Toro Bravo: Behind the Scenes at one of Portland’s Finest

Up until last week, I had somehow in my 4.5 years as a Portland food blogger not yet made it to Toro Bravo, one of Portland’s most notable dining establishments. In all fairness, I had made two prior attempts and with a two hour wait time, I had decided on other options so as not to risk getting my blood sugar too low and becoming a potentially unpleasant dining companion.

Several other bloggers/media folk and I had the fabulous opportunity last week to be taken on a tour by Chef Gorham of Toro Bravo behind the scenes, experience the new standing tapas bar and to be treated to an impeccable tasting menu and pairing. After that, yes, I just might wait two hours to come back…as long as I have a snack right before.

Photo Feb 25, 5 37 33 PM
Portland Gin & Tonic: Aria gin, house tonic, lime shrub, hibiscus berries

Upon arrival, we were greeted with this fresh and delicious Aria gin and tonic to compliment some unique tapas.

The first of the tapas were “Spanish Kisses” in which the olives undergo some molecular gastronomy to be turned into mini balloons that pop and burst with the briny olive flavour once they touch your tongue.

Manchego pillows with jamon, caviaroli piment d'espelette
Manchego pillows with jamon, caviaroli piment d’espelette

Absolutely delicious. Such unique and scrumptious tapas, perhaps even the best I’ve ever had. Yes, I said that.

After sampling the tapas, Chef John Gorham guided us downstairs to see where all the magic is made- not just for Toro Bravo but also for his other restaurants, Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder and Mediterranean Exploration Company. And as one would expect, there was a whole lotta meaty action down there.

I’ve gotta say, I definitely gain a further appreciation for the dining experiences I have when I get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into it whether it be learning about the experiences the chef(s) had which inspired a certain dish or method of cooking or getting to watch all the cool kitchen gadgets they’ve got in action.

After the grand tour, it was time for dinner…little did any of us know just how much of a treat we were in for.

 So much deliciousness; everything was so impeccable that I can’t even designate which dishes were my favourites. The Charcuterie Board at Toro Bravo is impressive, not your typical couple slabs of meat and bread deal but a generous arrangement of specialties such as rich and creamy duck liver mousse terrine and dates stuffed with foie gras. Definitely cool to know that a lot of those meats were cured just downstairs!

Then there were the clams, I for one am admittedly not a huge fan of clams as the texture kind of irks me. However, if you ask any of my tablemates, I was practically licking this bowl clean thanks to its rich, tangy tomato sauce. Another big standout was the Canelone Catalan, perhaps due to the fact that it contained a bunch of my favourite ingredients (lots of cheese, black truffle and chicken). Definitely the creme de la creme of comfort foods.

And, don’t think Chef John Gorham let us leave his establishment without dessert. Funny enough, while on the tour downstairs, pastry chef extraordinaire Carrie Merrill (formerly of Urban Farmer and Departure) and I mutually recognised each other from Instagram. Sure enough, she is now the Pastry Chef for the Brave Bulls and was debuting her first dessert at Toro Bravo to us.

Carrie's blood orange olive oil cake with spiced chocolate cremeaux and olive oil ice cream
Carrie’s blood orange olive oil cake with spiced chocolate cremeaux and olive oil ice cream

As was expected, Carrie’s dessert was impeccable and an appropriate finale to such a splendid supper. If you’ve ever tried a dessert at Departure or Urban Farmer in the past couple of years, chances are Carrie concocted it and that it was beyond delicious. This olive oil cake was light and sumptious and beautifully complimented with some hidden blood orange, a dollop of olive oil ice cream and an accent of chocolate. So stoked to see what else Carrie is going to be bringing to the table in the coming months!

Alright folks, well if the above food porn hasn’t tempted you to try Toro Bravo then I’m not sure I could trust your taste buds. Check out their mouthwatering tapas menu and head on over to this NE Portland gastronomical landmark for your next date, birthday, girl’s night or supper out on the town.

