Lucky Labrador Brewpub With My Husky-Mix-Dog-Thing

20 03 2012

Ah yes, there’s nothing like buying a home and renovating it to make you stop blogging.  But, a renovated home is well worth not sharing your thoughts for many months.  So then, what monumental post would bring me back?…  Well, nothing monumental, just the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub on Hawthorne.

Lucky Lab has good beer but nothing too challenging (which i prefer), the food is simple, and most importantly, you can bring your dog.  That last one is huge.  This isn’t on the same level as a Deschutes, and they don’t try to be, I go here when I want cheap fresh food, good beer, and…. OK when I want to drink beer with dogs!

"I wish I had a beer!"

Here’s my Husky mix dog thing, so cute.  You should know you can’t take your dogs inside, but every location has an outside area for eating drinking and dogging (many covered).  I prefer the Hawthorne location because of the amount of dogs I’ve encountered and the menu, because each location’s menu differs.  I went to the location in the SW and it was mainly pizza, OK but I prefer sandwiches.  Plus, in addition to sandwiches Hawthorne has bento boxes, salads, soups (and a great veggie chili) and a lot of appetizers.  You order your food and drink inside and they bring it out to you.  The outside consists of picnic tables, a few heaters, and a water station for your pup’s needs.  They also have board games inside that you can bring out to play, which I do.

To sum up, fresh and simple food, good beer, nice people behind the counter, AND YOU CAN DRINK WITH YOUR DOG :)

FANTASTIC salsa, and chips. You can also get an idea of the outside dog/people area in this pic.

I got the Rose Garden above which was tasty and fresh (Hummus, Cucumber, Tomato, Lettuce, Feta Cheese & Guacamole on a Ciabatta Bun), but someone in my party also got the Three Cheese Meltdown (Melted Swiss, Cheddar, Pepper Jack,chopped Pepperoncini, Mushrooms & Salsa on Italian White) which was even better.

Here's where you get the goods inside. Always a good selection of beers, and even a cider.

As I mentioned, there are board games to play, here's my ass being handed to me in chess by um, someone quite a bit younger than me, heh.





Tasting Full Sail

13 11 2011

Autumn Ale, so yummy I couldn't get a picture before sneaking a sip

I’ve been quite busy the past few months working on my house, and well, not posting anything because of that.  So this weekend I decided that I needed to get out, and not just out of my house but Portland too.  After a brief thought of visiting Astoria, I remembered that Full Sail was in Hood River and, I’ve not been there, it’s closer than Astoria, and the leaves were changing in the Gorge.  So after a quick hike on the Washington side (see bottom picture), I crossed the Bridge of the Gods and rolled down to Hood River.

I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve had a few different beers from Full Sail, and they were pretty good but I always ended up walking out of the store with a Deschutes or Widmer brew.  Well, I can happily say that I really enjoyed the place, for the 3 reasons you would expect.

1) The Pub

Great views of the Columbia Gorge, all while nice people bring you food and beer.

I loved the views, wasn’t expecting them as I walked down the hall to the Pub.  You can’t see from the photo but the trees were all sorts of yellows and browns, November is a really good time to go.  And as far as the staff goes, very attentive and friendly.

2) The Beer
Like I mentioned, I like the beer, but had previously not gotten overly excited by it.  However, I got their Autumn Ale (a Pub exclusive, pictured above) and loved it.  It’s “a strong English-style bitter to help warm the changing of the season.”  It did help that “changing of the season” thingy.  I also tried their Amber Ale, quite good too.

3) The Food

Cheesy (3 kinds) goodness.

Started with the artichoke dip, which admittedly has been done to death, but most don’t usually contain Rogue Creamery bleu cheese.  That combined with the pepperjack and sharp cheddar with panko on top really made this stand out from all others I’ve had.

