Taste of the Nation 2014 is coming! +2 Tickets Giveaway!

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary Taste of Taste of the Nation media preview event, but I am not being compensated for this post. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. Thank you to Lisa Hill PR for providing the Taste of the Nation tickets for the giveaway.

Have you heard of Taste of the Nation? It is a series of food and wine events that have been taking place in 50 cities across the United States since 1988. The goal of these culinary events is to raise money for Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the US. Together, we can make the goal of no kid hungry a reality.
Taste of the Nation: Great Chefs, Greater Impact

Most of Share Our Strength’s work goes toward infrastructure improvements to create long-term solutions to the hunger problem, or towards grants to fund other non-profits. Most grants go directly back into the same community from which the money was raised.

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in Oregon and across America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day. Did you know that Oregon has one of the highest rates of children at risk for hunger in the nation?

29% of kids in Oregon struggle with hunger, and 53% of Oregon’s students (K-12) are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Fortunately, the No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals, and also teaches low-income families to cook healthy affordable meals through its Cooking Matters program.

This year, Taste of the Nation 2014 Portland edition falls on Tuesday, April 29 (2 weeks from now!) and is being held at the McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom and will be going directly to No Kid Hungry Oregon non-profit allies of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, as well as to Oregon Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul Society and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank.

There are two tiers of entry to the Taste of the Nation Portland.

  1. General Admission at $85 allows admission from 6:30pm – 9:00pm
  2. VIP Admission at $150 allows access starting an hour earlier from 5:30pm, including exclusive access to special participants only during that early hour from restaurants like Multnomah Whiskey Library, Paley’s Place/Imperial/Penny Diner, Pok Pok, Renata/Project Grace, Tasty n Alder/Tasty n Sons, The Country Cat, and Xocolatl De David. VIP ticket holders also get complementary parking and an exclusive VIP gift bag.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of potato latkes with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of potato latkes with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial
Example sample bite, potato latke with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial, with Chef Vitaly Paley and Imperial’s Executive Chef Benjamin Bettinger themselves behind the table- direct from their hands to yours!

During General Admission time, there are more than 20 restaurants that are donating their resources in order to provide food samples for you to all you can eat try. There will also be a silent auction.

The theme this year for the samples that are being prepared is “What My Family Ate” which translates to many chefs preparing favorite dishes from childhood.

I was invited to a Taste of the Taste of the Nation event and some of the example tastes we tried to give a feel of what you might get at the actual Taste of the Nation Portland included

  • elegant taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli
  • the complex flavors of a smoked halibut pea and garlic soup from Irving St Kitchen
  • the earnest sample of Lardo’s menu with a mini version of their griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli (which was easily accomodated into a griddled mortadella salad for one guest who is gluten-free)
  • my favorite sample bite of the evening the potato latke with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial
  • Boke Bowl offered a unique taste with their Crawfish and Pork in spicy black bean sauce over rice tots representing their mashup of west and east flavors.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste of pea and garlic soup from Irving St Kitchen A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of Crawfish and Pork in spicy black bean sauce over rice tots from Boke Bowl

Also participating at Taste of the Nation 2014 are more than 30 beverage providers, including

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of the JRG 2010 Red wine from Pamplin Family Winery A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of Moet or Newton Red Label Chardonnay

At the media event Taste of the Taste of the Nation, I sampled

  • refreshing Volcanic Mineral water to cleanse my palate between tastes of food,
  • a really great American Whiskey Ginger cocktail by Bull Run Distilling made with their new Temperance Trader American Whiskey that is perfect for mixing with drinks (along with ginger beer, ginger liquor, and some mysterious homemade citrus blend!),
  • a take on the Negroni with Aria gin, the first gin I might even consider drinking on its own because of its complex layering of flavors varying from herbaceous to citrusy to savory all together!
  • I also tried a few tastes of wines, such as the JRG 2010 Red wine from Pamplin Family Winery, a taste of Moet or Newton Red Label Chardonnay, and the volcanic soil wines particularly The Fire or The Flood (both Pinot Noirs, one vibrant and forward, the other smooth and elegant) from Chapter 24 Vineyards.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- Volcanic Mineral Refresher water to cleanse your palate after tastes A taste of Taste of the Nation- American Whiskey Ginger by Bull Run Distilling, made with Temperence Trader American Whiskey A taste of Taste of the Nation- a take on the Negroni from Aria Gin

100% of ticket sales go to programs that feed Oregon’s hungry children.

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger.

29% of kids in Oregon struggle with hunger.

221,000 low-income children in Oregon receive free or reduced-price school lunch. But did you also know summer presents a time of uncertainty for kids without consistent access to food. With school out of session, kids who rely or free or reduced-price school meals find themselves without the safety net of those meals.

