Review: Lovejoy Bakers (Pearl District)


Lovejoy Bakers
939 NW 10th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
Map It!
Ph: 503-208-3113
Hours: 6 a.m to 8 p.m daily
Website | Menu | Facebook
Lunch Money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★½☆☆

First of all, let me be perfectly clear about something. I suffer from standing-in-line-might-cause-me-to-die syndrome. (It’s a real thing, I think. Maybe.) So, I dare you to try to find a time during the day when there ISN’T a long-ass line at Lovejoy Bakers. I do like this place for the convenience, but sometimes I’m not in the mood to wait and wait and wait for my death…oops, I mean a sandwich.

OK, I know that’s not exactly fair, but are you freakin’ kidding me about the lines at this place?! On a good day the line is 10-people deep during non-peak hours, but at a busy time it’s pointless to wait. For as much as they charge for a sandwich here, you’d think there’d be a better, faster, more efficient system.

Beyond the line problem, there’s also the seating problem. Once you’re through the line there is (surprisingly) fairly limited seating…and a lot of it is communal, which is—at least I find personally—annoying. On nice days there’s outside seating, but this is Portland! It rains…a lot. Like 20 months of the year.

OK, for the good stuff. The sandwiches are good. I also think the bread at Lovejoy Bakers is excellent. (I’ve dropped by to pick up a baguette in the late afternoon for dinner a few times.)

I prefer to order the smaller Bistro sandwiches (currently $4 to $7.50). Why? The regular sized sandwiches are kinda expensive (currently $6.25 to $9.50) and come with a side of probably the most tasteless and watery coleslaw I’ve ever tried.

Sadly, coleslaw is the ONE AND ONLY free side option with a full-size sandwich. The other option, a side of chips, will cost $1 extra. I think that’s pretty lame. There’s a Subway across the street where you can get a foot-long sub, chips AND a soda for far less than a sandwich at Lovejoy Bakers…and with less attitude.

Oh, did I mention the attitude? Yes, there is a weird vibe at Lovejoy Bakers. Snobby for sure. You can’t just order a fountain soda (i.e., Coke, Sprite, etc.) you have to order a bottle of fancy-schmancy all-natural soda. I know it’s the Pearl District, but c’mon, not everyone who lives or works in the area wants to shell out extra dollars for a soda! (Note: the self-serve water is free.)

This MIGHT be OK if there didn’t seem to be some confusion behind the counter at times—or almost every time I’ve been there. I’d chalk it up to the long lines, and the frustration/confusion that all those hungry customers might cause, but then I saw people behind the counter standing around chit-chatting on a super busy day—ignoring me trying to inform them the self-dispense drip coffee was out and getting no response. Or that cold winter day they didn’t make my peppermint café mocha at all and had to ask after a looong wait! Not cool.

It’s sort of hard to believe Lovejoy Bakers is partially owned by the same people who founded Pizzacato in Portland, which I really love.

Overall, the sandwiches are tasty, but there are a lot of other issues to contend with before you sit down with your Lovejoy Bakers lunch. If you like long lines, annoying hipster attitudes and bussing your own tables, you might like Lovejoy Bakers. But I think I’ll skip it from now on.

PROS:
– Tasty sandwiches
– Fresh bread, which you can order to take home
– Breakfast sandwiches served all day
– They offer smaller, cheaper “Bistro” sandwiches

CONS:
– THE LINES!
– Can be hard to find seating
– Expensive for a sandwich
– The service is often below average, and you have to bus your own table
– Coleslaw is the only free side option—and it’s mediocre at best

Review: Mellow Mushroom (Pearl District)

Mellow Mushroom
1411 NW Flanders Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
Map It!
Ph: 503-224-9019
Hours: Su-Th: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; F, Sa: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Website | Menu | Twitter | Facebook
Lunch Money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been meaning to write this review FOREVER…or maybe it just seems that way since Portland’s Mellow Mushroom has been open since October 2011, and it’s become the one of my regular pizza destinations in the Pearl District.

