Sam

Take Me Down to Chinatown

The changing seasons in addition to taking a break from intense exercise, made me want to spend more time with friends. Maybe I was just nesting because the days were getting darker and colder, or maybe I just needed some girl time to whine, vent, and laugh. I had a really busy social schedule immediately following the Salem Century. I’d been so focused on training leading up to the century that I had neglected lots of friends!

The first outing was with my cousin Anna. We actually tried to go to two different bars for happy hour and weren’t enthused about the menus at either of them so we left. We ended up at North Bar on SE Division Street. It’s a bar that I’ve wanted to try for ages. I used to live in that neighborhood and drove by it every day on the way home from work. I was glad we ended up there because I enjoyed it a lot!

Anna and I sat outside because it was a nice Indian Summer evening and too warm to stay inside. North’s happy hour menu was great! Lots of options sounded great, and their regular priced menu items were very affordable. The beers were super cheap so that’s what I ordered. Nice selection on tap, too. I got a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA.

Anna and I decided to split the half order of nachos. Honestly, it was the day after biking 62 miles and I was so insanely hungry I would have eaten anything! We got caught up on our latest news. I told her about our trip to Hawaii and the Salem Century (and gave her some coffee from Kona!). Anna told me about her vacation to New Orleans and gave me the grooviest fridge magnet she got there.

The nachos were great, not too gluttonous despite how it looks. It had jalapenos and black beans on it. The chips were seasoned with perhaps taco seasoning. I’m glad we got the half order because it was big enough for the two of us to share. I also got a side salad, which was delicious and simple.

We stayed out way too late and the sun dipped down behind the buildings and it was time to go. I would most definitely return to North Bar. There was an Italian panini that intrigues me and I must try it soon. I read the reviews on Yelp and they seemed mixed. I did not experience any bad service like some of the other reviewers. I liked it a lot and the bartender was super nice. There was also TONS of bike parking for cyclists!

The next happy hour was with my friend Sam. I met her at the Jade Bistro in Sellwood. I’ve been hearing about this place for so long! All good things, too. I had some time to kill before meeting my friend, so I finished reading my book in the lovely fall evening that was still warm and nice out. If you haven’t read this book, you should!

I read it in one day. It was so good! Sam arrived and we ordered things to share. .

The first was the steamed hum bao with pork in it. I’d never had one before and it was amazing! It was like a little pastry or a biscuit but stuffed with goodness. It was light and fluffy. Sam and I split it. I could have eaten a whole one, I liked it that much.

The next thing we shared was the salad rolls with shrimp and chicken in it. They stuffed them with lettuce and veggies and it came with a creamy peanut sauce.

I will definitely be returning to Jade to get more of these salad rolls. I loved them. I could have skipped everything else and just had the hum bao and rolls.

We also shared the fried salt and pepper squid. I did not like this and wouldn’t order it again. It was basically big calamari and fried (wasn’t really looking for fried foods) but it was super chewy. Sam said they must have used fried squid? I’m not sure but I didn’t like it. The dipping sauce that came with it was good, though.

The last dish we shared was the chicken satay. The chicken breast chunks were on skewers and were cooked in coconut and curry. They had a hint of sweetness to it. The dipping sauce that came with it had some spice to balance it out, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it and used the sauce that came with the squid instead. It also came with these weird cracker-rice-cake type things (the white things on top) but I skipped that.

Sam told me about all the amazing street food in San Francisco and it made me want to go back for a visit. It’s been way too long since I’ve been there and I wasn’t a foodie when I went, so I missed out on a lot of stuff. I never went to Chinatown either!

I ordered a big pot of jasmine tea to go with dinner and we got caught up on the latest gossip in our lives. I really enjoyed Jade Bistro and will definitely go back. Sam and I were eyeing the dishes other diners ordered and everything looks amazing. I really want to try their baguette sandwiches and the stir fry dishes.

QUESTION: What is your favorite type of Asian dish to order?

Round Up

I’ve been out on a few happy hours with friends recently and wanted to do a round-up on the places we went in one post. All of these places I’ve been to a number of times before so there weren’t too many surprises.