A humongous thank you to Chef John Gorham, the fantastic staff at Toro Bravo, and the lovely ladies of Little Green Pickle for hosting such a wonderful Wednesday night at one of PDX’s finest.

Café Castagna: A Family Style Mediterranean Menu Tour

Café Castagna may be the first “nice” restaurant I ate at in Portland. Several years back when I was a junior in college, a couple of friends and I ventured over to this splendid SE Hawthorne establishment in order to try their famous burger. It was of course, splendid yet for some silly reason I never ventured back up until a couple of weeks back when Irene of Watershed Communications invited me to join herself and other Portland Bloggers with trying the newly revamped menu.

Last July, Chef Wesley Johnson was hired by Café Castagna and he took the reins on reformulating the menu to a nouveau Middle Eastern cuisine abundant in fresh vegetables and herbaceous accents. Chef Wesley, formerly worked under Chef Michael Solomonov at the famous Middle Eastern restaurant, Zahav in Philadelphia and also spent a significant chunk of time in Israel/Palestine studying the cuisine of the region.

Being half Saudi/Palestinian and raised part of my life in Dubai, I was extremely excited to try out Chef Wesley’s concoctions and see how he was meshing middle eastern flavors and cooking techniques with seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients.

Kicking a Beehive: Mezcal, Drambuie, Grapefruit, Honey, Salt & Honey Crystal Rim
Kicking a Beehive: Mezcal, Drambuie, Grapefruit, Honey, Salt & Honey Crystal Rim

Upon arriving for the family style dinner, I ordered the “Kicking A Beehive,” a delicious and beautifully concocted craft cocktail blending the smokiness of mezcal with a hint of citrus from the grapefruit and a tinge of sweet from the honey. Café Castagna also now features a $45 bottle wine list which provides an affordable way to try a quality red or white alongside your meal. Even better is that the bottles drop to $40 if you and your dining companions opt to choose one of the tasting menus for your dinner (there is a $30 and a $40 option in which the Chef selects your dishes for the evening).

As you can see above, it goes without saying that we had an extremely generous selection of items from the menu to try including nearly all of the vegetable/salad dishes. The flatbread with dips is an excellent sharing starter at only $10 with a hot and chewy zaatar dusted flatbread and a choice of creamy labneh, herby Turkish hummus and smooth and succulent chicken liver mousse to dip it in. The fried panissa was also excellent, a super fluffy and healthier alternative to French fries (panissa is chickpea flour). As for the salads/veggie dishes, everything was excellent whether it be the summery and light citrus/ginger salad or the excellent roasted carrots topped with some feta, mint and zhoug. There was also an impeccable roasted brussels sprouts dish that I forgot to picture which featured chickpeas, preserved citrus, black olive, aleppo chile.

And if you thought the starter dishes were a treat, then just take another glance at the main dishes we got the pleasure of indulging in. The celery root and parmesan agnolotti may be on of the best pasta dishes I have had in recent memory and in fact would be one of my top three dishes of the evening. It was perfectly al dente and a theme park of the finest grade of umami flavors. Irene (who is Italian) was swooning about it all night so you KNOW it is legit. There was also the Cipaille; essentially a massive Middle Eastern meatfest of a pot pie that reminded me somewhat of the Moroccan dish Pastille which also features a mix of meat, puff pastry and cinnamon/semi sweet flavours. Chef Wesley was also so kind as to serve us a sneak peek of a dish not yet on the menu- a Persian wedding rice rendition mixed in spices such as saffron and dried fruit/nuts topped with a housemaid rabbit roulade and rabbit chunks. If I wasn’t already so full I could’ve gone to town on that delectable pistachio and plum infused roulade.

Then there was dessert…

Profiteroles with a tahini/pistachio ice cream
Profiteroles with a tahini/pistachio ice cream

The IDEAL light dessert to end an incredibly abundant and diverse meal. These profiteroles were like mini ice cream sandwiches stuffed with a tahini and pistachio ice cream which reminded me of the tahini “halawa” my mom used to buy my sister and I as kids.

