Thursday, August 19, 2010

Portland Part III - Beast and Pearl Bakery

Beast in Portland

Though we had moved to the Ace downtown, come dinnertime on our second day in town, we headed back to Concordia for some cocktails at the Kennedy School and our dinner reservation at Beast. Some friends of ours had arrived that day, and we wanted to show them what we'd enjoyed the night before. We had cocktails in the courtyard before dinner made with fresh citrus juice and McMenamin's house-distilled Penney's Gin, and went back after dinner for a few games of tabletop shuffleboard and pool in the Boiler Room.
Beast in Portland

Dinner at Beast was interesting. It's a set meal - no choices and no substitutions - served in a small dining room that feels like an eat-in kitchen. The two tables are communal, but they weren't full on the evening we were there, so the room never really developed that nice convivial buzz you might expect. We chatted politely with another couple seated near us, but many of the seats around us were empty. I'm also not sure that an expensive meal should be eaten at a communal table, but that's a different discussion for another day...

Menu at Beast
The food at Beast is a bit more rustic than true fine dining, but the flavors and whimsy make up for whatever refinement might be missing. We couldn't help comparing it to DOC, and while I do think the food was a touch better at Beast overall, we enjoyed our experience at DOC more. The service at Beast was perfunctory, since there were no recommendations or choices to be made. Prescribed wine pairings were read off without much passion or interest, and plates were dropped off full and collected empty like they would be at a catered banquet. We enjoyed the interaction with our server at DOC - having each dish explained, each wine described.

The gazpacho-like cold tomato soup was exquisite though, and the charcuterie plate, with it's beautiful, elaborate circular plating, (I wish I'd managed to take a good photo) was worth the trip in and of itself. Each item is prepared as a composed bite, and they tell you how to eat your way around the plate, finishing with the "foie gras bon bon" which melts in your mouth like a mini dessert course. My lamb was perfectly medium rare, and was served with very complimentary mediterranean side dishes. The palate cleanser was a nice touch, and the caesar style salad had a well-balanced dressing on it. Things start to get a little hazy around dessert (even though I couldn't keep up with the wine pairings) but it wasn't memorable in a bad way - I can say that at least.
Pearl Bakery in Portland

The next morning, we decided to stop at Pearl Bakery for a breakfast pastry road picnic, which we ate in the car on our way out to Multnomah Falls. I've been hearing about this place for quite a while, and being a big fan of breakfast pastries in general, I was eager to give it a try.
Pearl Bakery in Portland

We bought a few things, including a giant square cinnamon roll, the beautiful fruit danish pictured above, scones, etc. They were all excellent, if a little messy (good thing it was a rental) and fortified us well for our trip to Multnomah Falls - about thirty minutes outside of Portland on the Columbia River Gorge scenic highway.

Multnomah Falls
It might not look like much, but that little hike to the top is a killer, with 11 switchbacks you can count on numbered signs. The falls themselves are spectacular though, and the viewing platform from the top offers an incomparable view, right down over the edge of the roaring water and across the Columbia River Gorge.

On the way back from the falls, we stopped at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale. On the site of an early 1900's "Poor Farm," it's one of their flagship properties - a 74 acre resort spread out over several buildings - with a spa, golf course, restaurants and multiple bars, including the Little Red Shed. They do concerts and outdoor movies in the summer, and have beautiful gardens for exploring. It would be a great place for a wedding, family reunion or get together with friends, since you'd never have to leave the place. They also have their distillery on site there. We picked up a few bottles of their Penney's Gin and Alembic Brandy to take home. It's the only place you can buy it because they're not a licensed distributor.

5425 NE 30th Ave
Portland, Oregon 97211
(503) 841-6968

Pearl Bakery
102 NW 9th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 827-0910

McMenamins Edgefield
2126 SW Halsey St
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 669-8610


  1. Came across your blog from a list of 100 best food blogs. I live in a suburb of Portland. There are so many amazing dining options in here. If you come again, you should check out Autentica and Le Pigeon for sure.
    We were just in San Diego last week and ate at The Big Easy (a newer restaurant from what I understood). It was delicious creole cuisine - I highly recommend it.

  2. oooh. i'm in an almond croissant mood and this might be just the place to try this weekend. thanks for the tip!