Biscuit Heaven

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Photo courtesy of (pinestatebiscuits.com)

Looking for a hipster restaurant to satisfy cravings for good, hearty comfort food? Drop by Pine State Biscuits, a little joint with locations in Northeast and Southeast Portland. I discovered this gem on the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network channel, and the sight of flaky, golden biscuits won me over.

I’ll admit though, the place was tiny. There was one small counter with stools, two tables for two, and only one table for four. There was additional seating at the bar next door, but minors like me had no option but to wait for a seat in the restaurant.

Yet I enjoyed the casual, comfortable atmosphere—music posters jostled for attention on the walls, and all sorts of customers streamed in, including hipsters, families with young kids, teenagers, and couples. A line of people even went out the door into the windy weather, but no one complained. I could almost taste the anticipation.

The menu boasted a wide range of items, from the simple biscuits and gravy to the Wedgie, a biscuit sandwich with fried green tomatoes, lettuce, fried chicken, and blue cheese dressing. It was basically biscuit heaven. The menu also included a number of sides like hash browns, hush puppies, and coleslaw. Arnold Palmers (iced tea with lemonade) were served in huge empty honey jars.

I ordered the Reggie, a biscuit sandwich with bacon, American cheese, and fried chicken in the middle and topped with a large dollop of sausage gravy, which formed a steaming pool at the bottom. The gravy was rich and creamy, and I tasted juicy bits of ground meat. The bacon and fried chicken in its buttermilk batter had a savory crunch and crispiness, which contrasted well with the biscuit’s soft crumbliness and the melted cheese.

So if you love comfort food, are tired of Bisquick mix, or you just want to experience the hip side of Portland’s fare, I’d definitely recommend Pine State Biscuits. You won’t find biscuits like theirs anywhere else.

Price range: 3-9 dollars

Addresses:

3640 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214 (East side)

2204 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211 (Alberta)

Hours: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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What’s Good Bread?

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I was extremely fortunate to meet a professional food writer! She and I met up at a new bakery that just hitched open its doors in Southeast Portland, dubbed Tabor Bread. With a cozy atmosphere and the scent of fresh bread in our midst, we chatted about becoming expert food writers and expanding our work to get our name out into the food world. In fact, she inspired me to start this blog, “weatheringyourappetite”.

Tabor Bread prides itself on milling its own flour and using the finest whole grains to produce a true masterpiece of bread. I was lucky to see the mill itself, a cheerful-looking wood machine, which, according to co-owner Annie Moss, was imported all the way from Austria.

While the outside resembled a dark red house, the interior of Tabor Bread evoked a sense of rustic charm with its smooth wooden tables and numerous baskets of bread all dusted with fresh flour. The center of attention was definitely the enormous brick oven. It had a sort of cottage-like appeal, and the employees even used the traditional peels, or long thin paddles, to put in and take out the bread.

Jen and I shared toasted pecan and pear spelt bread. The crust had a sort of satisfying soft crunch, and the slightly burnt taste really brought out the spelt flavor. We also amiably buttered our toast to get a richer aroma, but my favorite was the spiced quince jam. It tasted fresh, tangy, and spicy, creating a sense of wintertime. Sipping green tea from dainty white mugs rounded off our relaxing, comfortable breakfast.

The movie Ratatouille taught me a life lesson of judging fine bread based on the sound of the crust. Colette says, “Hear that symphony of crackle! Only good bread sound this way.” And, indeed, Tabor Bread has good bread.

Address: 5051 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97215

Hours:

Wednesday – Friday 7am – 6pm

Saturday/Sunday 8am – 6pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday

Website:

http://taborbread.com/

Cloudy with a chance of waffles

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Alberta waffle (top), Farm Fusion waffle (bottom).

The Waffle Window is bomb. Like an explosion of maple syrup, sweet sugar, and a mountain of toppings just fell from the sky. This place does not have your usual goody-two-shoes waffles with fluffy whipped cream and sticky, fake maple syrup. The Waffle Window’s little window booth stands in the midst of the hustle and bustle of one of the most hipster streets in Southeast Portland, and although not an actual sit-down restaurant, the place has seating in the café it is jointed with and outdoor seating when the weather feels beau.

