Celebration!

On our way to and from Pacific City, OR – where Ry and I went to celebrate our six month wedding anniversary, and fulfill my Christmas gift to him – we passed through Portland.
Our ETD (estimated time of departure) was 3:30pm. We left around 4:30pm. Even though it was a Thursday night we both braced ourselves for the horrendous traffic we’d surely be sitting in, particularly since it was a glorious day – few and far between up here in the PNW during the winter months. The worst part of the drive was on the 99 Viaduct, but how can you complain when you get to see the sun setting on the Puget Sound behind the Cascade Mountains? Pretty spectacular.
Miraculously we made it down to Portland by about 7:30. I’d brought a handful of magazines for reading material and this one just happened to be in the bunch…
How convenient.
 
My tummy started to rumble. It was 7:30pm. We had to eat, and we just happen to be in Portland… Why not just eat food, but eat well? I did a little on the spot iPhone research… thank you Eater Portland app… and off we went to the Firehouse Restaurant in NE Portland. It was delicious.
And this little sideshow foodie detour reminded me of the last time we spent a weekend in Portland. Surprisingly, our previous visit was my first time experiencing this burgeoning city and tasting of its culinary delights.
We’d gone down to celebrate my birthday. I’d been stuck in our apartment all week icing my knee with a potentially torn meniscus. It was a week fraught with many emotions and doctors visits. Not only did I go to our sports medicine doctor, but I had to dish out another $20 co-pay to my naturopath so we could get to the bottom of the mystery illness I’d been battling since September. He drew some blood for a food allergy test and said he’d probably have the results back early the next week. So this Portlandia food adventure was my last chance to throw down the “ignorance is bliss” card. And boy was it blissful!
But just before we left I received some great news… No meniscus tear!!! Wooooooo!!!! Happy belated Birthday to me! 🙂
Our first stop was Clyde Common for a celebratory drink and a delightful meal. The drinks: superb. The food: delightful. The ambiance: dark and romantic. The photos: didn’t really turn out.
Bummer. Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Saturday we slept in and woke up to a lovely brisk fall day. The plan: Powell’s. I’d only heard of this Everest of bookstores (okay maybe it’s a Mount Rainer), but had yet to lose myself (and my day) within its rooms and rows of treasures. We had to be sufficiently fueled for such an undertaking. Byways Cafe was just the spot.
Since we’d slept in, it was definitely a little later. Okay a lot later. But we both wanted breakfast. You just can’t start your day without it! We were in luck! Byways Cafe serves it all day long and it was just a short walk from Powell’s. Reminiscent of an old-school diner, it was full of collectable plates, character and smiles. The food was lovely and the service was sweet. Their pancakes looked “to-die-for,” so if you can eat gluten I’d go for those!
Our bellies full and hearts happy we headed off to Powell’s.

 

 

 

And Powell’s did not disappoint. In fact I got 75% of my Christmas shopping done that very day. Books for all! We walked back to our hotel that evening, lugging our loot, but then it was on to the next adventure… Dinner!
After extensive research (what else was I going to do all week on the couch while icing my knee?) I’d weeded through many menus and decided on Old Salt Marketplace in the Northeast neighborhood.
Seeking out the restaurant was an adventure in and of itself. It’s not that it was difficult to find, it’s just that Portland’s comprised of mostly quaint, adorable old homes dotted periodically with pockets of retail shops and restaurants. No wonder Portland’s known for its foodies… How could you live here and not be, when your local haunt serves microbrews and menu items like “roasted sunchokes, parmesan fritters, hot coppa, bagna crudo”?
It was a busy night at Old Salt, so we drove down a few blocks to grab drinks and then returned. We were not disappointed. The beet and carrot salad was out of this world and my duck was one of the best I’ve ever had. Definitely worth the drive!

 

 

 

So I guess there are a couple cities where the Sunday Brunch reigns supreme. Let me give you a hint… Portland is one of them. And choosing your spot proves quite a difficult task. I’m not going to lie… I chose this place because of the decor. Just so happens the food was phenomenal too. The Woodsman Tavern. I found it while perusing the Eater Portland blog and knew we had to eat a meal there.
Side note: Eater is a excellent resource for finding great food when traveling… I’ve used in it NYC, Portland and San Diego and it hasn’t let me down once.
Have you ever had a moment where you see something and you’re like “Did someone sneak into my brain and steal that idea because thought of it first!!!”? Let’s just say their wall of paintings is exactly the concept I had for our apartment… But that’s for a later post.
They had a buckwheat pancake that I was really hoping would be gluten-free. Yeah. No such luck. But… their bourbon baked apples were… ugh. I don’t even think I can describe how mouthwateringly delicious they were. And the bacon! I won’t even try… Haha!
 Ryan had The Lumberjack breakfast. Appropriate with his beard and flannel. He looked like he belonged there. Or on the cover of a Brawny ad.

 

 

 

A little disappointed I’d yet to find any baked goods that were gluten-free in this food-conscientious town Ry and I drove up Martin Luther King Jr Blvd on our way out of town in search of our final treats before our celebration weekend came to a close. I mean we did need some coffee for the drive…
We grabbed our coffee, to-go box of goodies and some gluten-free dinner roles for our upcoming Thanksgiving feast and hit the road. And boy were our treats tasty! Ryan devoured his chocolita bar.
Gluten-free? You coulda fooled him…

 

It was a great weekend. One I’ll remember fondly… or at least my stomach will. It was a celebration. And we celebrated well.
If you have a chance I hope you can check out some of these fine establishments. They’re really wonderful! And I hope to have more restaurant-recommendation blog posts in the future as well. We sure do love good food!
Cheers and happy Friday!
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