1423 SE 37th
Date of visit: June 28, 2010
Cost for 2 (with tip): $20
Our “new” options on Hawthorne are limited, so there have been a lot of trips to the same old places lately, but yesterday we finally decided to get back on blog-wagon and try out something new. Toney Bento is tucked just off the strip on 37th, and is one of the few places left on our list that isn’t a dingy-looking sports bar. In fact, it looks quite appealing and even has sweet samurai swords on display. How can you go wrong with swords!? Despite the name, there is also more on the menu than bento, specifically a sushi bar. The menu is quite long in fact, and after staring at it for awhile I finally opted for one of the many combo meals.
A decent value at around $8, the Hawaiian combro included a spicy shrimp roll, a giant bowl of udon miso soup and a salad. On the other side of the table Jared went with the Vegan combo: an avocado roll, pot stickers, rice, salad, and a small bowl of miso. Seemed safe enough. As usual, Jared didn’t have much to say, this time blaming the food for being “too basic” for him to formulate a real opinion on the place. But I have no problem forming an opinion, so here goes.
The soup come out first and started things off well. It was simple udon noodles in regular miso, and was actually quite tasty. Unfortunately though, it would be the highlight of my meal. The shrimp roll was made with pre-cooked (and probably previously frozen) shrimp meat and if the sauce it was in was spicy, I couldn’t tell. There was also avocado and cucumber, but overall, it tasted no better than the stuff you get in the grocery store: like it had been made and then refrigerated for hours, if not days. The salad was also a miss for me. Basically just chopped napa cabbage in sweetened rice vinegar with a garnish of carrots and black celery seeds, it was not particularly good as far as consistency or flavor were concerned.
Overall, Toney Bento proved to be a place I would have been fine with never eating at (but at least it didn’t make me sick, or anything!) I think the lesson here is when a place has “bento” in the name, probably best to stick with chicken terriyaki.
Veggie options: A couple veggie combos, fairly basic veggie rolls
3518 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Date of Visit: March 11, 2010
Cost for 2 (with tip): $21
Since it’s getting close to St. Patrick’s day, it seems fitting we’d finally make it to Mulligan’s, although, the impending holiday actually has nothing to do with why we went there. A combination of attempting to be less fat and attempting not to spend so much money has slowed the lunch blogging, but there are a few places still to cross off. Mulligan’s was one of them.
We showed up promptly at noon and were officially the only customers in there. The bar is big, with a couple pool tables, and apparently on Thursday it’s happy hour all day. Unfortunately for us, the Happy Hour food didn’t start until 4, so we were left with the regular menu. In a decision that definitely was not going to help my “diet,” I ordered a turkey bacon and avocado sandwich with a heaping pile of french fries. It was available either hot or cold, and upon the waitress’s suggesting I got it hot, or essentially “grilled.” It was indeed “melty” as she described and pretty damn good. I officially ate one half of it and still feel like I may have gained a pound, or three.
Jared’s options were limited, but who are we kidding, he would have gotten a veggie burger either way. It came with plenty of toppings and although his first review was “it’s a garden burger” he later added that it was a good veggie burger, especially thanks to the bun. Fries were plentiful and pretty tasty, and over all, it was a solid meal of indulgent bar food. However, as we didn’t eat our meal with a side of Guiness, we somewhat failed this place. What can you do?
Veggie Options: A few apps, mac and cheese and veggie burgers
Speed: Pretty average
1522 SE 32nd Ave
Date of visit: February 3, 2010
Price for 2 (with tip) $20
We’re really winding down this project — basically the places left to go are either not really on Hawthorne, or just plain scary. Magnolia fell into the former category with it’s slightly off-the-beaten-path location on 32nd. We were actually trying to go to Chance of Rain cafe, the former occupant, but it’s gone, Magnolia is open and there we were.
I gathered this was more of a breakfast spot, the waitress was sure to let us know they served it all day, although the menu options were not very extensive for either meal. I was feeling lunchy, so I went with a BLT. Actually, I realize this has become my normal Wednesday meal, as we often hit up Hungry Tiger on hump day, and that’s what I always end up getting (even though they have $1 corn dogs.) Not sure what that says about me, guess I am getting old and boring.
Anyway, the menu reads very gourmet, so when my sandwich showed up on what appeared to be cheap toasted white bread, I wasn’t particularly excited. Luckily, the bacon was really, really good– perfectly thick and crispy — and instead of lettuce it was served with spinach (BST?), which was also a nice touch. The house chips were a definitely highlight, I can’t think of another place in Portland that makes their own that are so thin and yummy. Oh and the pickle was legitimately spicy, as promised on the menu. It was an overall decent lunch, until I realized it cost $7.50. Not trying to be cheap, but at Hungry Tiger I get the half- order (more than enough for me) and it’s under $5 (and it has avocado on it!)
