Special Review: Boke Bird Dinner @ Boke Bowl


Boke Bird Dinner @ Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
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Hours: Thursday nights **ONLY** from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
No reservations! Walk-in only.
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[rating:4]

Dear Lunch Lady,

You do know the name of this website is Stumptown Lunch, right? Why the heck are you reviewing a dinner spot?

Love,
Your devoted readers
xoxoxoxoxo

OK, I know, I know…technically this is a dinner review, but it’s a very unique dinner review. While Boke Bowl is open Monday through Saturday for their very delicious ramen bowl lunches, they also open up their dining room every Thursday night for a very special eating event: the Boke Bird Dinner.

When I received an email announcing the debut of Boke Bird Dinners in late December I was so excited to try it that I pushed my birthday dinner back one day so that I could do it there.

The idea behind Boke Bird Dinner is very straightforward. Korean fried chicken and an array of sides served family style.

Like Boke Bowl at lunch, there is a somewhat limited menu, but there are options for both meat-eaters and veggies alike.

Unlike Boke Bowl at lunch, you are seated before you place your order, which gives this casual lunch spot a bit more of a formal feel. Despite that, the place will still be rather loud, very busy and your neighboring diners will likely be elbow-bumping distance away.

The chicken (or fried tofu for you veggies) is what you’re here for. You can order a half bird ($25/serves 2-3 ppl) or a whole bird ($50/serves 4-5 ppl) depending on how many people are eating. Along with the chicken come the standard sides: kimchi, assorted pickled vegetables, roasted seaweed, ginger/green onion steamed rice, steamed buns and the special orange dot sauce (ODS) for the chicken.

Still hungry? There are a variety of additional sides and desserts to order as well, including sautéed mushrooms, noodles, greens, salad, fried pears, Boke twinkies, fried pies and soft serve ice cream.

One thing I particularly liked about dinner was the pace. It wasn’t rushed and food came out in courses before the big plate of bird arrived at the table. At times it was a little frustrating to manage all the plates on our small table, but that’s a small price to pay for such high-quality, delicious food.

All in all, our dinner lasted about 90 minutes. This is not fast food by any means.

The service was good and prompt, although they do seem to get VERY busy and one of our courses almost ended up on a neighboring table.

Here’s the one thing I DO NOT LIKE: You can no longer make reservations for dinner. Initially they went with a reservation only system, then they quickly changed it to both reservations and walk-in, but as of last week it’s first-come/first-serve ONLY.

I’m sure the owners have their own reasons for this, but I’m a bit bummed. You see, there is almost always a line at Boke Bowl and not a lot of places to wait around for a table…and not a whole lot of places nearby to bide your time if you’re waiting. Even with our reservation for dinner, we waited about 10 minutes for our table. Others, without reservations that night, seemed to have to linger in the small waiting area for quite some time.

Overall, Boke Bird Dinner, like Boke Bowl itself, is quite a treat. The most important thing is to know and expect is that there will be lines and dinner will linger longer than most places. But, if you can muster up the patience, you won’t regret it!

PROS:
– Melt-in-your-mouth chicken. Delish!
– High-quality, fresh food served at a reasonable pace
– Fun family style meal
– Very reasonably priced

CONS:
– No longer taking reservations
– You’ll most likely have to wait in line ☹
– The tables are rather small for all the plates of food

Are you going to Bite?

Ready for The Bite of Oregon this weekend? We are!! It’s our favorite summer food weekend of the year. We love to taste-test delicious tidbits from all around our beautiful state. Great food, delightful drinks, rockin’ entertainment and a fun crowd…all that, and it benefits Special Olympics Oregon! Awesome! :)

Here are the deets:
FOOD
WINE/BEER
ENTERTAINMENT

WHEN
Friday, August 12, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 13, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland

ADMISSION
$15 Weekend Pass
$10 One Day Pass
$5 Early Bird Special (Friday entry before 2 p.m.)

