Hi peeps! I’ve got restaurants galore for you today. Interestingly enough, all the photos of actual food are of sweets (or their remains), which I can explain. I am the type who arrives at eating establishments hungry. I might order a cocktail to pass the time but not drink too much of it because I am one cheap date and generally enjoy an upright position. So I snap a photo of said cocktail or the general surroundings, also to pass the time, before the main event. When the food arrives, the camera is pushed aside, and I boogie down. Once happily sated, I take more photos, especially if I order dessert, because, damn it, it’s usually the prettiest course anyway.
Getting to the task at hand, this is Blue Star Donuts. “Donuts for Grownups,” is their slogan. Indeedy. You will not find a single speck of grape dust or Cap’n Crunch, but a well curated selection like lemon poppy seed, cream filled, blueberry bourbon glazed, and our choices: chocolate almond ganache, a hard cider apple fritter, and a divine original glazed. You will not be disappointed, either. The fritter and glazed are the best I’ve ever had, and the hubster, resident chocoholic, thought his was delicious, too. The coffee is top notch, staff friendly, and the view, early on a Saturday morning, entertaining. We saw lost tourists and dog walkers galore and a middle-aged man cuddling a teddy bear swaddled in baby blue. Keeping it weird in Portland.
Luce, billed as an Italian restaurant, always grabs us with their fish and seafood; the stuffed trout, seafood stew, and anchovies with mozzarella so snazzy, I have yet to try a morsel of pasta. It is the sweetest postage stamp of a place with fabulous service and shelves full of specialty wares like fine kitchen towels, scrub brushes, salt, and beautifully wrapped caramels. Try the buckwheat! As for our desserts, the hubster is eating their crazy-good eponymous chocolate cake, while I am about to devour a badass panna cotta with grapefruit syrup. Oh, Luce!
When we are old, the hubster and our canes will have a reserved table at Higgins Bar. Not solely for the food, mind you, but a resounding sense of place. We’ve been eating there for more than thirteen years, and in that time, the familiar comforts of dark wood, brass, and gleaming glass have yet to change, even our server is the same. He works mostly on his own, so there is no chance for chit-chat or the exchange of names, but to watch him zip about is extraordinary, all efficiency, knowledge, and grace.
Then there’s the food, from house made pickles and smoked meats to fresh from the sea oysters, perfect pitch soups, and, of course, stellar desserts. You really can’t go wrong. As usual, the hubster goes for chocolate cake, like a ding-dong of childhood elevated to exquisite heights, with, quite literally, the best chocolate malt ice cream known to man or woman. I had a scoop of cherry sorbet and pistachio ice cream, almost like spumoni when eaten together – have I ever told you that is my favorite ice cream, ever? A close second is the lemon coconut at the Walrus which I first tried way back when the hubster and I were dating. I would show you a picture of me eating it, were it not for the fact that I am intoxicated and really look it. Ah, youth! Back to Higgins, my frozen treats came with assorted yummy cookies: dark chocolate chip with orange, oatmeal raisin, almond, oh, and a fantastic cherry pate.
Welcome to Kir Wine Bar, another tiny place with food that is big on flavor, made in the most diminutive kitchen outside a food cart. But, as the saying goes, it’s not the size but what you do with it that counts. Delectable sausage pasta, gnocchi, smoked paprika pistachios, chicken pate, smoked trout on toast, I could go on. The lemon cake, pudding-like in consistency was just perfect. Oh, and the not-so-small matter of wine and their related spirits, Russell, the man pouring our pink Kir Royales, is encyclopedic in his knowledge, and ever so witty and fun, too. Everything he recommends dazzles, with the stand-out being the vermouth we had with our cake. Light years from your garden variety, the hubster and I thought it was citrus-y with a hint of cedar. Fantastic!
Are you still with me? We’re halfway there! This is Park Kitchen, an oasis on the North Park blocks. The cocktails are ambrosial (such a precious word, but true), with my favorite, not pictured, the PKNY, with rye, egg, lemon, orange, sugar, and ruby port. It really works! Like all of our favorite places, the staff is fantastic, and the flavors heavenly. Some stand-outs are the perogi, green apple and cheddar soup (like nothing I’ve ever tasted), flank steak with blue cheese, and my personal favorite: house cured anchovies, fingerling potatoes, coddled egg, and radish. Yowza!
The hubster and I are revisiting Twin Peaks, one of the wackiest and best gems television has ever known, in my humble opinion. If you don’t know it, Agent Dale Cooper, the dapper FBI agent sent to solve a heinous crime, is a pie and coffee man (he won’t say no to a donut, either), taking such pleasure in their consumption that this viewer can’t help but want some herself. To put it mildly, Dale would love the Pie Spot. We have yet to try their savory varieties, but if they are anything like the lemon vanilla bean, brown butter pecan, or chocolate hazelnut, we are in real trouble, peeps. The coffee is just right, too!
Cacao…chocolate, everything chocolate. Sip it, crunch it, read or talk about it, let it melt on the tip of your tongue. Not surprisingly, this is one of the hubster’s favorite places. He always orders a large drinking chocolate, usually the spicy one, and is blissfully happy. I have a sip or two and enjoy a piece or two, my favorites are the candied lemon peels, or, when they have them, a burnt sugar salted caramel, all enrobed in chocolate, of course.
This is it! We finally made it to our final destination, The Takahashi, probably the most oddly located restaurant with the creepiest exterior we frequent, but do not let that deter you. My table mates always tell me that the sushi is some of the best around. For me, however, not being of the sushi-loving persuasion, the tempura is the real stand-out, always that perfect crunch and impeccable flavor. Even better, their tempura menu is the most extensive I’ve ever seen and ordered in the same manner as the sushi. Shrimp, mushrooms, lotus, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, asparagus, oh, and the scallops, like butter melting in your mouth. Tempura heaven! I’m also a big fan of their udon noodles, so simple and delicious.
Oh my goodness, I’m so tired now, and hungry, too!