MY STRATEGIES FOR CONQUERING PORTLAND DINING MONTH 2018

MY STRATEGIES FOR CONQUERING PORTLAND DINING MONTH 2018!

Portland Dining Month returns for it's 9th year with a few newbies on the lineup! Portland dining month presented by Travel Portland is already live and on day five with over 120 participating restaurants, including some local favorites and a few newbies to the group.  If you've not cruised the line-up this year then head over to www.travelportland.com to scroll through all of the amazing pre-fixe three-course options available all month long for $33 dollars. 

Since it's inception in 2009, Portland food lovers have enjoyed dining across the city during the month of March while enjoy three-course-meals at a discounted price. For me, and many others, this is the time of year when we get to pull out our Portland restaurant bucket lists and hit all of the places I've been wanting to indulge in, at a delicious deal.

New to 2018 Portland Dining Month's lineup is Feastly. Feastly is the highly sought-after dining pop-up experience featuring local and global chefs connecting curious dinners with a pop-up dining experience.  Feastly Portland and its community of chefs will throw Portland Dining Month pop-up meals in their dedicated space and through venues around town. For a full list of participating Feasty chefs, menus, and locations visit www.eatfeastly.com/pdxdiningmonth. The Feastly chefs participating in this years' dining month represent a diverse range of cuisines like Guamanian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Nigerian cuisines. Another fun reason to eat through Feastly is some chefs will be serving vegan and paleo dinners, which is perfect for those with dietary restrictions. 

Also new to the 2018 roster are participating restaurants like Bistro Agnes, Southfork, and Alto Bajo. And, of course, some of my standby dining month favorites like Aviary, Little Bird, and Departure.

The full list of participating restaurants is available at www.travelportland.com/dining-month/. And, one important reason why we dine is for the participation with Oregon Food Bank. For every reservation made through the OpenTable links on the Travel portland website a donation will be made to the Oregon Food Bank's hunger-relief efforts. Do not skip this detail and reserve your table using those links!

And, in case you didn't catch my post and recap of last year's Portland Dining Month dishes head back to that post to see what a fun treat you can be in for. continue reading to learn about my strategy to sift through all of the overwhelming options of Portland Dining Month. 

MY PORTLAND DINING MONTH STRATEGY

2018's Portland Dining Month will be my 4th year participating, and every year since, I have discovered new strategies and tips on how to navigate my way through the menus, the restaurants, and the values. Now, I want to share it with you. The following steps are the very ones I take to cut through the overwhelming list of participants and how I maximize my time and money. These are the things I look for:

Who has been on my "to try" list?:

  • Pull out that never-ending list of restaurants you've had on your phone and cross-reference the entire Portland Dining Month lineup and note which establishments on that list are participating. If ever there was a great time to go for it and dine out, March is the month!

  • Now, if a restaurant strikes your interest and isn't on your list, by all means, write it down. The next few steps will help us discover if this is the month to go try.

  • Some of those restaurants that are on my "to-try" food list are Olympia Oyster Bar, Jack Rabbit, Bistro Agnes, Laurelhurst Market, Jacqueline, Cabezon, Renata, and lucky me, they are all participating in this years' lineup.

Take note of menus with multiple options:

  • This has got to be my favorite part of dining month; multiple options per course. Some restaurants have fun with dining month and allow dinners to make between two and three choices for all three courses. This means one thing, you must bring all of your adventurous dining companions. Bar Casa Vale, one of my favorite restaurants, is offering up a menu featuring two choices between all three courses with items normally found on their menu. Since the items are familiar you can easily slice through a good chunk of their standard menu options with plates like papas bravas or salt cod fritters, citrus salad or kohlrabi, albondigas or fideos. Or, since we're talking multiple choices a place like Farm House Thai Kitchen, one I have not been to, is also offering multiple choices for the second and third courses, and an additional fourth course. This would be the absolute best time to try a little of everything and learn more about the food!

  • Always bring friends that are willing to share or even split the courses. This is the best part of having foodie friends and having course choices. More ways to try it all without the dreaded commitment to a lone dish.

  • Another perk about choices, the second option tends to be a vegetarian-friendly course. A few restaurants follow the veggie-friendly courses including Departure who always offers choices for herbivores and carnivores alike, as well as The Woodsman Tavern (offering two choices on the second entree), Taqueria Nueve, Serrato, Nel Centro, and Renata.