[NOTE: Admission does not include the price of food or beverage.]

We sadly missed the 2010 event, but check out our seriously fun photos from 2009. Gallery: Bite of Oregon 2009

Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Wong Kee Dim Sum Restaurant
28 NW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-229-1888
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[rating: 4]

Believe it or not, until a few weeks ago I’d never had dim sum. How could that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I frequently eat at the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and many of them offer dim sum. Maybe it was an unexplainable fear of all those tin containers. How would I know I was picking the “right” thing to eat?

Then my friend Matt mentioned how amazing the dim sum is at Wong Kee—in fact, his entire family would occasionally drive all the way from Corvallis just to eat there when he was a kid. So I had to take him up on his offer to try it out.

I’ve had the regular menu at Wong Kee before, so I knew the food would be great, but I was very excited and delighted to try so many delicious dim sum treats all in one sitting. Continue reading Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Review: Skyline Restaurant

Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Boulevard
Portland, OR 97229
503-292-6727
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[rating: 4.5]

Foodies around the world know the name James Beard, one of the most acclaimed American chefs of all time, so it’s a little odd to see a browned-with-age newspaper clipping framed on the wall at Skyline touting Beard’s professed devotion for this tiny retro diner’s burgers.

I happen to share Beard’s devotion to Skyline, and I have been visiting for more than two decades. Even though I don’t live as close as I did growing up, the food and atmosphere keep calling me back and Skyline never fails to satisfy.

Established in 1935, you would guess by looking at the former drive-in that very little has probably changed since the days when teenagers cruised up through the West Hills to enjoy some late-night hamburgers and milkshakes.

The drive-in service is gone, but the burgers and shakes survive. The dining area is a smattering of cozy booths and a handful of stools at the counter, all of which tend to fill up quickly during peak hours. The wood paneled walls are covered with children’s crayon drawings, mementos collected over their years in business and lots and lots of business cards (some pinned to the wall four or five deep). All of which add to the charm of this bygone-era establishment, but also take into account that their bygone-era approach means this is a cash only restaurant. (They do have an on-site ATM.)

The menu is plentiful and retains a definite diner feel with some modern upgrades (like the vegan black bean burger), but the main draw to Skyline is the burgers with their toasted, buttery buns. Continue reading Review: Skyline Restaurant

Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery
(Lloyd Center location)
1200 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
503-954-2758
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[rating: 4.5]

On a recent rainy, dreary Portland day, my lunch partner and I were looking for some hearty comfort food to get us through the bleakness that is fall in the Pacific Northwest. We took off toward Lloyd Center hoping to find something new and, hopefully, really tasty.

Rose’s isn’t exactly a new name in the Portland restaurant scene. The original Rose’s deli and bakery opened in 1956 over on NW 23rd Avenue. Since that time the restaurant has grown to six locations across the metro area. The Lloyd Center location is the newest, which opened in July 2008.

The reason Rose’s has been able to flourish over the past 50 years is simple: the food is great and the service is outstanding. The menu is packed with deli goodness, like Rose’s Famous Reubens, half-pound burgers, specialty sandwiches, pasta dishes, a plethora of salads and tummy-warming soups (including the popular Matzo Ball). And don’t forget the meat-friendly house specialties like pot roast, baby back ribs, meatloaf and pork chops.

When we arrived the restaurant was pretty dead, so we were seated quickly at one of the large booths. The walls of this Rose’s location are lined with flat-screen TVs and there are two quirky Portland-themed murals, which add to the bright and light atmosphere. Continue reading Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Fire on the Mountain
1708 East Burnside
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-230-9464
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[rating: 4.5]

Wings, oh, lovely wings! Who doesn’t love a great wings place, right? Sure, you could trek out to the lone Hooters left in Oregon at Jantzen Beach, but for a great local wings place, you really should visit Fire on the Mountain—which now has two locations. Not only are the wings great, but the selection of sauces is outstanding.