For my main course I ordered the Tempeh Veggie Burger.  I like tempeh when I don’t try and make it, because I’m terrible at it.  This tempeh is made right next to Full Sail at Turtle Island Foods… who also make Tofurky… which I’ve decided that after eating them for 7 straight Thanksgivings are actually quite unappetizing.  But I went for it anyway, and it was great!… it was topped with Full Sail’s edamame pesto and Asian slaw which made it even better.  To be sure, that’s a lot of different flavors and textures, but they all work together to make it fresh, flavorful and fulfilling.

There's a lot going on here, but it all combined for some tasty tempeh.

The others in my party ordered the buffalo hot wings which were spicy, juicy and delicious – and the turkey & brie sandwich which was good, but nothing too special.  We spent the last 15 minutes in the dark because the power went out due to the high winds that were in the area, which was fun, but a bit of a bummer because I wanted to take the brewery tour.  Oh well, next time.  Another bummer is the fact that I wanted to explore more shops and such in Hood River, however all of downtown was also without power.  But I’ll go back again soon, and I’ll go to Full Sail again because of the combination of good views, beer and food.  I’ll also hike again 1st, because the views from the Washington side are quite purdy…

The pre-Full Sail hike.

Full Sail Brewing Company on Urbanspoon





Tasting Tasty n Sons

12 08 2011

I was supposed to go to the beach last Sunday, but Saturday night the people I was going with said “it’s so far”, “will it be sunny?”, blah blah.  Lazy.  So I said “fine!” We can cancel, but we have to go to Tasty n Sons 1st thing in the morning instead!  And thankfully we did.

I’ve been wanting to go to Tasty n Sons for quite some time.  I guess I was scared because of the “it’s so busy you have to get there early or you’ll wait all day” kind of rumors.  So we decided to get there 20 minutes prior to opening, and there was a line already as we figured, but it wasn’t that bad, and once the 1st seating was in, the wait was never that long.

We chose to sit at the counter.  It was great, not only did we get a front row seat to watch huge, luscious biscuits being made, we got to look to our left and see the frenetic action in the kitchen.  And frenetic it was, they make everything to order as you’d expect, and they deliver each dish as it’s ready so that it’s hot and fresh.

So what did we order?  Way too much, but it was my 1st time there and I had to fully experience it…

Baked Cherries with taleggio & grilled bread, and Griddled Bacon Wrapped Dates with maple syrup & almond in the back.

1st up were baked cherries with taleggio cheese, and after I took my 1st bite I knew I was in for quite a meal.  Piping hot, sweet and savory cherries were perfectly complimented with the melted cheese.  The picture doesn’t do the color justice, the cherries were a deep rich purple, matching their flavor.  In the back are the bacon wrapped dates, and although I didn’t have any, it took every ounce of restraint for the people who ate them not to order more.  Side note, I love that they use old menus instead of new doilies or something between the plate and dish, I’m such a treehugger, but on we go…

Cast Iron Frittata with amaranth, chard, beets, caramelized sweet onions, mint & feta.

What I loved about the fritatta was that the amazing flavors were separate and not melded together, so each bite was a different experience.  Or, you could mix and match, a little beet with onion, some chard with feta…  Really vibrant flavors in this dish.

Fried Green Tomato BLT, a special that day.

As soon as my guests heard about this special there was no pause in ordering it, and it delivered both in presentation and yumminess.

Tasty Muffin with fried egg, pickled beets, heirloom tomato, beecher's cheddar, red onion & mixed greens.

Although I liked the Tasty Muffin, it was the only dish that wasn’t perfect.  The flavors were excellent, and the heirloom tomato was the best I’ve had in months, but the actual muffin was so hard that I was even having issues cutting it using a serrated knife.  Perhaps we just had an abnormal muffin.

Chocolate Potato Doughnuts with creme anglaise.

Yeah, so perhaps these aren’t much to look at, but they are pure awesome.  We actually started the meal with an order of these, and, well, ended with one.  Each time they came out so hot and fresh we had to let them cool for a minute. Very sweet, fulfilling and chocolaty with the familiarity of a regular doughnut that you’d expect.