Check who is really producing a deal:

  • This is the heavy work, but it must be done. In order to fully maximize dining month you have got to see who is really putting out the best bargain. I like to do this by reading the menu offerings and comparing the price points to the listed menu prices. Now, this doesn't always work for every restaurant. Some places will be offering special dining month menus so the items offered will not be listed on their website menu. But, remember, $33 is still a little steep when you consider that it's the price-per-head and that's not including cocktails and tip, so make your dining month is worth it. And, if you get a menu with listed prices online and the math just barely makes $34, skip it You're better off going at a time outside of dining month and enjoying the entire menu's offerings.

  • $33 for three-courses sounds like a deal up front but, beware of those places that already offer deals throughout the week, some even better than dining month. I'm looking at you "Monday dinner/ cheap eats."

  • This year's amazing deals that have caught my eye are Fogo De Chao, Ecliptic brewing (where you leave with a $10 gift card, bringing your total to far below $33 once you cash that card back in), Jack Rabit (where the main course covers $30 on the menu), and Headwaters where the main entree's price point does not fall below $18 and the desserts are no less than $9.

Last, and certainly not least, Who is offering the best dessert?

  • Dessert is one of my favorite parts of dining out. whether it be classics like creme brûlée, a hot fudge sundae, or, even, a savory cheese board. Nothing excites me like a treat after finishing a meal. So, with that said, I do like a third course to be a treat course. Now there are a few exceptions like Yakuza, Olympia Oyster Bar, Buckman Public House, where instead of offering a sweet finish have turned course number three into an additional entree. This sounds like an even better deal for those who do not like sweets. Now if you want to know who has the keys to my dessert-loving heart then know that Laurelhurst Market is doing a great job of starting a relationship with their Dulce de Leche semifreddo with roasted banana, chocolate and hazelnuts -just take my wallet and cash savings account; Lechon is dishing out all of the smooth love vibes with a chocolate mousse tart with mango puree, raspberry and quinoa brittle -yep, just going to put my entire dinner in the fridge and go straight for dessert; and then there is Olympia Provisions massaging my heart with a Chocolate peanut butter parfait with creme fraiche and honey-roasted peanuts - Dairy Queen nostalgia with a grown ass attitude; and The Waiting Room is just tossing rose petals on my sheets with this Butterscotch cremeux with caramel, Jacobson sea salt, and Cashew streusel -I think it's safe to say I am in a full blown relationship with all of these desserts now.

  • I will not break or give a second thought to restaurants offering up pot de creme's -a dessert that requires roughly four ingredients, a blender, and refrigeration. I want the words brulee, brittle, streusel, chocolate shavings, coconut ash, passion fruit, and crust to fall somewhere on the dessert description. If you aren't playing, I ain't paying.

Now that we've narrowed down our list where will you be dining?

And, did you know I'm hosting a G I V E A W A Y ? Yep, Head to my Instagram Page @Maxenestrail and follow the requirements to enter and win dinner with me on behalf of Travel Portland!

Remember to book your tables using the the Open Table links on the Travel Portland page to help benefit our community. 


disclosure: I was have been invited to participate in Portland Dining Month 2018 on behalf of my friends at Travel Portland.  Part of my participation involves receiving dining vouchers for personal use and for hosting a giveaway! This post was at my own discretion and not in exchange for a positive review. All opinions shared are my own.

SPANISH INSPIRED WEEKEND BRUNCH AT BAR CASA VALE

Bar Casa Vale

215 SE 9th Ave.

Portland, OR 97214

www.barcasavale.com

Weekend Brunch: Satruday + Sunday 10a -3p

Closed all day Monday

Week day Dinner: 5p - midnight. Friday: 4p - midnight.

Saturday: 10a - midnight. Sunday: 10a -10p

SPANISH-INSPIRED BRUNCH AT BAR CASA VALE

Portland's favorite place for colossal sized Gin + Tonic's, an assortment of sherry and fortified wines, tapas, and wood-fired raciones is now offering Spanish-inspired brunch starting Saturday, February 10th.

Located near the busy bar and restaurant heavy area of SE portland is Bar Casa Vale, easy to miss and hard to find but the extra effort to locate is rewarded with delicious toothsome dishes and boozy cocktails. The space is beautiful, sun-filled, cozy, and a real breath of fresh air while most places are shrouded in dim lighting. Interested in just a drink, hop on a bar stool and sit amongst like-minded company. Want to dine al fresco but covered from the elements, perfect, head to their patio seating near their wood burning fire pit. 