Currently only 16% of children eating free or reduced-price school lunch are getting summer meals.

With support from the campaign, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon is expanding the number of summer meals sites and conducting outreach to help families learn about the availability of free summer meals. The success of last year’s event helped provide more than 2,000 extra meals for kids across Oregon.

Come be part of the solution to ending hunger.

That leaves me asking you- have your purchased your tickets yet to this incredible event?

Maybe you’re hesitant because of the ticket price. Let me break it down for you- it is going to be 2 1/2 hours of dining that includes samples like I showed above- and you will be completely full, possibly rolling out at the end. Each of those tastes are just a few bites, but multiply it by each restaurant and you have just had 20 small tapas!

A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli
The earnest sample of Lardo’s mini version of their griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli

Also consider that the taste samples that are from amazing top restaurants and top chefs in Portland. Think of how many meals you would have to have in order to try 20 restaurants- but you will be able to do that at this one event.

And, I haven’t even mentioned yet the ability to try those fine wineries, mixed cocktails, beers and cider and other non-alcoholic beverages. You know how a flight of wine might cost you $10-15? You can do that at least 2 or 3 times with the wineries.

Also consider these are wineries that you would be driving all over in order to visit their tasting room, but now they are all gathered all together conveniently for you!

We are so fortunate to live in a city with so many amazing purveyors of food and drink so that we individually can enjoy the bounty of Oregon. However, there are others who are not able to have consistent access to food, much less enjoy the deliciousness that Portland offers. Events like this both allow you to explore the wonderful many local businesses in the food and drink industry while also doing good with your money by contributing to the effort in also feeding others.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli
Elegant taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli

If you enjoy food and think of yourself as a food lover in any way, I personally find it part of our duty to also give back in fighting against hunger- to be thankful of what we are able to enjoy while also being aware not everyone is blessed with the access we have.

I also mentioned that 100% of the ticket sales go directly to the programs to fight hunger right? Directly to them.

To help support the Taste of the Nation, I am going to give away 2 general admission tickets! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! Since the Taste of the Nation is in 2 weeks, this contest is running just until next week April 22 so that you will know whether to buy your tickets ASAP or not!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to hear more, listen to the Right at the Fork podcast with Sarah Schafer from Irving Street Kitchen talking about hunger in Oregon (plus they share some touching childhood food memories by some of Portland’s best chefs).

I hope to see you at the 27th Taste of the Nation! It’s also on my birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it then by enjoying deliciousness while giving back at the same time. I’ll be Tweeting and Instagramming away with #nokidhungry and #portlandtaste.

For other fellow bloggers’ coverage, check out

If the ticket price is still too dear, you might also consider volunteering to help at the event- you will still have to purchase a ticket to attend the event but volunteering can earn you a discount. I’ll also be posting a blog post covering one other event, Share Our Strength National Blogger Bake Sale on May 2, and details of the Portland edition.

Also feel free to learn more at the No Kid Hungry campaign at their official website and also Twitter @NoKidHungry.
No Kid Hungry Logo, Share Our Strength
You can also check for the latest on Taste of the Nation Portland at Twitter @PortlandTaste and see photos from last year’s event, including much much better photos of the incredible food at their Facebook album of 2013 TOTN PDX

See you there in 2 weeks, right?!
Tuesday, April 29
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
General Admission at $85 allows admission from 6:30pm – 9:00pm
VIP Admission at $150 allows access starting an hour earlier from 5:30pm
Tickets on Sale – Please note, all attendees must be 21 years of age.

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary Taste of Taste of the Nation media preview event, but I am not being compensated for this post. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. Thank you to Lisa Hill PR for providing the Taste of the Nation tickets for the giveaway.

Signature

Higgins Restaurant

A recent dinner at Higgins Restaurant was a revisit of how smooth the experience was, from the high quality food to the high quality service. As you would expect from one of the founding pioneer restaurants that defined Northwest cuisine by emphasizing the local seasonal ingredients available regionally here and is a strong supporter and promoter of sustainable cuisine, the food here changes often based on what is available and fresh. Yet, what I’m sharing below from our meal is typical of the kind of excellent experience you will have here.

