Saturday, May 20, 2006

PFO's Eastside Hot Dog Crawl

After months (probably years) of lurking over at, I finally signed up for one of their events, a hot dog crawl. The plan? Hit 5 or 6 important hot dog spots on the eastside, roughly from south to north. Here was the preliminary schedule... Otto's Sausage Kitchen, Zach's Shack, Nick's Famous Coney Island, the Dog House on Burnside, Michael's Italian Beef & Sausage, and Roakes #6. Not a bad line up. I'm bringing a knife, my camera, a small notebook, and cash. This should be a lot of fun!

I get to Woodstock a bit early and check out bikes at the Bike Gallery. I really need a bike! Then over to...

Otto's Sausage Kitchen and Meat Market
4138 SE Woodstock
Our first stop. We figure out a couple ground rules first... One person pays and we all settle up at the end. We order a few dogs and share. Who wants to eat 6 whole dogs anyway (or more, if you want to try more than one at each place)? Bonus points to Otto's for having a grill.

At Otto's, we get a plain hotdog and a pork sausage. Both good, cooked over a grill (see photo). I taste them both with no toppings so as not to bias one dog over another. The plain dog is OK. Fluffy bun, not much snap in the skin, some good char off the grill...

In my book, the pork fares much better. A touch more char, firmer and spicier than the plain dog, and good marbling inside. Tasty.

To drink, a bottle of Lagunitas Censored Ale.

Decent and plentiful outdoor seating, but on the street (although there wasn't too much traffic).

Zach's Shack
4611 SE Hawthorne
I'd heard about Zach's for years as being THE spot for dogs in Portland, but hadn't ever been. Here, we get a plain red hot and a dog with chili and slaw (like in the old days in the south)...

The red hot is spectacular (and I don't mean to give away the ending here, but this is the best dog of the day). Good snappy skin, spicy and flavorful.

The chili slaw dog is OK. The slaw is good and the dog is good, but we all agree that the chili is lacking. Not meaty or saucy enough, and could use a little ketchup infusion. But good overall.

To drink, a glass of Lompoc C-Note IPA.

Seating was nice, a small but ample patio with a few picnic tables out back.

The Dog House
2845 E Burnside
We're here for Chicago style kosher dogs. The dogs are big, and people are getting worn out, so we get 2 dogs and cut them into thirds (although we also get a chili cheese dog and a beer sausage later too). For my money, these are the best toppings. The dog is good, thick, juicy, and tasty.

To drink, a bottle of Henry Weinhard's root beer.

I've always been a big fan of the Dog House's deck, but today they were doing some repairs. The sound of a circular saw and the occasional breeze full of sawdust were a little offputting.

By this point, we are all full and sunburned (at least I am. Why didn't I accept the offer of sunscreen at Otto's?!?). We make the Dog House our final stop. My final take on the day? I'd like to see Zach's dogs, grilled at Otto's, with toppings from the Dog House.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tommy Guerrero Live

It's Tuesday, May 16. Tommy Guerrero is playing at the Doug Fir tonight. One of only 3 performances scheduled this year thus far (the other 2 are in Florida). And, I can't talk anyone into going with me. It's only $10, go figure.

I don't have much food in the house, and I make an executive decision to eat at the Fir. I get the cheeseburger with fries and a beer. I usually find the Doug Fir's food to be passable. Never great, but not bad. Tonight was the exception. The burger was inedible. I don't mind burgers cooked medium, but this was raw in the center. I didn't feel like complaining, so I ate around the edges, and had a few fries (the most bland fries I'd had in quite a while). After finishing my beer, I settle up and head downstairs.

I arrive downstairs, and the opening band, Recall Seven is just taking the stage. They aren't bad, and remind me of a mix of the Killers and Joy Division. Again, not bad, but the music wasn't at all in line with Guerrero's.

