Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Oregonian's Restaurant Guide - "Diner"

Just wanted to make sure everyone saw the insert in The Oregonian on Thursday, June 24th. It is a 2010 restaurant guide titled Diner. If you missed it, check out this link.

There are 78 of the "best" restaurants in Portland and surrounding areas. Castagna in SE Portland received the nod for the restaurant of the year. Have not been there...but looks like I need to try it! Check out this year's restaurant rising star and restaurant comeback of the year.

What a great resource and a fantastic guide for choosing your dining destination. And don't worry...it is not all fine dining or upscale restaurants. There are so delicious picks that won't break the bank.

My next stop - Kenny and Zukes in downtown Portland.

Also, don't forget - only a couple more days for Dining Month in Portland! Take advantage of the great deals.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A SE Portland Neighborhood Fav - Lauro Kitchen

Tonight I decided to take an outing over to SE Portland with my friend Will to visit Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen. I don't venture over to Southeast very often, but I know there are some fantastic restaurants over there, especially on Division Street. In fact, we drove right by Pok Pok, which is one of the many places I have been told to try.

When we arrived to the restaurant, we stood in the small waiting area behind a curtain in front of the main entrance. The restaurant had an open kitchen with counter seating for diners to watch the chefs in action. The rest of this bistro-inspired restaurant was also open so you could see the chefs cooking and the bartenders mixing from any seat in the house. A blackboard wall, adjacent to the bar, listed all the nightly specials and the rotating beers on tap. This place had a great vibe and is a neat place for locals to walk to for a fresh and flavorful meal.

The menu has a Mediterranean flare, but is not traditional, authentic Mediterranean food, as written on their Web site - "offering seasonal, locally sourced dishes inspired by the rich culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region." We had a hard time ordering because everything looked so good. The menu offered lamb, chicken, beef, salmon and other seafood dishes. Visiting a place like this reminds me that I could never be a vegetarian. With that said, I ordered the short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Will ordered the Lauro burger with Dry Aged Jack and Pommes Frites. We decided we better split each meal so we could taste a little of both. But first, we tried the Tender Fried Calamari with Portuguese Piri Piri Sauce. I was so proud of Will, it was his first time eating calamari and he actually had more than one piece!

When our entrees came, I ate the short ribs first and oh my gosh...the best short ribs I have ever eaten! They were so tender and cooked to perfection. The flavor was sweet and paired nicely with the savory mashed potatoes. Then, Will and I traded and I ate the rest of the burger. It was also good, especially with the jack cheese, but it did not blow me away like the short ribs. But, I did learn, you can get the Lauro burger and the calamari on the happy hour menu for close to half price!

I look forward to going back to this restaurant because I want to try the Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast. In the meantime though, I will be visiting one of Chef David Machado's other restaurants in the area, Nel Centro and Vindalho. I look forward to eating at Vindalho because I have never tried Indian cuisine before.

Go check out Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen at 3377 SE Division #106, Portland, OR 97202


Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicken/Shrimp Kabobs and Chocolate Mousse

Alright so I am a couple weeks behind on this one...but I have to tell you about the awesome kabobs and chocolate mousse we made on Memorial Day. I lucked out for two reasons, one - I had the day off on Memorial Day and two - the weather was nice! You know what that means, time for barbecuing!

On the menu - chicken and shrimp Kabobs (with an array of veggies) and an easy easy chocolate mousse

We already had most the ingredients for the mousse and we had shrimp and pineapple already for the kabobs. But, we still needed a few more things so, my sister Kenzie and I headed to the store for the remaining ingredients:

Chicken (look for the $1.99 a lb chicken on sale at Albertsons)


Bell peppers

Sweet yellow onion

Red potatoes


Heavy whipping cream

A great baguette (which was gone before it hit the table...oops)

When we got home, we fired up the grill and cut up all the vegetables while we waited for it to heat up. Kabobs are fun because you can give everyone a couple skewers and they can customize their meal however they would like.

