Ken’s Artisan Pizza Cocktails Menu

During the first week of September, Ken’s Artisan Pizza launched a new Italian cocktail program at this neighborhood stalwart of high quality pizzas in a family friendly and date worthy den of among the top 5 doughs in Portland. Ken’s Artisan Pizza also celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary since opening in 2006, and just like then, there are still lines now for that legendary perfect balance of crispy but chewy, simple but full of flavor toppings that compliment and never overwhelm in ratio to dough, sauce, and cheese. They know their pizzas, and until now, they’ve been paired with beers and wines. Now at 10, it seems Ken’s is ready for a little hard liquor. Here’s a closer look at the new Ken’s Artisan Pizza Cocktails Menu.
Inside of Ken's Artisan Pizza- The tables and bar were crafted from old growth Douglas fir that was once part of The Big Dipper roller coaster at Jantzen Beach (1923-1970) Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12
The tables and bar inside were crafted from old growth Douglas fir that was once part of The Big Dipper roller coaster at Jantzen Beach (1923-1970). You can see photos of it in the back by the restrooms! 

When I say a little hard liquor, I mean that literally- the bar program at Ken’s is very curated and limited in order to keep everyone satisfied with service pace, which is smart and conscientious of them. There are 6 cocktails as part of cocktail offerings and half of them are takes on a Negroni. These are what I enjoyed on my visit, but I expect there will be some rotation of some of the beverages for the season. They were priced from $7-$10.

For something light and refreshing, there’s the Aperol Spritz with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, and orange wheel.
Aperol Spritz with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, and orange wheel, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza Aperol Spritz with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, and orange wheel, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza
Their Negroni with Aria Gin, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and orange skin is the ultimate classic sipper but is perfect to balance out the richness of cheesy pizza.
Negroni with Aria Gin, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and orange skin, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza Negroni with Aria Gin, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and orange skin, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza
An interesting twist on the classic Negroni is their White Negroni with Aria Gin, Suze Bitter, Dolin Blanc, and lemon skin, offering a slightly more brighter acidicity of citrus then the slight bitterness with citrus you get with orange skin.
White Negroni with Aria Gin, Suze Bitter, Dolin Blanc, and lemon skin, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza White Negroni with Aria Gin, Suze Bitter, Dolin Blanc, and lemon skin, one of six curated cocktails offered at Ken's Artisan Pizza
Negorni Sbagliato with Meletti 1870 bitter, Cinzano Sweet, Sparkling Wine, and orange wheel is the final Negroni variation that adds extra effervescene and celebration with that sparkling wine, here pictured with a slice of Cherry Tomato Pancetta Bomb with chopped garlic, mozzarella di bufula, and pecorino romano and the other with a whole pie of the Summer Pesto Pizza with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Cherry Tomato Pancetta Bomb with chopped garlic, mozzarella di bufula, and pecorino romano along with the cocktail Negorni Sbagliato with Meletti 1870 bitter, Cinzano Sweet, Sparkling Wine, orange wheel Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Summer Pesto with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano along with the cocktail Negorni Sbagliato with Meletti 1870 bitter, Cinzano Sweet, Sparkling Wine, orange wheel

I didn’t catch a photo of it (the distraction of good eats, drinks, and company alas), but there’s also a classic Americano with Carpano Antica, soda water, and orange slice as an option.

As for me, I’m at heart a whiskey girl (whether it’s barrel aged in whiskey barrels beer, neat, or in a cocktail), so my favorite of the six was Ken’s Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin. I loved it with my favorite pizza of Ken’s, the very seasonal while the corn is sweet Fresh Corn Pizza with corn, mozzarella, ricota salata, smoked pickled jalapenos, scallions. The hint of smokiness with the heat of those jalapenos with this cocktail are damn perfect.
Ken's Artisan Pizza offers 6 cocktails now as part of their limited, curated cocktail offerings. This is the Ken's Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the seasonal Fresh corn with corn, mozzarella, ricota salata, smoked pickled jalapenos, scallions and the Ken's Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin

Let me finish with just some evidence of why if you haven’t been to Ken’s yet, you should. Yes, there’s a line (more reasonable if you come earlier so you can be in the first seating when they open – that’s what I do). If you’re not into cocktails don’t forget Ken’s still continues to offer 4 beers on tap, and a 100-bottle wine list with a selection of local Pacific Northwest as well as French, Italian and Spanish wines, with 15 – 20 options by the glass available.