Night Light

The first place was an old stand-by: The Night Light. I’ve been there with my cousin Anna before and I like it because the happy hour runs until 7 and the food is really good. It’s also conveniently located for both of us and I had a Groupon.

I got there a little early and I posted up at an outside table to read my book (“Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain). While I was sitting there, a runner came by and stopped at the empty table next to me. She looked around, I could tell she was trying to decide something, and then picked up the jug of water sitting on the table. She gulped it all down and then continued on her way. It was so bizarre and funny!

I ordered a glass of red wine. It was a Gran Sasso: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. It was an Italian wine full of earthy-gritting flavor. It was a very strong wine.

Anna arrived and ordered a Sangria. The presentation was nice with fresh fruit perched on top. I had a sip of it. It was tasty but way too sweet. Anna got the spicy mac n’ cheese from the happy hour menu and I had a bite. I am so ordering that next time!

The happy hour menu is good but I was craving a sandwich so I ordered the BLT. It was the typical sandwich on toasted como bread with garlic aioli sauce. The sauce was fantastic. Oh, and there was avocado on it. Messy, but delicious. I ordered fries with it in a moment of weakness, justifying it because I ate a salad for lunch that day, and then regretted getting them. I almost never crave fries. Thankfully Anna helped me eat them.

It was nice to catch up with her. I hadn’t seen her in awhile because of a crazy busy schedule and vacation.

Hedge House

I met my friend Sam at Hedge House for happy hour–just a light noshing, not a full dinner. I hadn’t been to Hedge House in probably 8 years. They’ve expanded to include an outdoor picnic area and also a covered outdoor area. I snagged a seat outside in the covered area because even though it was warm and dry out, the clouds looked an awful lot like rain.

I got a 10 ounce beer from their rotating “IPA of the Day” menu. For the life of me I cannot remember the name but it was really good. It was “green something”. Wish I could remember because I enjoyed it’s bitter hoppiness quite a bit.

I wanted to share an order of something of the happy hour menu but we ended up getting two things. Sam was on her way to rowing practice after we hung out so she wanted something more substantial.

Sam ordered the Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders. They were super tiny, despite how monstrous they look in this photo (they were about 3 bites). I had one of them. It was good–they put the coleslaw on the sliders and it gave it a nice crunch. The BBQ wasn’t too sweet either.

Then we split the hummus platter. This was fantastic! The hummus was creamy and had a zip. There was warm pita bread, lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato chunks and Kalamata olives for dipping.

There was also some creamy chunks of feta cheese. There was plenty of food to satisfy, and the sliders weren’t really needed. Sam and I spent some time catching up and commiserating various things and then she had to jet to practice.

Bar-Hopping

My friends Jeep and Rachel were visiting Portland for a few days and Michael and I were able to meet up with them one Saturday evening to catch up. We met them at the hotel they were staying at — Vintage Plaza Hotel — downtown. The place was very cool and trendy looking. The lobby was beautiful! The picture below shows the courtyard in the middle of the lobby.

We got happy hour in the hotel restaurant bar. They all got beer and I got a glass of the house Pinot Grigio. We munched on some absolutely delicious bread with olive oil and balsamic. (I was famished! I’d worked out hard that morning and hadn’t eaten enough at lunch time.) The bread was a mixture of focaccia, crusty French bread and a specialty bread that had pimentos baked into it. Michael and I also got the happy hour order of Italian meats and pickled vegetables to go with the bread.

We finished up and did a little club hopping to kill time before dinner. Jeep and Rachel had requested we go to Old Town Pizza for dinner.  I hadn’t been there in years. Supposedly it’s haunted and that’s why they wanted to go there. Unfortunately we did not see any ghosts! We all shared a pitcher of beer and ordered two small pizzas.

And they were very small! Which is probably what I liked best about them. The first was a pepperoni and black olives and the second pizza was artichokes, feta, tomatoes and olives.

The pizzas were alright but nothing special. The toppings were fantastic and tasted great but the dough was chewy and not especially flavorful. Our friends agreed that it was just alright.

With the arrival of summer (finally) I am on the quest for a good happy hour place with outdoor seating. I want to spend as much time as I can outside!

QUESTION: What is your favorite happy hour snack and drink?