Earlier this year, I was in need of a mini-break and decided to take a road trip up to Portland and Seattle to meet up with some friends. I had never been further north of Clear Lake at the South of the Mendocino National Forest, and thought it might be fun to see what is actually Northern California (even though we in the Bay Area say we live in Norcal), and bits of Oregon and Washington. Leaving after work, it was quite a drive to get to Medford. On a side note. Never ever ever stop and eat at the Burger King in Weed's California. Just don't do it... unless you like jerky-like chicken strips.
After a night in Medford, we hopped back on the I5 and stopped in Salem to eat at Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro. Apparently word had gotten around and this place was packed with almost an hour long wait. They should rename it to Word of Yelp Bistro. In any case, it was worth the wait. Salem Sunrise Mimosa on an empty stomach? Yes, please!
This dish was simple titled, 'Plate 'o love'. A couple eggs, corned beef hash, and creme brulee vanilla custard French toast. The French toast was a-maz-ing. The sugar on top was caramelized, crunchy and absolutely tasty.
The caramelized onion patty melt was pretty good too. Look at that gooey cheese.
Portland seems to be quite an eclectic city, with a bustling city center, near by University, and a riving passing right through it. The city's tram system makes it pretty easy to get around, with free fares in the busiest zones.
The rainy weather in Portland put a little damper on the sight-seeing, however the skies cleared up every now and then.
For dinner, I had researched an interesting gastro-pub like restaurant with apparently the best mixologists in Portland. Beaker & Flask is a hidden gem on the East side of the river in the more industrial looking part of the city. With discreet signage, it was difficult to spot the restaurant.
The two drinks below? They were tasty. What they're called, or what was in them... I wouldn't be able to tell you. About two drinks in, it all became rum haze. The website also doesn't list the gamut of concoctions they offer. I guess they're hip like that and you'll just have to take my word for it I suppose.
Along with my tasty cocktails, I ordered some fried pig ears. Yes. Fried. Pig. Ears. Now I know what you're thinking. Hey, that's the stuff I give my dog to gnaw on when he's being good. Well kind of, right? But no. These were crunchy and salty, and ever so tasty. I don't care if they're pig ears. I'm not sharing them with your dog.
I know some of you think it might be awful, but I love offal things. See what I did there? Ha. B&F serve up quite a mean chicken liver mousse. Though I initially questioned serving it with pumpernickel bread, pickled egg, and marmalade, it all actually worked together. Maybe I'm just used to my Spanish version of chicken liver mousse on toasted baguette.
For my entree, I ordered what appears to be braised pork rib, scallop, and some other sort of meat, on a citrus and frisee salad. If anyone else knows what that meat is, let me know. It was tasty, it disappeared off the plate, 'nuff said.
Fast forward to Seattle. On our First night, a friend of a friend whisked us off to Dick's Hamburgers for a quick drive through treat. I love the vintage sign. We also stopped by a place called Sazarac, which had an awesome happy hour. I'll definitely be stopping by there the next time I visit Seattle.
The weather in Seattle was a lot more mild than I expected it to be. Considering most of the year its cloudy or raining, we were lucky to get a bit of sunshine.
A short stroll from Pike Place Market, we stopped at Ivar's Fish Bar down by the water facing the Puget Sound to get some fish 'n chips, fried calamari, and chowder.
Ivar's is pretty much a fast food joint, but it seemed to be a popular pit stop for some quick seafood.
Even the locals crowded the picnic area on the pier. There were actually signs encouraging people to feed the seagulls, and they seemed pretty fearless. Apparently old Ivar used to do this back in the day; there's even a little monument of a seaman with seagulls perched on him.
Also, right by Pike Place Market, was The Crumpet Shop, which came highly recommended. Nothing like some melting maple butter to fill all the nooks and crannies.
And of course, you can't visit Pike Place Market without stopping by the original Starbucks Store.
It's funny to think how this tiny shop is now a worldwide chain. I think there are about 10 other Starbucks coffee shops within a mile radius of this one. Crazy!
And what to go with that coffee? A mini donut from a stand inside the market.
A close friend of mine was adamant that I stop by Piroshky Piroshky. This small corner shop was packed to the gills with baked goods and a few college looking students manning the tills.
For those of you who aren't familiar with piroshkies, they're the Russian take on a meat filled pie. For those of you who aren't familiar with me, I love meat pies. There's just something special about the countless combinations of fillings, warm and encased in either a flaky crust or soft spongy dough. They keep remarkably well too, as meat pies were originally made for the working man. This was the beef and cheese piroshky, with a rather large bite taken out of it, of course.
I think this piroshky was a vegetarian one with potato, onion and maybe mushroom.
Downtown Seattle, especially around Pike Place Market, is very picturesque. The stalls are very colorful as they're filled with peppers...
...and gum. Wait, what?! That's right people. A wall, a gum wall. Colorful, yet oh so nasty.
Located under Pike Place Market, the gum wall started around the 1990's when irritated theater goers began sticking gum on the wall as they had to wait for tickets. In 1999 the wall became a certified tourist attraction. Seriously. It must be one of the most germ infected tourist spots in the world.
But nothing kills off germs faster than alcohol right? My last night in Seattle, I had one of the best greyhounds (vodka and grapefruit) ever. Though at a whiskey bar, they went to the trouble of freshly squeezing juice.
In a food and traveling haze, prior to setting off for home, we stopped by some diner somewhere in Seattle and had breakfast. Seattle and Portland are definitely full of good eats, most still unexplored by yours truly. Hopefully I'll make my way back up North at some point to do some more gastro-sight-seeing.
140 17th Street NE
Salem, OR 97302
Salem, OR 97302
Tel: 503 930 4285
727 SE Washington St.
Portland, OR 97214
Portland, OR 97214