I’d start by quoting Dr Johnson somehow, but frankly life’s just too short, so let’s move on quickly and quietly to the meat of this special series of bloggage, the recap, write-up and general love letter to Portland, Oregon, venue of my holiday week there a mere month ago. As a point of something, one part will be the beer love letter, and this post and any others needed will cover more general info and some of my favourite bits of my trip.
Let us start though oh best beloved with the only real pain with visiting fair Portlandia, getting there – As it currently lacks a direct flight, getting there took a 9 hour flight from Heathrow to Dallas on BA, and thence a 4 hour flight to Portland on American Airlines. Hot tip time, if you can afford it, go for premium economy on the first leg.
Once you’re there though, getting around and about is a doddle Portland is delighfully sized – perfect for walking just about everywhere downtown, and also has an excellent public transport system with the light rail/metro being ideal, running direct to the airport, and helpfully had a stop right outside my hotel, the Hotel Fifty.
I also would heartily recommend the Hotel50 as somewhere worth staying, slap bang downtown – no more than 15 mins walk from pretty much everything, but also right on the waterfront as evidenced by the view out of my room window. The room was fine and the hotel restaurant did top coffee, bacon and pancakes of a morn’s breakfast, so criteria were thoroughly checked.
Having raised the delicious themes of food and coffee, let us then dear reader continue with them. Portland, being very indie rock in nature, is full of top notch coffee joints.the My picks of the pack were Public Domain Coffee and Stumptown Coffee, both of whom roast their own – Stumptown in particular is widely available city-wide, the one Stumptown store I went in was so hip, I felt my jeans get skinnier as I walked in. However, Public Domain nudges it due to their excellent range of baked goods, including the delicious sesame pretzel croissant.
On the matter of food, top quality stuff was available across the price range, starting with Portland’s famed speciality, it’s food carts, located in ‘pods’ situated through out the city, these offered a wide range of keenly priced options, be it bbq, burgers or a wide range of mexican and asian options. The downside though was there seemed to be a lack of seating around these carts. Higher up the price brackets though, there was an excellent range of restaurant options. Most of the time though, I found the pub/bar food to be of a superb standard, though there were a couple of standouts, first thebacon and blue cheeseburger at Brasserie Monmartre was top notch were the frites in pork belly and tarragon, which to be frank were indecently good – they also came cooked in duck fat or truffle oil . They also had a strong committment to beer (more of which later) and some unique artworks on display as you can see below.
My other top pick would be the Portland City Grill on SW 11th Avenue, a proper steakhouse/wine bar sort of a place, located on the 30th floor of their building – the lift ride up nearly popped my ears – however once you’ve made it up, tis well worth the effort – proper slightly dim lighting, live piano and steak so wonderful that if I were a cow, I’d be happy to end up as a cut of their sirloin.
The other main attraction of the Grill is the view out the window. Being on the 30th floor you could see out over most of Portland from downtown out into some of the suburbs as the light faded. It rather put one in mind of Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby talking of watching as the “white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water”
Here then ends the first part of my Portlandian summation dear reader, coming soon will be part 2 in which your narrator speaks more of the city and at least one of it’s vital bookish shopping opportunities.