I really like the mellow-groovy vibe of the place. It’s sort of a ‘60s-hippie-meets-Portland-hipster attitude. I’ve been to MM for lunch, happy hour and dinner, and I’ve never been disappointed. Great service, friendly bartenders and, of course, lots of yummy, cheesy options to pick from!

Fair warning: The portions are large. Even the smallest pizza size can probably feed two people at lunchtime, especially if you’re starting with a salad or an appetizer. Likewise for their sandwiches and calzones. Come REALLY hungry, share or expect to have leftovers to take home.

On my visits I’ve typically stuck with the pizza menu (well…and the appetizer, beer and wine menus, too).

During lunch hours (usually from open to 2 p.m.) you can order pizza by the slice. You start with a basic cheese slice and can choose the toppings of your choice. I like this because it means your slice is made-to-order, fresh and hasn’t been sitting under a heat lamp all day.

While you can go with a build-your-own pizza (with tons of topping options), the specialty pizzas are probably my main draw to MM. Sure, there are your standard combo pies (the Hawaiian, the Mighty Meaty, the Mega Veggie types), but they also have some very creative options. The Caesar is actually topped with a Caesar salad. The Red Skin Potato Pie is like a deluxe baked potato on crust.

Speaking of the crust, the pizza crust at MM is pretty close to what I would call perfection. I’m not into deep-dish or anything too doughy, so the crunchy, crispy, yet still soft and chewy, crust is delightful. (Proof: I almost never eat the outer edge of my pizza crust, but MM’s is so good I devour the entire slice!)

MM is also well known for their massive beer selection—they offer more than 100 options! Seriously, I think any beer aficionado would be more than satisfied here. Of course, if the enormous beer menu is a wee overwhelming, just ask your server…they know their stuff. Definitely don’t be shy to ask for recommendations.

Some of my personal favorite things about MM are the appetizers, which are commonly discounted during happy hour.

The cheese bread is almost too good to be true—and huge! It’s a loaf of French bread smothered in cheese and served with a pot of marinara to dip in. Ermahgerd!!! So good.

My friends and I have also tried the fresh baked pretzels, which our server warned us would take a little longer than the typical app, but—let me tell ya—they’re well worth the wait. There are sweet or savory flavors to choose from (I personally love the garlic butter and Parmesan).

Overall, MM is a funky-fun place to grab a pizza and a brewski (especially in the pricey oasis that is the Pearl District). It’s great for groups and families, and on nice days there are a few outside tables—perfect for summertime people-watching!

PROS:
– Good pizza with excellent crust
– HUGE beer selection
– Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available
– Some outside seating in good weather
– Awesome cheesy bread!

CONS:
– They only offer pizza by the slice at lunchtime
– No delivery service…yet
– As always, the parking situation in the Pearl District sucks (but the streetcar is close-by)

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

HH Review: Trader Vic’s (The Pearl)

Trader Vic’s
1203 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
Ph: 503-467-2277
HH Hours: 3 to 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close M-F; all day on Sundays
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Lunch money: $$$-$$$$
Rating: ★★½☆☆

I wanted to love the happy hour at Trader Vic’s, I really, really did. It’s convenient to home and work, I love all things kitschy and the happy hour goes from 3 until 6:30 p.m. on weekdays (as well as from 10p.m. to close on weekdays AND all day on Sundays).

After they opened their reincarnated Portland location last summer, I noticed Trader Vic’s was almost always packed, so I assumed the famous Polynesian-themed eatery would certainly be a treat for the taste buds. Sadly, I was disappointed.

I guess my first clue should have been apparent as soon as I arrived on a Wednesday evening about 5:15 and the place was not busy at all. This seemed so bizarre. They’re located in the Pearl, where popular happy hour spots are notorious for filling up within minutes of opening. They were getting loads of positive press just a few months ago. The restaurant and bar were aesthetically pleasing and there was ambient music playing.

So where were all the HH peeps at?

Then I realized something. I don’t think anyone I know has actually mentioned they’ve tried Trader Vic’s yet.

OK, so here’s what went down. I arrived and found my party—which was easy because it was one of the few tables in the bar area that was occupied at the time. Our server gave me a couple of menus: the happy hour menu, the cocktail menu and the regular bar menu.

