Aaron: I think I'm going to buy a scarf...maybe some gloves. I hate the cold. It makes my soul hurt.
After we ditching my luggage, we headed downtown, with Lori taking the long route, showing off some of the distinct neighborhoods around the Portland. What struck me most was the lay out of the place. Here in Sacramento, we have our fair share of cool little neighborhoods within the city (Midtown, Downtown, East Sac, Land Park), but Portland's neighborhoods have a different feel. Many of them aren't centered around a wide thoroughfare, like J St. in Midtown or Freeport Blvd. in Land Park. Rather, the shopping districts of Portland seem to appear out of thin air on the more regular "narrower" types of streets. Driving down a Victorian house lined street there suddenly appears a random restaurant between a couple of houses and then a little corner store and then a couple of blocks of boutiques and then more Victorians. The equivalent here in Sacramento would be if there suddenly were restaurants and little stores on G St., between 19th and 28th in Midtown (like that would ever happen...the NIMBYs would have a fit). All in all, very cool.
Once we got over the bridge into downtown, our first stop, because we are nerds, was not a restaurant, but:
Powell's- The largest independent new & used bookstore in the world
Beef Carpaccio, Grana & Truffle Oil (Starter)
Grilled Whole Fish, Potato Hash, Saffron, Salmoriglio, Garlic (Lori)
Grilled Steak, Romaine, Poached Egg, Aged Balsamic, Piave (Aaron)
Bellies full, we wandered and drove in circles for a little bit until we found a parking spot across the street from the original punk rock Voodoo Doughnuts. We really couldn't help ourselves and were feeling a bit indulgent. I think it was the drizzle. Regardless, Lori opted for a doughnut covered in fruit loops while I had to get a maple bar topped with two pieces of bacon. So based on the old maxim, "You Are What You Eat", I reckon Lori is loopy, or sweet or both, and I am a ham, or sweet, or both. Go figure...Again, no pics because, again, as awesomesauce as the Voodoo Doughnuts are, they don't meet the Hood Food criteria, which I guess begs the question:
"Where is the Food in the Hood? If I wanted to read a travel novel, I'd have gone to Rick Steeves' website."
I'll grant you that.
So, wait for it...wait for it...
I present to you:
PINE STATE BISCUITS!!!
The place is small and is open from early morning until early afternoon. The place only has 4 small tables, so most people stand in line (yes, there was a line out the door for the yummy gravy goodness) and take it to go, or gamble and order it to eat there in the hopes a table opens up. As we've established my tendency to gamble on things we ordered our food to eat there.
...and Cock Lamps!
The Menu of Gravy Biscuit Goodness
So we ordered and waited with baited breath. Not so much for the food, but in the hope that the universe would conspire to somehow get us a table to consume our feast.
This is where The Magic happens
Biscuit with Bacon, Egg & Cheese
(F.U. and your breakfast biscuits McDonalds!)
Plate O' Hash Browns!
(because we had to order something vaguely healthy to overcome all of the grease)
Some local heat held in hands that look like mine...only with smaller pinkies
Where to begin?
This was all home cooking...which is clearly why people willingly wait in line in the rainy Portland cold to get their fix. The gravy was creamy, but not coagulated like your run-of-the-mill Denny's/Lyon's type gravy you get, enhanced by the huge runny egg yolks (the mark of a great short order cook- able to keep the yolks nice and liquid when they get to the table). It was slightly spicy (which I had to kick up a bit with habanero sauce) with little sausage nubbins that seemed to melt in the mouth. The biscuits were soft and flaky (this was more apparent in Lori's biscuits- not drowned in gravy like mine) with the taste of fresh and salty butter teasing the tongue.
We both went nuts over the hash browns. We both seemed to agree as Sacramentans (Me: Current, Her: Former) that the industry standard for hash browns in Sacramento is the Lucky Cafe. Well these were better. I dare say that they were even better than the hash browns I've had the pleasure of eating at Morton's. Crispy brown on the outside, firm and potatoey on the inside, they were perfectly greasy without being greasy at all. Their awesomeness perfected by the slight hint of the griddle lingering ever so slightly on the front end of the flavor.
Lori pointed out the slight vinegar taste of the collard greens. Firm and just crispy enough, they provided a good palate cleanse between bites of biscuits and greasy gravy goodness.
This was without a doubt, an epic breakfast win.
We finished our food and kind of sat there in silence in awe of our accomplishment. We knew we had been able to overcome the odds to sit victorious over our empty plates. We bussed our table, as per the rules and went to try to walk it all off, rain and all.
We shared even more good food, which matters here nor there, since our food journey was more on the high road than the low road. That being said, we were sharing tapas at Toro Bravo when Lori looked over to me.
"Why aren't you taking any pics of this?"
"This isn't what I take pictures of..."
"But look at this!"
"Well, only 'cause you say so. I will make some food porn for you..."
(Here's your gratuitous food porn...)
To everyone else, I hope you enjoyed this little detour...next stop: ???