Razzle's Travels

Hilton Portland – My default hotel
July 21, 2008, 12:55 am
Filed under: Hotel, OR, Portland
When I need to stay in downtown Portland on the cheap I go to Priceline and bid on a 3 star hotel. I have yet to get anywhere but the Hilton. Usually hovering somewhere around $110 a night, this weekend I hit the jackpot and got it for $64 (going rate was $149 at the hotel).
In the five times I’ve stayed here, this was the first time they accomodated my request for a room with a king bed. So those are the pics you see.
Room sizes completely vary, this king room was the smallest room I’ve been in, I’ve also had corner doubles that were enormous and a couple other doubles that were average size and a very small double. So if you get a room that is small and you are staying with someone, you might want to try asking if they have another room available.
The beds aren’t super comfy like some of the other Hiltons I’ve stayed at, but also not uncomfortable by any means. I chalk it up to the older status of the hotel.
It is an older hotel, decor wise, but very centrally located and I can walk anywhere downtown or in the Pearl relatively quickly. There is a Max station located a couple blocks down in Pioneer Square and the Streetcar runs a few blocks over on 10th. Shopping galore is also a couple blocks away, Nordstrom, a huge Banana Republic and also the mall.
It is also generally a very busy hotel! This is the one time I’ve checked in and not come across large groups of people and parties in the lobby.
There is a fitness center, which they charge $10 a day to use, and internet is also at a charge, like all other Hiltons. Parking is $25 a day, but there is a lot across 6th Street that charges $15 for overnight parking if you just need a place to stash the car while you sleep.
Another odd thing I came across charge-wise, I left my rings in the bathroom and realized it when it was too late to turn around and go back. I called and security confirmed they were in the bathroom. They offered to mail it back to me, but would need a credit card to charge it to. Otherwise they will hold on to them for 60 days. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just mail them to me in an envelope and not charge me, but it just seemed part of the small fees for everything nature of the chain.
I’ve eaten at the 921 Bistro a few times, and it is reasonably priced and the food is fairly good. Great if you get in late at night and just want a quick bite to eat before bed. But if you have time and want really good food you are just a walk from tons of restaurants. For breakfast it’s good if you want a quick bite before a meeting, but if you have time you need to go to Mother’s instead.
Overall, it’s a good bargain if you are in town and need a centrally located place to stay.

A little bit of Rock n Roll – Jupiter Hotel – Portland
May 4, 2008, 1:23 am
Filed under: Hotel, OR, Portland

The Jupiter is what I’m going to refer to as Rock n’ Roll hotel. It is home to the Doug Fir Lounge, a small venue with live indie bands, food, and obviously a bar. Located nearby is also Union Jack’s a strip bar. So, on a Saturday night, you can only imagine that it is crowded, loud, and full of partiers. We arrived late (1 am) and the hotel parking was full, so park on a residential side street and pray for no ticket in the morning. I didn’t really see any signs clearly marking the hotel, so it’s a good thing my companion had stayed there before!

There’s lots of outdoor seating, and I swear I saw a firepit, but I may have been a bit tipsy. I suspect this used to be a Travelodge or a Howard Johnson’s type hotel, that was just updated to be kinda cool kinda funky. We ended up in one of the Lobu rooms.

This means a queen platform bed with a light comforter and blanket, no artwork, a small table with two chairs and a tv. The bed however, is comfortable and the towels soft.

Very minimalistic, and very small. There is chalk in the room, and until the morning I didn’t realize it was for the room door that is painted with chalkboard paint. Cool!

The bathroom also follows the minimalist approach, fun vinyl shower curtain, small sink. Very basic.

The only, and biggest complaint I have about the Jupiter is the super thin walls. We had been placed between two rooms that were for one group of friends. So there was lots of going back and forth between the two rooms, standing in front of our room and having conversations about who was drunker than who, and who could kick a cops ass. Other conversations revolved around which strip club was better (Mary’s is apparently more “accomodating”). I couldn’t decide if it was a bunch of frat boys, or a bachelor party.

So if you want a romantic night away, I wouldn’t recommend staying here for a relaxing quiet night. I would however recommend it for a girls or boys night out partying late. Or if you want to have really loud sex and want people to hear.

The lobby has apples and coffee in the morning, and the Doug Fir apparently serves a decent breakfast starting early in the morning for those of you who don’t plan on going to bed.

Breakfast in Eugene – Glenwood Restaurant
September 30, 2007, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Brunch, Cheap Eats, Eugene, Food, OR

If you are looking for a healthy breakfast look no further than Glenwood Restaurant. I am sure there are other breakfast joints in town, but this must be the best. Seriously. On a Wednesday morning at 11 am this place was completely packed. And this wasn’t the location on the U of O campus. So you know it’s good.
The menu is pretty typical, scrambles, pancakes, egg dishes, and sandwiches. But the food is anything but typical.