If you haven’t checked out Café Castagna yet, then add it to the top of your “To Eat” list ASAP! There is no better place to take a vegetarian or vegan dining companion as the selection is plentiful as well as anyone who loves a good dose of quality meat. If you’re a fan of the fare available at Levant and Mediterranean Exploration Company, then you will adore what Chef Wesley Johnson has up his sleeve. Café Castagna is also open for brunch on weekends as well as Happy Hour and yes, that burger is still indeed on the menu and still just as fantastic (if not better).

A huge thank you to Chef Wesley Johnson, the staff at Café Castagna and Watershed Communications for hosting such a fantastic dinner*. I will most definitely be back soon!

*This dinner was free of charge, however all my reviews and statements are true to my personal experience and opinion. 

Give Me All the Sandwiches: Feast 2014 Sandwich Invitational

I know, I know- the Sandwich Invitational was something like two weeks ago. What can I say? The unemployed life gets real hectic sometimes between scoping out new opportunities and catching up on the sleep that your prior high-stress 60-70 hour work week job sucked out of you; so now that I’m bright eyed without the help of an under-eye ointment and have a 16 ounce mug of Stumptown, I’m ready to talk to you about sandwiches.

Someone once said (meaning myself, but I’m certain there is someone else in history that also said this) that all the best foods are arguably some type of sandwich. And there is a lot of truth to that considering the infinite concoctions one could create and still label as a sandwich.

Considering how epic the Feast 2013 Sandwich Invitational was, I was extremely grateful that for the second year in a row I was given a ticket to the invitational as a birthday gift from my friend, Anne. Though the event was not included in my Blogger Pass, I still felt the need to wear the tag- basically so I didn’t feel like an intrusive badger every time I wanted to run up to the front of the line and snap a few photos.

So, like last year, I did not manage to try every single sandwich because there were fourteen of them and I had little self control with the ones I want to get seconds on…but I did manage to try MOST of them.

Rick Gencarelli of Lardo’s pork burger also was slathered with some “dirty mustard,” peaches and American cheese. Despite drawing one of the longest queues of the night, they STILL managed to not run out. Impressive.

From what I did try, here were some of my favourites:

Paul Kahan’s gyro was absolutely out of this world! I personally like my sandwiches packed with saucy unique condiments and a juicy dose of meat and like the other options above the gyro killed it (and stole my vote). I was also a huge fan of Dustin Clark’s water buffalo short rib sando- Chef Clark was at the now shuttered Wildwood, which had been a personal favourite so I am certainly looking forward to the opening of The Oddfellow Social, his next culinary venture. Another surprising favourite? From Stephanie Pearl Kimmel of Marche in Euguene- I’m a sucker for anything with Middle Eastern flavours so her submission also got five gold stars from me.

Another favourite was of course Salt n Straw’s PB&J; also the winner of the People’s Choice:

Tyler Malek’s magical dessert dish was a scrumptious concoction of buttery grilled brioche topped with marionberry jam, peanut butter ice cream, whipped cream and peanut butter Cap’n Crunch. I’m salivating just recounting that.

Some of the other bites I managed to chew into included Broder’s ultra Scandinavian gravlax on rye rendition, Bar Avignon’s deconstructed Cubano and Dallas based FT33’s pimento and bologna sandwich (which if you ask me would be exactly what I would want to eat at 2am to soak up a night’s worth of cocktails).

The winner of the invitational from the judges’ vote was Bonnie Morales of Kachka with her smoked Sprats, egg, and smetana on butter fried toasts; an usual though gorgeously assembled sandwich. I didn’t try this one nor do I have a photo, but I’m sure if you peruse Pechluck or Michelle’s blogs you’ll be able to find one!

