Tag Archives: Portland

Salt and Straw Ice Cream

Before I even landed in Portland, I knew I needed to have Salt and Straw Ice Cream, and after reading this review on The Kitchn, it was a done deal.

salt and straw signOne of the things that attracted me most to Salt and Straw was the fact that all of their ice creams are made from scratch, and free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives, which is hard to find.  I often find myself missing out on summer ice cream cones because all the ice cream shops near me use corn syrup as a sweetener.

Salt and Straw also has a lot of unique ice cream flavors such as the Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero, Grandma’s Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, and the famous Arbequina Olive Oil, which Oprah declared as one of her favorite things.

We decided to check out Salt and Straw after a hot morning of hiking and wandering through the Portland International Test Garden.  The Nob Hill location wasn’t too far from where we were, so we headed over there to cool off and enjoy some Salt and Straw Ice Cream.  As soon as we stepped into the shop, I immediately scanned the menu.

salt and straw ice cream menuSalt and Straw allows you to sample as many flavors as you want, so we took advantage and tried a few tastes before committing to a purchase.  My first taste was the Cinnamon Snickerdodle, complete with house made snickerdoodle cookie crumbles.

This ice cream was delicious – I loved the cinnamon crunch from the cookie bits.  I still wasn’t ready to commit to a flavor, so I tried the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate next, which is made with cocoa beans and sugar.  Again, it was an outstanding choice, but I still wanted more.  I finally decided to try the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream since it was Oprah’s favorite and all.

salt and straw ice cream arbequina olive oilAfter one bite I immediately saw how this was Oprah’s favorite.  The ice cream had a nice olive oil flavor to it and had just the right amount of salt to balance out the sweetness.  I know olive oil ice cream sounds totally weird, but it was amazing.  I immediately ordered a scoop.

The Englishman went a different route with his ice cream sampling.  After enjoying a Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout sample, he decided to keep with the bourbon theme and got a cone filled with Salt and Straw’s Coffee and Bourbon flavor.

salt and straw ice cream coffee bourbonI stole a couple bites of his and loved the coffee and bourbon combination.  It was a really interesting flavor (in a good way!).

Out of all the places we visited in Portland, Salt and Straw Ice Cream definitely lived up to the hype.  Everything we tasted in there was delicious, the staff was friendly and the ice cream was reasonably priced.  If I could only recommend one place in Portland, Salt and Straw would definitely be it.  And get the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream.  Just trust me.


Dinner at The Picnic House

Hang on to your hats, it’s time for (another) Portland meal recap!  In all seriousness, we had so much delicious food in Portland that I feel like I must share all these places.  You’ve already read about Mother’s Bistro and Bar and my slightly underwhelming experience at Voodoo Doughnut.  Next up is our fantastic dinner at The Picnic House.

the picnic house interiorThe Picnic House is a restaurant and bar that happened to be located just up the street from our hotel in downtown Portland.  We almost went here for lunch because the lunch menu looked so good,  but ultimately I decided dinner at The Picnic House was the way to go.

One of the things I loved most about The Picnic House was the whimsical decor.  The restaurant had high ceilings, large wooden tables for groups to dine at, and a bear with a monocle over the bar, which was pretty rad.

the picnic house bear with monocleSince we arrived at the tail end of happy hour, we decided to take advantage of some of the specials and started our evening with a glass of rose and a beer.

the picnic house roseI had my eye on the cheese board, so we decided to order that as our starter.  It came with a delightful array of cheeses, nuts and fruit.

the picnic house cheeseboardAll of the cheeses were outstanding (especially the brie) and paired nicely with the marinated olives and baguette we had also ordered for the table.

the picnic house olivesThe Englishman had a strong craving for garlic bread so we got some of that too in all of its garlic glory.

the picnic house garlic breadI was on a serious chicken kick while in Portland and ordered the roast chicken as my entrée yet again.  Only this time it was a lemon roasted chicken with creamy whipped potatoes and summer squash.

the picnic house chickenWhile this chicken was not quite as good as Mother’s, I still managed to clean my plate.  The chicken was cooked perfectly and the lemon gave it a nice zest.  And of course creamy whipped potatoes are almost always guaranteed to be a win and the Englishman and I fought over the final bites.

We had saved a bit of room for dessert, and decided to order the mini chocolate chip cookies with a shot of cold milk.picnic house cookiesI loved the presentation of this dessert!  It was so cute and the mini chocolate chip cookies definitely hit the spot without being overly sweet.  It was the perfect little dessert without being too much.

If the restaurant wasn’t already cool enough with the whimsical decor and the bear with the monocle at the bar, they presented our bill in an old English history novel, which I thought was pretty creative.

picnic house bookOverall our dinner at The Picnic House was a delight.  If I lived in Portland, I could definitely see myself visiting the restaurant frequently for a quick bite or happy hour with some friends.

If you ever find yourself in downtown Portland, be sure to check out The Picnic House!

Voodoo Doughnut

When you tell people you have been to Portland, the first question most of them ask is “Did you go to Voodoo Doughnut?” and the second question is “how was it?”  If you aren’t familiar, Voodoo Doughnut is a Portland icon.  The doughnut shop has been featured on shows such as Man vs. Food, and millions of tourists trek there each year to get their doughnuts in the trademark pink box.

Voodoo DoughnutsOf course, getting the doughnuts proved to be more complicated than I initially anticipated.  The first time we went to the original location the line was wrapped around the block at 8pm. (Voodoo Doughnut is also open 24/7 with the exception of Christmas, New Year’s and Thanksgiving).