I was torn between french toast and pancakes, as I usually am, but decided on the pancakes. To make matters more complicated there were three options. Buckwheat, honey and wheat, and some other natural grain one. None of that white flour boring pancake stuff here. I opted for the honey and wheat flour one, and am so glad I did. There was no need for maple syrup on this, even though a small pitcher of it was brought out. The pancakes were already slightly sweet and the butter made them perfect.
My companion got the eggs benedict, which were also quite delicious, although surprisingly a bit heavy on the hollandaise.

We also ordered a side of the home fries, which were of the red potato variety. Not overly greasy, with a a good sprinkling of herbs and garlic. The bacon was cooked well and not greasy. I don’t know how they manage to make breakfast food taste so good and yet go light on the grease!

The price is pretty reasonable, our breakfast including coffee and juices ran just $20.
Next time I’m back in town, I will be trying the biscuits and gravy. I couldn’t stop wondering about them the rest of the day.

You can find the Glenwood in two locations: 1340 Alder Street (541)687-0355 and 2558 Willamette Street (541) 687-8201.

Tapas Ashland Style – Tabu Restaurant
July 21, 2007, 3:15 am
Filed under: Ashland, Food, OR

When I think tapas, I think enough for a couple bites per plate. This is not the case at Tabu. Small plates are not the norm here. So while we went for a light dinner after spa day, we walked away with lots of food in our bellies, and plenty to take back to the B&B with us. We had ordered all the food at once, perhaps the 2 of us should have paced ourselves.
We started off with chips, salsa and guacamole. The guacamole was smooth and fresh, I almost forgot about the salsa. A generous portion that I kept dipping in.

Next was the empanada of the day.

Pork, corn, carrots and creamy goodness fried to perfection. With a slaw like salad on the side and 2 dipping sauces (chipotle crema and something else). I am not a huge pork fan (my companion is) but this was some good stuff. We ate one and took the other back with us.

There was of course the requisite queso fundido. Cheesy goodness, some bread and the overwhelming desire to take it home and eat it for the rest of the night.

Then we had the meatballs in a saffron broth. This was the dish that should have been small, but oh no. These were some serious meatballs!

The saffron tomato broth was light, but there was also the mashed potatoes. They were yummy and there was trouble deciding if I should eat more meatballs or more potatoes. The meatballs won. I can’t explain just how large they were, but take the size of a meatball in a homestyle Italian restaurant and that sounds about right. There were 3, we ate 1 1/2.

While perusing the menu I had been eyeing the sweet potato fries with jalepeno crema dipping sauce. But we decided we should get one of the dinner platos in addition to all the tapas. So we got a slow roasted pork, covered in cheese, with the potatoes on the side. And boy was that the right choice.
Again, not a fan of pork but this was tender and tasty. And of course I inhaled the fries. My friend and Tabu just may have converted me to the other white meat.

The drinks were good, the food was plentiful and tasty. And yes, as if it weren’t obvious my hungry belly and I will surely be back.

Home Cooking in Portland – Mothers Bistro & Bar
July 15, 2007, 2:32 am
Filed under: Brunch, Food, OR, Portland

Tasty tasty and cute! We popped in on a Saturday morning and while there was a line outside the wait was maybe only 5-10 minutes. I’d heard good things about Mother’s and they were right. The french toast dipped in cornflakes sounds strange, but works, really well. So well, you don’t even need syrup. The stuffed frittata was tasty, I like sour cream and bacon and cheese and if you put all that together you can’t really go wrong.

The decor was so bright and airy, I loved the big windows, and the yellow and green walls and the chandeliers. I want a big house so I can decorate it like that.

Moral of the story: don’t be intimidated by the long line on a weekend, it goes by fast.

I can’t wait to get back to try thier Mac & Cheese, something tells me it won’t disappoint.

Great Ambiance, Lame Service – Bluehour
July 15, 2007, 2:28 am
Filed under: Food, OR, Portland

I had been to Bluehour before in 2003 and absolutely loved everything about it, the food, the decor, the service. Sadly, my last visit had a very different experience. The service was subpar. Our waiter could have cared less that we were there (no bread for us, yet all the other tables got some), we ordered the cheese tray and he just put it on the table and didn’t tell us what he brought out. When we asked he seemed annoyed and said “I can’t really explain what I want to say” and just walked off. We stared at the cheese and each other, laughed a bit, were confused as to if he was serious. He walked by the table a couple more times, and stopped in and started telling us how hard his job was, memorizing new menus everyday, and wines, and cheeses, and he’d been there since 10 am. So here was the cheese list, we could take it shopping with us if we liked the ones he put on the tray. (Um ok, but really this is your job, I don’t call my clients and bitch about how much work I have to do everyday and tell them I can’t be bothered with thier work). He just had a bad attitude, and I don’t go out to what is supposedly still one of Portland’s best restaurants to deal with a snarky disgruntled waiter.The only thing that is meriting more than one star is the food, it is still excellent (altho my lamb was more fat than meat – it’s a good thing I like lamb fat) the tuna tartare and avocado mixture was very tasty, nice touch with the tangerines, the burger my friend got was enormous, and the cheeses were quite good. We didn’t try dessert, since he didn’t ask us if we wanted any, and brought the check after clearing our dishes.

