Portland, Night 2: Tasty N Alder, bars, & Biwa

Before our trip, Jay had asked his friends for recommendations on visiting Portland. “Eat and drink… eat and drink… eat and drink,” one person suggested. Unsurprisingly, everyone else echoed the same message. Who are we to ignore such sound advice?

After our transcendental experience at Toro Bravo the other night, Jay and I were eager to return to another of John Gorham’s restaurants for happy hour. We swooped in on some counter stools at Tasty ‘N Alder, right as it was clearing out its bar during the first seating of the night. I highly recommend ordering cocktails, including the English Patient (which involves a lovely mix of Earl Grey tea, floral notes, brandy & bubbly). While chatting with some locals, we couldn’t help noticing, and then ordering, one person’s amazing-looking dish. It was an excellent decision — Jay declared the grilled octopus his favorite bite in all of Portland.

On our way out, we stopped by Petunia’s Pies & Pastries, a vegan and gluten-free bakery with an adorably themed space. I indulged in a salted caramel bar, which was barely perceptibly “alternatively made” (at least, to my health-food-familiar tastebuds). Though deliciously rich, it didn’t quite draw me back to the sugary dark side.

Jay and I then headed to the other side of the river to Laurelhurst Theater, where one can watch a movie with beer in hand. Sadly, our show sold out, dashing our hopes of relaxing at a movie brewpub that night. Instead, we took a nice walk down East Burnside street and landed at The Wurst, a fun, laidback bar fully loaded with arcade games. We killed time eating free Goldfish crackers (the best bar food, if you ask me) and playing skee ball.

We ended the night with late-night grub at Biwa, an underground Japanese izakaya set in a trendy, wood-paneled basement. A 40-minute wait led to a cute corner table and a spread of small plates. Sadly, I couldn’t fully enjoy the food, as the whiskey and coke I’d had earlier wasn’t playing nice with my sensitive stomach — but the meal was still really nice, if a bit pricey.

Great spiced popcorn on the house.

Saba nanbanzuke: this fried and pickled mackerel salad was very vinegary and very good.

Kimchi: excellent if you like your kimchi flavorful and tart, but a shade overripe.

Onigiri with albacore: one of life’s greatest pleasures is a stuffed rice ball. I dare you to disagree with me.

Yakitori: we both loved the shiitake mushroom skewer, but Jay wasn’t as much a fan of the chicken thigh as I was, citing an overpowering sauce.

Agedashi tofu: my favorite dish, featuring cubes of soft battered tofu floating in a soy broth, topped with bonito flakes, chili, ginger, pickled and fresh green onions.

Ramen: thin, springy noodles swimming in a shoyu broth and garnished with a perfectly soft-boiled egg — so good! Don’t use this picture as evidence, though. Jay did a face plant in his bowl of ramen before I could snap a photo, so here’s a sad-looking shot of my share.

Isobeyaki: I quite enjoyed this nori-wrapped grilled mochi, with its interesting chewy-crunchy texture and salty shoyu flavor.

Bellies full, we headed back to our AirBnB to fall asleep. Not a bad way to end the night!

Tasty ‘n Alder
580 SW 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97205

Petunia’s Pies & Pastries
610 SW 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97205

The Wurst
724 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214

215 SE 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214


One thought on “Portland, Night 2: Tasty N Alder, bars, & Biwa

  1. Pingback: best bites of 2014 | yours, julie

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