verdict: Thank goodness for a decent job and regular martial arts classes; I can afford the bill and the calories.

Update: Have since revisited this fine establishment for dinner. Still give it rave reviews. My companions and I had the wild mushroom ravioli in cream sauce, lobster ravioli in lemon-cream sauce with capers, and a lovely risotto with mushrooms and artichoke hearts in a cream sauce. (Sorry; I don't remember the Italian names of these dishes.) All absolutely divine. Has earned a Plain Jane Favorites award.

On the down side of this last visit: the salads weren't as impressive this time, and the live music was neither welcome nor conducive to a pleasant dining experience. Was not that they were bad; just that they were too loud for the space and wanted attention, which I think is too much to ask for people stuffing their faces with cream sauces and trying to have a conversation.