And with that, another ultra successful Sandwich Invitational under Feast Portland’s belt. Already looking forward to what deliciousness is in store for 2015.

Portland Food Adventure at Mediterranean Exploration Company: A Sneak Peek

If you  consider yourself a Portland “foodie” and haven’t heard of Mediterranean Exploration Company, then you’re obviously slacking on your Eater PDX feed.

Regardless, the keywords about MEC that you need to know to get the gist: John Gorham, The Revolving Door of Restaurants on NW 13th and Flanders, and Greek potatoes. John Gorham, the culinary sheikh behind Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder and Toro Bravo recently took over the former Riffle space; painted the walls an extremely favourableTiffany turquoise (aka The Nines Hotel’s signature hue) and revamped it into a clean, industrial chic restaurant peppered with a street sign in Hebrew here and there.

True to it’s name, MEC’s menu is a blend of locavore bounty fused into traditional Mediterranean dishes (mostly focusing on the Jewish side of Middle Eastern cuisine). If you’ve tried any of Gorham’s other restaurants you will see some crossover in terms of ingredients and style- for instance MEC has it’s own rendition of radicchio salad (there’s a mean one at the two Tasty’s if you didn’t know).

Since I accidentally slept through the MEC Preview Party a couple of Sundays back and suffered the subsequent Instagram-induced FOMO, I decided to attend the Portland Food Adventures dinner last Wednesday to get a taste of the Pearl District’s newest destination. The menu, as has been the case with each PFA I’ve attended was far from skimpy:

Mediterranean Exploration Company's Menu for the Portland Food Adventures Dinner
Mediterranean Exploration Company’s Menu for the Portland Food Adventures Dinner

Upon entry, I was greeted with a refreshing Moroccan Spritz craft cocktail, a plate of olives and some scrumptious fried tomato fritters. Forgive me for prioritising my hunger levels over getting a photo of the fritter- just envision an ambiguously shaped fried tidbit.

Moroccan Spritz Cocktail with Olives

As I’ve mentioned previously, my mother is Saudi-Palestinian and I grew up a decent portion of my life in Dubai. As a result of this upbringing, I’m incredibly discriminating on what I consider to be stellar Middle Eastern food. The term ‘Middle Eastern food’ itself is rather vague anyhow as it encompasses a plethora of different sub-cultures and their regional cuisine; much which is unbeknownst to most Western palates. Besides, Middle Eastern cuisine is often categorized as Mediterranean cuisine (particularly Greek)- and while there are some similarities in ingredients and structure within a meal; they are quite different when done authentically. Plus, “Mediterranean Cuisine,” in it of itself has just as much variety.

From my understanding, Gorham isn’t necessarily trying to make MEC into a 100% accurate emulation of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine but to rather inspire local bounty with those flavors and combine them with a few of the traditional staples. For instance topping hummus with a lamb ragu- a play on the traditional lamb or chicken shawarma topping.

In the first set of courses, we got to sample a variety of dishes that I would compare to Mezze (small typically vegan/vegetarian dips and bites that make up an appetiser course):

 From the initial courses, my favourites were the fried cauliflower with labneh and the radicchio salad (because I’m a sucker for radicchio salads as my neverending love affair with the Nostrana salad can confirm). The Vered Hagalil salad was a fresh and welcome component considering it was a hot summer day, however I found it to be a little bland- perhaps a little bit more acidity and seasoning would put it right on the money. I’d also say the same about the trio of dips and pita- the textures were on-point; the pita full of the right amount of stretchy chewy doughy bliss and the dips just the right amount of chunky. The only thing was the bread could have used a bit more salt and the dips, a little more seasoning and oomph.

If you’re a fan of seafood, then you will love the offerings at MEC. I’m a relatively new fan of seafood (and still a slightly hesitant one). I admit I’ve never eaten something with it’s head attached and I also tend to avoid octopus or anything else that I might have to chew a few seconds too long. The calamari however was great! Lightly fried, not fishy in the least and fabulously balanced with the acidity of the ouzo, lemon and tomato sauce. The Chreime (Tripolitany Jewish Fish Stew) was also a pleasant surprise- I initially expected some sort of soup full of various ambiguous sea creatures but instead I got a generous portion of lean white fish dunked in what seemed to be a harissa type of sauce.

