What good are restaurant recommendations? From anyone? I have specific tastes (good). You probably have specific tastes, too. And if someone recommends a restaurant to me and I don’t particularly like it, you would think my giving them an honest opinion was akin to me wishing cancer on them.
So I think we’d all get a lot more out of knowing which restaurants I emphatically urge you to avoid.
My ultimate goal, through this blog, is to single-handedly put these restaurants (all in Portland) out of business - or at least convince a few less people to support them.
It wasn't necessarily the food. Or the service. Or the atmosphere. And truthfully, you could very easily have a wonderful experience at one of these places.
But they wronged me. And for that, they should pay.
These are listed in no particular order, except for the first, which was just the most recent event and impetus for this post.
1. Mississippi Station
This place has all the makings of a great restaurant/bar, but fuck them. Last Thursday night, at around 9:30, I met a friend there for a drink. He was initially opposed to the spot due to an equally shitty experience there, just the night before. I chalked it up to an off night on their part. I arrived first. The room was lit up like a high-school cafeteria and despite the three or four parties still comfortably settled in, the bartender and waitress appeared to be tidying up for the night. I ordered a whisky for myself, a beer for the friend and handed them my Visa, asking them to start a tab. They rejected my tab and told me it was almost last call. AT 9:30 PM! So I asked what time they closed on a Thursday night. They responded together, "11." Umm, I checked the watch I don't wear and reminded them it was ONLY 9:30 PM! They stumbled over each other like a bad Abbot and Costello routine and told me they were actually closing at 10:30 but they would start a tab for me, like they were some patron saints of inebriation. And with my tab, I received the annoyingly attentive service of a acne-laden waitress, who looked much better, much further away, but hovered over anyway, hurrying our second drink on us and placing the bill down with them, all but holding our jackets open. We left promptly at 10:30, just short of involuntarily – geez, I'd hate to see them make any more money before closing.
2. Sweet Basil
Sadly, this may be Portland's best Thai food. I won't mention its location because I wouldn't want you to be tempted and there are plenty of other good ones, so just deal with it. Because the first thing you’ll find there is the wait. We typically order the food to go and no matter how long they tell you it will take, or how long you actually give them, they invariably make you stand by the cash register for no less than 18 minutes. It’s like you serve penance for the delicacies about to be bestowed upon you. You could easily watch a group come in, get seated, order, get served, eat, pay and leave in the time it takes for them to put your take-out order together. My last pick-up was with a buddy so I have witnesses and he’s a much more patient person than I. We waited and when it finally came time to pay the $35 tab, both my friend and I each laid a $20 bill on the counter. They asked us if we wanted any change. First of all, it's take out. Not delivery. Not eat in, and mess up your place. It’s TAKE-OUT!. Second of all, don't ever ask me if I want change. Yes, I always want change, even if I am eating in your stinking joint and then I will decide how much of it you get. We responded “yes, we would like our change” and graciously left her a dollar each. We got home and unpacked the food. They had forgotten two orders of spring rolls and one order of Pad See Ewe. I called and asked them what they intended to do about it. They defensively argued that they had no order for Pad See Ewe and we were not charged for it. What about the spring rolls? Oh yes, they did forget those. So, ummm... Yeah, ok, they'll deliver those. But not the Pad See Ewe unless we wanted to put that on our card. Should be at our house in 15 minutes (sic. 1 hour). The driver showed up and held his hand out for a tip, which I refused but felt bad cause it really wasn't his fault. Until he left. He only brought one order of the spring rolls. Goddamn them! My wife suggested we call the restaurant again and tell them to give the money we were charged for the spring rolls that will never belong to us, to the driver, since we didn't tip him. I suggested we never call them again and blog about how much we hate them.
3. Any Small Plates Restaurant
Clark Lewis. Toro Bravo. That place on NE 28th that everyone loves so much. I haven't even been to the last two and I hear Toro Bravo is the best place to wait 2 hours for a table in the city. But fuck them anyway. I hate this new small plates dining movement that's taken the pretentious foodies by storm. It's bullshit. If there are four people in your party, they bring three of whatever you ordered. If there are 20, they'll bring 19. It's the small plates Russian Roulette mind fuck to see who is the most selfless person at the table. Who will politely bow out of each dish, just because they won’ t bring your table enough to go around? You know who? Me. You guys loved the place because you ate. I starved so I could blog about it.
4. Stumptown Coffee
Yes, it's still better than Starbucks. And I’m all for supporting local business. But if you’re waiting 12 minutes in line for your morning latte, just to soak in that gritty yet hip bike messenger vibe, then you're just a big sucker. Wait a minute....
5. Park Kitchen
Everbody loves Park Kitchen. It’s so eclectic and inventive and the atmosphere is admittedly warm and lively. But get outta here with your crazy meat concoctions. Duck ham, preserved strawberries and goat cheese fondue. Carpaccio of halibut, oil cured cardoons and chervil. Savory rhubarb, big woods blue and oat crisps. Freshly marinated anchovies with preserved lemons and fennel. Yes, you’ve wowed me with your inventive spirit and love for the epicurean. Too bad everything tastes like I threw up in my mouth.
Ed. Note: The restaurant Rocket falls into this same category of hate for me. They have Grilled Spencer and Scrapple on their menu and when I asked what these items were, the server responded as if I were rubbing feces all over myself. Who doesn’t know what Spencer and Scrapple is? With that warm reception, my party and I stood up and walked out. So I didn’t actually eat there. But the view from their balcony may be the best Portland has to offer. Too bad you should never go see it.