Foodie Friday: Punch Bowl Social

After my amazing hike on Saturday, my friend Christine and I decided to indulge in a great meal through Portland Dining Month (read about my other reviews at Thirst Wine Bar and Gracie’s). This is a great deal here in Portland during the month of March where you can get a three course meal for $29.

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We decided to go to Punch Bowl Social which doesn’t have a website but read more about it on Yelp.  There are actually two parts to the restaurants–one is the actual restaurant and the other is karaoke, bowling and other fun stuff like ping pong.  We actually got a call from the restaurant confirming the reservation and letting us know that we had access to the restaurant and not the games section.

When we got there, we were seated relatively quickly and were excited to start with the drink only to find out that technically the drinks were not part of the $29.  Thankfully we weren’t the first to complain about this so they didn’t charge us for the drinks.  Christine got the Heart of the Union which included Union gin, triple sec, beet syrup, lemon juice and orange bitters shaken and served over ice with a lemon wheel.

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I started with Monk’s Vacation which included: Portland potato vodka, green chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup shaken and served chilled with a lime garnish.

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Christine loved her drink from start to finish. I didn’t love mine to start but did end up loving it.

We both started with the Deviled Eggs (tarter sauce, dijon, chives, parsley, coffee bacon jam, piment d’espelette, greens).  I don’t eat bacon so I got mine without.  The eggs were good and Christine said the bacon jam was spicy but good.

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For the main course I got Pacific Salmon Creamed Spinach with creme fraiche, fingerling potatoes, sherry butter, and beurre blanc.

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I found this to be incredibly good but didn’t love the spinach.  Christine got the Mushroom Stroganoff with crimini and oyster mushrooms, onions, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon.

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She loved it but thought the garlic was a little too much. Dessert was incredible on both accounts.  I got the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake which included Meyer lemon curd, lemon poppy seed polenta shortbread.  It was delicious and light and yum!

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Christine got the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar which was chocolate brownie, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate ganache, salted caramel and peanut butter.

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All in all, the food was good and the service great.  We both wondered about the decor, we couldn’t figure out what exactly they were trying to accomplish with the choices but I probably would go back to try out the karaoke bar and bowling.

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Foodie Fridays: Gracie’s

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I mentioned that I went to happy hour at the Driftwood Room.  After drinks we went and ate at Gracie’s, also in the Hotel Deluxe.  When we walked in, I actually realized I had been there years before for a work function and was excited to actually try out the food.

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The restaurant itself is full of old school charm-big comfortable chairs and banquette seating.  It definitely seems like a great place to hold a celebration. I went with two girlfriends as part of Portland Dining Month.  This is an awesome deal where you can get a three course meal at over 90 restaurants for only $29!  You can read about my trip to Thirst Wine Bistro where I went last week.

The menu was extensive and there were about four or five choices for appetizer, main course, and dessert.  Each looked incredibly interesting and when I compared them to the regular menu, it was definitely a savings when you did the dining month deal.

I started with the Gorgonzola Cheesecake-fresh bread, whole roasted garlic, fruit chutney & balsamic glaze.  So delicious!  I am of the school that the stinkier the cheese the better and I adore cheesecake so this was a perfect marriage.  The balsamic glaze and the fruit chutney mellowed out the gorgonzola and it was a delicious appetizer.

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For my main course I decided to have the Braised Lamb-fruited Israeli couscous, crispy winter greens & mint pesto.  I love lamb and really don’t eat it that often, usually only on vacation so this was a real treat.  I am also a huge fan of Israeli couscous (probably from living in Israel!) because I prefer the larger pieces and the fruit was a great compliment to the lamb.

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For dessert I had the Crispy Bread Pudding.  In the past few years, I have fallen in love with bread pudding and this was exactly how bread pudding should be, crisp and moist.  Covering it caramel sauce doesn’t hurt it either!

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I am really loving Portland Dining Month and have made sure to go to places I haven’t been before (except realizing that I’d been to Gracie’s before but don’t even remember the menu so it’s ok!)  Tomorrow night I am going to my last Portland Dining Month restaurant for this year and am looking forward to just as great of a meal.

Have you tried out any of the awesome Portland Dining Month deals?

Foodie Fridays: Thirst Wine Bar and Bistro

I have been very lucky since I moved back in Portland to become involved with a great group of bloggers here in Portland, Portland Bloggers.  About a month ago they posted the opportunity to win a chance to blog about Portland Dining Month.  As you know, I love reviewing restaurants so I totally jumped on the opportunity.

Yay!  I won!  I got to go with my friend Melissa and eat the amazing three course meal at Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro.  Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro is located in the south waterfront, an area that I really haven’t spent much time down in for several years and it was as beautiful as I remember it.  The restaurant is located along a row of restaurants and shops facing the water and a boat dock.  The day was a perfect Portland day, nary a cloud in the sky so sitting down by the waterfront and looking across the Willamette was perfect.

So Portland Dining Month has over 90 restaurants participating in it and this was my second (I will blog soon about my dinner at Gracie’s!).  A little information from Thirst’s website: “Thirst Bistro opened in 2006 with our main dining room, bar and outside space. Thirst expanded with The River Room (private parties) in 2008 and expanded our menu from traditional wine bar to full restaurant including spirits and cocktails. In 2010 we opened The Cellar, another private dining room where we also hold our wine dinners and classes. Thirst has patio seating for 100 outside on the Esplanade and is the best place to watch downtown fireworks in the summer and The Christmas Ships in December. Enjoy the unobstructed River and Bridge views year-round.”

They weren’t kidding about the view!  We made the reservation through OpenTable because Dine Portland made a donation to the Oregon Food Bank.  The restaurant was not crowded at all and Melissa and I were seated right away at a window side seat.  The server, who was incredibly friendly, brought both the regular menu as well as the Portland Dining Month menu and an extensive drink menu-focussed on wine-it is, after all, a wine bistro!

Clearly we both went for the Portland Dining Month menu–three courses for only $29, can’t beat that!

There were three options for appetizers, of which I could only eat one since one had bacon and one had shellfish, neither of which I eat.  I chose the House Salad with mixed greens, blue cheese, hazelnuts, red onion, cherry tomato, vinaigrette.  I asked for no red onions as I’m not a fan of raw onions.  Melissa had the Hot Crab Dip with baguette.

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I found the salad to be good, crisp and with just the right amount of vinaigrette.  I would have added more hazelnuts and cheese but that’s me loving those two parts.  Melissa liked the hot crab dip but found it a tad spicy for her liking.

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We both had the Bistro steak with caramelized onion smashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day which was roasted carrots.  Melissa had it medium-well and I had it medium-rare.  It was delicious!  The meat was perfectly cooked and the potatoes were super delicious.

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For dessert we both got the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream.  Amazing!  I mean you can’t really go wrong with chocolate bread pudding anyway but this was super and a great way to finish off the meal.

I also had a flight of wine-bartenders choice.  It came with three wines-a white, a pinot noir and another red.  Two were Oregon wines and one was a Washington wine.

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The wines were the perfect accompaniment to dinner.

Overall, dinner was amazing and for $29/person, we really had a lot of food!  I would definitely plan to go back to Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro, especially in the summer when we can sit outside overlooking the water.

Make sure to Spin the Wheel of Deliciousness for a chance to win a year of free meals!

I was very lucky to be provided with this opportunity by Downtown Portland which provided me with a gift certificate to Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro which covered the meal for two people.

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