A Little Scoop of Life in Portlandia

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.

We sat at a picnic table outside. Photo courtesy: Trip Advisor.
We sat at a picnic table outside.
Photo courtesy: Trip Advisor.
These are good. I liked the pickled carrots and inhaled one and choked for a bit.
These are good Vietnamese chicken wings with fish sauce. I liked the pickled carrots and inhaled one and choked for a bit.

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.

This is what it was like last night but this photo is not last night. Courtesy Willamette Week.
This is what it was like last night but this photo is not last night. Courtesy Willamette Week.

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.

27 replies to “A Little Scoop of Life in Portlandia

  1. I used to be a frequent visitor to Portland, because my oldest friend lives there. I loved that city, and the ex and I would talk of retiring ther and living on a houseboat. We know how that worked out. Now, I’m not sure I’d fit in. It seems to be like one huge boutique hotel, and those make me so uncomfortable. The food you ate, though, sounds divine. Did the evening work as a pick-her-up?

    1. It is one huge boutique hotel and then a little more beat up motel with a nasty parking lot in some places.

      It did work, not 100% but she’s a teenager but it definitely helped! Thank you for asking Addie.

  2. Love it! I’ve eaten at Pok Pok but didn’t realize it was so important… I went because my friend liked some chicken dish. And I have wanted to try Salt and Straw for awhile, but never had the time to wait in line. Now I’m missing Portland something fierce, I think a trip is on the horizon!

    1. Hello? Katelyn?! It’s one of the 20 most important restaurants in America! Did you happen to read about why it’s so important? I may have to go read my own link. Stand in line for Salt and Straw, not for Voodoo Doughnuts but definitely SandS!

        1. OK. I went back and read the Bon Appetit article. One of the very important restaurants which is in Chicago serves fish with hyacinth VAPOR. VAPOR air. Wha? The only other important restaurant I have been to is the Shake Shack in NYC and it is a really good burger. I didn’t realize it was also important.

          1. K–the put the food (what little of it there is) on a bed of hyacinth and poor steaming water on it to create hyacinth vapor. AND people pay for this!!!!

    1. Brigid was fine all day, it was Annie who was in a slump. And yes, she was cheered. Claire, Lisa’s daughter, always has a wonderful effect on Miss Annie and she chooses the best ice cream!

  3. I’ve never been to that place, I’ll have to try it. Pok Pok is a Portland institution, and their accolades are PLENTY. I sorta feel that people always push it the way they do Le Pigeon. Interestingly, I’ve eaten at both places and don’t think either hold a candle to Andina. Probably my absolute favorite restaurant here in PDX.

    1. I’m not going to go to Pok Pok because it’s just not worth it to me. I haven’t been to Le Pigeon but have been to Little Bird is other one and I thought it was over hyped. I have been to Andina and didn’t like it but that could be due to the hideous Match date that I was on. I’m still a fan of Clyde Common. Have you been to Victoire in SE? I really like that, too.

        1. I must try Andina again because I know so many people that list it as their fave. And this time around, I’d be guaranteed to like my date. That visit to Andina might be worth a post it was that bad.

  4. Oh my damn. I need some coffee and bourbon ice cream. STAT.
    I’m a beer-loving, tattooed, photographer, who would think it just fine to work part-time in a coffee shop…I’m not sure why I don’t live in Portland already.

  5. The salted ganache sounds amazing. I’m very familiar with NW 23rd. When I was in restaurants, I helped open a California Pizza Kitchen on the corner of NW 23rd and Burnside, in Theile Square. It closed several years ago, but I loved that area.

    1. It is a cool neighborhood. I remember when Henry Thiele’s restaurant was there and it was the in place for my parents to go when I was little. And in the 80s I would go to the Dandelion Pub, did you ever go there?

      1. I didn’t move back to Portland until 1996, to open the CPK. I was there until 1998, then moved here to Florence on the coast. After CPK closed, I went back and there was a great Irish pub in that space, which was right below The Gap. I haven’t been back in several years. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, or at least NW 23rd and Burnside 🙂

What do YOU think of me?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this:
close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star