Jared got a veggie burger, which may have been the only true veggie option on the menu, and since he won’t ever tell me what he thinks, I will go off looks. The bun and burger patty seemed mismatched. The burger was thick for a veggie patty, but the bun was even thicker, almost bloated. Maybe it was soft and delicious, but it looked a bit odd. The sides were the same so refer to my review above for those.
I wasn’t entire upset up the offerings at Magnolia, the food was very ok, and I’d bet it would be a good choice for line-free weekend brunch. Overall, it seemed a bit to0 unnecessarily gourmet. Instead of offering fancy food, a better plan would just be offering good food, but maybe that’s just me.
Veggie options: Limited
Speed: It was empty and the service was good, accordingly.
2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Date of visit: January 13, 2010
Price for 2 (with tip) $18.50
Jam on Hawthorne is a pretty typical Portland breakfast joint, and if you know any thing about Portland, that’s a good thing, at least foodwise. Ample portions, lots of variety and a full bar with all sorts of specialty cocktails are a must for any go-to breakfast spot in this town. But of course, there is a dark side to almost all of the good ones: the are small and usually crowded, and unfortunately, this much is also true for Jam.
We managed to arrive at prime lunch time, and had to put our names on the list and wait a good 10-15 minutes for a table. On a Wednesday. So accordingly if you try to hit up Jam on a weekend between 10-1, plan on standing out in the rain.
The menu boasts more breakfast options than lunch, but solid choices for either. Jared went lunch, with a grilled cheese and tomato with hash browns, and I went breakfast, with “The Bizness.” Not only did this corned beef, egg and onion sandwich have an awesome name, but I felt “blog-ligated” to get it. Yes, I just made that word up, but as the menu had an entire corned beef section, with the words “house-made” and “slow-roasted” in the description, it seemed like something I needed to try to get the true Jam experience.
My sandwich was giant. Like giant to the point that I looked at it for a few minutes trying to figure out how to get it down, and when I finished half of it, I rewarded myself with a pat on the back. As for the quality of the corned beef, well, as I realized shortly after ordering, I am in no way qualified to review corned beef. Aside from the occasional St. Patty’s Day dinner, I never really eat the stuff. But given my unsophisticated palate, I’d say it was pretty damn good, and definitely tender. The whole thing was quite tasty– soft rye bread and sweet and tangy long island dressing. Next time I would definitely opt to split it with someone else though, eating as much as I did mostly succeeded in making me need a nap.
We were both happy with our meals, but I am not sure that the food at Jam is worth the wait. I mean, it’s good, but like I said before, if you’re going to serve breakfast in Portland, it better be good! There was no shortage of variety and the hash browns were nice and crispy (I like to think of them as healthy french fries!) but I don’t think you’ll be seeing me sitting outside in the rain waiting for a table next Saturday.
Veggie options: tons, basically everything except the corned beef can be ordered vegetarian
Speed: Aside from waiting for a table it was respectable
4800 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Date of Visit: 1/12/2010
Price for 2 (with tip): $14.50
After yesterday’s round up of places yet to go, it became clear we’re pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel on Hawthorne. 80% of remaining restaurants are of the scummy bar variety, and, well, my ass is already fat enough. But one place I hadn’t thought of was Big Bertha’s; a-ten-dollar-and-under gyro sounded mighty delicious today. It turned out though, that there was a reason we hadn’t tried it: this is is exclusively a late night spot. So we hastily opted for the Space Room, directly across the street.
I’ve been to this bar before, with its cosmic theme and black light-laden decor, for fishbowls. Really, the pursuit of fruity drinks is the only good and reasonable reason one would ever step inside. But on this day, we were there for lunch. I felt like I would need a lunch beer to really enjoy, so I ordered a Session as the 11 fluid oz seems a safe lunch beer option.
The menu is actually surprising extensive, though all of the pub food variety. One bonus is $1 off menu items every day before seven. Score. I figured I’d play it safe and go with a burger and tots, while Jared did the same with a grilled cheese and onion rings. Again, the choice of cheeses and bread was impressive for the overall scumminess of the bar, so I was hopeful. Some of my favorite food in Portland comes from bars: Slow Bar, Night Lite and Dots to name a few, so I figured best case scenario this could be a hidden gem.
The food came though, and was pretty much what you’d expect from a bar lit with black lights. Dripping in grease. It wasn’t terrible, though the tater tots we’re a bit over cooked. It just wasn’t anything to write home about. And shortly after eating my burger, well, if both meals including the beer didn’t come to $12, total I would have been pissed about my stomachache.
Speed: Took a little bit to get service, but food came out quickly
Veggie options: standard bar options: veggie burger, grilled cheese etc. ixnay on the being vegan though.