Most importantly, here are examples of the 12 inch thin crust perfections you will be able to enjoy… these are usually around the $13-$18 dollar range, with the meat heavy ones being the more pricey and most hovering around $15. The Summer Pesto and Corn are example seasonals that rotate and were on the menu when I visited in early September.

Pomodoro Royale with tomato sauce, basil, evoo, Pecorino Romano, enjoyed here with the Aperol Spritz (with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, orange wheel) as I liked how the sparkling lightness went with the simplicity of this pizza
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Pomodoro Royale with tomato sauce, basil, evoo, Pecorino Romano, enjoyed here with the Aperol Spritz (with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, orange wheel)

Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the classic Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil

Cherry Tomato Pancetta Bomb pizza with chopped garlic, mozzarella di bufula, and pecorino romano
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Cherry Tomato Pancetta Bomb with chopped garlic, mozzarella di bufula, and pecorino romano, enjoyed here with the Aperol Spritz (with Aperol, Sparkling Wine, orange wheel) and White Negroni (with Aria Gin, Suze Bitter, Dolin Blanc, and lemon skin)

Summer Pesto Pizza with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Summer Pesto with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Summer Pesto with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano

The Beautiful Pig with local pork beef salami made with chianti, tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is The Beautiful Pig with local pork beef salami made with chianti, tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is The Beautiful Pig with local pork beef salami made with chianti, tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella

As stated earlier, IMHO the genius combination of sweet and spicy with corn and smoked pickled jalapeno is the all star win of all the pies for me.
Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the seasonal Fresh corn with corn, mozzarella, ricota salata, smoked pickled jalapenos, scallions and the Ken's Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the seasonal Fresh corn with corn, mozzarella, ricota salata, smoked pickled jalapenos, scallions and the Ken's Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin

Confession! I will admit one thing- I’ve never had dessert at Ken’s, and the only appetizer has been their wood roasted vegetables. Instead, I always over order pizza because I can always take it home, and then I go down 2 blocks to Cheese & Crack for some soft serve. But you can see why I’d focus on pizzas over everything on the menu, wouldn’t you?

What about you? What is your stalwart pizza place? Have you been to Ken’s Artisan Pizza? Which of these pizzas and/or cocktails sounds right up your alley?

Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is a classic Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil and the Ken's Old Fashioned with Evan Williams, Ramazotti Amaro, demerara sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange skin Ken's Artisan Pizza, 12 inch thin crust perfection, this one is the Summer Pesto with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, hazelnut pesto, mozzarella, pecorino romano

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary media dinner where I was able to share and sample all of the beverages and pizzas shown, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. I was already a fan of Ken’s Artisan Pizza before this meal and continue to be so – this opportunity just gave me a chance to try more than I would normally be able to order, although I’d certainly want to order all of these! The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.

Ken's Artisan Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Han Oak Brunch

There’s a dispiriting amount of authentic Asian food in Portland – many Asian restaurants and food carts serve an Americanized version based on what they think will sell based on mass expectations.  Whenever I hear of a possible sprout of authentic Asian food experience growing, I am usually quick to try to water it and hope it can flourish – and I am hoping with all my might for Han Oak, which recently poked it’s head out into Portland’s restaurant garden this past 6 or 7 months. Han Oak deserves and needs your support. I think it’s the best brunch in Portland right now – and I think it’s uniqueness would be hard to find in most other cities.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

Han Oak is reservation only, where they only open a couple days a week for dinner service and then on Sunday offer brunch service. When you make your reservation online you pre-pay, although you can add on additional beverages or some a la carte dishes at dinner if you’d like. Dinner has been a Bo Ssäm format, but let me put a little focus on their Sunday brunch for this post. They are located at 511 NE 24th, between Pie Spot and 24th and Meatballs. Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space with a welcoming backyard escape and a bright open room with wooden 8-top tables with bench seating and some counter seating at their open kitchen bartop.
Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Keep stepping through the doorway into this backyard, and the entrance to the Han Oak restaurant space is then to your right Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space faces a quaint backyard patio area

Here’s the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don’t need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it’s all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice.
Here's the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don't need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it's all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice

For this brunch for instance, my so cool little brunch tray boasted

  • Kimchi, soy pickled vegetables, sauteed and wilted greens
    Han Oak brunch, banchan like kimchee and Sauteed and wilted greens Han Oak brunch, banchan
  • Blood cake with soft boiled egg
    Han Oak brunch, Blood cake with soft boiled egg
  • Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
    Han Oak brunch, Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
  • Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts with a little dipping sauce
    Han Oak brunch, Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts
  • A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
    Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
  • Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap
    Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap

The above also come with your choice of iced barley tea (the traditional Korean “water” that you should just get), or Water Avenue coffee, or cold brew. You have additionally drink options of cocktails, beer and cider, wine, soju, as well as non alcoholic beverages. For you, my readers, I sacrificed my liver to try all four of the cocktails, curated by the gifted Michelle Ruocco that included

  • The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa
    The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) with the waffle and the rice
    The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm – I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness which I loved with the dumpling soup and the tuna. This was my favorite, though it’s non-traditional flavor may not be for everyone
    The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm - I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The K-Pop was how I finished my cocktail drinking at brunch, a cocktail light and refreshing so would be great as a starter as well, with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber. I wish there was a bit more ginger in this, but I really like the spiciness of ginger too so maybe that’s just me.
    The K-Pop with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco

At $32 for the Korean brunch tray + bowls (with the four cocktails or other alcoholic drinks being extra) that is prix fixe and includes service, this is an insane bargain that is incredibly unique. The atmosphere feels traditional with recognizable Korean stalwarts like the kimchee and the iced barley tea and the rice or the dumpling soup, but also includes modern Northwest playful takes like the blood cake and savory waffle.

The seating feels modern and airy, but almost like dining with family and friends with the intimate atmosphere of a 5 large tables with benches, and a backyard where multiple guests’ children kicked around a beachball together. This is not an experience that you will usually find anywhere, even in larger cities with established larger Korean populations. We’re so fortunate to have this opportunity in Portland.

So what are you waiting for? Make your reservation for brunch now! Brunch is only offered on Sundays, 11 AM – 2 PM. They are also open for dinner (reservation only – make them on the website) on Friday and Saturdays 6 – 9 PM only.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

And aren’t those cocktails Michele created incredibly lovely? Which one would you order?

Han Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Renata’s Italian Happy Hour – Aperitivo

I’ve been a big fan of Renata since they first opened, as I first wrote about almost a year ago. Back then, I was really impressed by their beautiful patio as well as their incredible pastas and in house aged whole animal (which would appear once in a while when the aging was complete as a special dish on the menu) and the craft cocktails. And then came the rush of the people when Renata was announced as Oregonian’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year, and they went through a trial by fire every day.

Now the rush of the trendy crowds have calmed down – on recent visits I dined with sweet senior citizens and families with kids during early dinner seatings, and then with a range of ages of professionals on business or on date night or with a boisterous group of friends later in the evening. The breathing room now gives Renata the opportunity instead of focusing on executing all the food to the necessary volumes, a chance to experiment and tweak the menu based on new ideas. One of those new ideas is Renata’s Italian Happy Hour – Aperitivo.
Bar of Renata Bar of Renata Bar of Renata Patio of Renata

During Aperitivo, located in the bar and patio only from 4 PM – 6:00 PM Monday – Friday, what was once a Punch Hour before they begin Dinner Service now celebrates Italian Street Food and seasonal cocktails. For spring, this included for instance on their menu the Spring Cocktails of Arrossire with cappelletti, punt e mes, benedictine, soda or Paper Moon with pisco, vermouth, bay leaf, chamomile, egg white, lemon.
Renata Spring Cocktail of Arrossire with cappelletti, punt e mes, benedictine, soda Renata Spring Cocktail of Paper Moon with pisco, vermouth, bay leaf, chamomile, egg white, lemon

I tried the pretty pink house cocktail of Occam’s Razor with vodka, elderflower, blackberry, citrus and prosecco. Or go for the Old Fashioned Flight included one rye with demerara, one bourbon with smoked maple. and one made with scotch and burnt honey.
Renata house cocktail of Occam’s Razor with vodka, elderflower, blackberry, citrus and prosecco Renata Old Fashioned Flight included one rye with demerara, one bourbon with smoked maple. and one made with scotch and burnt honey

Meanwhile, on the food menu enjoy bites such as

Salt and Vinegar Pork Rinds which have this light airy feel of a pork rind but then you pucker up after a bite!
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Salt and Vinegar Pork Rinds