Around 10:45, Tommy comes on stage with his self described "full band of bad mothafukas." He says that two of the guys had just flown in from the east coast that day for this show especially. They band was really solid and tight by the 3rd song (the first few songs were a bit rough, probably due to the lack of a pre-show warm-up practice). Tommy said he'd be playing songs from all his albums, basically in chronological order. I can't give you the names of many of the songs, but I can confirm that the last 3 songs came from the newest EP, 'Year of the Monkey.' Final songs: 'Archaic Days,' 'By Fist and Fury,' and 'Knives Fighting Guns' (my favorite track on the new EP, played a little slower here than on the recorded version).

The band was great, a drummer, a keyboardist, and a bassist. Guerrero is really a bassist at heart, but he played guitar all the way through. I'm pretty sure he plays all the instruments on his albums.

Tommy was terribly nice and sincere, thanking the crowd for their support in all his endeavors over the years (he is a former pro skateboarder, and was part of the legendary Bones Brigade, and has released 3 full albums and 2 EPs under his own name, a full length record with Gadget, and a number of records with his 'other' band, Jet Black Crayon). He stuck around on stage once the show was over, signing posters, set lists, and tickets. What a guy, what a show...

Check out Tommy's web site for some free MP3 downloads and more info.

WW's Cheap Eats Pt. 3

ADC and I were trying to figure out where to eat last night. We tried to use our WW Cheap Eats plan, but it fell through. We have slightly abridged the rules... 2 restaurants from each letter, then, if we get to the end, back around to 'A' again. So, after Aqui and Apizza, we were onto the 'B's. ADC had heard bad things about Baan Thai's treatment of employees, so we passed on that. Bakery Bar is only breakfast and lunch. Ah yes, Baraka on Alberta. We had both read bad reviews, but were committed to our exploration of the Cheap Eats guide, so we hopped in the car and headed down to Alberta.

Argh! Baraka is closed for 2 days for some undisclosed reason! There is a sign, but I don't bother to read it. I know that Bella Faccia should be next, but we've both been there before, and I am pretty sure that is an acceptable reason for exemption.

Then ADC remembers that Autentica is close. I don't have the Cheap Eats guide in the car, so the serendipitous fact that this place is in the guide escapes up both until later. We head north again to Killingsworth.

Thursday at Autentica is posole night, so it is pretty clear one of has to order it. ADC wins to argument, and I order green pork mole instead (and a taco al pastor on the side).

First, we are presented with pickled veggies and bread. I found the pickled veggies a little bland; we had hoped for more crunch and more vinegar (carrot, potato, and peppers). I also found the bread fairly tasteless, white and fluffy on the inside. I had expected fresh tortillas from start to finish. The bread was what you might get at costco or something.

The taco came with three salsas, cruda, macha, and chile de arbol. Homemade tortillas and tender tasty pork topped with cilantro and a lime wedge on the side. And all for $1.50. I could go back and just eat these little gems at the bar. So yummy.

The mole came on a huge platter, lots of pork with onion, cilantro, and radish to accompany it. Oh, and on the side, more homemade tortillas.

ADC's posole was the white variety (as opposed to the red or green posole). A HUGE bowl of steaming goodness appears at the table. Hominy, juicy pork, tasty broth. And then, the side platter shows up. Radish, onion, jalapeno, queso fresco, avocado, chile relleno, pork rind, homemade chips, cabbage, lime, oregano, and a beef taquito. An amazing wealth of food, no doubt.

I had a Negra Modella and ADC had a coke.

I really enjoyed it here. I will be heading back, maybe for just tacos and beer, who knows!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Pizza Quest Pt. 3

After visits to Apizza Scholls and Ken's Artisan Bakery, ADC and I had but one high end pizza left to try. The plan was to hit all 3 of the top spots for pie in one week, and we have accomplished that goal.

Last night, Nostrana (they have just been named Restaurant of the Year by the Oregonian (it's been 3 weeks to the day, in fact)). I've heard stories about hordes of people waiting to get in. We plan to go VERY early, and get a seat at the bar (if two are available)...