Being the carnivore I was born to be, the final set of savory courses was my favourite. And a huge part of it may surprisingly have been due to the potatoes- scrumptious Greekified steak frites roasted in a melange of spices. The lamb chops were also beautifully seasoned- and in some of my favourite flavours- oregano, garlic and lemon. As for the lamb ragu and hummus- I wanted to be impressed and being the hummus and meat fiend I am, I had been looking forward to this course. However, I do admit I found the hummus to be a little underwhelming, I’d like to go back and taste it again without the background noise of all the prior courses, but I found the texture to be a bit stiff and lacking the creamy viscous-ness that I associate with the world’s favourite chickpea dip.

Dessert however…

Rose Water Panna Cotta with pistachio caramel and accompanied by Marco di Bartolia Marsala Superiore
Rose Water Panna Cotta with pistachio caramel and accompanied by Marco di Bartolia Marsala Superiore

Yes! This dessert course was a winner; light and guilt-less and a harmonious way to pair rosewater and pistachios. Along with dessert, per the usual PFA protocol each guest was presented with an envelope of goodies; goodies in the form of giftcards to three of Gorham’s favourite establishments. And really, I couldn’t be more excited about the selection we received:

1) A $20 Dining Certificate to Ringside Steakhouse (or Fish House)

2) A $10 Gift Card to Måurice; an adorable new lunch and gourmet dessert cafe

3) A $20 Gift Certificate to Serratto

Really, if you’re looking for an evening out on the town savouring the bounty of Portland’s best chefs in the company of other food-admirers, then attending a Portland Food Adventure is the way to go. You get a lengthy tasting menu with drink pairings and $50 worth of gift certificates so you can go and find another new favourite place. This particular PFA was priced at $125 and you can see which other ones are on the docket for the next couple of months so that you can plan out your next date night right at this link!

A huge thanks to Chef John Gorham and his lovely wife, Renee for hosting this delectable event and I look forward to trying MEC again in the near future. They will be open limited hours Wednesday-Sunday from 5:30-10 PM on a walk-in basis from July 16th-July 31st and will begin taking reservations on August 1st!

2013 Recap: The Best of Meals and Experiences

2013 has sure been an interesting year. A dichotomy of fantastic and unpleasant experiences, most of which ended up culminating towards my personal growth. I almost want to crack a joke about how cliche that sounds, but it’s the truth.

Most of my closest friends moved out of Portland this year, however the opportunity gained from that was meeting a plethora of incredible people who I can truly call some of my best friends despite the short time I’ve known them.

For instance, I met Caitlyn and Zoe at the Silver Dollar (ironically…) early this summer despite the fact that we all went to college together and simply knew ‘of each other’. The rest is history, in the few months I’ve known them we’ve had a tremendous number of amazing times together; and it wasn’t just the nights out in heels holding flutes of Clicquot but all the Sunday Kardashian marathons, trips to the dog park, family suppers, coffee dates, sleepovers, and simply being there for each other with Luc Lac leftovers, tissues, roundtrip taxi cabs or gatorade when stuff got rough.

I’ve been lucky to have met so many other amazing people this year as well through circumstance. Back in May, the job I had for a year and a half closed their Portland office and the lay off culminated in my current job at Conscious Box. And that all stemmed from a blog post I’d put up regarding my unemployment that a recruiter happened to stumble upon.

For this post, I wanted to highlight the best of this year; and since this is a food blog I am focusing on the best of food with a little something-something accompanying each of my choices. This is not a “Best Restaurants” post, but rather a collection of some of my favourite dining opportunities from this year. Enjoy!