In summation, Tasty n Sons lived up to and surpassed all that I had heard about it.  Even the service was fast and friendly.  The only thing I wish I would have tried were the mimosas and bloody marys I saw the people waiting for tables drinking.  Although that morning I was only in the mood for coffee, and that too was great.

Tasty n Sons on Urbanspoon





Tasting Laurelwood Public House – A Mini Review

18 06 2011

Good beer makes the rain go away.

Wow, it’s still cold and rainy in Portland, and it’s almost July.  After a taste of sunshine yesterday it started raining again this morning, and that made me want to grab a beer pre-5 o’clock.  But, I craved a new beer… so I headed to Laurelwood Public House at 51st and Sandy.

The 1st thing I noticed when I entered, is that it reminded me of Columbia River Brewing, which, from what I understand was Laurelwood’s old location before Columbia moved in.  It’s open and airy, simple, with lots of light wood throughout.  Now, the reason I call this a “mini review” is because even though I hadn’t eaten all day I just wasn’t that hungry, so myself and my dining partners didn’t order that much.  However, it should be telling that I want to rave about the few things we had, because although their menu is fairly straight-forward pub fare, they do with tasty expertise.

Organic Free Range Red & Sun Daze.

Let’s start with beer, I had their Organic Free Range Red and in the background is their seasonal Sun Daze, which had “hints of mint and mango”, sounds weird, wasn’t, it was subtle, and great.  A fantastic summer beer actually.  The red was quite delicious too.

The nachos that never got soggy!

OK, veggie nachos, hard to screw up right?  No, they are often soggy, are plastered together with cheap cheese and have their ingredient ratios all wrong.  Laurelwood’s nachos were great, simple, and for some reason, regardless of what was on them they never became soggy!?  The salsa was surprisingly good, super fresh and had a hidden heat that made everyone’s face sweat after 5 minutes.  Goodness.

Those fries look crispy and comforting don't they?

For the main course it was burgers all around.  Boring perhaps, but what is more comforting on a rainy day (when it should be sunny!) than a burger with your beer?  I ordered their veggie burger with “pearl barley, roasted garlic, onions, mushrooms, celery & garbanzo beans, topped with roasted red pepper & basil-pesto spread” and the beer-battered fries.  Excellent texture and not dry at all, one of the better veggie burgers I’ve had in the area, and the pesto spread really gave it a unique character (perfect bun too).  And oh those fries…

So yes, I believe that even though my ordering was boring on this visit, Laurelwood deserved a quick (mini) write up, because it was the perfect place for a sun-missing Portlander on a chilly June Saturday afternoon to grab a quality burger and beer.





Tasting The Glockenspiel Restaurant & Admiring Tulips

18 04 2011

Those kids come alive...

Mmmmm, bar.

Glockenspiel Spätzle.

The Glockenspiel Sampler Wurstplatte, bratwurst, smoked German sausage.

I took a big detour outside of Portland recently, huge in fact!  I drove a whole 45 minutes south to Mt. Angel and Woodburn.  Mt. Angel I would come to find out, is a town with German heritage, and has a downtown decorated in a Bavarian theme.  It’s cute.  But my main reason for visiting was tasting some German food courtesy of The Glockenspiel Restaurant.

The 1st thing I noticed were the um, kids up in the tower outside.  I quickly realized they would come alive, but not for another hour so I could eat and then catch the show.  Although it’s a newer building, walking into The Glockenspiel shows a nice authenticish dining area with wood beams and German decorations all around.  The bar looked very inviting with its big beer mugs and steins, and it did feature many different German beers on tap.  Actually, all beer is on tap, nice.

The food was really quite good, and from what little experience I have with German cuisine, seemed authentic.  We started with their fondue appetizer, which was good, but could have used more of the flavors from the cheese and/or wine.  For a main course I got the Glockenspiel Spätzle which was fabulous, and very filling (and cheesy).  Lots of veggies and spatzle thingies.  It’s nice to see a vegetarian meal be a restaurant’s staple.  Oh, and it also came with a tasty tomato bisque soup.  My dining partners got the Glockenspiel Sampler Wurstplatte with bratwurst, sausage and vegetables, the Wiener Schnitzel and the reuben.  All reported thoroughly enjoying their meals.  We even got dessert, a standout was the German chocolate cake, which was obviously made on site and had no hint of Sysco Food Service that I constantly fear in desserts.