They open at 5. ADC plans to be home by 5 or 5:30, and we head right over. We arrive at 6, and the place is already full. There is a 30 to 45 min wait, but we snag a couple of seats at the bar in about 10 minutes (making it, I believe, the shortest wait of the three stops). One thing to note, the service seems to have improved. I have to guess they have brought on more staff with the ROY award and the crowds that follow. They actually had a hostess. Novel concept! ADC makes a comment, toward the end of the meal, unsolicited mind you, about how bad the service is. I tell her that it has gotten a lot better, and she finds that hard to believe...

I order a beer to keep consistent with the previous 2 stops, and ADC gets makers and ginger ale. We get the salami plate (consisting of meats from Seattle's Salumi), 4 meats, marmalade, and mushrooms. Pretty good, but in my opinion, the marmalade got in the way of the savory meaty flavors. ADC seemed to like the mix.

Course 2 is the salad. With the absence of a true Caesar on the menu, we get the Nostrana, "radicchio, Parmigiano Reggiano with rosemary and sage croutons in a Caesar style dressing (contains raw egg)." ADC admits she's not a fan of radicchio by itself, and I'm not that impressed anyway. The leaves are a little soft. Passable, but not exciting.

And, the pizza. Again, trying to keep the meals consistent, we get the margherita with prosciutto. As at Ken's, the basil is baked with the pizza, but unlike out other two stops, the meat is placed on the pie after it's cooked. The prosciutto is tasty, quite hammy. ADC likes the sauce and the crust, I find the sauce lacking. Seems to me that the kitchen at Nostrana is a little afraid of salt (also, no salt on the bar or at any of the tables). They use fresh mozz, but cut it a little thick for my taste. resulting in mushy lumps of cheese on top. I find it all a little greasy, too.

And now, for the 4 categories of judgment...

1-Beer list. Nostrana clearly loses here. 5 beers, all from bottle, none on tap. And, it's 2 Deschutes products, 2 Morettis, and Pilsner Urquel. Decent choices, but nothing exciting, nothing original, and a very narrow selection.

2-Salad. Again, Nostrana loses. I prefer Apizza, and ADC prefers Ken's. We both rank Nostrana's in 3rd place.

3-The pie. ADC ranks Nostrana's pie as 2nd place overall. She enjoys the crust and the sauce here a lot, but not the toppings. She still prefers Apizza, and I remind her that with a new oven, Ken's pies could improve. Me, I rank Nostrana's third. Crust for me is OK. I don't like the sauce, and I find the toppings to be lackluster, plus the absence of salt. And, you have to cut it yourself. I know, I know, this is traditional. I'd just like to not waste time and look foolish by cutting my own pie with a knife. At least give us pizza cutters! ADC likes the pizza, but says that she wouldn't come back just to eat it.

4-The locale. Finally, Nostrana loses on ambiance too. I kind of like the high ceilings and grand scale, but it needs to be broken up a little. Plants, something, I don't know. ADC compared it to a big cafeteria. The noise was loud too, not unbearable, but loud. There is a ton of exposed wood on the ceiling, again, it looks great, but reflects sound like nobody's business.

Alas, poor Nostrana, that is strike 3 for you. I won't be returning.

Overall rankings are the same for ADC and me...

#1 - Apizza
#2 - Ken's
#3 - Nostrana

Oh, and a quick note on pricing. None of these places is particularly cheap, but they are consistent. For two, with drinks and salad, you can expect to pay around $50 for any of the three options. Nostrana was the priciest (we did have an extra drink and the meat plate, though) and Ken's was the cheapest. Apizza? Just right...

Links to my previous 2 Nostrana visits...

And, the first two installments of Pizza Quest...
Pizza Quest Pt. 1, Appizza Scholls (a.k.a. WW's Cheap Eats Pt. 2)
Pizza Quest Pt. 2, Ken's Artisan Bakery

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pok Pok with CC

Reading Miss Tasty's Pok Pok review today made me so hungry; I really wanted to head down to Division and get my snack on... Luckily CC called and wanted to know if I'd meet her there this evening. Must be something in the air, all of us craving the Pok. Of course I agreed. How could I refuse?

I leave work around 6, and get there a few minutes before CC. I grab a cha manao (one of their two Thai iced teas), sit, and read the Mercury.

