Best of Portland 2009!

[Note: links were mostly broken at this point, so I have removed them. ]


  • Laurelhurst Market – double the votes of anyone else. 3155 E Burnside St., Portland.
  • Beaker & Flask – it looks like the long wait for Kevin to open this restaurant was well worth the time. Our review. 727 SE Washington St., Portland
  • Metrovino – part wine bar, part upscale restaurant, it has given new life to the old D.F. space in the Pearl District. 1139 NW 11th Ave, Portland

My Choice: Beaker & Flask. I don’t get why Laurelhurst is so popular, but I am definitely in the minority.


  • Toro Bravo – with double the votes of anyone else, this restaurant is obviously loved by many. My review. 120 NE Russell St., Portland
  • Paley’s Place – a Portland classic, this restaurant still is on just about every “Top Ten” list for Portland. My review. 1204 NW 21st Ave., Portland
  • Pok Pok – our love will never fade. Star of Thai street food, Pok Pok has been given positive reviews by almost every major food publication in the US. My review. 3226 SE Division St., Portland
  • Nostrana – in spite of service issues of the years, this approachable Italian restaurant remains a top destination. My review. 1401 SE Morrison St., Portland
  • Andina – one of my first choices for dinner with friends because of the food, wine and the lively, classy atmosphere. My review. 1314 NW Glisan St., Portland

My vote: You’ll have to wait for my Restaurant of the Year,-122.658234&sspn=0.048171,0.065918&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=toro+bravo&hnear=Portland,+OR&ll=45.537197,-122.658405&spn=0.049659,0.065918&z=14&iwloc=A

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. red_the_opinionated says

    Andina is our first choice for out of town guests. It’s always solid, plenty of options for picky eaters, great drinks, and always a fun atmosphere. Last year, an old Exec. Chef of ours came to town for a competition, and this is where we took him. He definitely left with a smile on his face. ^_^

  2. JDG says

    Laurelhurst got my vote for one fundamental reason: it’s just one of those places that we can go on a Friday night and have a great three-course dinner that leaves me wanting to return on Saturday to have another, completely different three-course dinner composed of all those other items I really wanted on Friday but just had to let go. Beaker and Flask is indeed excellent but doesn’t have that kind of draw to me — after a three-course meal for two people, I feel like we’ve pretty much visited as much of that menu as we want to, and returning after a month or so is about right.

    Incidentally, in the six or so dinners I’ve had at Laurelhurst, I’ve probably only ordered a steak once, so I don’t even see it or describe it to others as a “steak house” anymore.

  3. skbpdx says

    Totally agree with Food Dude on Laurelhurst Market – the wine list stinks and the food is not stellar. I often think they pawn off the cheap cow parts as part of “what we are serviing” and pass it off as something the diner should swoon over. I was also really disappointed in the butcher side – for some reason meat wrapped tightly in plastic wrap looks like it may have been sitting around awhile. That said, I haven’t had terrible food there, I just don’t think of going there that often.

    • elwood says

      The wine list DOES stink, doesn’t it. I was kinda surprised how lazy it was. Some bigger wines, a nod to Oregon pinot, and whatever they could get and put a mark-up on. I would have figured the “Steakhouse” theme would have required a better, and more interesting, list.

  4. Ian says

    I went to Laurelhurst twice. First time was OK. Second time, my friend and I each ordered a steak. They were both pretty bad. We did not finish. Not even the ribeye. Something was terribly askew. And you could not have found people more inclined to like a steak-oriented restaurant by the Simpatica people. I’d like to try again and maybe avoid steak, to have better luck, as JDG reports.

    • Food Dude says

      I’ve been twice, both times left pretty unimpressed. Service excellent the first time, not so great the second time, with lousy pacing from the kitchen. I tried a few steaks, but was unimpressed – El Gaucho is better, but of course, twice the price. Non meat dishes have blown me away either.

      I’m glad other people have also had mixed experiences there. I thought I was losing it!

      • Food Gems says

        I agree Dude. I went once for dinner and it was ok but not great. My meal was steak frites I think with a side gratin. Based on what you actually get I think it was expensive. There are other eastside options that are as good and a better value.

        Service was a bit formal and hovering for my taste. The placed was packed and you definitely felt that they wanted to move you along.

        I think it is a great addition for the immediate neighborhood. And – I think the meat case is a gimmick. There is no way they can move enough product out of there – other than what they sell in the restaurant – to make it worthwhile. It is a good hook for media but not a meat counter for more than a handful of people.

        • JDG says

          So you’ve been in there during the day, when the meat counter is actually OPEN, enough times to know how much product they move?

  5. chambolle says

    I was all in the Laurelhurst camp after my first two meals, but after going last night it was noticeable how high the markup is on the bottles. Some of the sides ($5 for squishy beans) were not on point, same with the steak. There is still great potential, but they cannot be distracted by the fact that they are busy; they have to execute.