Afterwards we went outside to see those creepy kids come out and sing.  I took a video, and although interesting, it just wasn’t interesting enough to post.  But, it definitely adds to the enjoyment of the Glockenspiel.

But why was I in the area to begin with?  Because, of tulips.  About a billion.  I’m up for any adventure, and when I was made aware of a tulip festival at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, it was a no brainer, had to go.  I must say, the amount of tulips was pretty amazing.  It’s mostly a great place for flower lovers and parents to take cute pictures of their kids.  Aside from the impressive amount of blooming bulbs, it’s kind of a craft festival coupled with some overpriced kids rides and the requisite corn dogs and elephant ears, but at $10 a car, it’s a fun and colorful diversion.  Click below for big colorful eye-candy…

Vast bulbage.

Makes me want Skittles.

Glockenspiel Restaurant on Urbanspoon





Tasting Hopworks Urban Brewery

28 03 2011

I have MANY more local breweries/brewpubs to try in Portland, I guess I just got lazy after Deschutes, Bridgeport, Widmer, Rogue and the 9,000 McMenamins everywhere.  They just started to rotate, and then one day a few weeks back  I’d had enough, I had to find a new one!  Which obviously, is quite easy to do in Portland.  I spoke to my friend about trying someplace new, we researched and both said “Hopworks!” at the same time, creepy.  So off we went on a random Wednesday night…

1st off, this place is popular, very, popular.   We went early and had a 45 minute wait.  The place is quite large so I thought it would go faster, but it didn’t.  That’s fine, we just, well… drank beer.  And if you have kids don’t worry about the wait because HUB is very kid friendly, they even have a play area with chalkboards, trains, toys, etc.  Very cool.   So, your kids will be fine during the wait (or dinner) whilst you drink beer.  The space is open, airy, modern and inviting with a bike theme throughout (they also boast of 60 bicycle parking spots).

I’m not a beer snob or anything, I like it or I don’t, and I don’t like to be too challenged.  So that being said, I love their beer.  Don’t really know what else to say beyond that, I was just very impressed with the quality and flavors.

Don't know which one this was, but it was great.

We had a ton of appetizers that we couldn’t finish, but we just wanted to try a lot of things.  You can see from front to back, “Pint o Pretzels” (very moist and yummy), “Nachofied Organic French Fries” (freaking genius, so tasty and simple), and finally “Batter Fried Chicken Tenders” (I didn’t eat them, but I’m told they were great).

Appetizers 3 deep.

I ordered their homemade black bean burger.  I have low expectations for these things, I’ve had so many average and dry examples over the years (“Then why do you get them?” I’m boring.), but this wasn’t one of them.  Flavorful, not dry, savory, and the fries were perfectly done.  Hell, I even liked the pickle.  There are many other non-meat items to choose from as well.

Hopyard Black Bean Burger.

A dining friend also had the black pepper & garlic beer sausage, and I don’t know if they make it themselves, but it’s juicy, flavorful and yes, peppery.  I don’t eat meat, but it looked so good I had to try a little, it was worth it.  And as you can tell, the portions are gargantuan.  Another person I was with ordered a calzone, and it was seriously the largest calzone I’ve ever seen, literally larger than a football.

Black pepper & garlic beer sausage. I ate some!

So the food, beer, service, building and vibe were all fantastic.  It’s my new favorite, Deschutes moves to #2 (sorry D).  I also need to mention its green side, it’s an all organic brewery… but much more.  Take a look at their green facts, they walk the walk, kudos.

And one last pic.  I told you they had a bike theme…

MUCH better than looking at advertising while urinating.

