On Sunday morning, I met Internet buddy Rick and his husband, John, for brunch at the Daily Cafe in the Pearl District. We talked about where we all grew up—John is a Jersey boy too—and why they think Portland is a better place to live than Chicago or San Francisco, even with the rain. Rick said a friend of theirs gets annoyed when people suggest the weather is a good reason to not live in their city. "Weather isn't community" is, I believe, the expression this guy uses.
After brunch, I somehow overshot Stark Street, crossed Burnside, and ended up on the northwest side of town. Since I wasn't too far away, I wandered over to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which I remembered visiting the last time I was in town, back in 1995.
I'd gone to Portland that time because of a trip with the Nature Conservancy, which didn't suck so bad back then. It was a hiking tour of the state that originated in Portland, and I had a great time. I came out a little early to spend some time in Portland before the tour started and fell in love with the city.
Here's a photo of the square:
I next walked over to the Portlandia statue a few blocks away. I may as well repeat the joke I made on Facebook when I posted this photo there: "The Portlandia statue so wanted me. I was all like, 'Back off, girlfriend.'" LOL!
If you hit the link above, you can read all about this cool statue. A couple of facts that were of particular interest to me: Portlandia is the second-largest copper repoussé statue in the U.S., after the Statue of Liberty. And you can't buy Portlandia T-shirts or refrigerator magnets—dammit! :-)—because the right to reproduce its image has been retained by the sculptor, Raymond Kaskey, who isn't one to cash in. Good for him.
I took a pic of the Multnomah County Library for my girlfriend Pat, who I figured would be excited to know that the library was open—and pretty busy—on a Sunday.
I was going to be having a not-so-late dinner with Rodger and Mark, so I thought I'd just get a snack to tide me over rather than eat a sit-down lunch. I'd bought the most recent issue of Portland Monthly magazine at Powell's and so had read the article about the best ice cream shops in the city. I decided to make a trek to North Mississippi Avenue to Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, which is so named because it basically sells two things: pizza and ice cream. The guy at the desk at the hotel showed me how to get there using the MAX train and then my feet.
When I got to LFF, at about 10 to 3, it was closed. *sigh* Which seemed crazy for a pizza and ice cream restaurant. On a warm summer day! But LFF, I see on the website, does only dinner Tuesday through Sunday. So it's never open on any afternoon.
I was determined to salvage my trek and walked down Mississippi to find the cutest little trailer restaurant in a city of cute food carts and trucks, Moxie Rx. Here I go again with my Facebook comment from when I posted a picture of the place: "It was so cute, I wanted to move in. And the ice cream sandwich—gluten-free chocolate cookie and vanilla-bourbon ice cream—was on time. Like a fascist train schedule."
And because the place was so cute, two more pix:
Once I got back to the vicinity of my hotel, I walked around a little bit more and went into a few shops I hadn't hit the day before. Then it was time for me to meet M&R for dinner at Clyde Common, the restaurant inside my hotel, which turned out to be exceptional—easily one of the top five meals of my life.
The main floor of the restaurant has seating for groups at communal tables. We got a small table on the second floor, so we could look down on everyone else. Hey, I'm from Manhattan. Did you think I'd eat with the Portland rabble? Ha!
I got a flight of three rosés that the incredibly knowledgeable waiter selected for me. I can't recall his name, but he provided the best service I've ever had in a restaurant. I tipped him well, and I praised him highly on the restaurant's copy of the bill. He spoke intelligently about everything we inquired about, and we loved every dish he recommended. Now, before you go thinking (and I know you are!) that this guy must have been really hunky, I'll state that he wasn't. I mean, he wasn't bad looking but he wasn't my type. I'm judging him solely on his waitering skills. Honest to goodness.
We three guys thoroughly discussed which dishes we were curious to try, and we shared our three appetizers and three entrees. Even though Rodger generally doesn't care for beets, he loved the beet salad I selected for my first course. Those things that look like chunks of fish on the plate in the foreground at left are actually beets.
The things on the plate at rear left were bruschetta-like and had the most amazing corn relish on top of them. The other plate consisted of fingerling potatoes with eggs and, I believe, ham.
Rodger wanted a glass of red wine with his entree, and he and Mark were stunned to see a wine* on the list they'd encountered on their trip to Italy last summer. The husband-and-wife chef-and-waitress in the Scuff Productions post I linked to own La Crotta winery. R&M ordered this wine after insisting on paying for the bottle. The wine was terrific, and what a wonderful coincidence that a wine from such a small producer in the Italian Alps ended up at Clyde Common in their city.
For our main courses, I got roast chicken with panzanella; Mark got steak with heirloom tomatoes; and Rodger got the pasta. It was all terrific. I can't recall what was in the pasta sauce, but it was tantalizingly spicy. The chicken was supermoist, and our waiter, after Mark inquired, said it had indeed been brined. For six hours. I've got to try brining the chicken next time I feel like roasting one.
Here are R&M showing off their entrees:
For dessert, we got a berry cobbler and—OMG—my second ice cream sandwich of the day. This one also had a chocolate exterior; the ice cream was vanilla (or maybe sweet cream) with peanut butter. So ding dang good!
After dinner, we wandered over to Scandals, where I shot some pool with a cute guy named Roscoe. He beat me twice, though I didn't fail too badly, thanks to coaching from the guys and even Roscoe himself.
The next morning, Mark was sweet enough to drive me to the airport. Thanks to an extremely early phone call from USAir, I already knew the first leg of my flight, to Phoenix, was going to be delayed enough to require me to take a later flight to Newark. At the airport, I inched forward in USAir's check-in line for about a half hour before all of us who were going to Phoenix were told to get into the "full-service line" instead. Which I decided was actually the "fuck you line." I got home about 12:30 a.m., about three hours later than I'd expected. Next time I go to Portland—and I doubt I'll be away for too long—I'm flying on Alaska instead.
*I believe that's the correct wine except it's the 2007 instead of the 2006 that we enjoyed.