Portland Oregon-Based Digital Media

Toney Bento

Posted by Brooke in Bento | Sushi - (0 Comments)

toneybento

1423 SE 37th

Toney Bento on Urbanspoon

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.

Speed: Fast
Veggie options: A couple veggie combos, fairly basic veggie rolls

Vegan Combo

Vegan Combo

Hawaii Special

Hawaii Special

mulligans

3518 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Mulligan's on Urbanspoon

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

turkey, bacon and avacado sandwich

turkey, bacon and avacado sandwich

Veggie Burger

Veggie Burger

magnolia

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.

BLT

BLT

Veggie Burger

Veggie Burger

jam

2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Jam on Hawthorne on Urbanspoon

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

Grilled cheese and tomato

Grilled cheese and tomato

The Bizness

The Bizness

spaceroom

4800 SE Hawthorne Blvd

http://www.spaceroomlounge.com/

Space Room/Brite Spot on Urbanspoon

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.

Burger and tots

Burger and tots

Grilled cheese on dark rye with Onion rings

Grilled cheese on dark rye with Onion rings

chopsticks

3616 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Chopsticks on Urbanspoon

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Date of visit: 12/21/09

The Chopsticks on Hawthorne is one of four restaurants so named in Portland. Is it a chain or just a common name? I have no idea. But I do know it was a place we drove by a million times without even thinking of eating at. Sandwiched between the Bridgeport Ale House, and some sort of retail establishment, the somewhat classy Asian restaurant almost just blends in. Once we did tune into it, there was still some hesitation, because from the fancy sign and ornate decorations, frankly it looked expensive. But we finally made it inside actually right before embarking on this project, and made it back for the official review right before the end of 2009.

While there are some pricier items on the menu, this place has an incredible (and cheap) lunch special. The lunch menu has two basic routes to go: stir fried items with rice (choice of white, brown or fried) or noodle dishes, which come with salad and an egg roll. Either option comes with Hot and Sour or Egg Drop soup, and both times I’ve gotten the Hot and Sour, so I guess I must like it! No but seriously, it was made with basil, which made it a bit unique and fairly tasty.

On this trip I went with shrimp with broccoli, mostly because it was an option. Usually the lunch menu doesn’t even have chicken with broccoli as an option, so I happily paid the extra buck for shrimp instead of beef. Jared got General Tso’s Tofu, another somewhat unusual menu option. And in general the menu here is just that: a little bit different than your standard Asian. I suppose it’s definitive Asian fusion cuisine, and everything I’ve had was flavorful and relatively healthy (read: not dripping in grease.) Plus one for Chopsticks and another good Asian spot to try on Hawthorne.

Veggie options: lots, although neither soup is technically vegetarian as they are made with meat broth

Speed: quick and easy

General Tso's Tofu

General Tso's Tofu

Shrimp with Brocolli

Shrimp with Brocolli

noahs

3541 Southeast Hawthorne

http://www.noahs.com/

Noah's on Urbanspoon

Date of visit: November 29, 2009

Cost for 2: $18

Noah’s bagels was one of those gray areas in this (lately somewhat neglected) blog project, which is probably why it’s taken me so long to get around to writing it up (that and I am lazy.) Since it’s technically a chain, it wasn’t really necessary for us to eat there to reach our goal, but on this random day, it seemed like a good idea. But since I’m obviously not overly inspired by a bagel chain I’ll keep this short.

Bagels in Portland, like pizza, aren’t great. So Noah’s NY-style bagels are about as good as you’re going to get. That said, as a lunch spot, their sandwiches and sides are not really that exciting. I always forget which side option I like less — on this trip I got cole slaw, and it was nothing special. Kinda mushy and totally bland. I’ve also tried the potato salad, which if I remember correctly includes potatoes cut way to big for my taste.

As for the sandwiches, Jared and I both got melts: him veggie and me roast beef and cheddar. Jared went with his standard review “It’s decent, spicy, but not too spicy,” but on mine I am going with medicore at best. Basically, the roast beef is sliced too thick and was sort of dried out, probably due to the toasting process.

Basically, Noah’s is ok, but if you’re after a good bagel sandwich in Portland, Kettleman’s on SE 11th has, way, way better options.

Speed: Pretty quick

Veggie options: A decent selection of Vegetables and shmears, any of which can be put on a bagel.

Roast beef

Roast beef and cheddar melt

Veggie melt

Veggie melt

wholebowl

4409 SE Hawthorne Blvd

www.thewholebowl.com

Whole Bowl SE on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: December 17, 2009

Price for 2: $13

The first visit to the Whole Bowl is an interesting experience, because it’s definitely not your normal restaurant. After all, there is a grand total of one thing on the menu. Your choices include what size and an option to omit any of the standard ingredients. You can also choose to get chips (of the basic tortilla variety served up in an unimpressive ziplock bag) or not. And they have a variety of drinks including Hansen’s soda, which is always a plus. Personally, I really like one item on the menu, but Jared was not so much a fan. But it is what it is, and actually, the Hawthorne location is a big step up (in Jared’s ideals) from the other locations in Portland since it’s not a cart like the rest of them.