Hopworks Urban Brewery on Urbanspoon





Tasting Widmer Brothers: The Gasthaus Pub

5 02 2011

Who knew Widmer had a restaurant? Well, probably everyone but me.

I happened to be driving on the Northeast side of Portland a few weeks back, and noticed that I was driving by the Widmer Brother Brewery.  But what really surprised me is that they have a restaurant across the street!  I had no idea, I thought they only made beer.  So, I decided to return and check out The Gasthaus Pub.

It’s in an awesome old brick building, as you can see by the picture.  I’d call their food American pub food with a German twist.  For example, the appetizers contain staples like quesadillas and pretzels, but also feature bratwursts,  kielbasas and weisswursts.  Entrees include sandwiches, burgers and pastas, but also include schnitzels and goulasch.

Yay, free small beer too!

I usually don’t order Pale Ales because I don’t enjoy too much bitterness and challenge in my beer, but I can honestly say that their Drifter Pale Ale was one of the best Pale Ales I’ve ever had, it wasn’t bitter at all and was full of flavor.  The sampler next to it was a seasonal beer… the uhh… I forgot, but it was pretty good.  Not sure I could have had a full pint of it though.

My delicious fake reuben.

Food-wise I ordered the pretzel with fondue for an appetizer that you see in the rear of the picture (I always have to order them, I mean… what goes better with beer?).  The fondue was one of the best cheese dips I’ve had with pretzels.  For my entree I consumed a surprisingly good vegetarian reuben.  So what was substituted for the corned beef/pastrami?… tomatoes!  And you know what, it was genius.  I almost didn’t notice, except that the slices were slightly too thick, a little thinner would have worked a bit better.  It also came with some excellent (and quite “dilly”) German potato salad.  It was a great meal and I very much look forward to returning to try some more dishes.

So, now that I’ve been to all of the major breweries’ brewpubs in the area (Widmer, Deschutes, Bridgeport & Rogue), I guess it’s time to explore the smaller players.  Stay tuned…

 

Widmer Gasthaus on Urbanspoon





Tasting/Chasing A Suburban Bandit!

2 01 2011
 

 

El buen Bandito de Cornell en los suburbios! (translated from Google, could be nonsense)

If you ever find yourself wandering around Portland’s Western suburbs and want to have some fresh/fast/cheap Mexican fare, take the Murray exit off of 26 and head towards Cornell.  Sure, you always hear about awesome Mexican joints on the SE side of Portland, but they have nothing on Bandito Taco.  Well, actually I have no clue, I’ve not really  been to many Mexican places in the SE, I’m sure they are super-great.  But let’s throw a bone to the ‘burbs for once!  Bandito Taco is really quite good.

It’s in an out-building outside of a dated strip mall and from what I can tell, the owner is there all the time, and working hard.  He and the other people behind the counter are very nice and the food is made fresh while you wait.  You can eat there, but it is somewhat small with around 5 tables and bar stools along the window, so I usually prefer to take out.

You can get different combination quantities, but let’s examine what I usually get, 3 items plus chips & salsa…

1) Crispy chips & salsa (salsa is GREAT)

2) Bean Tostada

3) Cheese Enchilada

4) Veggie Burrito

And the un-numbered rice & beans to the right (beans are vegetarian).  This, for under $10.  It’s so tasty, and so fresh.  I think even the tortillas are made there (I have nothing to back that claim up).

As for the Bandito… I found him!….

BUSTED!

Fun side-story, when I was there last, I actually heard someone who was obviously “not from these parts” in line behind me ask his friend… in all seriousness… “what is an enchilada?”  Wow.

Bandito Taco on Urbanspoon





Tasting ¿Por Que No?

2 12 2010

"Tacos", but actually much more.

Well, it’s getting colder in Portland, so the explorations to state parks and outdoor events are just not happening like they used to.  So I think I’ll focus on eating until the Spring comes!