Salumi alla Casa plate, this visit with spicy coppa, mortadella, prosciutto cotto, Vacca Bruna parmigian
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Salumi alla Casa with spicy coppa, mortadella, prosciutto cotto, Vacca Bruna parmigian

Formaggio plate, for this visit that included Sheep with bloomy rind cheese Valentine, Cow hard rind cheese Andrea Menzazana, and a Sheep + Cow washed rind cheese Willow Creek
Renata's updated happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Formaggio that includes Sheep with bloomy rind cheese Valentine, Cow hard rind cheese Andrea Menzazana, and a Sheep + Cow washed rind cheese Willow Creek

Stuffed Fried Olives with Trotter and Calabrian Chili Aioli look like aracini, but don’t be fooled – there is an olive in there, adding a nice counterpoint to the deep fried exterior
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Stuffed Fried Olives with Trotter and Calabrian Chili Aioli

Aracini with pork sugo and fontina are creamy and rich
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Aracini with pork sugo and fontina Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Aracini with pork sugo and fontina

The other tasty “ball” item on the menu (besides the marinated olives which I did not try – but those are more like ovals right?) are these juicy and large Polpettine, a dish of lamb and beef meatballs with polenta that are decadant just like the aracini.
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Polpettine a dish of lamb and beef meatballs with polenta Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Polpettine a dish of lamb and beef meatballs with polenta

While the Ceci Bean Panelle with pecorino and lemon are light ceci bean fritter that’s impossible to only have 3 or 4 of them…
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Ceci Bean Panelle with pecorino and lemon

Dumplings are given a crispy crunchy exterior but oozy cheesy interior via these Panzerotti with mozzarella and marinara, which is one of my recommendations as it’s one of my favorites of the Aperitivo menu.
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Panzerotti with mozzarella and marinara Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Panzerotti with mozzarella and marinara

My other recommendation and outstanding item on the menu are these Piadina with broccoli pesto, ham, and ricotta which make use of the pizza oven and dough to make a flatbread sandwich that is crispy like a quesadilla’s tortilla on the outside but stuffed with goodness like a panini but without all the heavy bread.
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Piadina with broccoli pesto, ham, and ricotta Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Piadina with broccoli pesto, ham, and ricotta Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Piadina with broccoli pesto, ham, and ricotta

In Chicago, one of my super fond food memories that I haven’t been able to find very often is enjoying smelt – back then we got them from DiCola’s Seafood, with mom driving after school to order us the fried smelt by the pound that we started eating just barely past the door. Now Renata has offered me an outlet via their Fritto Misto with calamari and smelt that unlike most calamari you find (I should know – my brother loves calamari and orders it every time it’s on a menu when we dine out), Renata’s version is very lightly battered to a crisp and not soggy with oil.
Renata's Italian happy hour, called Aperitivo, is available M-F 4-5:30 in the bar and patio only. This is one of the available dishes, Fritto Misto with calamari and smelt

I know their Aperitivo is only a short period of time on weekdays – and coming in from Hillsboro where I work, sometimes public transit doesn’t work in my favor and I get there too late. But, I still encourage you to visit. One of the obvious pleasures of Renata is the incredible pastas they have there – I’ve ever had one I didn’t enjoy. There are pasta shapes that I’ve encounted for the first time here, such as when I had Pici with roasted suckling pig and green garlic which is a firm tubelike pasta to when I had Squid Ink Corzetti with Lamb sausage, clams, and breadcrumbs where corzetti is a stamped flat pasta.
"Pici Squid Ink Corzetti with Lamb sausage, clams, and breadcrumbs where corzetti is a stamped flat pasta

One of the more secret pleasures is that Renata buys whole animals and ages them after doing their own butchering and often uses the whole animal. So, whenever I see for instance any beef on the menu, I am there, enjoying a secret steak that I think is among the top 3 in Portland when it appears.
Renata Renata 20 oz Ribeye with roasted garlic butter