  6. says

    Laurelhurst Market – accessible, affordable, straightforward dishes. A twist on the normal “steakhouse” banality and absent the pretension and pomp that high-end places drown you in. Perfect for Portland.

    • Food Dude says

      My first meal at Metrovino was REALLY good. The second, not very good, and a poor deal for money spent. We walked out the door rather ticked off. Still, I think the chef has great potential, and with some focus on the menu, could make it a destination.

  7. wine&dine says

    BEaker and Flask would be my choice. So far it has been consistent. Have had some duds at Laurelhurst more on the meat side than the fish which has always been good for me. Not too interested in the meat case and have to agree with the saran wrapping. The guys are great and I wish them no ill will. Hopefully it’s just a glitch and things will smooth out.

    Been lucky to have hit Toro Bravo just right……no clunkers there. Always something to try.

    Nostrano is hit or miss but I know who I want to take my order. That does help.

    Andina is too noisy but great food and Paleys have always been a fav.

    Not sure why I wrote all that…….just sayin’

    • steve wino says

      Do tell who gives good service at Nostrana? I like one of the bartenders but sitting elsewhere seems like going to hostile territory. OK, maybe I exaggerate, maybe it is just cool indifference. “Hello waitperson, could I get a little love over here before I starve to death?”

  8. wine&dine says

    Oh and Metrovino has been off the radar for some time for the same reasons as FD. Maybe this summer……maybe……..

  9. says

    We had the $5 Burger Monday night special at Metrovino last night, and it was very, very good. So good in fact, it made my top 3 in Portland (Slow Bar and Le Pigeon)! Surprising, since our first experience was not good. Unfortunately, MV has a horrible QPR, and I don’t imagine we’ll go there for anything but happy hour…

      • germaine says

        I’ve only eaten at Wildwood a few times, but everything I’ve had has been very, very good. I like to sit at the bar, and I agree, Chad is wonderful.

    • jimster says

      I just ate there for the first time the other night. The charcuterie plate was fantastic. Very well done and extensive array of beautifully prepared takes on cured meats. The entrees were fine if not astonishing. The wine list is a little funny and there are some things marked up beyond reason. I would give it a go again if only because it is so large and so far out of the regular circulation of dining traffic that I think one would almost always be able to get a table just walking in on a weekend night which is not something easily done (or even possible) at many restaurants in town.

  10. says

    I wish I had eaten at Castagna before completing the survey. After two exceptional meals there in the past month I have to say that it is certainly in the top five (maybe top three?) restaurants in Portland. The food is creative but not wacky, complex but not complicated, and just down right delicious. We’ve also had knowledgeable, friendly but not overbearing service. And as a final note, the desserts are the best I’ve had in Portland. I can certainly understand why Matt Lightner is a semi-finalist for a Beard award this year and hope he makes it to the finals.

  11. RCCritic says

    We just got home for our first meal at Laurelhurst Market and were totally disappointed. We had read the reviews — pro and con — and so were going in with eyes open and expectations moderated after the initial round of rave reviews. We arrived at 5:30 pm on a Sunday night and after an initial mixup on our appetizer order, were served our salad and soup — the soup a Sunchoke and Crab Bisque was nice, but served luke warm (at best). Then the wait began … 10 minutes … 20 minutes .. reassurance that our order was coming just 3 minutes away … another 5-10 minutes and the finally our order. My hanger steak was served luke warm, medium rare and fine, but nothing special, and my husband’s rib eye was stone cold in the center — medium — but stone cold. They tried to make up for it with a discount on the bill, but seriously .. how many other places are there in Portland where you can go to get good, no really great food, and consistent, attentive service and food that is actually hot? I’m not going back. Definitely NOT a “Best” Restaurant in town.

    • Jill-O says

      Wow, that’s too bad. I can’t imagine ever having that experience there…I have been so many times with great service and great food/drink. I don’t doubt that it happened, but I sure do hope you try again.

      I understand though, I feel the same way about Paley’s, having had a similar experience there.

      • JandJ says

        Well, just goes to show you that everyone’s experiences can differ dramatically. Been going to Paley’s on a very regular basis for the 15 years they’ve been open and never had anything but a great experience there. They’ve consistently been on their game with respect to food and service from the get go, which is why they’re still around and thriving today.

        Our one experience with Laurelhurst was very positive. Terrific steaks and excellent service. No complaints and we’ll definitely be back.

  12. snowyaker says

    I love Paley’s and keep it high on my Portland list of places. Castagna should have been on that list too. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. And with Toro Bravo – that’s my top 3. Maybe it’s just me, but Metrovino’s menu seemed a little all over the place. I agree about the charcuterie, however, it’s pretty awesome. That said I’ve only been once. Haven’t tried Laurelhurst yet, but I will.

    It’s a good list though. Throw in Andina, Beaker and Flask and Pok Pok with the three above and I’d call that my top 5 with a two-way tie for first.

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