I went to a local taco place recently, ¿Por Que No?.  Well it’s really more than just tacos, they have tons of stuff, flautas, tamales, ceviche, and more.  Two locations, both on the East side, Hawthorn and Mississippi, I chose Hawthorn.  And, I chose to go early, which was incredibly smart because I discovered that the place is insanely popular.  For the entire visit there was a line out the door.  Surprisingly however, there was always seating available.  The place is smalish, but they do have seating out back in a cute courtyard area, although I chose to stay inside because it was a tad chilly.  Service style is order at the counter and they will bring it out to you when it’s ready.

The inside is full of little bits of Latin decor and is very inviting, as you can see below…

Cool surroundings.

Like so many places in Portland, they focus on using local foods, weaving whatever is in season into the menu.  We started with chips and salsa, which are not free, but worth the money.  Now normally I wouldn’t bother with a picture of tortilla chips, but they were fantastically thick, I had to show them off!  Great salsa too.

Thick chips!

From left to right below are veggie flautas, beef taco and a tamale plate.  The veggies in the flauta were julienned which gave it a great texture, opposed to others I’ve had that were just chopped into chunks.  Everything was delicious and was eaten right away.  A little too quickly actually, if you have a big appetite be sure to order a few items or some sides.
They also have several of their home-made sauces to top your food with, they range from the very mild to too hot for me strengths.

Flautas, Tacos & Tamales!

I look forward to returning, the food was very fresh and super flavorful.  Just  be sure and get there early!

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon





Tasting The Columbia River Brewing Company

14 10 2010

I didn't take this shot, but yep, this is what the front looks like. Kind of like it was an old drugstore or something once.


Simple dining area. Very family friendly.


Really good beer, you'd never know they just started brewing it earlier this year.


Tasty and interesting veggie burger!


Good pizza, but it's hard to screw up pizza. Well, I guess there is CiCi's.

I needed to do a CSI on why all of our fish died in one day, and the best place to do that was in the Hollywood District’s, The Wet Spot.  But before the investigation was to start, I needed sustenance.  Like so many times when searching for restaurants on Google Maps, my eyes were curiously drawn to the word “brew”.  Turns out that just down the street from my destination was The Columbia River Brewing Company, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I think the first thing I noticed when pulling up and walking in  was how simple the space  was, not highly decorated like Deschutes, or highly polished like Bridgeport.  It was a very humble place, and looked like it was once an old general store or pharmacy or something in the 40’s.  There was something endearing about the simplicity, it gave it a neighborhoody warmness.

Our attentive dreadlocked server took our beer order, to which I started with the CRB Pale Ale.  It’s described as “Light in color – Big in taste.”  And that’s no joke because I couldn’t differentiate it from my dining partner’s HollyWood Hefe, both looked like unfiltered wheats.  Both were very good, and the Pale Ale did have tons of flavor.  The description of the hefeweizen was also spot-on with “light with banana and clove characteristics”, because it was a tad too cloveish for me (not a clove fan).  The True Blonde was a tasty “after mowing the lawn” kind of beer, which is what I so often lean towards.

The food was very tasty as well, everything seemed to have a twist to it.  For example, my homemade veggie burger was comprised of “garbanzo beans, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, oats and organic brown rice.”  Broccoli?  But it worked!   Fries were full of potato flavor, although I prefer them a bit crispier.

I was really in the mood for nachos too, a boring pick I know, but they were exactly how I like them, perfect ratios of whole beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream with tons of jalapeños.  Next time for an appetizer I’ll try the Columbia River Jalapeño Fritters or veggie sushi rolls, diverse stuff eh?

Beyond all that have pizza (which we had and was good, it’s hard to mess that up) a mixture of sandwiches, salads, pastas, burgers and assorted “banger” dishes (I read the owner lived in England for a bit, so I assume that’s why).

Interestingly, as I found out afterwords this was actually the location for an old Laurelwood Brewpub, and that Columbia River only been in business since this summer!  Judging by the quality of their beer and food, I would have guessed they had been around for years.  Which makes me want to go back even more and see how Columbia River Brewing Company evolves…

 

 

Columbia River Brewing Company on Urbanspoon








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