Don’t overlook the smaller ways that the meat may show up on the menu – from being in the pasta to on Chef Matt Sigler’s super on point crostini in the Bites section of the menu (more like half an open faced sandwich!) like this Crostini with Beef Brisket, Horseradish, and Potato Artichoke Puree on that perfectly chewy Pugliese. I was torn on whether to enjoy the beef brisket as part of the whole dish or pick off bits of that melt in your mouth beef to enjoy on its own. I did both.
Renata Crostini with Beef Brisket, Horseradish, and Potato Artichoke Puree on that perfectly chewy Pugliese Renata Crostini with Beef Brisket, Horseradish, and Potato Artichoke Puree on that perfectly chewy Pugliese

And look for anything on their grill and fire, like here Grilled Octopus or a side of Coal Roasted Polenta with Gorgonzola picante
Renata Grilled Octopus with English peas, olive, mint Renata Coal Roasted Polenta with Gorgonzola picante

In checking out their wine list, ask about the wine selections from the Lava Bar section. These are incredible selections of wine where the grapes are grown on volcanic soil. It was only after a friend who took notes and always asked about vineyards and soil that I started taking those same notes, and I realized that whenever at a tasting event or room I tried volcanic soil wine 8 out of 10 I would end up purchasing a bottle. So clearly I have a preference for it – regardless of grape. Maybe you do too – come give it a try!

One of my favorite patios in Portland is the one at Renata, and I confess I’m there pretty often. What do you think of the updated Italian Street food Aperitivo happy hour there, what would you order? Where is your favorite outdoor patio for dining in Portland?

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary shared blogger Aperitivo happy hour, but I also returned on my own and on my own dime multiple times. 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. 

Renata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Happy Hour at Altabira City Tavern

Happy Hour at Altabira City Tavern is the latest hot happy hour in Portland. Located at 1021 NE Grand Ave, it’s location makes it right next to the Max stop for the Oregon Convention Center and perfect after an event there or before or after something at the Moda Center a block or so away.
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

Located on the sixth floor of the boutique hotel Hotel Eastlund, it offers not just a hip indoor bar area that continues the contemporary cool look of the hotel inside, but also an outdoor rooftop patio to appreciate Portland sunshine and is ready for cooler weather with heaters and fire pits. Seating at the Altabira bar and patio are on a first come first serve basis, and this outdoor happy hour is a hit so expect to see lots of beautiful people along with the beautiful view!
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

Beware though that with it’s location so close the convention center, you can see a small rush of big groups looking to network and have a bite/drink around 5:45 or so when conferences typically end during a weekday, so the outside can get busy. But, there were plenty of seats for smaller groups still available at the bar.
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

The Happy Hour at Altabira is is Daily between 4PM – 6 PM. Here are some examples of what I’ve tried and adored from their happy hour menu:

$7 Pizza Special (half off from the regular Tavern Menu)
I was particularly enchanted with the Spinach, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pizza though the Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza was also enjoyed. These pizzas are enough for 2-4 to share.
Altabira City Tavern's Happy Hour, Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza Altabira City Tavern's Happy Hour, Spinach, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pizza

Don’t overlook the Citizen Baker Pretzel with Spicy Beer Mustard and Pimento Cheese if you want something small and it goes great with their big beer list that includes 14 beers and 2 ciders almost all from Oregon (1 was from California).
Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Citizen Baker Pretzel with Spicy Beer Mustard and Pimento Cheese

A lot more messy but pretty tasty is the Smoked Chicken Wings which can be found on the Tavern Menu and also on the Dinner Menu though the best deal is of course at happy hour.
Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Smoked Chicken Wings Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Smoked Chicken Wings

More substantial happy hour offerings include an Altabira Cheeseburger on Brioche Bun and a Smoked Brisket Sandwich with Spicy Cole Slaw.

For cocktails, I tried Altabira City Tavern’s cocktail Sandia Mountain with Vodka, Fresh Watermelon Juice, Lemon and Lime and the Summer Squall with Coruba Dark Rum, Ginger Beer and Pineapple Juice. For happy hour, be sure to ask what the special cocktail of the day is – one time it was this tasty coconut cinnamon beverage!
Altabira City Tavern's cocktail Sandia Mountain with Vodka, Fresh Watermelon Juice, Lemon and Lime Altabira City Tavern's cocktail Summer Squal with Coruba Dark Rum, Ginger Beer and Pineapple Juice For happy hour at Altabira City Tavern, be sure to ask what the special cocktail of the day is, one time it was this tasty coconut cinnamon beverage

I also have tried some dinner starters:

Cornmeal Fried Local Oysters with Spicy Remoulade were light, crispy, perfectly executed (note: the photo is for a platter that is more than one order, it’s not an individual order).
Cornmeal Fried Local Oysters with Spicy Remoulade at Altabira City Tavern

Country Style Pork Pâté are a great appetizer as wellthat when I had it, had a crust around the pate of bacon. Yup. Note: the photo below is for a platter that is more than one order, it’s not an individual order).
Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern

It’s nice to see the Near SouthEast Side starting to come into it’s own instead of being just a bunch of generic convention center hotels. With the completion in the future of some high rise condos in the area, this is going to be a happening neighborhood that has the convenience of easy access to highway and public transit and some pretty sophisticated choices such as Altabira.

