For the B.C. day long weekend CL and I headed down to Portland for 3 days with a couple friends. The drive down to Oregon was long and tedious but I wasn’t the one driving so I didn’t complain too much. The weather was extremely hot and the shopping was disappointing to say the least, but I cheered myself up by doing the one thing I’m good at, eating! We stayed at a hotel near the airport and found a couple restaurants nearby to try. Sort of like a mini food tour. To make it fair, we all chose one restaurant each and we focused mostly on American comfort food since this kind of cuisine isn’t readily available in Vancouver. Despite the one restaurant each rule, I still got to choose three restaurants for this trip because CL and another friend let me choose their restaurants for them!
There were a few dishes we had that were memorable to me, with the first being the double-down at The Original in downtown Portland. The Original is an upscale diner located in the heart of downtown Portland that serves up American comfort food with a modern twist. We made our way to the restaurant late Saturday evening after checking into our hotel and thanks to an earlier reservation, we got a table in no time. One glance at the menu and the double-down immediate captured my attention. CL and I decided to share the dish with a garden salad and a side of mac and cheese.
Arriving piping hot, fresh out of the fryer, this double-down looked nothing like the KFC version. Layers of sliced ham and melted Gruyère cheese was sandwiched between two GIANT breaded chicken breasts. All of us were shocked by the monstrous portions and my friends all eagerly whipped out their phones to take pictures of my food. As with most food, bigger portions usually means mediocre flavour, but this double-down was not short in the flavour department. The ham was salty and sweet and the melted cheese added a creamy richness to the dish. The chicken was fried perfect, being tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The breading of the chicken breasts was not perfectly even but the flavours were good. The seasoning of the chicken was pretty mild which is perfect when eaten together with the ham and cheese because nothing overpowered another. The dish was not heavy at all and the side salad had a nice and tangy vinegrette that acted as a pallet cleanser.
The side order of mac and cheese was very well executed as well, being creamy and cheesy throughout. Coupled with the home made ketchup, this dish was savoury and sweet at the same time. The macaroni were still al dente and the sprinkle of bread crumbs added some good texture. CL and I struggled to finish this at the end because it was really rich. The food at The Original was way past my expectations and we left full and satisfied. Be sure to ask the server about the portion size because some items seem to be A LOT bigger than the others (especially the double-down).
The next morning we woke up tired and hungry again. I chose Pine State Biscuits as our destination for breakfast but we faced an hour long wait when we arrived. Damn you Guy Fieri for making this place a tourist trap…. (just kidding I love Triple D passionately) Hungry and discontent, we made our way to The Waffle Window a couple blocks away. Waffle Window serves up Belgian waffles with a variety of savoury and sweet topping at an affordable price, and this is the place where I discovered my next memorable dish, The Whole Farm breakfast waffle.
The Whole Farm is a clever name for a sweet Belgian waffle topped with spinach, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon and goat cheese. The ingredient were all fresh and came together really well to make an amazing and cohesive dish. The vegetables were fresh and vibrant, the mushrooms were savoury and earthy, the bacon was crispy and salty, and the goat cheese was creamy and tangy. All these things on top of a golden brown waffle made for the best breakfast dish I’ve had in a long time. The “kickers” of the dish (for you Guy Fieri fans out there) are the nuggets of sugar embedded inside the waffle. These little nuggets of sugar added another dimension of texture and provided a few bursts of sweetness. The discovery of The Waffle Window was purely accidental but the food blew me away. They have a few locations throughout Portland and I encourage you to pay them a visit.
After a day of shopping at Woodburns, Saks off 5th and Nordstrom rack, we were all hungry again…. Instead of going to Huber’s restaurant for dinner as planned, we made a detour and ended up at The Screen Door for their famous Southern Fried Chicken! I’ve been drooling over this fried chicken ever since I first read about it on Sherman’s Food Blog but after trying it I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was good, but it didn’t wow me. Maybe it’s my heightened expectations or maybe they were just having an off day.
I digress, the reason I’m telling you about the Screen Door is because of their delicious shrimp and grits, which more than made up for their ordinary fried chicken. The creamy grits were topped with eight jumbo sized prawns in a crawfish seafood sauce. The seafood sauce was rich and savoury with a hint of tomato and lots of seafood flavour from the crawfish. Eaten together with the grits, the dish reminded me of Chinese seafood congee a little bit, except it was much more creamy and rich in flavour. The prawns were cooked just right, possessing the necessary snap. A generous drizzle of basil oil added another layer of flavour and made the whole dish pop. This dish is my favourite out of everything we had in Portland.
Portland was a lot of fun this time around. Not only did I get to spend some time with CL and friends, I also got to sample American cuisine like never before. The shopping kinda sucked but our little food tour made the trip more interesting and exciting because we are always looking forward to the next meal. There are many more restaurants in Portland that I wanna visit but I would definitely return to these restaurants for the three dishes mentioned above.