Complaint #1: It seemed that our table hadn’t been properly cleaned because one corner of the tabletop was so sticky my sweater kept getting stuck to it. Yuck.

Anyway, because we’ve run the gamut of wintery weather of late in Portland, I was eager to jump right in and order a fun tropical drink. I started with the Rangoon Ruby ($5), which was described to me as something of a vodka/cranberry/grenadine combo. Verdict: Blah. A little too sweet and it tasted like grenadine and nothing else.

One friend ordered the classic Mai Tai, so I sampled a sip. WOW! No wonder that’s Trader Vic’s signature drink! Delish. I quickly switched to a Maui Mai Tai and was completely content.

As for the food at Trader Vic’s happy hour? Well, this was the real problem I had. It was just not very good. It was bland. Average. Meh. More like something you’d expect from a boring chain place in the ‘burbs rather than a well-known restaurant in the Pearl.

One friend ordered the Shanghai Caesar salad ($4) and the pork sliders ($6). We both thought the salad looked good, but he said it wasn’t tasty at all. As for the sliders, he was really disappointed with the flavor and the portion size (just two smallish sliders). I noticed that the sliders reeked of onions.

Another friend opted for the mini tidbit plate ($7). “Mini” is a good way to describe it…there was hardly any food! Just one prawn, one crab Rangoon, a slice of char sui pork and one BBQ sparerib. It was about the size of a preschooler’s snack!

I opted for two skewers of chicken sate ($2 each), and I thought they were a bit rubbery and the peanut dipping sauce was one of the worst I think I’ve ever had. It was runny and lacked flavor.

Overall, the only reason I would come back to Trader Vic’s for happy hour is for the Mai Tais—and I’m disappointed that I feel this way. Totally skip the food. If you want some South Pacific-style fare in the same part of town, walk just TWO blocks west to Hawaiian Time!

PROS:
– The Mai Tais are the (maybe only) reason to come here. $6/$6.50 during HH
– The service was attentive (and, according to a male friend, “attractive”)
– Nice decor
– Live music is a plus

CONS:
– The food was bland
– Not enough food options on the happy hour menu
– Happy hour food portions are too small
– Parking in the Pearl is just ridiculous. Take the streetcar.

Trader Vic's on Urbanspoon

Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Pink Rose
1300 NW Lovejoy Street
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
Ph: 503-482-2165
Website | Twitter | Facebook |Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

What’s the best part of the weekend? Brunch, of course! But finding an affordable, upscale brunch in Portland (where the wait list time is less than an hour) can be difficult.

So when I recently stopped by Pink Rose in the Pearl for a quick happy hour with friends, a glimpse at their brunch menu and I knew I had to return…soon. Like that very weekend. And I did. [Note: Our server mentioned the bottomless mimosas for just $10—how could I possibly pass that up?!?!]

Seeing that their location is just steps from Stumptown Lunch headquarters, I’d been meaning to try the food at Pink Rose ever since they opened up this past August. Alas, it took the arrival of the cold, wind and rain (and the accompanying “I don’t want to go out in this weather” mood) to get me in the door.

Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays Pink Rose has a special brunch menu that includes all things meaty, gooey, cheesy, bacon-y and toasty! Seriously, there is something to please just about everyone—although if you are veggie/vegan the options are somewhat limited (although they do seem to make some substitutions upon request).

I started off with a mimosa (obviously) and my brunch buddy started with a big cup of coffee. The coffee arrived with THREE different types of sugar and my oversized glass of chilled champagne and orange juice was pure delightfulness.

I ordered my usual, a breakfast sandwich ($6), and brunch buddy went with the turkey Benedict ($12), both were served with potatoes. The portions were perfect for my appetite—hearty, but not overwhelming. I particularly loved the very fresh avocado on my breakfast sandwich. In fact, everything tasted very fresh. My brunch buddy offered up a taste of his turkey Benedict and it was very flavorful…and completely delicious! We both devoured almost everything on the plate. There were no leftovers! Continue reading Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Gallery: Some Summer 2011 Food Porn

Oh, summer, where have you gone? Didn’t this summer seem to fly by faster than usual? (Maybe that was because summertime weather didn’t arrive in PDX until about August?) Of course, as we look back at these photos, we realize we certainly made the most of our eating opportunities over the past few months. Here’s our (actually short) gallery of some of the tasty tidbits we consumed. Enjoy!