Portland was a little behind the wings trend for years and years, and Fire on the Mountain’s initial location on North Interstate was really the first GOOD wing-specializing place in town (seriously, you can’t count Hooters, puh-lease) when they opened up in 2005. The original location is teeny-tiny, so if you go be prepared to wait for a table or just order take-out. The new East Burnside location is larger and very airy, but it’s also known to fill up fast during lunchtime.

When you approach the counter to give your order, you can actually taste-test the sauces on small pieces of celery. This is a great way to try out any sauces you might usually be afraid to try on an entire order of wings, so go ahead, dip that celery stick in “El-Jefe” and let the burning sensation begin. Continue reading Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Review: Mercato

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Mercato
904 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-219-9966
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[rating:4.5]

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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

HH Review: Portland City Grill

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Portland City Grill
111 SW Fifth Avenue, 30th Floor
Portland, OR
503-450-0030
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[rating:4.5]

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This is THE happy hour experience you must do at least once if you are in Stumptown. That is, if you can get a table! My best advice: come early.

The lunch menu at Portland City Grill is certainly on the splurge side of the StumptownLunch.com budget, but if you want to taste the amazing food, gaze at the eagle-eye view and save a lot of cash, go for happy hour. Happy hour runs from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday, 10 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday and (get this) from 4 pm to close on Sunday! There is beverage minimum of $2.75 per person, but that’s easy to fulfill with a nice chilled beer or one of their delicious cocktails. Sure, the drinks are on the pricey side, but the experience is worth it. Continue reading HH Review: Portland City Grill

HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

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Sapphire Hotel
5008 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-232-6333
**Opens at 4 p.m.
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[rating:5]

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Dark, candlelit and romantic, Sapphire Hotel is both a terrific place for a date or gathering with friends for happy hour. It’s an especially nice place to duck into on one of those long, rainy Stumptown winter afternoons, when you have some free time and you’re looking for a hearty snack and a good drink.

Tucked away on the east end of SE Hawthorne, Sapphire isn’t open for lunch (they SO should be!), but the happy hour is worth taking a late lunch and calling it an early workday. Happy hour runs everyday of the week from 4 to 6 p.m., and then picks up again from 10 p.m. to midnight (Sunday thru Thursday). Continue reading HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

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Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet
(Inside Pioneer Place)
340 SW Morrison Street, 4th Floor
Portland, OR 97204
503-294-0007
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[rating:4]

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It’s not everyday I get to enjoy endless sushi, salads, noodles, teriyaki chicken, multiple desserts and more all in one place! So I was extremely excited to try Todai—I actually skipped dinner the night before just so I could get my fill at the massive buffet.

Yes, Todai is an oasis of seafood delights. All over the bright and clean dining area, patrons roam, their oversized plates piled with tasty treats. One person might have piles and piles of sushi, while another might be enjoying a bowl of udon and yet another could be snacking on shrimp.

Ahhhh…. It was a feast for my sushi-and-seafood-loving eyes from the very moment I stepped inside. Continue reading Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

Review: The Cheesecake Factory


The Cheesecake Factory
(At Washington Square)
9309 SW Washington Square Road
Portland, OR
503-620-1100
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[rating:4.5]

OK, the moniker The Cheesecake Factory is a little misleading, because this place serves WAY more than just cheesecake. In fact, for a chain restaurant, it’s some of the best food in the burbs!

I try to avoid reviewing chain restaurants, but this is the one and only Cheesecake Factory in town, and if Portland ever gets an In-N-Out, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Pinkberry, you can bet your life I’m reviewing those places (sometimes I miss L.A. for more reasons than just the constant sunshine).

But back to the Cheesecake Factory, it’s pretty darn impressive. I’ve been there for lunch more times than my waistline likes to remember. The menu is, literally, heavy, and probably 20 pages long! Continue reading Review: The Cheesecake Factory