In walking distance/a stop or so away on the streetcar are neighboring hot restaurants like Renata, Kachka, Oso Market, Mirakutei, Simpatica, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, the bars of Coopers Hall for wine and Loyal Legion and White Owl Social for beer all to the south within 1 mile, and Reverend’s Nat’s, Upright Brewery, Ox Restaurant, Toro Bravo and more to the north within 1 mile makes this area by the Lloyd District an up and coming neighborhood.

Welcome Altabira City Tavern to the area, I believe many convention center goers are so happy to finally have a destination right here for them besides the usual chain, and they thank you!

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The Wynn: Lake of Dreams, Parasol Down, Conservatory, Jeff Koons, and Le Reve

The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas is considered to be one of the most luxurious on the Strip, with its number of five stars from various rankings and the fact that they even have a Ferrari and Maserati dealership inside. Unlike the other previous casinos that Steve Wynn built, The Wynn takes action on his previous regret that he created crowd-drawing attractions that were outside (Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio)- he wanted to make people come into the casino. So that’s how he planned The Wynn.

Supposedly the main attraction to the Wynn the Lake of Dreams, which is a big waterfall feature inside over a small manmade lake. In the evenings, starting at dusk and for every 30 minutes, there are shows that play using the waterfall wall and the lake with projections and props, with the shows varying (similar to how the Bellagio fountain shows vary). In between those times, the waterfall and lake are an art piece, with a statue of a man partially submerged staring at the flowing water/us (I’m not sure) being pensive/stalkery (I’m not sure) while farther on the right a woman stands about to enter the lake, pensive/stalkery (I’m not sure).
Lake of Dreams at the Wynn

The biggest different though is that to really get a good view, you pretty much have to be a guest of the restaurants that take up most of the side facing the Lake of Dreams, or be having cocktails at the bottom half of the lounges Parasol Up / Parasol Down. Parasol Down includes the lounge area inside where you can view Lake of Dreams through the floor to ceiling windows and the outdoor terrace outside. Parasol Up is the lounge upstairs, which really only gives you a view of people walking in The Wynn and little bit of the parasols. True to the name, there are giant parasols that hang on the ceiling and move up and down.

The view from by the escalators on the top floor:
These umbrella lights move up and down in the atrium which houses the Parasol Down bar and lounge (Parasol Up is on the same level before you go down the curved escalator) at The Wynn, Las Vegas "These

The view looking up from Parasol Down:
These umbrella lights move up and down in the atrium which houses the Parasol Down bar and lounge (Parasol Up is on the same level before you go down the curved escalator) at The Wynn, Las Vegas These umbrella lights move up and down in the atrium which houses the Parasol Down bar and lounge (Parasol Up is on the same level before you go down the curved escalator) at The Wynn, Las Vegas

F was working late, and thanks to Tix4Tonight I was able to get discounted seats to the show Le Reve (The Dream) for the early show. After walking here (remember my walking the South Strip and the Middle of the Strip posts?) I really needed a break off my feet, and cocktails sounded perfect. It was probably only 5 PM and far from dusk, so this lounge area was quiet and peaceful, and I was able to sit at a couch on the side where there was a much needed outlet to recharge my phone from all these pictures I’ve been taking and sharing on the blog!
Relaxing in the Parasol Down bar and lounge (Parasol Up is on the same level before you go down the curved escalator) inside The Wynn. This is where after dusk you can also sit and see the various Lake of Dreams shows every 30 min) Relaxing in the Parasol Down bar and lounge (Parasol Up is on the same level before you go down the curved escalator) inside The Wynn. This is where after dusk you can also sit and see the various Lake of Dreams shows every 30 min

