Thursday, September 20, 2012

Portland Day 4: Mother's, Williamette Wine Country (Winderlea, White Rose, Vista Hills), Le Pigeon, Rimsky Korsacoffee

That was probably the longest blog post title ever. This is post #4 out of 5 about a recent trip to Portland. Other posts in this series include: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 5.


This particularly gluttonous day started off with breakfast at Mother's Bistro & Bar, a restaurant described to me by a local as a very "charming place." There were hordes of people in line outside (even at 9 am) – I'm not sure if their reservation system was new and people didn't know it existed, but we were able to thankfully beat what looked like an hour-plus wait. (I did call a couple weeks ahead though.)

It truly was charming. It's a little hard to describe what the interior was like: a little French, a little Vegas, a little Disney, but not quite crossing over the line to gaudiness.  Walls were plastered with art, louvre-style, and many extravagant chandeliers were dangling from the ceiling...

(Can you see signs of my camera dying in that photo?)

I ordered what has been one of my favorite breakfasts to date – the wild salmon hash. It was creamy and savory and the chunks of salmon were generous and still warm. They described it on the menu as having a "touch of butter," but that is a joke. "Half a stick of butter"? More likely.

I got a biscuit in lieu of toast, but I don't think that was the best decision – with the hash it was butter overload, and without the gravy it was somewhat dry.

Ryan got a chorizo scramble.  I'm not a chorizo person but he says it was very good. We have different tastes.

 Speaking of which...I need to do that soon.


After our very heavy brunch, we stopped by a Stumptown Coffee a couple blocks away. Sheesh, that was a long line, but I guess we were asking for it, as it was brunch time on a Sunday.

After Stumptown (I got an Americano and it was good but I wasn't crying from happiness per se), we made the drive to Dundee, Oregon, a town located in the Williamette Valley. It's a gorgeous wine region – every winery we went to was surrounded by lush, tall mountain ranges that made the grey, overcast day absolutely perfect.

We stopped first at Winderlea (pronounced Winderlee). The tasting room was very contemporary and elegant, made of metal and wood, with walls that were entirely glass. (Oh, by the way, this wine region is known specifically for Pinot Noirs, so that was our main beverage of the day.)

Winderlea was built on the hillside and has a concrete deck on which you can drink at a very leisurely pace and enjoy the stunning views of the valley...

Can I live here? I thought over and over again.

After pulling ourselves away from Winderlea, we drove the short drive to White Rose Estate – another gorgeous winery and vineyard. Their landscape was heavily dotted with bushes of lavender..

...and since they were also on top of a hill, there was more scenery to be enjoyed.

Their tasting room was interesting because the building itself looked very much like only the top part of a house – and actually, it did look like an attic inside. 

After White Rose, we made it to our final destination in wine country – Vista Hills. Not surprisingly, they also were on a hill and had views. They call their tasting room "The Treehouse," which was confusing, because I actually expected a real treehouse...but in retrospect, that's not the most accessible type of space for people who are imbibing.

Walking up to the fake treehouse...

And the view from their deck.

So, as you may have noticed, I have provided no descriptions of the wine. That's because (1) it's been two months since this trip and my memory is not what it used to be (2) everything was a Pinot Noir and (3) I'm not a wine expert. There were a lot of smoky, earthy, peppery flavors – that's all I remember. 


So far, this day consisted of breakfast, coffee, and wine. So you may not be shocked to know that dinner was next on our itinerary.

We drove back to Portland and ate at Le Pigeon, a cozy and frankly pretty hipster restaurant in the Industrial District. (But I like hipsterness. In interior decoration at least.) I obviously snatched up the opportunity to sit at the counter, as you could get a very direct view of what the chefs were doing in the kitchen, i.e., the tiny space in front of you (in the bartendering space). I'm sure I made them very uncomfortable as I was staring the entire time.

We started off with two glasses of Riesling <3 and Rabbit Spanakopita, which was served with peaches, proscuitto, and a few slivers of black truffle. I was fearful that the rabbit would be gamey, but the server assured me it was not. 

So...when I started eating it, the rabbit had no strange taste, but I detected a hint of goat cheese, which was not listed on the menu. Ryan protested, saying that he did not taste any goat cheese and that I was imagining things, but I persisted and asked the server, who had to check with the chefs, that yes, there was a smidge of goat cheese in there. Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying that I can detect ANY MILLIGRAM of goat cheese present in ANYTHING, and no one should ever doubt me.

Anyway. We also had two entrees: chicken with leek "carbonara" (basically, long thin strips of leeks pretending to be noodles), peas, and tarragon. It was pretty tasty, but since we're spoiled SF residents, it wasn't our favorite in the entire universe.

However, the drunk man next to us disagreed, as he announced very loudly at least fifty times that this chicken WAS THE BEST HE'D EVER HAD. After stating this fact a few times, he addressed the chef directly with the same comment (never mind that the chef was not deaf and about 10 feet away from him the entire time). I really liked how the chef responded. He basically nodded very emotionlessly, then  asked him how the other dishes were. So very humble.

We also had the beef cheek bourguignon, which was AMAZING.

OK, so maybe not the most photogenic dish ever, but looks are not everything. It's swimming in this puddle of perfectly salted and buttery mashed potatoes, which also had a good thick layer of caramelized onions on the bottom. I was in heaven.

We got two cute pigeon chocolates at the end of our meal. Most likely the only time I will ever use "cute" and "pigeon" in the same sentence.

In conclusion, I loved this place.  


After dinner and dessert, we went to a coffee shop called Rimsky Korsacoffee to get more dessert. Oink. However, we went more for the experience, as we were told this place was very "quirky," and that waiters would "do something to us" at the tables.

So, I can't tell you too much about what happens in there, or else that would spoil the surprise.

But I will tell you this:

- You have to go to the bathroom there.

- Pay attention to what happens at the tables.

- It's probably the creepiest but most adorable place I've ever been to.

I can show you a few pictures though. Here's the interior:

The drinks we got (we got the Vanilla Steamer and the Spicy Hot Chocolate):

There's something strange about drinking milk and seeing a cow's face slowly emerge from your cup...

And here are just some random, non-contexualized shots of the other parts of the house. 

Just remember, do as the sign says, and go to the bathroom.

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