Voodoo Doughnuts LineAfter standing in line for about 15 minutes and realizing the line wasn’t moving at all, we decided to abandon ship and try to get the doughnuts the following day, and decided to try going in the afternoon in the hopes that the heat would steer the crowds away.

The next day we made our way over to Voodoo Doughnut again, eager to get our own pink box of delicious doughnuts.  You can only imagine my disappointment when I saw that the line was twice as long as the day before!  And given the fact that it was 90 degrees out, neither of us wanted to stand in line in the blazing sun.  So once again we walked away empty-handed and I drowned my sorrows in a few glasses of prosecco.

After some googling and yelping in the hotel room later, it was decided that we would go to Voodoo Doughnut Too, located in East Portland.  The second location had the exact same selection as the original but was not as crowded.

The next morning (two days after our first attempt), we hopped in our rental car and drove the 10 minutes over to East Portland and found ourselves in front of Voodoo Doughnut Too with a line of about five people. It was almost like taking a road trip in England. Victory was ours!  We made our way inside the doughnut shop and instantly became mesmerized by the rotating display of doughnuts.

Voodoo Doughnut SelectionVoodoo Doughnut is best known for their eclectic menu and flavor options such as the Voodoo Doll doughnut, the Bacon Maple Bar, the Portland Cream and Captain my Captain doughnut which is topped with Captain Crunch cereal.

Voodoo Doughnut MenuWe kept it on the simple side and stuck with the Voodoo Doll, a Butterfinger doughnut, a chocolate doughnut, cinnamon sugar doughnut, chocolate doughnut with crushed nuts and the Portland cream.

Voodoo Doughnut Pink BoxVictory was ours!  I finally had a pink box full of doughnuts that had alluded me for the past three days.  But now it was time for the real test.  Would the Voodoo Doughnut live up to the hype?

Voodoo Doughnut SelectionAfter tasting the doughnuts, I have to say I am very glad I did not wait in line for an hour for these.  They just tasted like your regular doughnut and not sprinkled with any special voodoo magic.  I have to say that I much prefer Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa to the ones at Voodoo Doughnut.

However, I am glad that I tried Voodoo Doughnut.  They may have been a bit underwhelming, but they were ridiculously cheap (a lot of flavors are less than a dollar) and the doughnut shop is just one of those things you have to do when you visit Portland.  Just don’t go to the original location and wait an hour for them.  And if you ever make it to Orange County, be sure to check out Sidecar Doughnuts, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

We bought some doughnuts to bring back home as all our friends and relatives were excited to try them as well. We had so many boxes with doughnuts that I thought we should have rented one of those passenger vans to your fleet. We just could not come back home without doughnuts, you know.

Dinner at Mother’s Bistro and Bar

The Englishman and I recently spent a week up in the pacific northwest where we managed to eat and drink our way through Portland and the Willamette Valley.  I could go on and on about the eccentricities about Portland (and how Portlandia isn’t too far off), but what I really want to share is all of the delicious food we ate, starting with our first dinner at Mother’s Bistro and Bar.

The culinary scene is hot in Portland right now and I can see why.  The food truck scene has exploded, and you can pretty much find any type of ethnic cuisine you want in the city.  And many of these places are also quite affordable, with Mother’s Bistro and Bar being one of them.  Plus, you can’t go wrong with the unique decor.

mothers bistro and bar decorMother’s Bistro and Bar is known for taking traditional dishes like your mom used to make and putting their own twist on them.  They even have a Mother of the Month where you can nominate one of your mom’s homemade dishes to be featured on the menu.  I also love the motto of the restaurant: Be Nice or Leave.

mother's bistro and bar signWe were both in the mood for some comfort food with a classic twist, so we were really excited for our dinner at Mother’s Bistro and Bar.  As soon as we were seated we were presented with a basket of biscuits and whipped butter.

Mother's Bistro and Bar BiscuitsThese biscuits definitely set the tone for the rest of the evening because they were amazing.  I loved the light and fluffy texture and probably would’ve asked for a second basket if we didn’t have a lot of other dishes coming.

It’s tradition for the Englishman to order fries when we dine out, so he got the french fries with spicy aioli.

Mother's Bistro and Bar friesI actually didn’t have any of the fries since they were cooked in soybean oil, but the verdict was that they were delicious.

One of the specials of the evening was the macaroni and cheese with prosciutto, so of course we had to order that.

Mother's Bistro and Bar mac n cheeseThe macaroni and cheese came with a light cream sauce which gave the dish a nice and creamy texture.  I loved the saltiness from the prosciutto mixed with the creamy macaroni.  Definitely a nice take on a traditional dish I loved as a kid.

I have a soft spot for a good roast chicken, so I ordered the roast chicken with green beans and smashed potatoes.

Mother's Bistro and Bar ChickenThis chicken did not disappoint!  I’ve had some really good roast chickens in my time, but this one may be my new favorite.  The meat was juicy and tender, the skin had a perfect crisp and the smashed potatoes and green beans were the perfect complement.  I had initially told the Englishman I would share this dish with him, but I ended up stealing most of the chicken for myself.

We ended up being too full for dessert, even though the chocolate cake in the dessert case was calling my name.  I swore I even heard the cake say “Allie” when we walked out the door.

Mother's Bistro and Bar Chocolate CakeOur dinner at Mother’s Bistro and Bar was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in a while.  Everything was just so good and the service was top-notch.  Next time I am in Portland I will definitely be returning here, and will hopefully be able to try their breakfast some time as well.