You notice the focus on celebrating freshness and the best ingredients right away with even the bread service, which comes with perfect bread- crusty crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside- that you can enjoy with organic extra virgin olive oil.
Higgins Restaurant bread service, which comes with perfect bread- crusty crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside- that you can enjoy with organic extra virgin olive oil

Try to start with the famous Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles. It’s justifiably reknown – it superb in offering an array of flavors and textures upon its giant marble board, as what you would expect when you hear Chef Greg Higgins has loved charcuterie since he was a boy and has books in his library on charcuterie that daties even to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Higgins Restaurant- Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles Higgins Restaurant- Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles

I was supposed to come in for Portland Dining Month to try the special menu they were offering, but was persuaded away as soon as I heard the specials. I started with the first special appetizer of Mushroom risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing. The greens tasted as if they were just picked and cleaned just an hour or so before. It really embodies the spirit of what Higgins is all about.
Higgins Restaurant- dinner special appetizer of risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing Higgins Restaurant- dinner special appetizer of risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing

My special entree was the Pork Schnitzel, served with cauliflower and cheddar polenta and broccoli rabe. It was as gigantic as it looks, turning into dinner that night and the next. The next day it was wonderful to be able to look forward to going home after work to finish off the other half of this entree.
Higgins Restaurant- pork schnitzel with cauliflower, broccoli rabe, pickled onions, and cheddar polenta Higgins Restaurant- pork schnitzel with cauliflower, broccoli rabe, pickled onions, and cheddar polenta

One of the great things about Higgins is not only their great beer and wine selection so that I can enjoy fine wine while he enjoys fine beer paired with our dishes (they even have both a wine and beer sommelier), but we appreciate that they always have 2 vegetarian options to choose from. This night it was the Chickpea crepe with Mughal shiitake & oyster mushroom curry, garbanzo bean salad, horseradish tofu sauce and toasted almonds. Just as it sounds, it had great flavor that meant you did not miss the meat at all, and is an equal rather than lesser entree to all the other dinner entree options.

Higgins restaurant is an enduring Portland classic for a reason, and continues to execute and service beautifully, showcasing Northwest Cuisine reliably and always dependable for a refined meal. Dining here is much like listening to a classical music piece – timeless fine dining.

As an aside, Higgins also just announced their “Spring Tribute” menu for April 29 through May 1 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) during their 5-9pm dinner service. The Spring Tribute menu is a fundraiser towards the James Beard Public Market, a vision towards making a daily year-round farmers market along the Portland waterfront, sorta similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle (Chef Greg Higgins is a board member of the JBPM).

The menu is offering five courses featuring James Beard’s own recipes for dishes like Sorrel soup with Fireside oysters, Asparagus in Ambush, Baked Oregon Chinook with Dungeness Crab, Bay Shrimp and applewood smoked bacon, Roasted Champoeg Farms pastured chicken stuffed with Coteghino sausage, and Warm Rhubarb Grunt with French vanilla ice cream. Geez, that sounds good. Wine pairings from Basel Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyard, Broadley, and Northstar will round out the meal. Reservations are $125, which includes wines and gratuity. For reservations call (503) 222-9070.
Higgins on Urbanspoon

Signature

Reverend’s BBQ

I don’t get out to the Sellwood neighborhood often – most of the time it’s to do a stop at the Portland U-Brew to get ingredients for homebrewing with a stop at Dairy Queen for a Blizzard afterward. But, when I heard that the people (Ben Dyer, Jason Owens, and David Kreifels) behind one of my favorite steakhouse/butcher shop in Portland Laurelhurst Market and also behind Simpatica Dining Hall with its kickass fried chicken and waffles brunch and Fri/Sat special dinners was opening up a bbq and fried chicken join called Reverend’s BBQ, I was intrigued.
Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave

When a group of PNWBA judges (we are all certified Pacific Northwest BBQ Judges- visit the PNWBA website to find out how you can become one too!) decided to visit, I was lucky enough to be invited to join in. Because we are BBQ judges, we have a pretty high standard for BBQ. We are trained on how to look at BBQ (based on taste, texture and appearance).

We also have judged at many competitions, meaning that we have been able to taste BBQ that has been especially cared and tended to in order to win prizes, so obviously have had a lot more love than what may be produced at a restaurant that needs to produce all that meat in larger quantities for its customers. So I try to give a little leeway on that knowing how much more needs to be produced and in a way that the restaurant can make a profit.

At the same time though, we do have certain expectations! I do realize that our visit comes as they have only been open for a little over a week, so there may be execution that is being worked out.

The location of Reverend’s BBQ is 7712 SE 13th Ave, in an area which is a like a little neighborhood downtown, open 4-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday. They want to cater to the local families here, and you can definitely feel that in the atmosphere that is cool but casual and friendly upbeat service. Many of the booths are big wooden benches to easily pile a family and maybe even two families into, although there are also some seats at the U-shaped bar (nice ones with a back!) as well a few high top tables with stools for adults.

Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave
There were a couple open tables when we arrived at 5:30, but a couple hours later there were people gathered in small groups waiting for a table to open up. If you really do live nearby, you might consider just doing takeout, though I wonder how they handle the sauces that are usually on the table (I assume they package some up in little containers for you).

