Last night my pal Lisa and I decided to take the our girls out for an evening of bowling and camaraderie because one of my daughters was feeling down and I thought this was a good pick-me-up (pick-her-up) idea. The plan was to go bowling at Grand Central Bowl in Southeast Portland. They have food and fun and it’s a Tuesday evening so that’s easy.
This is Grand Central Bowl:
I’m more accustomed to bowling alleys that look like this:
Grand Central Bowl is very loud and very cool. There is a bar and restaurant. The bowling lanes have leather couches instead of plastic chairs. There are massive TV screens at the end of each lane. The sweet hipster girl at the counter had those big ear plug weird holes in her ears and a pierced tongue and was sporting the sort of 1940’s look with the sweater set, dyed black hair and bangs…she informed us that they had several groups last night so no free lanes until 9:15.
On to Plan B.
We pile into Lisa’s car and decide to go to dinner at Pok Pok. Pok Pok is one of those “Portland” restaurants. Bon Appetit magazine named it one of America’s most important restaurants of 2013. I don’t really know what that means. How important can a restaurant get? Is the restaurant feeding the hungry? Well, the hungry without money to pay for it? Are they curing food borne cancers? What makes a restaurant important? I don’t know, I didn’t read the article. Here is the list of Pok Pok awards and articles. It’s long. PP doesn’t take reservations and the wait last night for a group of five was 45 minutes, um not so much. So we went to its sister restaurant Whiskey Soda Lounge, where they have the famous PP chicken wings but the rest of the menu is small plates.
The waitress was very Portland, properly inked up, very friendly. We got two plates of wings, deep friend pork chitlins (not a good idea), some flank steak thing and sticky rice. I’m just not a big Asian food fan. It was fine.
The best part was the waitress telling Brigid about a special kind of green tea. My girls are not tea drinkers, nor am I but the waitress thought this might be the kind of tea they would like. “It’s a very light green tea, that is brewed with a rice until the rice sort of pops like popcorn. The tea has a taste a bit like smoky popcorn. It’s really good.” Ok, she has the girls’ attention, they will have that. “Oh we don’t have it but if you ever see it, you should try it.” So freakin’ Portland. Only in Portland will a server spend that much time discussing and describing something they don’t sell.
We then headed back across the river to Salt and Straw, Portland’s ice cream shop extraordinaire. I have never been before and I’m not a big ice cream eater but ice cream and salt sounds really good to me. The line was out the door.
Last night was a balmy summer night, the sidewalks of NW 23rd were crowded with families and dogs and hipsters and oldsters. School is out, no homework, life is good and ice cream will make it better. I bypassed “Freckled Woodblock Chocolate” for a scoop of “Grandma Malek’s Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache” and Yeah BABY!!! Ohhh, man this is good stuff. Brigid got a milkshake for $8 and Annie had a cone of what I had and a scoop of Coffee and Bourbon which is most definitely caffeinated. I think Lisa got the Coffee and Bourbon and her daughter had what I had because I copied her. This is so Portlandia and I’m sure will wind up in the Ace Hotels (click here to read my NY Ace Hotel experience) eventually. Only in Portland (I think) do you find beer flavored ice cream, pear and bleu cheese ice cream, and olive oil ice cream. I didn’t try them all (although they will let you taste as much as you want and they bring it to you on little silver spoons) but what I had was worth every penny.
Welcome to my world.