And on this, our second visit to the place together, he warmed slightly to the whole bowl. If you’re wondering, what they serve here is a bowl with beans, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream, olives, cilantro, avocado and “tali sauce,” which is lemony and garlicky and makes it taste good. It’s the sort of thing that if you are in the right mood is really delicious. If you want say, a sandwich or a slice of pizza, not so much.

But I like this place for lunch because it’s cheap, fast, and simple, and the fact that there really are no decisions to be made is sort of nice, sometimes. In the summer it’s great because they open up all the windows and you get the outdoor eating experience on the east end of Hawthorne, but with the roof Jared desires in an eatery. Jared’s main complaint this time was that he wished the chips were “better,” so I told him next time we could bring our own, or better yet, get the bowls to go. Then you can eat them with whatever damn chips you want, right?

Veggie options: No meat on the menu. It’s gluten free as well.

Speed: No cooking required

wholebowl1

Rice Junkies

Posted by Brooke in Bento - (2 Comments)

ricejunkies

3535 SE Hawthorne blvd

Rice Junkies on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 23, 2009

Price for 2: $16.50

The first time I went to Rice Junkies I had gotten a thai chicken wrap. I think it was an homage-order to the weird-hippie-burrito place we used to go to in Burlington, VT, because that’s what I always got there. And like the food at the weird-hippie-burrito place it wasn’t really that great. My main complaint people there was too much tortilla and it wasn’t heated up enough to be soft.

So on this visit, I figured I’d give one of the bento bowls a shot. They basically have the option of any sort of bento (basically meat and rice) you could ever want, including a Mexican-style one. After I got done being confused by that option in a very Asian-seeming place (there was even a bit of a language barrier with the ordering process), I went with the gyoza and yakisoba combo. It was hardly bento at all but it sounded delicious.

Jared got a kung pao tofu wrap, which came out a few minutes before my bowl (even though we ordered them on the same ticket.) Unfortunately, it was actually chicken, which they apologized for profusely and quickly re did. But the tables turned as I then got my food before him and quickly doused it in the plethora of sauces provided (yum, spicy peanut sauce.) Basically what I got was noodles with vegetables that provided a bed for 4 pieces of chicken gyoza. It was visually appealing and tasted damn good. No complaints from me.

Once Jared got his correct order he was also happy. The wrap (I kept calling it a burrito and he yelled at me because it was offensive to his deep Hispanic heritage apparently) was “spicy, but not too spicy” and very-Americanized, but overall good. We both left happy and full and the price was definitely right. After this trip I’ll give this place a stamp of approval.

Speed: Quick, but not timed well

Veggie options: Pretty much everything on the menu had a veggie option, except the gyoza

ricejunkies1

Kung Pao Tofu Wrap

Gyoza and Yakisoba combo

Gyoza and Yakisoba combo

taborhill

3766 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Tabor Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 19, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip): $19

Eating at Tabor Hill Cafe was sort of like eating at your grandmother’s house. Well, if your grandmother was a Chinese man, who cooked very basic American food, and also sold bamboo trinkets. Since it’s one of those places neither I, nor anyone I know would ever think to go to, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I definitely wasn’t let down. Perplexed is more like it.

The menu is full of your basic American fare, but for some reason is exceptionally thick. When I got to page 3 I realized why: there are Chinese-menu style pictures of everything on it. It was so amazing, I actually took a picture:

taborhill3

I will day though, that the pictures influenced my ordering decision. When I saw the monte cristo (bottom row, middle photo) I was like, damn that sounds amazing. (Note: it didn’t look amazing in the photo, as you’d expect.) Jared got a grilled cheese with tomato and we sat back and waited. And waited. The place was empty and super quiet, so I felt bad making jokes about the plethora of things to make jokes about there. Eventually the waiter (who I’m pretty sure was also the chef) came out and asked what kind of bread Jared wanted. After that the food came quickly, and when he set down my gigantic side order of coleslaw (for $1.50 extra it better be giant) he explained he just made it fresh.

Luckily for us, the food was actually really good. Super-basic, home-style stuff that on a gray and rainy Portland day was just what we wanted. The coleslaw was really good, just sweet enough, but not too sweet, crispy and good. My monte cristo was the total heart attack on a plate I was after. And Jared said, “Sometimes a good grilled cheese is just what you want.”

Will we make Tabor Hill a regular lunch stop? Yeah, probably not. But at least I can say I’ve been there and I was upset when I left. More confused than anything else.

Speed: Old person speed

Veggie options: veggie burgers, grilled cheese etc.

Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo

grilled cheese

grilled cheese