HH Review: Emanon Cafe

Emanon Cafe
1000 NW 17th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
503-222-6435
Business Hours: M-Sat 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Happy Hour: M-F 3 to 6:30 p.m., Sat 3 p.m. to close
Website | Twitter: @emanoncafe | Facebook Page
Menu | Lunch Money: $$ to $$$
Rating: ★★★½☆

When we tell friends we’re headed to Emanon we often get a confused look, followed by “Where’s Emanon?” or “What’s Emanon?” And, honestly, we kind of like it that way. You see, Emanon is a cozy neighborhood café/bar tucked away on a quiet block on the outskirts of the Pearl District.

But unlike uber-trendy, sometimes-pretentious Pearl restaurants and bars, Emanon is casual and low-key. It’s the perfect place to sit outside on a sunny afternoon and partake in some happy hour-ing. A nice chilled beer or cocktail and a bite from the delightful $4 food menu (currently featuring a dozen options) can take the edge off even the toughest, roughest day.

The $4 dishes are as simple as fries or onion rings and get more substantial with nachos, sliders or crab cakes. During happy hour micro brews are $4.50, well drinks are $3.50, a glass of red or white wine is $4 and a specialty martini is $5.

We’d just finished up a grueling day of shopping at IKEA (on a Saturday, no less), so we were ready to take a seat, soak up some sun and get our grub on! We met up with friends and grabbed a sidewalk table. Our friendly lady server arrived quickly to take our drink order and returned with our adult beverages zippy-fast!

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, it was like our own little piece of paradise! Well…as close to it as you can get in an urban NW Portland setting.

After a refreshing round of drinks we were definitely ready for some food. A certain friend (we won’t name the guilty party here) said he wasn’t all that hungry. Of course, as soon as our ultra-cheesy artichoke spinach dip and grilled shrimp dish arrived he suddenly found his appetite again. Continue reading HH Review: Emanon Cafe

Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Hawaiian Time
505 NW 14th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
503-459-4040 ‎
Hours: Sun-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m./F-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Facebook Page | Menu (PDF) | Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

Aloha my lovely Stumptown Lunch brahs! Are you ready to grind into some epic “plate lunch” awesomeness?

Plate Lunch: A combo menu item that is a traditional part of Hawaiian cuisine. While some options will vary, the standard plate lunch consists of a main entrée, two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

We’d been hearing about the Hawaiian Time location in the Pearl District almost constantly since we arrived back in PDX last month. This is mainly because our best bud, Matt W., is a regular and he’s constantly bragging about having just eaten there on the way over to Stumptown Lunch HQs. (BTW, yeah, thanks for NOT bringing us some all those times, Matt!)

So, after a recent visit to Powell’s, we decided to hoof it a few blocks to try some of the Polynesian meat treats for ourselves.

The verdict is in: What the heck were we waiting for?!?!

To say it was good would be an understatement. To say it was delicious would still be an understatement. To say that we could eat at Hawaiian Time every single day would be absolutely accurate. Seriously. It’s that good!

Walking into the former-gas-station-turned-tiny-restaurant-joint, we were surprised by how simple and straightforward the menu was. Meat, more meat, side of meat, marinated meat, grilled meat, seasoned meat…oh, and steamed rice and that notorious mac salad. Yes, there are one or two vegetarian options, but serious veggie-only types won’t have much to pick from here.