New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro – Ashland
July 10, 2007, 12:28 am
Filed under: Ashland, Fine Dining, Food, OR

While planning our trip to Ashland, I of course had to find a couple fancy food places to go. I had stumbled upon New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro in a San Francisco Chronicle article years ago, and then again in my research skills this time around. For a place in a small town outside of Ashland to have a 2 month wait list is pretty impressive. So I was excited to try this place that had no website, no menu anywhere online and quite a dramatic Bay Area history. Charlene Rollins was a cook at Chez Panisse and Vernon Rollins a French wine importer. Charlene does all the cooking and uses all organic and to the extent possible local ingredients.

Sammy’s did not disappoint.

All reviews I had found said that it was hard to find, a shack hidden behind overgrown shrubs, and a parking lot that was more like a gas station. They were outdated, Sammy’s is now clearly visable from the road due to a new facade, and what seems to be a greatly expanding space. It will be amazing when done.
Right now, finding the front door is a bit tricky (hint, it’s inside the new building to the left down a hallway) and we had some random people who were sitting in the parking lot show us the way. There still is a garden in the back where a lot of the veggies and herbs they use are grown.

Inside, it is an eclectic old shack. Lots of menus and posters and wine labels from France line the walls. There are 2 tables in a back room (where we sat), and 4 or 5 in the front room. The ceilings are low (and I am only 5’2) and in the bathroom I almost hit my head. But all of this adds a certain charm to the spot, the hideaway it was for the owners who wanted to focus on nothing more than preparing good food and serving great wines.

I wish I knew more about non-domestic wines, the wine list is apparently incredible and impressive, but completely lost on me. Although there are some seriously expensive bottles on there (upwards of $800!) so if you are an oenophile, you should get yourself there in an instant. We had Vernon recommend a couple glasses of wine that would go well with our meals, and he was spot on.

For dinner I opted for the evening’s three course prix fixe menu ($58) with the addition of an appetizer from the regular menu. Yes, the prix fixe came with a salad, but the appetizer sounded too good to not try.

We had an amuse bouche, mine was a chicken pate with a pickled cherry (soooooo good, I wanted to come home and do the same), some mustard, and pickles. It took me a while to finish it because it was so yummy I wanted to make it last as long as possible. My companion (A) had a sorrel soup, it was fresh tasting with a touch of creme fraiche and wasabi. The wasabi threw me off a bit, since normally I am ready to suck down anything involving sorrel and it took me a moment to realize why this tasted different.

The appetizer I got was fresh sugar snap peas (from the farm) with proscuitto and a sort of rice pudding. Portion size was quite hearty and it was indeed very filling. The freshness of the peas and mint was a good balance with the richness of the rice. We kept forcing ourselves to eat it, even though we were full and had other dishes coming, because something about it was just so right.
The salad that came with the prix fixe dinner was also huge. Soft boiled egg, applewood bacon, bay shrimp, and more fresh greens from the garden. I couldn’t eat it all. It was fantastic however.

A got a salad as well, which was smaller, and also quite fresh and good.

The theme of the night was definately the fresh tasting goodness of food that comes straight from the land.

A got a ravioli entree with of course more garden-fresh peas, and I got a braised lamb with ricotta gnocchi. Little fluffy pillows of gnocchi. Honestly, the best I’ve ever had. Her ravioli were huge and light and so fresh tasting. This was the key to Charlene’s cooking, everything tasted so crisp and clean and you just knew it was fresh. It’s amazing what a difference that makes in the flavor of the food.

Dessert was a bowl of melted chocolate with scoops of ice cream and cornmeal biscotti. Let me repeat, MELTED CHOCOLATE. Nothing can be wrong in this world after eating that. It was insanely rich, I doubt the chocolate was diluted with anything. And all I wanted was to figure out how to transport it back to the B&B because I just wanted to eat it all night long.

A got a strawberry chiffon cake, with deliciously thick and rich frosting and cake that was light as air. She ate the cake, I ate the frosting. There was a final dessert amuse bouche, a cornmeal sugar cookie shaped like a cow. A ginger chocolate and a Meyer lemon jelly sqaure. A bit of whimsey to finish off the evening, and so you don’t forget that Sammy wanted the cowboys to come eat here.

I don’t know about the cowboys, but I will be back anytime I am in the greater Southern Oregon neighborhood.

Location: New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro. 2210 South Pacific Highway. Talent, OR 97540. 541-535-2779