1) Rome, Italy: One of the many pizzas we gorged on during our four day visit. Friends, family, top notch carbs, espresso and splurges at Ferragamo. The makings of a fine holiday. 

Pizza in Rome
Pizza in Rome

2) Helsinki, Finland: My mother’s birthday supper at Ravintola Sasso, a foray into Northern Italian-Finnish fine dining. 

Veal sirloin with asparagus, tomato, anchovy tapenade and butter
Veal sirloin with asparagus, tomato, anchovy tapenade and butter

3) Portland, Oregon: A glamorous and heavily anticipated supper at Le Pigeon

4) Portland, Oregon: Bollywood Theater, the consistent go-to when nostalgia hits. I introduced Zoe to Bollywood the first week we met and ever since then countless trips for Kathi rolls and fried okra have ensued. 

5) Portland, Oregon: Will Preisch’s Holdfast Dining. This may have been the most gourmet meal I experienced in Portland this year all thanks to @garythefoodie! An impeccable and unforgettable fine dining pop-up experience. 

6) Portland, Oregon: My 24th birthday- a several day feast involving some of my favourites: Departure, Podnah’s Pit and Clyde Common. 

7) Portland, Oregon: FEAST Portland; the epic Food Festival I had the great honour and opportunity to participate in both as a blogger and patron. 

8) Portland, Oregon: Prasad. This very quickly became a favourite go-to after I started working at Conscious Box. 

9) Portland, Oregon: Not only has Luc Lac been a consistent late night saviour but also my go-to take out place for those nights in which I favoured Bo Tai Chanh and Netflix over heels and flutes of Moet. 

10) Portland, Oregon: My #1 dining partner, Anne and I have managed to maintain our “nice dinners out” habit throughout 2013. This year we’ve managed to do several including Ned Ludd, Luce, Levant, and most recently: The Woodsman Tavern

What were your best experiences this year?

Five Brunches Later…

Today Sunday Funday did not happen. Instead, I saved around $45-60, slept on three occasions, hit up the grocery store to stock up on socks, Listerine strips, and condiments (I can’t believe I just purchased socks at a grocery store…), read the ENTIRE Best Restaurants issue of Portland Monthly back to back, and paid off my entire credit card balance for all the damage that bloody peace of plastic incurred from my social-heavy lifestyle over the course of the past month.

***

I woke up in NE Portland at the abode of three of my good friends next to a San Pellegrino-less San Pellegrino bottle and my various tidbits of prior night bling neatly arranged on the adjacent coffee table. It had been night two of Halloween festivities and I had so wisely decided to be lazy and pull a “Kim Kardashian Goes to Yoga” outfit…in other words the sort of things I wear the 50% of the time when I fall asleep in something other than a sequined dress. At some point I couldn’t locate a coffeemaker so I stealthily snuck out of the house and drove back to my humble abode to brew an 8-cup pot, send a mass text to Sunday Funday participants hinting at the notion that this weather was really not conducive to gentrified location hopping, and then proceeded to go back to bed. Excuse any grammatical errors of the prior photograph. 

***

Erica and Anne are my Sunday Funday crew…sometimes additional participants join and sometimes Anne has yoga teacher training or bootcamp so it just ends up being Erica and I. Typically the day commences with gentrified brunch, ends at The Hilt and contains anywhere from two to five locations in between entailing anything from some sort of non-clothing shopping, a distillery tasting, fancy forms of caffeination,  hot yoga, craft cocktails or microbrews and of course foie gras in one format or another.

Now, enough with the words and let’s look at our beacons of Sunday morning glory from the past several weeks:

Ned Ludd, NE MLK Blvd

Brunch Menu
Bloody Mary & Orange Mimosa

Being the Bloody Mary enthusiast that she is, Erica claims that  Ned Ludd has the best Bloody Mary in all of Portland…and believe me, she has tried A LOT of Bloody Marys

Erica: Seasonal Vegetable Hash with poached hen’s egg and smoked trout
Me: Trout filet with charred leeks and cucumber/carrot salad
Absolutely exquisite.