If you are going for one of the plate lunches you’ll have three sizes to choose from. The regular size has one generous portion of your choice of meat, two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. The smaller “dakine” portion contains a little less meat (but not by much) and one scoop each of rice and mac salad. If you are really hungry (and I mean REALLY hungry) there’s the “alii” portion, which includes a whopping 11.5 ounces of meat, three scoops of rice and two scoops of mac salad. Best be off-the-Richter hungry, son! Continue reading Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

HH Review: On Deck Sports Bar & Grill


On Deck Sports Bar & Grill
910 NW 14th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-227-7020
Business Hours: M-Th 11 a.m.-11 p.m., F/Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Happy Hour: M-F 3:30-6:30 and 9:30-close, Sat/Sun 9-close
Website
Map It!
Twitter: @ondeckpdx
Rating: ★★★★☆


While the ever popular On Deck Sports Bar and Grill is open daily for lunch, we find ourselves gravitating to the smartly decked out Pearl District hangout for happy hour—especially now that summertime weather is gently breezing in and the cold, rain and wind is headed out (at least we hope).

Whether it’s a sunny day just chillin’ at one of the spacious tables on their sprawling patio or catching an afternoon Major League Baseball game or an international soccer match, the happy hour food and drink specials are even more of an incentive to come out and cheer on your favorite team.

First and foremost, On Deck is about sports—lots of sports. If you’re looking for somewhere to catch “the BIG game” or even some of the more obscure sporting events, On Deck is a great place to gather. There are 25 flat screens all over the bar and a 68” plasma TV, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch all the action.

Monday through Friday On Deck offers happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and then again from 9:30 p.m. to close. On Saturday and Sunday happy hour is from 9 p.m. to close. Food prices range from $2 to $5, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Drink specials range from $2.75 domestic pints to $3.50 well drinks to $5 Captain & Cokes. Continue reading HH Review: On Deck Sports Bar & Grill

Gallery: Wieden+Kennedy’s 13th and Farm

Today we stepped away from our desk around lunchtime and strolled over to the Pearl District for Wieden+Kennedy’s 13th and Farm event. Like a mini farmers market mixed with a block party vibe, Portlanders enjoyed the warm summer day and perused the vendors’ tasty treats, refreshing drinks, colorful flowers, pretty plants and delicious desserts.

If you missed it, just check out our photo gallery and it’ll be like you were there!

HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

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Henry’s 12th Street Tavern
10 NW 12th Street
Portland, OR
503-227-5320
* Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6 pm
Map It!
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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OK, Henry’s has a great happy hour menu, but it’s almost too much trouble finding a seat to even bother going! I can understand the mad rush at Portland City Grill (which is also owned by Pacific Coast Restaurants), but I get so sick and tired of walking that endless circle around the bar at Henry’s looking for a free table or an even less comfortable place at the bar.

Honestly, my friends and I have left without waiting numerous times, because, like PCG, they don’t have any organized way of getting paying customers a table as people leave. Yes, I understand first come, first serve, but this is just chaos without the great view or the ambiance of PCG. Continue reading HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

Review: Mercato

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Mercato
904 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-219-9966
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★½

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UPDATE: Mercato is now closed.

Wow, I think the Lunch Lady has a new favorite lunch spot in the Pearl. From the big screen TVs behind the counter (when we were there three were displaying the menu and the other was tuned to CNN) to the incredibly friendly waitstaff to the bright and open dining area to the display cases of yummy gelato, paninis, desserts and bottled drink offerings, Mercato is certainly off to a good (and tasty) start! Mercato opened just over a week ago, but they should definitely be on your lunch list.

If there is anything on the downside, it’s the prices. Though the prices are comparable to other Pearl lunch establishments, it’s still on the high side of the StumptownLunch budget. Salads start at $7, paninis go for $9 (including a small mixed greens salad), pizzas start at $10 (these are big, but not really big enough to share if that’s all you’re ordering) and pasta dishes start at $11.  They also offer a wide array of beverages, including espresso, beer and wine. Continue reading Review: Mercato

Grand Opening: Mercato

Last night the Lunch Lady was out and about when she discovered that Mercato is now open for business. It was way past lunchtime, so there was no time to try it out, but expect a Mercato review coming soon!! They are located at the corner of NW Ninth and Couch, and they serve a variety of Italian food, including pizza, pasta and paninis. From the outside, the new place looks pretty cool with lots of places to sit, colorful and modern decor, large monitors displaying the menu and they plan to be open from 7 am to 10 pm!

Can’t wait to check it out!

Cheers!
The Lunch Lady