This past weekend I attended a media brunch preview of Bar Casa Vale's new morning offerings, and I wish I could have stayed put all day. The menu is sheer perfection; from the boozy brunch cocktails to the artisanal toast offerings,  no plate was left uncleaned. If you're in the mood for a traditional breakfast you're check out the wrong spot. At BCV you will certainly not find a short stack of pancakes with bacon or a carafe of o.j. to build your own mimosa's. Instead, you will find hearty cuts of bread hiding underneath toppings like Chicken Liver and Pistachio with chocolate, warm cazuela's filled with drippy hearty bites, and please order that warm Cinnamon roll doused with a sweet tangy tangerine curd, it's everything familiar about brunch but better. 

Scroll below to see a few of the dishes I sampled:

Brunch Cocktails: Sparkling Sangria with cava, white port, and citrus in the background, and Agua de Valencia with gin, vodka, citrus, and cava. Both drinks carried citrus notes, ice, and, of course, booze. A perfect balance for all of the savory dishes we were about to try.

Warm Cinnamon Roll: Fluffy, yeasty, topped with tangerine curd and chocolate shavings.

Chicken Liver Toast with thinly sliced apple, endive, parsley, and browned butter. This is one huge hunk of toast and possibly one of my favorite dishes I had tried from their brunch menu. For pete's sake the plate comes with a steak knife, this toast means business!

Chocolate Toast: Crunchy, yet fluffy bread topped with pistachio butter, a generous dose of chocolate and olive oil. This toast isn't your basic coffee shop toast, t

Fried Chicken with churros, honey, and manchego, and chocolate toast with a nice sprinkling of flakey sea salt. 

If seeking a hearty toothsome dish do not skip any of the Cauela's, specifically the Rotisserie Lamb Cazuela baked with artichoke, chickpea, topped with salsa verde, and poached eggs. Have a hangover and need something hearty to fill your stomach, then order a Cazuela. Served piping hot and fresh from the hearth, these round dishes come with perfectly poached eggs, ready to rip and spill open  at the slightest tug. The only thing missing was crusty bread to mop it all up. 

Aside from Bar Casa Vale's Brunch menu is their hearth-centric dinner plates featuring Charred Octopus, Grilled Spot Prawns, and my personal favorite, the Lamb Cazuela. If only in the mood for cocktails and a few small bites, this is your spot. The bar program features many cocktails with a new twist like the PX Old Fashion with Mt. Gay Rum, Pedro Ximenez, and Angostura. And, there are plenty of small plates known as Tapas and Pintxos to nibble one while enjoying your libations. 

What dish are you excited to try?


disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of Bar Casa Vale's newly launched brunch offerings. While there I received complimentary cocktails and plates of my choosing. My invite was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.

TANNER CREEK TAVERN, MODERN PUB FARE IN THE PEARL

TANNER CREEK TAVERN

875 NW Everett St.

Portland, OR 97209

www.tannercreektavern.com

TANNER CREEK TAVERN, MODERN PUB FARE IN THE PEARL

Tanner Creek Tavern, the newest dining and drinking destination in the Pearl District from Portland chef and restauranter David Machado. This is Machado's fourth operation alongside his current establishments Nel Centro, Altabria, and Citizen Baker, and previously at Vindahlo and Lauro Kitchen.

Located right beside the new Hampton Inn Suites is Tanner Creek Tavern's upscale twist on modern pub fare. With chef Trevor Payne (previously at Olympia Provisions, Little Bird Bistro, and recently shuttered Taylor Railworks) leading the kitchen, guests can find globally influenced creations including Fried Beets with Smoked Blue Cheese Dressing, Confit Pork Shank, White Beans, Bacon, and Creamed Salsa Verde, and a hearty Tavern Burger featuring House Steak Sauce, Fried Onions, Gruyere on a seeded bun. 

With over 5,000 sq ft of dining space Tanner Creek Tavern boasts two private dining rooms, outdoor seating, lounge, dining, and bar areas this is one place to bring a group. The decor throughout is very reminiscent of Portland's early industrial days with the use of steel, concrete, and Douglas Fir beams in the large space. 

Lunch: Monday - Friday, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Sunday - Thursday, 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Friday - Saturday 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Happy Hour: Daily 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

scroll below to see some scrumptious bites from Tanner Creek's fall menu

Deviled Egs, Trout Roe and Dill. Cold, creamy, and just enough of a snack to get your hunger started.

Shave Apple and Kohlrabi, Candied Walnut, Pickled Mustard Seed, and white Cheddar. A bright and crunchy salad, perfect for those who can't deal with the usual end of crunchy summer produce.

