Barry and I have been going out to eat a lot in the recent weeks. A lot for us comes out to about three times a week, often all on our work weekend of Sunday/Monday. For us eating out usually means a pastry and coffee or snacks and drinks, but once in a while it means whole meal. This recent bout of going out to eat is actually a bit of a resolution of mine. Portland is full of great restaurants, bars, and cafes, and new ones are always popping up. I love to try new places. It's so satisfying to find spots that do things (food, service, decor, music, etc.) to our liking. I enjoy searching out and supporting such places, so I've decided to be more intentional than ever about trying new-to-us places and adding the ones we like to our regular rotation. Also, most of you who know me know that I'm not a big consumer of stuff. I've come to realize that I prefer to spend money experiences, like having meals out and traveling, rather than on tangible things. So let the eating begin!
A few spots that we've tried in the past month or so (other than the ones I've already mentioned here):
At Grassa we enjoyed two hearty bowls of tasty pasta: Italian Ramen for Barry (he was feeling the pork belly and egg), Sunday Pork Ragu for me (I had a taste for rigatoni). We sat at the bar and had fun watching the pasta being made by hand. We liked the music selection a lot. And we enjoyed an easy, thoroughly comforting meal. It's one of many restaurants in Portland that's doing the "order at the counter and take a seat" thing, which I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of. But for lunch downtown or a casual dinner on a cold night, I'd definitely go back.
Smallwares/Barwares has been around for a while now, but it's taken us some time to finally try it out (thank you, resolution). I know it's silly, but I get worried at places that serve small plates that I'm going to leave hungry. I have to remind myself that I can always order more. (Side note: I get the same worry every time I eat a burrito. A burrito!) Anyhow, Barry and I split several small plates and each was interesting and delicious. There were ingredients that we were familiar with used in ways that were new to us. And there were several things that we'd never heard of on the menu that were exciting to try. And happily after four plates we were stuffed.
Ataula is a newish tapas spot close to home. We shared three fantastic dishes and a bottle of wine that was a great recommendation from the waiter. The place had a fun, lively buzz to it the night we were there. There's no question we'll be back.
We've also found the happy hour at Tasty & Alder to be right up our alley ($2 mugs of dark beer from Munich and a radicchio with lardons, manchego, chopped six minute egg hit the spot). And the few pastries we've tried at Roman Candle were perfection.
I'll be back with more in a bit. Thanks to friends' recommendations and this blog, our list of restaurants to try grows longer all the time.