fine dining

Tasty n’ Sons

For a few years now, I’ve had a bucket list of Portland restaurants I’ve wanted to try. Some are out of my budget. Some are just impossible to get into–like Tasty n’ Sons. Michael and I have tried to go to this restaurant multiple times now and the wait was always too long. The “thing” to do in restaurant management here in Portland seems to be to have very small dining areas and accept NO reservations so that there’s always a line, thus creating demand and buzz. I find this pretentious and I’m rarely willing to wait over an hour for a seat to eat a meal.

Tasty n' Sons

Thursday night Michael’s father was visiting from Texas and the plan was to go to Meriwether’s–a tried and true favorite. The traffic was atrocious and we missed our reservation time trying to get from the airport to NW. I said screw it, let’s find anything. It was by change and luck that Tasty n’ Sons did NOT have a wait out the door!

Tasty n' Sons

Michael and his dad were parking the car and I dashed into the restaurant to get us on the list. Miraculously there were tables free! The server was reluctant to seat me since my “party” wasn’t with me (apparently they won’t seat people there unless everyone has arrived). I guaranteed they were right behind me (do I need to offer my first born son, too??) and she let me squat at a table til they arrived. I munched on the oddly salty and sweet roasted peanuts that were at the table. They were delicious.

Michael ordered us the dates wrapped in bacon and smothered with maple syrup. At first I scoffed at the appetizer because I’ve never had dates before and it honestly sounded like a train wreck of sweetness and crunch. But I trust Michael’s palette and knew he’d never order something that was grotesquely sweet. Three tiny dates arrived on a small plate like lumps of coal. I was still apprehensive but decided to give it a try.

Tasty n' Sons

The dates were wrapped in bacon and there was an almond wrapped inside of it. I took a bite and it was…squishy…The flavor was mild but the texture was what I cringed at until Michael instructed me to eat the whole thing in one bite. Much better decision. I popped the remainder in my mouth and it was an explosion of breakfast in my mouth. The combination of flavors of fruit, maple syrup, almonds and bacon tasted exactly like a waffle–or french toast. It was marvelous. In one bite I got to experience my favorite carby-breakfast treats. There’s no way I could ever eat more than one, maybe two, of these little suckers but it was enjoyable.

Tasty n' Sons

The next appetizer arrived on a mound of thin french fries: the “Pretty Damn Good Chicken Strips” and these were gosh darn golly gee pretty darn good. They weren’t drenched in grease like chicken strips tend to be and the garlic/ranch/aioli dipping sauce was addicting.

My entree was the polenta with peppers and sausage. The polenta tasted just like the cheesy grits I had in Texas. Cheesy grits and polenta need to be in every meal. 🙂 I loved the polenta! The sausage was really spicy with a hint of fennel.

Tasty n' Sons

I had a glass of wine that was a Sangiovese and Cabernet blend.  It was the kind of full-bodied red you want to sip slowly while you cut into a juicy steak smothered in onions and a bernaise sauce. Even though the wine was bold, it wasn’t overpowering like a lot of cabernet blends can be. I wouldn’t order this wine with something delicate like fish but it complimented my sausage and polenta entree nicely.

Tasty n' Sons

Michael got the “The Tasty Burger”–bacon and smoked bleu cheese with sweet pickles on it. I had one bite and enjoyed every smokey burst of flavor in it. Michael wasn’t blown away by the burger, though. He felt like it wasn’t as juicy as some of the other amazing burgers we’ve tried in our Quest.

I’d rate this restaurant at a solid A-. The service was awesome, despite the weirdness about getting a table, and the food was delicious. I’m a tad disappointed Michael didn’t think their burger was outstanding, so it’s not going on our Burger Quest list at this time.

QUESTION: Are restaurants difficult to get into in your town? How long are you willing to wait for a table?

F is for Fast Food and Fine Dining


F is for Fast Food and Fine Dining.

