We moved to Portland in September 2007. To learn about the various neighborhoods, we visited a different restaurant every week in alphabetical order. The only criteria was that the restaurant (or their happy hour) had to be inexpensive. Each week we took turns choosing the restaurant. For our first round of the alphabet, we both took the photos and wrote the reviews.
After a break of several years, we’re beginning another series of A-Z restaurants. This time Mark is taking all the photos and Jasmine is writing the reviews. We’re still alternating who gets to choose the restaurant, which definitely adds to the fun.
We hope you enjoy our blog and don’t hesitate to suggest a restaurant.
Mark & Jasmine
A is for Amadeus Manor
Tucked away on a hillside overlooking the Willamette River is a fairytale of a restaurant called Amadeus Manor. When we pulled into the parking lot, several musicians were walking down the steep driveway carrying their instruments in black cases. Amadeus Manor is a picture-perfect place for a wedding.
Upon entering the restaurant, I was reminded of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. There are a myriad of staircases and small rooms leading to large rooms leading to outdoor balconies and decks. Every room seemed to have a giant fireplace. It’s such an expansive, rambling place, it’s not even clear which entrance to use when first entering the restaurant.
We easily found our way, though, to what appeared to be the main dining room with a quintessential picture window. The view is spectacular and Amadeus Manor definitely fulfilled our mission to dine in a restaurant where the ambiance is at least as good, if not better, than the food. To us, the atmosphere is everything!
It was a hot night (97 degrees to be exact) so we started off with champagne. It was served in a gold rimmed flute with a strawberry slice perched on the edge. We sat outdoors on a narrow balcony where there’s just enough room for a handful of intimate tables for two. A magnificent view of the Willamette through the treetops made us feel like we were in a glamorous movie. I kept thinking of the outdoor summer parties in The Great Gatsby. I expected a Rolls Royce to pull up into the driveway at any moment.
Because the menu is rather expensive, we went during happy hour when drinks are $3 and the hors d’hoeuvres are $5. The Brie Encroutè consisted of brie wrapped in Phyllo dough, baked to a crispy golden brown and served with a Madeira sauce, fresh fruits and greens. A happy hour version of their Chicken Constanza arrived with mashed potatoes on the side, graced with green onion. We ordered the wilted spinach salad from the main menu which is to die for. Such rich flavors combined with the lightness of the spinach. Everything we ate was par excellence!
Our waitress was phenomenal. She was so upbeat she was almost as bubbly as the champagne. Because we’re not big on desserts, we shared a glass of a Rodney Strong red wine that was out of this world. Such a nice crisp finish and a wonderful way to sip and savor the last moments of our enchanting evening out.
2122 Southeast Sparrow Street
Milwaukie, OR 97222
On entering the restaurant the warmth draws us in until we find ourselves in a small room just past the main dining room. There are benches along the wall with pillows, a low table (actually comprised of four stools arranged so you can’t tell they’re stools) in front of a fireplace. The room glows.
We ordered margaritas that were excellent and fairly strong. Then came the Chicken Tostada Salads. The tostada shell was fresh baked with the edges slightly browned, blanketed in cheese, topped with diced iceberg lettuce, homemade salsa and avocados and then the crowning touch of wood-oven roasted chicken slices that melted in your mouth. Delectable!!!
The service was outstanding. Our waiter was a magician, producing almost instantly everything we ordered from seemingly out of nowhere. He smiled broadly and barely spoke except to say “Please return” as we were leaving.
Aqui Mexican Cafe
1408 SE 12th Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
B is for Black Point Inn
Located in Oregon City, the Black Point Inn was our first venture south across the Willamette River to eat out, unless you count the hot dog at the Home Depot. For those of you who haven’t been to Oregon City it feels like a trip back in time. The downtown feels like it hasn’t changed in 50 years. The Black Point Inn also has a feeling of history with a lot of wood and a long, beautiful bar. I felt like I was in an old San Francisco restaurant like The Tadich Grill back in the 1970′s. I could see myself as an old timer sitting at the bar.
We decided to go for their happy hour which as of this writing goes from 4-6pm and after 9pm every day. The Happy Hour Menu is one of the largest we’ve come across and very inexpensive. We went for the roasted garlic and goat cheese ($3.50), house salad ($1.95) and seafood chowder ($2.95). Along with two house margaritas it all barely fit on our table in the bar.