I thought I might have just one drink, but I was very intrigued by the drinks menu here. For instance, a page of Wynn Signature Sips included

  • The Carousel, made with rum, watermelon liqueur, fresh lemon juice, fresh watermelon juice, and lemongrass syrup
  • The Pear-A-Sol, with Absolut Pear Vodka, Belle Paire Pear Liqueur, pear puree, and fresh sweet and sour
  • Lime In the Coconut, with Bacardi Pineapple Fusion Rum, Kalani Coconut Liqueur, fresh lime juice, ginger syrup, fresh basil leaves, topped with Red Bull Silver

Wynn Signature Sips available at Parasol Down inside The Wynn Example drinks at Parasol Down in The Wynn, Seasonal Sips and Signature Shots

So of course I had to do a little taste testing for you. I started out with the Parasol’s Signature cocktail, the previously mentioned The Pear-A-Sol, with Absolut Pear Vodka, Belle Paire Pear Liqueur, pear puree, and fresh sweet and sour. I was pleased to see that it came with these cute complimentary snacks. Vegas is one of those cities that I don’t even think twice of traveling, exploring, and eating and drinking on my own because there are always interesting people to meet and talk to, including even being insistent that she take a photo of me and send it to F to let him see I was having fun without him.
Enjoying a Wynn Signature Sip of The Pear-a-sol, Parasol's signature cocktail at Parasol Down. The cocktail includes Absolut Pears Vodka, Belle Paire Pear Liqeur, pear puree, and fresh sweet and sour along with complimentary snacks Enjoying a Wynn Signature Sip of The Pear-a-sol, Parasol's signature cocktail at Parasol Down. The cocktail includes Absolut Pears Vodka, Belle Paire Pear Liqeur, pear puree, and fresh sweet and sour along with complimentary snacks

They also have several Seasonal Sips and Signature Shots on the drink menu. I tried one of them, the Red Velvet Cake shot with Zing Red Velvet Vodka, and Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur. In the back you can see a Cucumber Fizz non-alcoholic drink, so you don’t have to feel pressured to drink alcohol- the non alcoholic drink was very refreshing and flavorful. I also tried the Signature Cocktail of Sinatra Smash with Gentlemen Jack Tennessee Whiskey, Briottet Ccreme de Cassis, freshly muddled blackberries, fresh sweet and sour, and vanilla infused simple syrup
A Signature Shot at Parasol Down in the Wynn, this one is the Red Velvet Cake shot with Zing Red Velvet Vodka, and Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur with a Cucumber Fizz nonalcoholic drink Example signature drink at Parasol Down in The Wynn. This is the Sinatra Smash with Gentlemen Jack Tennessee Whiskey, Briottet Ccreme de Cassis, freshly muddled blackberries, fresh sweet and sour, and vanilla infused simple syrup

The only place I can think of where you can watch the show at the Lake of Dreams for free is by standing between the inside lounge area and terrace of Parasol Down, by standing in between the escalators leading up and down to Parasol Down, or by a small terrace just by the check-in/out desks of The Wynn. Here you can see the difference in view – from standing in between the escalators leading up and down to Parasol Down where yes they somehow pulled out a whole frog to sing- and the view from the terrace just by the check in lobby of The Wynn when the Lake of Dreams told the story of two balls (a blue and pink one) that fall in love and roll around all over the misted over lake.
The singing frog at the Lake of Dreams in The Wynn, view from the top of the escalators above Parasol Down The singing frog at the Lake of Dreams in The Wynn, view from the top of the escalators above Parasol Down The singing frog at the Lake of Dreams in The Wynn, view from the top of the escalators above Parasol Down View of the Lake of Dreams from the balcony outside the check in lobby of The Wynn... this is a show with lit balls that roll in the water that is misty View of the Lake of Dreams from the balcony outside the check in lobby of The Wynn... this is a show with lit balls that roll in the water that is misty View of the Lake of Dreams from the balcony outside the check in lobby of The Wynn... this is a show with lit balls that roll in the water that is misty View of the Lake of Dreams from the balcony outside the check in lobby of The Wynn... this is a show with lit balls that roll in the water that is misty

You can sort of see the glass doors leading to that terrace by the reception desks behind these flowers
You can sort of see the glass doors leading to that terrace overlooking Lake of Dreams at the Wynn, Las Vegas, by the reception desks behind these flowers