Once CC shows up, we head back to the window and order our food from Andy. We order SO much food, it's almost obnoxious. CC gets khao man som tam (the pork dish Miss Tasty speaks so highly of) and khao soi kai (the chicken and coconut milk soup). I get another order of khao man som tam (my favorite dish on the menu), an order of the ma ma ramen that Miss Tasty mentioned (I didn't care for it quite as much as she did, and I did try adding some of the chili oil, it just didn't do it for me), and khao niaw mamuang (the mango, coconut milk, and sticky rice dessert I had last time I was there as well).

As always, everything was exquisite. I had planned to talk CC into a walk down to Pix for a bit of chocolate, but we were both way too full to squeeze anything else in our bellies.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pizza Quest Pt. 2

Ken's Artisan Bakery
ADC and I hit Apizza the other night because it was in the cue for out WW Cheap Eats survey (see this entry). We decided that evening to embark on a pizza quest. On Monday, May 8, we hit Ken's Artisan Bakery for their pizza night, and round 2 of our search for Portland's best pizza...

We tried to recreate the meal as best we could... Beer for me (Terminal Gravity IPA instead of Caldera), a Caesar salad for us to split, and a hot sporessata pizza (in place of the hot cappicola). Here is the break down...

1-Beers. Better selection at Apizza. But hey, they are a full service restaurant. If I were judging espressos, I'm sure Ken's would prevail.

2-Salad. This time we do get croutons (if you recall, Apizza was out for the night). ADC prefers this Caesar to Apizza's, I find it a little too garlicy (I know, hard to believe), but don't particularly prefer Apizza's either (meaning the salad is a wash for me).

3-The pie. A different topping makes it a little tough to judge. Spicy, yes indeed. Crust, yeah pretty good. Thinner on the bottom than Apizza's, and a little chewier on the edges where it gets thicker. A nice bit of char around the edges. One major difference, Ken puts the basil on before baking, whereas Apizza applies fresh basil once the pie is out of the oven. I prefer Apizza's take on basil, and both the ADC and I prefer Apizza's pie overall.

4-The locale. ADC prefers the feel of Ken's, saying that it is cool when a local bakery has pizza night once a week. This 'warm' feeling will most likely fade when Ken has his own pizzeria. But, then again, the pizza may improve with a heftier oven...

As for now, Apizza beats Ken's. Nostrana still to go (if we can get a table). Watch this space for results.

Q:What is the best lunch ever?

A:This is the best lunch ever...

1-Olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and rosemary foccacia from Pastaworks

2-Salami from Salumi (Seattle), both fennel and mole

3-Goat cheese 'cherries' from Fromagerie Soreda (France), one plain, the others coated in herbs, ash and paprica respectively

4-Extra Dark (82%!!) chocolate from Scharffen Berger

5-2004 St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone

Sunday, May 07, 2006

WW's Cheap Eats Pt. 2

Apizza Scholls
ADC and I take a step back in the guide and head down to SE for Apizza (if you recall, Apizza was closed when we first hit the guide a few weeks back). I've been here plenty of times, but it is my ADC's first visit. It is a Saturday evening, and we don't get there until around 7. There is, of course, a monster wait 45 min to and hour, they tell us. We both like sitting at the bar, though, and two seats open up there in about 10 minutes.

ADC gets a pint of Anchor, and I get a can of Caldera Pale Ale. We split the Caesar (they are unfortunately out of croutons). The Caesar is always good, flakes of Parm, the killer dressing, the beautiful, whole leaves of romaine. Mmm. Although the salad is big, we finish every bite.

We also agree to split the Apizza Amore (always my favorite pie). We are both delighted. We each eat 3 pieces, leaving 2 to take with up (which we proceed to eat for breakfast this morning). The pizza did not disappoint, and ADC agreed that this is one of the best pies in town. We discussed heading to Nostrana and Ken's to compare and contrast. I'll let you know if that happens.

