We just returned from having spent five days stuffing our faces in Portland. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was out of control doing research on all of the places we needed to eat and when we'd go where. And by "out of control" I mean I plotted and color coded my list on a google map so I could see, by neighborhood, where everything was and then made a daily agenda of all of our meals. Yes, I am just that kind of obsessive person.
The point is, we ate a lot. Seriously, I don't know that there was ever a time in my life where I have eaten so much every single day. So while this is a blog about eating in San Francisco, I couldn't let our Portland food experience go undocumented.
Our first Portland dinner was at Little Bird Bistro. Because the restaurant was just 2 blocks from our hotel I thought it would be nice to go there on our first night, as we were getting the lay of the land.
We decided to share an appetizer and picked the smoked trout gougeres. We had recently tried an amazing gougeres in San Francisco (cheddar and black pepper from Tell Tale Preserve Co) so we were curious what this one would be like, especially with the addition of the smoked trout. I am so so happy we ordered this, as it actually was probably one of the best things we ate our whole time in Portland. The texture of the gougeres was different than what I would have thought - it was more like fried dough than the croissant-like interior I was expecting. The addition of the trout was intriguing - you could taste it, but not in an overtly fishy way. The beet salad seemed a little strange to go with it, but it was incredible. I couldn't remember what the dressing was, and at one point I said to Kev, "there's a flavor in here that reminds me of Jewish deli". He thought I was crazy, but I wasn't far off - the dressing had caraway in it - the same seeds that are on rye bread. If any chef in San Francisco reads this - can you please put this on your menu? I will be your #1 customer.
It seemed fitting to order the salmon, since we were in the Pacific Northwest. The salmon entree changes daily. This was sockeye salmon on a crepe of creamed corn and fennel. The flavor on this was amazing, and like the trout, it wasn't super fishy - it felt very meaty. We were sharing both entrees and I think we were fighting over this one - we both couldn't get enough.
We also ordered a side of what they referred to as macaroni gratin, which is just a much fancier way of saying mac and cheese. This was a perfect mac and cheese - it had lots of crispy bits, it wasn't too creamy, but just creamy enough and the cheddar had a nice tang to it.
Our second entree was the pork shoulder with a fried poached egg, just in case a regular poached egg on your pork shoulder isn't decadent enough. The thing with this one was that the meat tasted incredible, but there wasn't much meat - it was nearly all fat. Now, I am not one to send things back to the kitchen, it really makes me uncomfortable, but this just didn't seem right. We spoke to the waiter who was incredibly apologetic and told us he'd get us another piece. When the second piece arrived - perfectly cooked - we were stuffed. But we persevered because we couldn't let such an amazing piece of food go to waste. So we had pork for dessert. Delicious, tender, you-don't-even-need-a-knife pork.
If you're going to Portland, I can't recommend Little Bird highly enough. The food and service are great and it's just a really cute spot - so much so that we even went back our second night to get an after dinner drink. If this place was in San Francisco I know we'd be regulars.
ps: If you are going to Portland and want to take advantage of my OCD tendencies, email me and I can send you my Google map and agenda.