The sauces on the table when you dine in are to allow you to “customize” what kind of BBQ flavors you want with your meat- Missouri-style sweet or spicy red sauces, South Carolina gold mustardy sauce, or a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper as your options. I actually am a Carolina BBQ fan- so my favorite were the latter two sauces, but I am guessing the Missouri-style ones are will be the hits for most people.
Reverend's BBQ- The sauces on the table when you dine in are to allow you to

We shared two dishes of appetizers because there were only 3 to an order- specifically, three halves of Deviled Eggs with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli, so not even two eggs, you get 1.5! I did like them, particularly the Picallilli, but I’m still wondering why 3 halves, is half an egg a tribute to the BBQ gods?
"Reverend's Reverend's BBQ appetizer of Deviled Eggs- Three Halves with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli Reverend's BBQ appetizer of Deviled Eggs- Three Halves with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli

The Picadilli is also available with their Chicken & Sausage Gumbo that comes wth Okra, Trinity & White Rice and is topped with the excellent picalilli, but I didn’t have any so can’t comment. Besides the deviled eggs other appetizer options included cold-smoked oyster shooters, beer battered onion rings with Ozark Sauce (those did look good as I saw it pass by on a server’s tray to another table), a smoked sausage plate with cheese and pickles, and fried zucchini pickles- with remoulade.

The 7 of us decided to order all of the BBQ meats on the menu, which are available by the pound. The other option would be to order BBQ Plates, which include your choice of one of the Meats, 2 Sides and white bread by request. I think ordering by the pound is a much better deal than the plates since they vary from $13-$16 for the plates, and for literally that same amount of money you can get a whole pound of the meat- the only thing the plates give you is a smaller portion of meat that you have traded for two small sides. Or, order by the pound and make your own plate- that’s what I would recommend personally – I mean look at my beautiful plate.
Reverend's BBQ My Meat Plate that included Smoked Pork Sparerib, Fried Chicken Boneless Thigh piece, Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork Shoulder and samples of the Smoked Sausage Trio Reverend's BBQ My Meat Plate that included Smoked Pork Sparerib, Fried Chicken Boneless Thigh piece, Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork Shoulder and samples of the Smoked Sausage Trio

The sides themselves include at $2.95 small/$5.95 large orders of Chopped SlawCollard Greens, or Creamy Potato Salad or at $3.95 small/$6.95 large orders of BBQ BeansMac & Cheese, or Seasoned French Fries. All these sides but the beans are either vegetarian or available vegetarian. We tried the small sides of chopped slaw (too fine a chop made it mushy), collard greens (tasted watery to me), BBQ beans (satisfactory, I did like the texture that bordered on a bit of creaminess but wished it had more depth of flavors) and the Mac & Cheese (the best of the four sides in my opinion- not very cheesy, but topped with potato chips!).
Reverend's BBQ: The possible sides include at $2.95 small/$5.95 large Chopped Slaw, Collard Greens, or Creamy Potato Salad or at $3.95 small/$6.95 large BBQ Beans, Mac & Cheese, or Seasoned French Fries. All these sides but the beans are either vegetarian or available vegetarian. This is the small size

Anyway, back to the meats. So we tried all the meats, and we will ignore the BBQ Surata Tempeh which is also there in case you decide to bring a vegetarian to a BBQ restaurant. Wait. OMG I totally have to do this to F, heh.

The meats include

  • Smoked Pork Spare Ribs (ok technically these are available by the half rack or whole rack not the pound). It had nice smokiness, but I found my rib to be a bit overdone so it dried out and was a tad tough, and that cuts were not always even. I had been hoping for good quality meat for their ribs (after all Laurelhurst Market is also a butcher shop), but these are standard run of the mill.
    Reverend's BBQ Smoked Pork Spare Ribs Reverend's BBQ Smoked Pork Spare Ribs
  • Sliced Beef Brisket from Creekstone Farms. If you think these look a little fatty- you are completely right. They were really fatty, and the table talked about someone needs to teach them how to trim. Then we saw another table’s order of brisket and it looked MUCH better. Does that mean when you order you have to specifically ask for “trim the fat”? The meat itself tasted good- but the fat was just overwhelming for me, and I am a self-proclaimed lover of fat. In the back you can see what the downy Chopped Slaw side looked like.
    Reverend's BBQ- Sliced Beef Brisket from Creekstone Farms
  • Fried Chicken (boneless thighs or breasts – the thighs being the dark meat and breast being the white meat of course depending on your preference), pictured is what I went for, thighs. These were room temperature when I had them, which was disappointing because fresh hot fried chicken is so much better. I “fixed” that by dipping the chicken in sauce, which I usually don’t like because I would rather taste the chicken and the batter then sauce- same reason I don’t usually use sauces with really good fries. Especially given how good the chicken is at Simpatica, these didn’t measure up to that level. I wondered whether we were getting older food that had been sitting.
    "Reverend's
  • Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauces. You can see the North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper in the background of the photo.
    Reverend's BBQ- Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauce Reverend's BBQ- Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauce. You can see the North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper in the background of the photo.
  • Smoked Sausage Trio: includes a Louisiana hot link, French Montbeliard and Portuguese Linguica, all homemade by Laurelhurst. This was my second favorite meat plate of the meal, though honestly chopped pork and sausage also tend to be among my favorites when judging bbq too (the other are ribs)
    Reverend's BBQ Smoked Sausage Trio: includes a Louisiana hot link, French Montbeliard and Portuguese Linguica, all homemade by Laurelhurst