We leave, VERY satisfied. But, what I can't figure out is how this makes it into the 'Cheap Eats' guide. Every time I go, it is almost always close to $20 per person (last night, I parted ways with $50 for a pizza, a salad, and a few beers). Now, let it be known that I am not complaining. I think the food we had was worth every penny, but this is certainly not 'cheap.'

I Swear 'Looters' Follies' Has Never Sounded So Good

Allright, 'Looters' Follies' sounds better on the CD 'Destroyer's Rubies' than it does live. It's cleaner, richer and more paced. And so do a handful of other songs played last night at the Doug Fir by Dan Bejar and Destroyer...

I get there at 10, just as the second band Hudson Bell begins their set. Hudson Bell (the singer, guitarist, and songwriter) is originally from Baton Rouge, and the southern accent does show through. Hudson Bell (the band, also featuring John Slater on bass and Brian Fraser on drums) is really good. Strong, dense, distortion filled epic pop blasted from the PAs for a good 45 minutes. Think of the musical offspring of Built to Spill and Pavement with a little Niel Young tossed in for good measure. I didn't have the cash to pick up a CD last night, but their new (and I believe only) CD 'When the Sun is the Moon' is on my shortlist of music to check out.

But enough about opening acts... I grab a beer during Hudson Bell's last song, and during the break, when everyone else heads to the bar, I snag a great standing spot right in front of the sound booth. I am two steps above the floor, pretty much dead center, and have a great view of the stage. I spy Dan Bejar grabbing a drink at the bar, seems like no one knows it's him. They set up, and the shop begins...

I only have one Destroyer album (a wrong which will quickly be righted), so I can't give you a decent list of all the songs that were performed. Roughly half of the 12(ish) song set was from the new record 'Rubies,' while the other half spanned their other 6 albums. They played most of my faves from the new album, with one notable exception. I had expected to hear '3000 Flowers,' and in fact the crowd called for it several times, but it was not in the cards. Seems to me this one would have been great live. 'Rubies' was played, but seemed very rushed, as did 'Looters' Follies.' 'Your Blood,' 'Painter in your Pocket' and 'A Dangerous Woman...' fared better, and were faithful to the record. The true standout was 'European Oils,' a great version of the song, the piano sounded great, as did the thundering base and blissed out, fuzzed out glam rock guitar solo. Brilliant.

A few final thoughts on the show...

  1. The songs I was unfamiliar with were great, and reinforce the fact that I really need to get some old Destroyer soon...
  2. I really want to know who the ass was who yelled out 'Go Back to Canada.' Dummy...
  3. I saw the best tattoo ever (possibly) while there. Check the EP Blog soon for more on that...
All in all, 'Looters' Follies' has sounded better, but the show was still terribly enjoyable.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pix' Movie Night

Monday is movie night at Pix' N Williams location. Tonight was Fargo, a film I hadn't seen forever. The Cohen brother are fantastic, from comedies like The Big Lebowski to complete freak outs like Barton Fink. I hadn't been to a movie night at Pix yet, and this seemed like the ideal night.

I get there about 10 minutes till 6 (movies start at 6) and I am the first and only person there. I grab a seat at the bar and order a beer (Lagunitas IPA). Happy hour runs from 5 until 8, so there are alcohol discounts all throughout the movie. I end up with another IPA, a beer float (Rogue's Chocolate Stout with Pix' homemade mocha ice cream), a salami plate (pretty good, cornichons, hot coppa, and a couple of other salamis I can't identify), a cheddar, bacon and tomato on brioche panini, a passion fruit macaroon, coffee, and a rose macaroon. The place eventually gets a bit busier and noisier, and the the 3rd quarter of the movie is a bit tought to hear.

Loyal readers will know that last time I tried to order a rose macaroon at Pix' SE location, they were all out. This time, they had 'em, and I must admit I was a little disappointed. Not much flavor, just very sweet. The passion fruit was MUCH better. My sandwich was a little over cooked in the panini press, and they offered to make me a new one or comp this one. I said it was fine, and of course offered to pay for it. They ended up comping it anyway.

Good dinner, and fairly well priced. A good movie to boot. Next week, Napoleon Dynamite. Anyone interested??