Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flamepoeria Cafe Gallery

Cute little coffee shop slash lunch spot in the North End. Yes, there are tons of those places in the neighborhood, but none like this. In addition to coffee, tea, and some desserts and pastries that make me want to eat everything, they have lunch. Items include salads, sandwiches and soups. Salads like lemongrass chicken (I haven't tried it as lemongrass and me have no love for each other - but I've heard from numerous co-workers that it is amazing), chicken dumpling salad (fried dumplings!) the dressing is very tasty and the salad comes with either feta or blue cheese. Most the dishes come in a salad, open faced sandwich or rice plate option. The rice plate has a small green salad on the side. Definite Asian flair, but in a non-traditional way. Soup choices include spicy beef pozole (and when he says spicy, he means SPICY!!! Much love, I've been eating this for three days now. I love it), a chicken and a shrimp noodle soup. So you get the South American flair as well. With a name like Flamepoeria, I think Brazilian.
Decor is minimalist, ottoman style benches and low tables make for comfy casual seating. Artwork is by the owner and for sale definitely fun funky art.

The best thing is that the food is made to order, so you know it is fresh and hasn't been sitting there all day. This means you won't just run in and grab lunch, but you can call ahead if that's what you are looking for.

Location is on Lewis Street between North and Commercial, and worth the walk over.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Hour in the Pearl - Manzana Rotisserie and Ringlers Pub

There are two places in Portland for good, cheap food. Manzana Rotisserie Grill in the Pearl offers happy hour food specials M-Sat from 3:30 - 6:30 and 9 pm - close and on Sundays from Midnight to close. The specials require a $2.50 drink minimum (if you don't drink you can order a bottled water) and the food runs from $1.95 - $3.95 and is well worth swinging by (just remember to sit only in the bar area for happy hour to apply). The quality is good, the service fast, and the menu varied with some southwestern flavor. We ended up here when everything in the Pearl had a long wait and we had theater tickets we needed to get to in an hour. The food was on the table within 15 minutes of us sitting down. No frills just solid straightforward food.
Another option is Ringlers Pub which is part of the McMenamin's family, located on Burnside underneath the Crystal Ballroom and on the edge of the Pearl. Thier happy hour is only from 4-6pm daily, so no late night snack attack to be filled here. The menu is a bit shorter on the options, and prices a bit higher - all items are $2.50 and the min. drink order is $3.00. The food here is more standard American (well, if you don't count the hummus option). Also great food, a more casual atmosphere. Service here was a bit slower, but they had great music playing and we were able to enjoy hanging out. Another plus, the happy hour menu here isn't limited to the bar section.
You can't go wrong with either restaurant.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sushi in Quincy

Beni Cafe is a haven of quick Japanese in North Quincy. It's cheap (and by cheap I mean nothing over $10), fast, and really good! The chicken teppanyaki uses dark and white meat, as opposed to those other places that use just the cheap dark meat, comes with rice (which wasn't clear from the menu, so I ended up with an extra side of rice), the standard carrots and sprouts, and was a large portion all for $5! The rolls and nigiri were all good, the fish was really fresh. Crab rangoon ($3) was a good mix of cheese and crab, and the sweet potato fries ($2) were basically sweet potato tempura and came with a slightly spicy dip. I thought with prices this low the portions would be small, but they weren't. It was regular sized portions, keep that in mind before you over order and then feel compelled to eat everything because it tastes so good!
The restaurant is very bright and clean, has free wifi, and 3 flat screen computers.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Oggi Gourmet Pizza

Do you like pizza? Do you hate heavy, doughy crust? Then you must go to Oggi if you find yourself in Boston. They aren't open on the weekends, but are open until 9:30 during the week. I hate crust, the only purpose it serves is to hold the toppings that need to make it into my belly, so I always stop eating when I run out of toppings and leave crust ends strewn about. Not so with this crust. It has sesame seeds on it for a little crunch. It's light, flakey, almost buttery - croissant like in its deliciousness. No more crust ends in my pizza boxes. I eat every last morsel.
The toppings range from the typical pepperoni to the more gourmet goat cheese and toasted almonds (quite delicious, although a bit heavy on the almonds). They also have a selection of sandwiches, salads and dinners - which will be reviewed if I can make it back and resist the pizza.
The restaurant is airy and light, with a casual decor. Nicer than your typical pizza joint, but by no means fancy.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Heathman Hotel

My favorite hotel in Portland, the Heathman is all class. Upon entering the lobby you are greeted by one of thier personal concierges. The idea behind this being you need one contact throughout most of your stay. The same person that checks you in, also takes your bags to your room, and helps with anything you might need during thier shift.
The best thing about the hotel are the beds. They have a choice of mattresses, tempurpedic (for those who like a firmer bed and don't like to feel the person next to them moving), featherbeds (for those who, like me, enjoy the feeling of squishiness and fluff when they sleep) and pillowtops (for that something in between feeling). If you know what kind of bed you prefer, indicate at the time you make your reservation. The staff are very accomodating about taking you to different rooms to try out the various beds.
Room sizes at the hotel vary considerably. The deluxe king and queen rooms are small. Not much room to walk around the bed or armoir. Splurge the extra $20 and upgrade to the executive King or 2 Queens. That room will give you plenty of room to walk in the room, a desk, and a seating area. The executive King rooms ending in 04 are the best in my opinion, they have windows on two walls giving you plenty of light and a good view of Broadway. The rooms ending in 24 give you a good view of the hills and the theater. The symphony suite has a completely seperate sitting area, divided from the bedroom with pocket french doors. But also has a pull out sofa, nice if you are 3 people.
All rooms have free highspeed internet, but not wireless, that is accessible in the public areas of the hotel.
Another nice touch is the dvd collection the hotel offers, ask the concierge for a list of the movies. You then just call down from your room, they put your movie of choice in and tell you what channel it will be on.
The fitness room is small, but gets the job done, I've never had anyone else in there with me so getting a machine is not a problem.
Location? Prime for shopping, only a couple blocks from Nordtrom, Pioneer Square, and the giant mall. You can catch the MAX Lightrail in Pioneer Square, to go pretty much anywhere in the greater Portland area (it also goes to the airport, that is about an hour ride). A couple blocks in the other direction and you are at one of the streetcar stops that will take you to the Pearl and NW23rd for all the shopping and eating those neighborhoods offer. Streetcar to the Pearl (a fairly quick ride) still falls within the fareless square, which means free rides both ways. Even heading out of the fareless square is $1.70 (for a 2 hour ticket), tickets are purchased on the train. In the opposite direction the same streetcar will take you up to the South Waterfront.
There are a couple albums with local restaurant menus in the lobby, these being the finer of the local restaurants. Speaking of which, the Heathman boasts a fine restaurant of its own. For a healthy breakfast I recommend the homemade granola and yogurt, the portion size is extremely filling. I've eaten enough dinners there to say I've never had a bad dish. Room service prices are higher than the restaurant, and the restaurant is never awkward alone, so no real reason to order room service, unless you want to spend a few extra dollars.
They also keep your preferences from visit to visit in thier computer, so if you want to have chocolate and apples waiting for you on each visit, they will have it for you.