There are four salad options and also 6 sandwiches in case you want your meat in sandwich form instead, although there is no rib sandwich there is a burger, called the “The Good Reverend’ Burger” that includes Burnt Ends, Pimento Cheese, House Pickles, Iceberg, Mayo, and Crispy Fried Onions.

Menu  Side 1 at Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave Menu Side 2 at Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave

They offer 8 draft beers which you can order by the glass or pitcher, several which are nice local selections (thanks in part to Travis Motter of Portland Bottle Shop), 5 bottled beers and a cider. You can decide to be Portland-y with options like Commons Urban Farmhouse Ale or Cascade Lakes 20th Anniversary IPA or the Travis Tap (this visit was a Occidental Dunkel) or simplify to Miller, Budweiser, or Bud Light. There are 3 house wines if you really really really misguidedly want a red, white or rose – and Virgil sodas and Sweet Tea. They cutely also list a Shirley Temple right on the menu as an option.

Finally, there are also 9 cocktails, 4 of which are draft cocktails. I tried the draft cocktail of the Sellwood Collins with Vodka, Aperol, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Grapefruit, Vanilla Syrup, Soda, which was refreshing and I liked that it had a strong line of Vanilla flavor to it, and the Pimm’s Cup with Pimm’s No 1, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Ale, Cucumber.

Not pictured is the sip I took of the Ward 8 with Rye Whiskey, Fresh Orange, Fresh Lemon, and House Grenadine and was my favorite of the 3 cocktails that evening. I’ve had better cocktails at Laurelhurst Market and Simpatica, and had been hoping for equally high caliber thoughtful cocktails, though a fellow diner did point out this is more family oriented and less scene-y than the other two.
Reverend's BBQ- draft cocktail of Sellwood Collins with Vodka, Aperol, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Grapefruit, Vanilla Syrup, Soda Reverend's BBQ- cocktail Ward 8 with Rye Whiskey, Fresh Orange, Fresh Lemon, and House Grenadine

Finally, we ordered 2 of the 3 desserts. Or really, our table ordered 4 of the Buttermilk Shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and 1 of the Smoked Salted Bourbon Caramel Nut Bar with whipped cream. Everyone loved the Strawberry Shortcake as the shortcake was light and not too sweet or dense so was very refreshing and a nice finish to the meat-centered meal. The Smoked Salted Nut Bar with Bourbon Caramel had mixed reviews- several people liked it, others tasted a tinge of bitterness from the smoke at the bottom crust of the nut bar.
Reverend's BBQ- Buttermilk Shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream Reverend's BBQ Smoked Salted Bourbon Caramel Nut Bar with whipped cream

Reverend’s BBQ is a decent BBQ restaurant that will appeal to a general populace demographic, and maybe that’s what they are aiming for. I had been expecting more because of the other two restaurants in their pocket, but both are also more upscale while being Portland casual, while Reverend’s BBQ aims much farther on the casual line. Personally, I would like to see them pay a little bit more attention to consistency of what is coming out in terms of cut and temperature from the kitchen and making sure everything is seasoned well, but that may be because they are still new.

At least on this visit, I found nothing here that is crave-worthy or I think necessarily standing in line for or going out of the way – but I would also give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe try it a second time, if only to make F have that BBQ tofu and I would like to try that BBQ End burger with pimento cheese.

What’s your favorite kind of BBQ meat?

Reverend's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Signature

Heathman Cocktail Menu

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary cocktail menu launch event, but then visited again on my own dime during normal operations. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.

I have loved the Heathman Hotel since even before I moved to Portland. This is because while F and I were still dating, on a visit to Portland he surprised me with a romantic night at the Heathman. The room was elegant and sophisticated and glamorous, something that made me feel like a real VIP. It didn’t feel like just a hotel room- it felt like an urban getaway and a splurge (chocolates, champagne, and a book of Shakespeares’ Love Sonnets also helped).