We then added the spices to the kabobs. You can do whatever you want (lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder, coriander...), but we used Dean Jacob's Seafood Rub for the shrimp and Poultry Rub for the chicken. A tasty melody of spices and each rub complemented the meat nicely.

*When you are grilling kabobs, remember that some items cook faster than others. We cooked the shrimp on separate skewers because they cook so much faster than the chicken and vegetables. Also, cut the potatoes smaller than your zucchini, onion, peppers etc...because they take a lot longer on the grill and you don't want undercooked potatoes.

While that was cooking, we starting to make our easy chocolate mousse. We found a recipe online that we used and I usually add or subtract ingredients, but this one was perfect the way it was and it took us 5 minutes to make:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 c. strong hot coffee
1 tbsp. rum or Kahlua  (We used Kahlua)
2 eggs
1/2 pt. whipping cream

It looked so good, we doubled it...and thank goodness we did because it was gone in less than 24 hours!

So another successful dinner and I had leftovers to take to work which was even better. Now it is your turn, get cooking and enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cafe Nell - Nob Hill Happy Hour

I figure it has been way to long since I have written about a good happy hour in town. Last Friday I had a date with two of my best friends and we wanted to try a new place for happy hour. After flipping through my Portland Happy Hour Guidebook (which I do not use nearly enough), I came across Cafe Nell in NW Portland.

What a cute place! The bar area is not very big, only about five or six tables and a bar top. We were seated right away because we were there early in the evening, but I can see this place filling up quickly!

The drink menu was wonderful with a wide selection of different cocktails. The berry lemonade cocktail sounded incredible, but of course I went with a Belgium beer on tap. I could not pass up a refreshing Hoegaarden. I am regretting not trying that cocktail though. Looks like I have to go back...too bad. :) So yes, a few beers on tap and some by the bottle as well. I peaked at the wine list and it was extensive with a selection of Oregon wines as well as others from the Pacific Northwest.

As for the food menu - prices ranged from $1 (bread service) to $12 (steak and fries), but the average was about $4. We ordered the cheese plate to start which came with a smoked bleu cheese, Tillamook sharp white cheddar, apple slices, baguette slices and almonds. Yum! Next we ordered the chicken skewers with a black bean/corn salsa and sliders (BBQ Bacon and Cheddar). The sliders are small (go figure) but are tasty. The bacon was cooked to perfection! Each order of chicken skewers comes with two skewers on a bed of salsa...I only had a bite, but the chicken had nice flavor. Last, we had a craving for one more thing...fries. It was not on the menu but we had to ask. To our surprise, they do serve fries for $2 at happy hour, but it is not on the restaurant menu. So, if you are in the mood for some salty goodness...ask for the fries.

We spent over two hours at this happy hour and had a wonderful time. It was rainy and gloomy outside, but we were warm and cozy inside. Our service was fantastic and the waiters were very friendly. They took great care of us and we never had empty glasses. We were not disappointed...the perfect place for a date or just a girls night out.

Cafe Nell on NW 20th and Kearney

Happy Hours:

3 – 6 Tuesday – Friday

4 – Close Saturday

Click here for their happy hour menu (please note that this is slightly different than the one in the restaurant and their menu is subject to change). But do ask about their $2 drafts...it is on the drink menu in the restaurant but not online.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This must be meant for me - Downtown Portland Dining Month!

Oh my! Take a look at this great deal. For the month of June, several restaurants are taking part in Downtown Portland Dining Month. 3 courses for $25. You can't beat that. I think this deal was meant for me!

Click on the this link and check out some of the restaurants participating in Downtown Portland Dining Month -http://www.downtownportland.org/diningmonth/

Some listed are - Saucebox, Kell's Irish Pub, Red Star Tavern, Mother's Bistro, Bluehour, Rogue Brewery and so many more!

Check them out and leave a comment letting me know what you think!