One of my favorite things about the Portland food scene is that the quirkiness of the establishment’s exterior is no indicator of the quality of the food… or the overall experience.
Lynn and I met at Baker and Spice Bakery for a quick cup of coffee this afternoon. No grand entrance; just an intimate, inauspicious bakery in a strip center in the SW. More exquisite pastries one could not imagine. I’m a sucker for a chocolate croissant and this moment was no time for resistance. Great staff; causal and friendly surroundings… basically, the Portland MO. Lynn even turned me on to Paloma, a sweet clothier a few doors down where I continued to support the Portland economy with the purchase of a new bag.
Then, it was off to meet my sister, Donna, and her friends, Mary Karen and Tom, for small-plate Indian food at Bollywood Theater on Alberta St. Any reservation I’d had about Indian food (and I did have one) dissolved in the quality and culture of the restaurant. Once again, Portland Garage Chic.
Of the two small plates I ordered, one was Vada Pav, a “spicy potato dumpling dipped in a chickpea batter and fried. Served on a roll with chutneys. The “poor man’s burger” of Mumbai.” Mildly spicy, totally tender. One of Donna’s plates was Julienned and Fried Okra with Chile, Lime and Raita. Razor thin slices of flash-fried okra wound up with chile sauce and wound down with the cool contrast of raita. Three of us had Samosa Cholle, “two savory pastries filled with spiced potatoes, onions, ginger and peas. Topped with chickpea cholle and green chutney.” Amazingly substantial. These are dishes that could cause a wanna-be vegetarian to leap over the abyss.
I can promise you all this was quite enough; however, sometimes enough isn’t enough. Better judgment aside, Donna and I stepped next door to Salt and Straw, a hip ice cream spot with flavors like Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper (fab), Arbequina Olive Oil (double fab), Pear with Bleu Cheese and Sugar Spice and Everything Nice. Because of my caramel affectation and my purist nature, there was no other choice for me than Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon. S&S also offers two sorbets: Black Currant and Dandelion with Spring Flowers.
There’s an ease in this food culture. What’s unseen is the rigorous commitment to creativity and quality of food design, prep and service. Portland Garage Chic.