The Beefeater dressed to the hilt doormen in their finery is pretty iconic (as is the statue of the bulldog Zelda next to a watering bowl for dogs right by the entrance, also in Beefeater finery). They also offer traditional tea service, perfect for a little chatting with the ladies, and special holiday meals like the upcoming big Easter brunch buffet.
Heathman Restaurant outdoor tables Heathman Hotel's Zelda the bulldog, dressed in Beefeater splendor

Yet, somehow it never entered my mind once I moved to Portland to enjoy a romantic rendezvous in the bar after work. Well, it’s definitely on my list now. I was invited to the Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch to kick off the new cocktail menu, and boy, is that menu stunning.
Launch of new Heathman cocktail menu event- Ice Sculpture Heathman Restaurant and Bar menu in the Bar area Heathman Hotel, Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch © Evrim Icoz Photography
Last two images © Evrim Icoz Photography, all other images are mine

You might choose to enjoy it more by the bright open windows by the marble bar, watching the bustle on Broadway in the airy bar area or maybe one of the tables that in fairer weather lets you enjoy the people watching right on the sidewalk outside. Or, you could enter the chandeliered wood paneled cushy seats by the fireplace in the same intimate lounge that tea was held, but now made sexier by the shadows and the live jazz and the underlying promise of you could always decide to just stay the night…
Heathman Hotel restaurant and bar Heathman Hotel Tea Court Lounge Heathman Hotel Tea Court Lounge Heathman Hotel Portland Tea Court Lounge wide shot Ron Guisti Photography
Last image is Heathman Hotel Portland Tea Court Lounge wide shot © Ron Guisti Photography, all other images are mine

The cocktails at the Heathman match the sophistication of the atmosphere, marrying historic and tradition with modern and local.

Finally, I want to share a photo of the Heathman bustling Marble Bar during the event as they did an amazing job of making those drinks for those 2 hours for all the attendees of that Launch event. The staff was incredible in smoothly carrying trays of cocktails and bites up and down stairs to the two rooms the event was being held, and remembering who had/had not tried what drink yet and making stops to make sure we received samples, rather than us having to flock to them or wave them down. Great service that made you feel cared for.

I also was able to catch a photo of the lovely queen who created these libations, Bar Chef Kathy Casey, who shares many beautiful cocktail recipes (including the one for the Berries and Bubbles) that marry the kitchen with the bar expertly at Liquid Kitchen. Many bites were examples from the Heathman Restaurant kitchen headed by Executive Chef Michael Stanton.
"Cocktails Queen of the Liquid Kitchen at the Heathman, Bar Chef Kathy Casey

I focused on mostly trying cocktails at the Cocktail Menu Launch, but could not get to them all. So I returned to try the cocktail I missed (and one that I wanted another of), as well as to see what a plating of an actual food dish would be like versus the few samples I tried that were passed at the event (that was my fault partially as I was focused on drinks and friends and not food). I’m just looking out for you, my readers, you know.