This hidden gem on NE MLK is most certainly a new favourite between the light and innovative brunch fare and homely ambiance. The only complaint: They were sold out of way too many dishes by the time we got there…but then again it was probably our fault for postponing brunch until 1:30 PM

Ned Ludd on Urbanspoon

Tin Shed Garden Cafe, NE Alberta

Erica: Veggie Pesto Scramble with cream cheese and a buttermilk biscuit
Anne: Something with tons of gravy, bacon, eggs, sausage, and biscuits…
Me: Sweet Chix (Chicken Apple sausage scramble with brie and apple)

We wanted biscuits…and the line at Pine State was too long; this was nevertheless a deliciously hearty choice.

Tin Shed Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon

OttoSE Hawthorne

Beignets with caramel and berry preserves

Be wary; these warm puffs of irresistibility will put you to sleep…I took a three hour nap after this brunch.

Anne: Omelette with fresh vegetables and manchego
Me: Spicy Lamb Burger with Olive Pastiche

Otto is a darling little spot right up on Hawthorne near Castagna; there was no wait whatsoever and the food was fresh albeit a tad generic. The beignets were by far the star of the show; my lamb burger could have had more accroutements and I was not a fan of the bun: innards ratio (way too much bread…and not the freshest in my not-so-humble opinion)

Otto on Urbanspoon

MetrovinoNW 11th

Grapefruit mimosa and Espresso-infused Ramazzotti on the rocks
Anne: Pork belly confit hash with sherry cream and wine-poached egg
Me: Baked eggs with arugula, leek, spinach, pimenton-dusted feta, grilled bread

Metrovino recently launched it’s brunch service and such as was the case with Otto, there was barely anyone there when we came in at around noon on a Sunday. Anne’s dish was anticlimactic, mine was hearty but nothing to write home about; however that’s in no way to dis Metrovino. Their bar list is impressive whether it’s the libations or vast selection of wine flights- and for the record they do have a killer cheeseburger and an incredible happy hour both in terms of value and quality.

Metrovino on Urbanspoon

ImperialSW Broadway (At the Hotel Lucia)

Semolina Corn Cake: poached eggs and house smoked bacon, maple syrup
and Imperial barrel-aged hot sauce
Imperial French Toast: seasonal fruit, thickened cream, maple syrup
Coddled Eggs: spicy tomato sauce, warm goat cheese, fry-bread
Imperial Pastrami Hash with Poached Eggs
Fry-Bread: house chorizo and soft scrambled egg, spicy tomato
and avocado salad
Chocolate Ice Box Cake: hazelnut ice cream, candied hazelnuts, toasted meringue
Double Milk Flan: roasted peaches, peach sorbet, brown butter crisps
Sticky Toffee Gingerbread: caramel pudding, candied pecans, baked pears

Famed Portland Chef, Vitaly Paley’s newest endeavour is an absolute winner in every way possible. Imperial is located in the former Typhoon space at The Hotel Lucia on SW Broadway, finally bringing high quality modern American cuisine to downtown Portland. The restaurant is spacious and everything on the menu is a delectable choice. So far, I have only been here for drinks and brunch and while the brunch is delightful and accented with a tinge of Native American influence; I am more a fan of the drinks and salads. Per the recommendation of one of our bartender friends, Erica and I came in one night for some of the impeccable craft cocktails (they also make their own vermouth on site) and perhaps the best gentrified salad we have ever had (think kale with shredded raw vegetables, sunflower seed brittle, and a light goat cheese dressing). And the best part: the cocktails are relatively affordable for their calibre (think $7-$9)

For Brunch, all three desserts were on the house and the clear favourite was the creamy velvety flan. We have also heard through word of mouth that the burger and duck meatballs are to die for…which is why we are planning on going back tomorrow night.

Imperial on Urbanspoon