The food was great, especially the seafood chowder. The service was good, not great. The staff seemed to be mostly young people and maybe a little inexperienced. The whole outing made me want to go back and find out what other little gems there are in Oregon City.
If you go to Oregon City while it’s still light out be sure to check out the Willamette Falls just west of town on the river. It really feels like a trip back in time.
Black Point Inn
602 7th St.
Oregon City, OR 97045
C is for Carlyle
Carlyle is located in a place where there are warehouses and a freeway overpass but no other restaurants or stores in sight. This makes Carlyle a quiet, unexpected haven in an otherwise industrial part of town.
We went for the happy hour which is from 3 – 6pm. The best part of the bar is Neil, the bartender. He mixes the most unusual combinations: I ordered the Belgian 75, which consists of Chimay beer with a shot of aviation gin and a wedge of fresh lemon. The cocktail menu explains that Neil’s drinks are made with precision and soul. This is an understatement. He is wildly and calculatingly passionate about creating novel combinations of spirits. Neil is equally passionate about telling tantalizing tales revealing the origins of each concoction. He even holds each bottle reverently as if it were a rare book filled with hitherto unknown history.
The happy hour food was exquisite as well. We ordered soup, a salad, homemade chips and dip and canape type sandwiches made of succulent sliced lamb wedged between delicate biscuity buns. Each bite was unbelievable! I would return every week or at least once a month if I could. However, it will be 26 weeks before we get back to the letter “C”.
1632 NW Thurman
Portland, OR 97209
D is for Delta Cafe
The first item under appeteasers is Hushpuppies so The Delta Cafe already gets four stars, two thumbs up, four diamonds, etc. You get six Hushpuppies for $3.00. That’s 50 cents per puppy, what a deal! I’m going back just for that. The rest of the menu consists of southern favorites like fried chicken, meatloaf, Catfish, ribs and black eyed peas. Our waiter checked on us frequently, but didn’t rush us since we wanted to enjoy the ambiance.
The decor is very Portland chic with a great candle alter in the back and red vinyl booths. The music always sounded like Tom Petty. I always make a visit to the restroom which can be very creative in Portland. The restroom at the Delta didn’t let me down and even had a dead bolt on the door which is the sign of a good restaurant in my book.
After beer and Hushpuppies we moved on to the Jambalaya and Creole Gumbo with Cole Slaw and Stewed Tomatoes with Okra for side dishes. The food was fairly spicy, but very good. Great food, great atmosphere and service. We would highly recommend the Delta Cafe. Go early though, it does get crowded.
This is meant to be a happy hour/dinner blog, but this morning I went to Voodoo Doughnut on NE 3rd St. for the first time and if you haven’t been there you have to go. Again the decor, the doughnuts, the service and not to mention the great location can’t be beat. Be sure to check out the t-shirts and underwear with the Voodoo logo.
4607 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97206
E is for Equinox
After going to Equinox I now realize what type of restaurants I don’t like: The ones that don’t have any soul, those that don’t leave a lasting visual imprint. The décor was too plain to make a difference. The combination of wood and low light did add some warmth, however the overall atmosphere felt austere and tense. The help did not seem happy. All of this combined to help me learn that I prefer Funky over Fancy.
I tried a mixed drink first. The descriptions always sound so fun….Mama Mia! – tequila, hibiscus, fresh lime juice dash of habanero, gran marnier, with red salt rim and lime wedge. It was a disappointing mumbo jumbo of tastes with no distinction.
We did order an excellent hors d’oeuvre: Wild Mushroom Wontons stuffed with gorgonzola and chives, with chile lemon verbena dip. Each bite was heaven.
For dinner we ordered a salad and chicken stuffed with chorizo, corn bread pudding and cheese, served over sauteed spinach, with spicy etoufee cream. (The word etoufee comes from French word etouffer which means to smother. Pronunciation: ay-too-FAY. Can you say ay-too-FAY?)
Thank goodness we were able to take a quick after dinner stroll throughout the neighboring businesses on N. Mississippi Avenue. Our walk was a colorful antidote to an otherwise stale evening, as we passed by and looked into the windows of coffeehouses and fun antique-type stores. Maybe we just caught Equinox on a bad night? Or possibly it’s a haven for summertime dining when we can all sit outside?
830 N Shaver
Portland, OR 97227