Now if there is one starter dish you MUST order from my suggestion it would be the Pan seared Sea Scallops with Caramelized Apples, and Celery Root Puree. The scallops were like crusted butter, tender on the inside with the most perfect caramelization on both sides. This dish was absolute scallop perfection!

If you happen to be a fan of flakey, moist, seared to perfection fish then order the Crusted Sturgeon on top of Fennel Confit, and Saffron Cream. Talk about mouthwatering preparation. 

One huge tip I would love to leave you with today, regardless of appetite or time, please ORDER DESSERT!

Creamy, smooth and just the right amount of honey sweetness is how this wonderful Honey Panna Cotta with Watermelon Agrodolce and Watermelon Sorbet tasted

And, if you really want a decadent treat that is one part nostalgic and equally delicious order the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake with Blackberry Sorbet. The Mousse is light and airy, and covered with a blanket of chocolate. The tartness of the blackberry sorbet compliments the sweet peanut butter mousse in the fondest way, the same way a PB and J does. Trust me on this, order it!

So tell me, who wants to go to go grab a bite and what dishes are you excited about?


disclosure: i was invited to attend a media preview of Tanner Creek Tavern's newest fall offerings. While there i received complimentary cocktails of my choosing and shared plates. my invite was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.

STACKED SANDWICH SHOP, BEYOND YOUR BASIC SANDWICH

 

STACKED SANDWICH SHOP

1643 sw 3rd ave. 

portland, or

11a - 8p mon - sat

www.stackedsandwichshop.com

Hey guys! Have you noticed it's been a bit hot outside, we're only at the end of August and coming up on another week in the 90's which means it's way too hot to cook indoors and way too hot to stand over a grill. These hot months are definitely the time of the year when I think of sandwiches and huge green salads with in-season produce for dinner, because the last thing I want to do is cook in this heat.

Since I'm thinking of sandwiches it only seems right to share my most recent discovery and new favorite place to grab hearty sandwiches and treats to satisfy my endless sweet tooth, Stacked Sandwich Shop

- THE DESSERT CASE -

Two things you need in your life, fresh donuts and a salted chocolate chip cookie. if you happen to someone that absolutely hates counter service, think again. The sweet offerings at Stacked are right on display at the counter you need to order from, it also happens to be the same counter where the booze lives!  The fresh, made-to-order donuts are a dream, warm, with a hint of cinnamon spice and dusted with a little powdered sugar. These little things have a nice crisp exterior and an ultra soft cake donut consistency. Swoon. You must order these!


LET'S LOOK AT THOSE STACKED SANDWICHES!

Straight away the first sandwich to catch my eyes was the roasted lamb leg: pesto chevre, heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions, Calabrian chili aioli, arugula, on housemade foccocia bread.  this sandwich is thick, and dare I say, stacked. Half of the sandwich is plenty and super filling. The housemade foccocia bread is pillowy and seasoned with herbs and a healthy dash of salt. 

regon bay shrimp roll- citris aioli, shaved asparagus, radish, herbs, lemon honey vinaigrette, and house old bay on a pearl bakery hogie. This sandwich was one I have been wanting to try to years. I've never had a shrimp roll, nor a lobster roll for that matter so when I had seen this on the menu I had to order it. It was crunchy, shrimpy, and slightly sweet. This is definitely one I can see myself ordering again on these hot summer days!


 - SALAD -

Although this is a sandwich shop, do not neglect the salads here! these tossed greens are piled high and can stand alone as a main dish, pictured above: smoked salmon: mixed greens, charred scallions, market berries, radish, avocado, toasted walnuts, tossed in a homemade green goddess dressing.

- ASSORTED PICKLE PLATE -

- NUTELLA TOAST-

Nutella toast (in-house only): nutella, bananas, hazelnuts, and toasted marshmallow on rugbord bread. So good, so sticky, so dead on tasty. a slice of rugboard bread covered in a thick schmear of nutella, topped with bananas, a generous heap of toasted marshmallow fluff, and hazelnuts. Do not skip ordering this, it will satisfy your sweet tooth and every nutella need you have.


- ALL THE EATS AT STACKED -

Next time you don't feel like cooking or just because you want a sandwich but don't want to gather all of the fixings, head to the east side's industrial district to find Stacked Sandwich shop, they will cover your sandwich needs, supply outdoor seating, and have a very friendly beer list to compliment your sandwich in the sun.

BUEN PROVECHO!


disclosure: i was invited to dine at Stacked Sandwich Shop to help highlight their newly added sumer items. as always, i will give my honest opinion and will only share quality content i feel my readers would love to learn about.