Clad in my un-hipster sweatpants and sweatshirt, I surveyed the menu while huddled in the rain. So many options were available: savory waffles with salads, cheese, or meat; dessert waffles like the nutella and banana combination and the blueberry cheesecake; chocolate-dipped waffles, ice cream sundae waffles; the list went on and on. I ended up picking the Alberta waffle—( FYI there is an Alberta Street location)—a waffle covered in thick strips of pepper bacon and doused with Grade A maple syrup. My typical preference of waffles never involved putting meat on it before, so this was novel.

The combination of the bacon and waffle could only be described as bomb-diggity. I could taste the sharp, spicy taste of the pepper, and it blended well with the rich maple syrup, giving it a smoky maple taste. Bits of granulated sugar sprinkled over the waffle, yet I personally found it more sugary and sweetened than my normal preference. Nevertheless, the waffle was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside—absolute perfection. 

So if your day feels a bit drab and gray, cheer up. At least it’s cloudy with a chance of scrumptious waffles. 

Price range: 2-6 dollars

Addresses:

3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214

2624 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Winter Hours for Hawthorne location:

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday)
8a.m.- 9p.m. (Friday and Saturday)

Winter Hours for Alberta location:

8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.

Closed Wednesday

Open 8:00 a.m. – 10:00p.m. Friday and Saturday

Website: http://wafflewindow.com/

The Oregon Culinary Institute

Last Thursday I burst out of school with a soaring sense of euphoria—basking in my highlighted senior status, gloating that finals were finished, and anticipating a celebratory lunch at the Oregon Culinary Institute.

My mom, sister, and I sat down with good family friends to eat a ten dollar lunch complete with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert to boot. For ten bucks—now that’s a price I can’t dismiss. Dining at the OCI is also extremely popular, with reservations needed to be booked at least a week in advance. The students themselves prepare the meals while those with majors in restaurant management act as the waiters.

I ordered tea as my beverage, and a large white teapot and teacup were accompanied by a selection of Portland’s Steven Smith teas. Now Smith tea doesn’t usually come so cheap; it generally costs like six dollars for a box. This time, I only had to pay a dollar for the bountiful, beautiful selection, and I commend the OCI’s generosity.

For my appetizer, I ordered the special of the day, a dainty salad compiled of an arrangement of orange slices, chopped hazelnuts, arugula, and crunchy fennel all drizzled with an orange vinaigrette. Typically I don’t really like salads, but this creation was immensely refreshing. I loved the tangy crispiness and fresh, clean taste, while the hazelnuts’ musky flavor complemented the sweetness of orange and fennel well. This salad may be the turning point of my attitude towards salad.

Anyway, while surveying the entrée selections, I was immediately struck by the choice of braised rabbit pasta.  Rabbit? I’d only read about people eating rabbit back in the Middle Ages and such, so my curiosity overpowered me. Would it taste like chicken, sort of like frog? Would the meat be tender or slightly stringy like pork chop? I just had to try it.

The braised rabbit pasta arrived in a plate submerged in a rich brown sauce that tasted of hints of garlic and juicy rabbit. And my hunch was right—rabbit did taste like chicken. The meat was tender, yet it also had a texture that reminded me of beef. It was accompanied by thick multi-grain pasta with bits of green onion as well. Strangely enough, I could imagine myself living in a forest, coming into my little cabin out of the bitter cold outside, stamping on the mat as I hurried towards the crackling fire to enjoy a hearty plate of braised rabbit pasta. The dish was like a woodsman’s fare.

And of course, I couldn’t forget dessert. I endured a slight disappointment when they told me that the lemon tart was not available today, so I contented myself with the chocolate dream torte. A slice of chocolate heaven sat before me with a drizzle of a sweet tangerine puree on the side. I could taste the seductive cocoa and exotic chocolate flavor, and it reeled in my sweet tooth with no problem at all. Even a couple of sweet old ladies passing by me exclaimed, “Oh, they’re eating the chocolate torte!” and they added, “Oh, it’s absolutely delicious.” So if the old ladies loved it, I definitely love it more.

The Oregon Culinary Institute is a beautiful bargain. A sumptuous, three-course meal for just ten dollars. Now that’s something that deserves accolades.