Well, we had a fabulous trip. I'm going to do a quick re-cap/review of some of the highlights.
The first day we went for a long hike in Forest Park, the largest forested natural area within city limits in the United States. We wandered around the famous Portland Rose Garden for a bit, then had an impromptu wine and cheese picnic in the parking lot across the street from the Vietnam Memorial by the Arboretum. Lovely! That night we went to a bar called Rontom's
(quite the website, eh?). The service was like the website. Conspicuously absent and kind of surly. Ah well. On we went for a late night meal at Le Bistro Montage
, where the menu includes such things as frog legs and gator bites, in addition to crawfish jambalaya and spicy creole mac n' cheese. This meal was to die for. The dining is all at big, long, communal tables, so you have to get cozy with your neighbors (this seemed to be a popular trend in Portland), but we didn't mind a whit. The frog legs were scrumptious--who knew??--and the bill was shockingly reasonable for such delicious and exotic fare. Highly recommended. That night I actually dreamed of chasing down dozens of froggies to chop off their delicious legs. It was disturbing and mouth-watering, all at once.
The next morning we went to The Tin Shed
for breakfast, per a friend's suggestion. Holy mackerel, was this delicious. At this point we were starting to understand what could possibly make all that rain and Pacific Northwest gloom withstandable--awesome food and better Bloody Marys. The wait was long, but they had a darling outdoor seating area with benches, chairs, trees, tables, and nooks, along with free coffee while you waited! Once we were seated (at another communal table), we dove into the bloody marys (swoon) and the highly touted potato cakes, biscuits, scrambles, and mushroom rosemary gravy. I think this might have been my favorite meal of the trip.
That night the groom's dinner (we were there for a wedding) was held at The Kennedy School
--an old elementary school that had been converted into a hotel, shops, bars, restaurants, and even a movie theater. It was wild. The bars and restaurants still had remnants of the school--chalk boards lining the walls, etc. Very kitschy and fun. And great beer. Here's the deal with Portland--there are more wineries and micro breweries in the area than you can shake a wet cat at, so you're never in want of a refreshing adult beverage.
And then it was wedding day! The ceremony (performed by yours truly, thankyouverymuch) was held at Bridal Veil Lake in the Columbia River Gorge. All I can say is, if you're getting married anytime soon, you might want to book this spot a couple years out:
We got to the site early to set up, and my lovely boyfriend was in charge of picking up lunch for the set-up crew. Lunch was from an inspired little place called The Whole Bowl
. They serve one thing and one thing only. And it is delicious. And we need them to open up shop in Minneapolis, stat. From their website:
The Whole Bowl is a comforting and healthy medley of brown rice, red and black beans, fresh avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, Tillamook cheddar, cilantro, Tali Sauce and trace amounts of attitude.
Tali Sauce is The Whole Bowl's secret weapon. Referred to by many as "crack sauce", this lemony-garlicky blend has been building local addictions in the Pearl, Downtown and at the new Hawthorne location, for over 8 years. Sauce devotees have been known to experience a prolonged sense of well-being and tremendous relaxation upon consumption.
I could've eaten 3 of 'em, is all I'm saying.
The next morning found us checking out of our very comfortable Portland Airport hotel and wandering toward downtown in search of brunch. Happily, we found ourselves at The Cricket Cafe
. I think it was at this point we decided we could die happy eating every meal for the rest of our lives in Portland. More sensational bloody marys, generous portions, plenty of veggie options, friendly and engaging service. Happiness. After breakfast we wandered down the street to one of Portland's hundreds of coffee shops to wait out the rain and seize our chance to go hiking at Multnomah Falls:
which of course left us famished.
We grabbed an afternoon snack at Pambiche
, which is something like Victor's 1959 Cafe's west coast cousin. And after enjoying some live bluegrass at Laurelthirst bar, we ended the night with an amazing, cheap, delicious sushi meal at Saburo's
The next day found us meandering out to the coast, visiting a couple of wineries (David Hill and Montinore) the Tillamook Cheese Factory (vaguely creepy and smelled like Iowa), and eventually stumbling upon our home for the next two nights: The Wheeler on the Bay Lodge
. After you book your wedding at Bridal Veil Lake, make sure you reserve yourselves a suite at this place. It's right on the water and offers rooms with fireplaces and spa rooms, complete with jacuzzis. They have free video rentals, kitchenettes with fancy wine opening gadgets, and kayaking right on the bay. It was magical. And when you stay there, you get 10% off at area restaurants, of which we sampled only Tsunami
(serviceable and affordable) and the Sea Shack
(great sunset views, odd ambiance, good food in an unholy amount of butter).
And thus our trip was concluded. Foodies, lovers of fine drink (be it beer or wine), hikers, photographers, and waterfall appreciators take note: Portland may very well be your mecca.