  • Examples of the Heathman Cocktail Menu from the Cocktail Menu Launch, such as the Potted Duck Confit Rillette with pickled onion, cornichon, dijon, grilled baguette. I totally had two of these, it was a great balance of the grilled baguette being a great vehicle but not losing the rest of the flavors of the rich rabbit countered by the pickled onion, cornichon, and dijon. I also enjoyed the shrimp salad atop cucumber, a refreshing palate cleanser from cocktails like the Newton,  abd I absolutely loved that salaf/soup on the spoon that was packed with flavors and textures. They change up the menu here based on what is available and fresh locally, of course.
    Example bite at the Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch from their Cocktail Menu: Potted Duck Confit Rillette with pickled onion, cornichon, dijon, grilled baguette Example bite at the Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch from their Cocktail Menu: a little Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Example bite at the Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch from their Cocktail Menu
  • Tradition with a little added modern touch: the Northwest Grapefruit Negroni, House-bottled Aviation gin, Carpano antica, Campari, Combier Pamplemousse, or the cocktail of Orchard Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Clear Creek Pear Brandy syrup, organic Baked apple bitters, ice sphere
    Heathman Cocktail Menu cocktail of  Northwest Grapefruit Negroni, made with House-bottled Aviation gin, Carpano antica, Campari,  Combier Pamplemousse Heathman Cocktail Menu cocktail sample of the Orchard Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Clear Creek Pear Brandy syrup, organic Baked apple Bitters, ice sphere
  • The lovely bubbly elixir of Oregon Berries & Bubbles with New Deal Vodka, Oregon raspberry puree, lemon elixir, Argyle sparkling feels celebratory and is dangerously easy to drink, tasting refreshing and maybe even healthy… just like the cocktail of the Cucumber Rouge with Superfly Potato Vodka, Pomegranate, Fresh Cucumber, lemon elixir, Citronella Cocktail Perfume
    "Heathman Heathman Cocktail Menu example, the Cucumber Rouge with Superfly Potato Vodka, Pomegranate, Fresh Cucumber, lemon elixir, Citronella Cocktail Perfume
  • Then there are beauties like these, which were almost too beautiful to drink, they looked like art: the Bubbly Elixir selection from the cocktail menu of Provence with Grey Goose Vodka, Il Tramonto limoncello, lemon elixir, lavender bitters, Argyle sparkling, and the Luxury Spiced Vermouth Manhattan with Templeton rye whiskey, House-spice infused red vermouth, Liquid Kitchen Golden Era bitters, stirred and served up with a spirited cherry & 23k gold
    "Heathman Heathman Cocktail Menu example, the Luxury Spiced Vermouth Manhattan with Templeton rye whiskey, House-spice infused red vermouth, Liquid Kitchen Golden Era bitters, stirred and served up with a spirited cherry & 23k gold
  • One of my favorites of the evening was the Vineyard Margarita with Milagro reposado tequila, Combier d’orange, Fresh lime, organic agave nectar, Fresh rosemary, topped with a float of Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot noir. So fancy!
    Heathman Cocktail Menu example, the gorgeous Vineyard Margarita with Milagro reposado tequila, Combier d’orange, Fresh lime,  organic agave nectar, Fresh rosemary, topped with a Float of Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot noir Heathman Hotel, Vineyard Margarita at the Heathman Cocktail Menu launch event, photo © Evrim Icoz Photography
    First photo is mine, Second photo © Evrim Icoz Photography

But the cocktail that had me return a couple weeks later was the Tea Court Lounge Punch. More on that in a second.
Heathman Hotel, Tea Court Lounge Punch at the Heathman Cocktail Menu launch event, photo © Evrim Icoz Photography
© Evrim Icoz Photography

When I read the recap of the Heathman Cocktail launch by The Good Hearted Woman, I saw that her favorite had been the Heathman Hotel cocktail of Flaming Green Eyed Daiquiri with Bacardi superior rum, lime elixir, green Chartreuse, and fresh thyme that is flamed! I remember seeing this cocktail, but had not sampled it. With her rave review, I really wanted to try it. It was as savory sweet wonderful as she described, with the flamed thyme giving a strong slightly smoky slightly herby flavor profile with every sip and incredibly aromatic.
Heathman Hotel cocktail of Flaming Green Eyed Daiquiri with Bacardi superior rum, lime elixir, green Chartreuse, Fresh thyme that is flamed! Heathman Hotel cocktail of Flaming Green Eyed Daiquiri with Bacardi superior rum, lime elixir, green Chartreuse, Fresh thyme that is flamed!

I also got a taste of the Heathman Cocktail of 50 Shades of Gin – Part 2, inspired by the Book set at the Heathman Hotel, a blend of Tanqueray Gin, Ransom Old Tom gin, St. Germain, French Blackberry liqueur, lemon peel essence. Definitely a strong drink. Yes, this is Part 2- you can get a glimpse of Part 1 and the history of the drink that was filmed at the blog 50 Shades Girl Portland here! I never read any of the books so know nothing about this, but I’ve read that some of the scenes of this book take place at the Heathman Hotel, so while the book was hot they had been offering a special 50 Shades of Grey package. End of all my knowledge on this.
Heathman Cocktail of 50 Shades of Gin – Part 2, inspired by the Book set at the Heathman Hotel, a blend of Tanqueray Gin, Ransom Old Tom gin, St. Germain, French Blackberry liqueur, lemon peel essence

Meanwhile, the Tea Court Lounge Punch is really unique. Crafted with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, and angostura foam, it is served tableside right from your individual pot. You MUST order this when you go, it’s worth the $14. You can see the actual size of the cocktail when I went on my individual visit below to the right, the taster to the left shows the lovely layers that appear as the liquid is poured into the angostura foam tableside.
Heathman Cocktail Menu example, the Tea Court Lounge Punch with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, angostura foam Heathman Hotel Tea Court Lounge Punch, crafted with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, and angostura foam, it is served tableside right from your individual pot. Heathman Hotel Tea Court Lounge Punch, crafted with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, and angostura foam, it is served tableside right from your individual pot.