Honestly though, it wasn’t the Lake of Dreams that blew me away with The Wynn. It was the Conservatory Area here that reminded me a bit of what Bellagio offers, but without all the crowds of people that I felt at the Bellagio. The gardens here are exquisite. And, FREE to see.
Carousel made all of flowers inside The Wynn, November 2014 Carousel made all of flowers inside The Wynn, November 2014 Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn make up this flowered hot air balloonGorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn make up this flowered hot air balloon Gorgeous flowers inside the Conservatory Area, cultivated botanical gardens in the atrium of The Wynn make up this flowered hot air balloon

You can also find two artworks by Jeff Koons. The first is Popeye, made with high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating inside the Wynn Esplanade, and the sculpture Tulips which is a bouquet of twisted balloon flowers. As you’re looking at it, know that these pieces weigh several tons, and Steve Wynn paid $28 million for Popeye and Tulips is $33.6 million dollars. It blows my mind how much insane art is just lying around for everyone to look at for free in Las Vegas. FREE!
Popeye art piece by Jeff Koons, made with high chromium stainless steel with transparant color coating inside the Wynn Esplanade Popeye art piece by Jeff Koons, made with high chromium stainless steel with transparant color coating inside the Wynn Esplanade More Jeff Koons art inside the Wynn, this time right by the Wynn Theater, it's the $33.6 million dollar sculpture Tulips which is a bouquet of twisted balloon flowers More Jeff Koons art inside the Wynn, this time right by the Wynn Theater, it's the $33.6 million dollar sculpture Tulips which is a bouquet of twisted balloon flowers

Oh, and I saw Le Reve, The Dream. I was surprised that they allowed non-flash photography during the show, but they even wanted to promote a hashtag to share the photos, so I obliged once in a while, most of the time my eyes were just flitting all over the place trying to see everything on the stage.

There is not a bad seat at all in the house. If you are closer, you can admire the details of the costuming and the rippling physiques of the performers. If you are farther away, you have an overall view of the scene without having to dart your eyes around.
There is not a bad seat in the house at the Wynn Theater, home of Le Reve, The Dream There is not a bad seat in the house at the Wynn Theater, home of Le Reve, The Dream

The stage includes not only the pool and any standing areas that come up and down or sail in (yep), but even all the airspace to the top of the theater! With every scene, your view is ever-changing with not only set and lights, but people wandering in and out, either performing as part of the act or like us, observing (though more artfully posed than me). There were many times I was really torn where I wanted to keep my eyes, and the show seemed to end all too soon. I wanted many parts of every scene to last a little longer so I can really admire the details of it before it moved out of one beautifully posed moment to another.
A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater!

I really enjoyed the show. Besides all the food in Las Vegas, and all the free art to see up and down the strip outside on the streets or inside the buildings, I really love the offering of shows here in Vegas and can’t imagine visiting without seeing at least 1 or 2! Most theater productions are only temporary, but here in Vegas they can build the stage to fit the resident show, and so the production values are just unlike anywhere else.

I highly recommend seeing a show while you are here! There’s every kind of show – I prefer shows like Le Reve or Cirque du Soleil (my favorite is O, though I almost bought tickets to Zarkana paired with the idea of pairing it with dinner at bar Masa or Julian Serrano Tapas- maybe next time! You can see friend Marlynn from Urban Bliss Life’s pictures and review of Zarkana here). The reason I love these shows is because they combine intense visuals and athleticism and grace with music and have no strong narrative. But there is also comedy, musical performances varying from musicals to concerts to tribute shows, magic, adult (I really like Jubilee, the costumes by Bob Mackie and seeing Barbie clothes in real life before me are worth it), headliners (you might even run into them in the casinos, like lucky Hailey of Discourse of a Divine Diva did with Nick Carter! She’s doing a recap of her week in Vegas and I think she packed in more than I did everyday!)… Vegas, so much to do, so much to see!

Here’s a glimpse of the visual splendor of Le Reve, The Dream in Las Vegas at the Wynn Theater.
A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater! A scene from the show Le Reve, The Dream, playing at the Wynn Theater. It's a show that takes place on continuously changing stages, the water, and all the airspace to the top of the theater!

Have you been to the Wynn, what did you think if you have? Have you gone to any Las Vegas shows, which ones?

My Guide to the Free and the Food on the Las Vegas Strip

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