As a single girl living alone that didn’t cook, I ate a lot of crap. Fast food was a staple for me because I didn’t like cooking and didn’t do it very well. I didn’t eat fast food every day but too often. On the nights I didn’t get fast food for dinner I would eat the pre-packaged dinners. Things like frozen pizza, frozen pot pies for example. I also made a lot of stuff out of a box. I liked those “Helpers” where you just cook the box. Mac n’ Cheese from a box. Lots and lots of processed foods!

I had my favorite fast food places. I loved the Dairy Queen Blizzards. I’d get several a week–and not the small ones either. My favorite flavors were Butterfingers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’ve talked ad nauseum about my addiction to Pizza Hut. Sometimes I’d get a pizza once a week.


I loved Taco Bell. Soft Taco Supreme baby! Taco Time was good too. When I lived in Portland Burgerville became a favorite. I didn’t eat meat all that often but if I did, it was the Burgerville Tillamook Bacon Cheeseburger with fries and an enormous seasonal milkshake (theirs are pretty fantastic):


Do we even have to speculate why I weighed over 250 pounds? The diet in combination with no exercise did a number on my body and my brain. When it became time to lose the weight I stopped eating fast food. Cold turkey! It was hard. I wanted pizza so badly but I resisted and the only “fast food” I ate was Subway. Or was it?


NOPE! I was still eating fast food–just in a different form and in lower calories. For three years I ate Lean Cuisines in order to lose weight and yes, I realize they aren’t healthy. But it did the trick. It was portion controlled, low in calories, and honestly didn’t taste that bad. It was also good because I hated cooking. Funny how things change, huh?

Then something happened. I met this guy:

Michael is a foodie. He taught me to become a foodie. He was all about eating real food. He nagged me to no end about the “crap” I was eating and how it was poison to my body (so true). The other thing he taught me was fine dining. Before, “fine dining” meant Red Robin, Azteca Mexican Restaurants and Chevy’s. Hmmm. Not quite.

Chez Machin

Michael exposed me to REAL restaurants. Not chains. Not fast food. Fine dining doesn’t have to mean expensive, either. One of the things I love most about the hobbies that we share is that we can go out to restaurants and try new things. I found that I loved trying new restaurants! It became a thing to do.

Gruner

And we are lucky to live in Portland where there are some pretty amazing restaurants here. In three and a half years of being together we still have not tried all the fantastic restaurants here yet. We have some favorites and I have to admit, the highlight of going out is trying somewhere new.

Meriwether's

The way Michael first exposed me to fine dining was in Vegas, honestly. I was there with a friend and he was there with a friend playing poker and the four of us went to Tao in the Venetian. It was one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had. I wasn’t a huge sushi fan then yet so it was a completely new and foreign experience for me.


It opened my eyes to another world, though. There was something better out there. There was a reason to eat food! It tasted GOOD! It didn’t have to be crap ordered from a window. Or something frozen and reheated. A year later when Michael and I went back to Vegas together as a couple he surprised me yet again with the best meal of my entire life:

Craftsteak

Craftsteak in the MGM Grand Casino, owned by the awesome Tom Collicchio from Top Chef (my favorite show)! I was floored by the surprise and completely blown away by the food. This is what food tastes like. Wow. It changed my palate. I suddenly became picky about eating crap. I wanted to eat REAL food. The kind of food that was healthier; whole foods, fresh foods. It was a huge, eye-opening experience for me.

This also lead me to want to make better food. I started practicing in the kitchen. With Michael’s help I learned how to cook. They aren’t all winners, of course, but most of the time the meals I make turn out pretty good. Michael is a patient teacher in the kitchen. He understands that good food takes patience and practice. I’m learning that. Now if I’m given the option between quickie meals from the freezer or something fresh and lovely, I’d rather spend the time cooking that instead.

It’s been a life changing journey.

QUESTION: What is your experience with fast food and fine dining?

 

A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories * D-Vitamin D * E-Emergency *