Speaking of prices, the Heathman says they have happy hour from 2pm until Close? But, it seems they have a bit of confusion on the difference between “being open” versus “happy hour with some items discounted”. When I visited there were no discounts on anything in the menu except for a special $6.95 Happy Hour Burger… which is only available 4pm-6pm and 9pm-midnight, versus their regular Bistro Burger (with choices of cheddar, swiss or pepperjack) at $13. Adding blue cheese or adding bacon is $2, adding pommes frites is $3 extra, and adding foie gras is an additional $18.
Happy hour burger at the Heathman, choice of cheddar, swiss, or pepperjack Happy hour burger at the Heathman, choice of cheddar, swiss, or pepperjack, in the background is Tea Court Lounge Punch crafted with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, and angostura foam, it is served tableside right from your individual pot. Happy hour burger at the Heathman, choice of cheddar, swiss, or pepperjack Happy hour burger at the Heathman, choice of cheddar, swiss, or pepperjack Happy hour burger at the Heathman, choice of cheddar, swiss, or pepperjack, in the background is Tea Court Lounge Punch crafted with Bacardi select rum, Courvoisier Vs Cognac Pomegranate, guava, orange & lemon juices, Fonte earl grey tea spiced syrup, and angostura foam, it is served tableside right from your individual pot.

The prices of these cocktails reflect the fact that the Heathman is aware of its upscale level thanks to being closely located so it is walkable to various venues for performing arts shows in the neighborhood, and the travellers staying here at the hotel or downtown. The cheapest cocktail is $10, and most are in the $12-14 range. Everything is high quality, but the bill total does add up- especially because you will likely want to try more than 1 of those tasty drinks I shared!

In terms of food, I sampled two hot small plates, Carlton Farms Pork Cheek with squash puree and chive beluga lentils and Nettle Risotto with stinging nettles and parmesan. The risotto of the day varies depending on what is in season and available in high quality condition from local purveyors. There was also complimentary bread and butter service as I awaited my cocktail, an unexpected treat since usually don’t get this unless you have dinner, so this touch was definitely noticed by me.
Heathman Hotel complimentary bread and salted butter service Heathman Small Hot Plate of Carlton Farms Pork Cheek with squash puree and chive beluga lentils Heathman Small Hot Plate of Nettle Risotto with stinging nettles and parmesan... the risotto of the day varies depending on what is in season and available in high quality condition from local purveyers

Thanks to G for attending with me to help me try these various tasty cocktails at the Heathman Cocktail Menu Launch event. For more gorgeous photos of the event, please see the blog of stellar photographer Aubrie LeGault at Capturing Grace’s post Heathman Cocktail Menu – I love how she is always so exquisitely captures deliciousness and the personality of food and drink! Fellow bloggers at Thyme of Taste also did a nice recap of the Heathman Cocktail Event, including the flaming of the Flaming Green Eyed Daiquiri in a few photos, and Courtney Z Photography’s post Bottoms Up! got some nice photos of the jazz band.

Which of these cocktails do you think you would want to try?

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary cocktail menu launch event, but then visited again on my own dime during normal operations. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.

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Lardo and Irving St Kitchen Chefwich

I’ve written about the Lardo and various restaurant collaboration chefwiches so much that I’ll be brief for a change for this blog post. The next chefwich that is up until mid-April is one by Sarah Schafer of Irving Street Kitchen, with proceeds to benefit Share Our Strength. This non-profit endeavors to end childhood hunger in America- I have another post coming up next about the Taste of the Nation in Portland (of which Sarah/Irving St Kitchen as well as Lardo are also participating) so you will hear more details about this soon.
Lardo Chefwich #5 of 2014, a collaboration with Sarah Schafer of Irving St Kitchen. Fried chicken, tasso bacon, padron pepper relish, buttermilk slaw, cajun mayo. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength to fight childhood hunger. Until mid April 2014 only.

You can get this chefwich at any of the THREE Lardo locations. 

This chefwich, #5 in the series, is a sandwich of Fried chicken, tasso bacon, padron pepper relish, buttermilk slaw, cajun mayo.

Go get this chefwich.
Lardo Chefwich #5 of 2014, a collaboration with Sarah Schafer of Irving St Kitchen. Fried chicken, tasso bacon, padron pepper relish, buttermilk slaw, cajun mayo. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength to fight childhood hunger. Until mid April 2014 only.
It is delicious. It is spicy, so make sure you order a nice cider or beer to wash it down with. Really, you will need it. It is an intense explosion of flavors in your mouth.

Lardo Chefwich #5 of 2014, a collaboration with Sarah Schafer of Irving St Kitchen. Fried chicken, tasso bacon, padron pepper relish, buttermilk slaw, cajun mayo. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength to fight childhood hunger. Until mid April 2014 only.

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