Monday, July 30, 2012

Burger Saturdays

Skyline Burger on Broadway
As mentioned in the previous blog post, we usually find ourselves having sushi at some point on the weekends. For a few weeks we traded out our Sushi Saturdays for Burger Saturdays! Portland has had a resurgence of specialty burger restaurants pumping out specialty gourmet burgers to stripped down basic burgers, and yes, we have tried a majority of them. When infamous Skyline Burger relocated to the previous Chez Jose restaurant on Broadway we decided it would be a great reason for a lazy Saturday bike ride.
Skyline Burger's menu is huge. Besides burgers, they serve salads, house made soups, sandwiches, hotdogs, specialty beef burgers, classic burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers, vegan/vegetarian burgers, and "diner classics" such as fish & chips and sausage platters. The burger menu is divided into two sides - the 1/2 lb. stuffed burgers and the 1/4 lb build your own burgers. Of course we opted to get one of each, served with fries and tots: a 1/2 lb stuffed burger with jalapenos and topped with smoked gouda and a 1/4 lb burger topped with mushrooms, swiss cheese and onion rings. It may sound strange, but the 1/2 lb was very "meaty" and actually took away from the jalapenos and smoked gouda. However the 1/4 lb burger was pretty darn perfect. Reasonably priced, close to home and they keep sending us coupons in the mail. So yes, we will be back and next time have one of those caramel shakes everyone loves so much.
Skyline Burger -
Burger and Fries
Jalapeno Stuffed half lb burger with gouda
Burger and Tots
Mushroom, Swiss & Onion Ring Quarter lb Burger
Burger Cheers

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: Japanese Bistro Hana

Sushi Hana Bar

For awhile we found ourselves having sushi every Saturday and soon we started to look forward to "Sushi Saturdays"! We've chronicled our love of sushi here, here and this epic sushi meal. Sushi seems to just hit the spot in the summer: light, refreshing and so healthy. So we were very excited to try a new Japanese Bistro just a short walk from our house.

Housed in a newer building along NE Alberta Street, Japanese Bistro Hana was modern and sleek. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were happily surprised by how affordable the sushi was and that we also arrived during happy hour! So we let our eyes order, which included 2 appetizers - pork gyoza and karaage (fried chicken). Both were good, not memorable in any way, other than the chicken was untypically sweet.



Again, excited by how affordable the sushi was we let our eyes do the ordering - a combo platter which included nigiri (fish/seafood draped over rice), sashimi (just fish/seafood) and a roll of your choice (we chose spicy hamachi). The menu of rolls was huge, so we ordered rolls that had completely different ingredients - the Black Pearl (cucumber, avocado, eel, black tobiko, topped with fried sweet potatoes and unagi sauce) and the Spicy Tataki roll (spicy tuna and cucumber topped with seared albacore, scallions, roasted garlic, and ponzu sauce). We'd never had a sushi roll topped with shoestring fried sweet potatoes or roasted garlic before and it was really good.

Thankfully Hana's menu of rolls is so large because we'll be hitting up that happy hour again soon!

Combo Platter

Platter of Rolls

Mike eyeing his next piece of sushi

Mike enjoying his miso soup

Japanese Bistro Hana2236 NE Alberta Street
Portland, Oregon 97211

Friday, July 20, 2012

Otto's for Breakfast

Otto's Restaurant
Lately we've been opting for weekend brunches late in the morning and close to home. This has led to trying new weekend brunch spots to avoid the hour long waits that usually accompany popular brunch spots in town. So we headed to Otto.
Otto has a cozy feel with an open kitchen and staff that were overwhelmed with the almost full restaurant for brunch. We tried to squeeze into the front window booth, but it definitely could not fit 4 people. We ordered a delicious corned beef hash, a veggie hash and a small plate of curry wurst.
The creamy potatoes made the hashes much more memorable than others and the corned beef was definitely superior, but what can you expect when you are in dining in a room full of antlers that the owner's father shot.
The currywurst were also delicious. Mixed with fried potato croquettes, shaped long and tubular like the sausage was a nice surprise. Served with tomato ketchup we were happy with this pre-brunch snack.
Otto, definitely a good option if you want typical brunch done well, in a cozy and convenient location.
Dining Table
Delicious Corned Beef Hash

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's a Sparkle Boat Party

A couple of weekends ago we were invited to celebrate July birthdays with a Sparkle Boat Party on Lake Washington in Seattle. We love boat rides and the bay views they offer, so naturally we sparkled up and hopped on for a 3-hour tour of the lake which started just as the sun set over the Olympic Mountains. Seattle never looked so nice.
Ready to Set Sail
And We're Off
Sailing Off Into the Sunset
Space Needle
Boats Docked Along the Lake
Industrial Seattle
Heading Into Lake Washington
There were so many houseboats.
HouseboatsFancy Boathouses
More Boathouses
It's a Sparkle Boat Party!
Sparkle Boat Bar
Sparkley Couple
Birthday Girl Vicki and Friend
Sparkley Partier
The next morning we headed out for a Venezuelan hangover cure at Latin American restaurant Mojito.
Mojito Venezuelan & Latin American Restaurant
Mojitos's Colorful Tropical Dining Area
The bright and cheery restaurant offers an oxtail soup available only on Sundays to help with hangovers. Even though none of us were hungover we were ready for that delicious rich herby soup.
Oxtail Soup
Mojito offered up all the great snacks from Latin America/Caribbean also, including fried yucca (with an overpowering garlic sauce), tostones (flatten deep fried plantains) and arepas (similar to a gordita, made out of cornmeal and layered like a torta).
Fried Yucca with Garlic Sauce
Ham & Cheese Arepa
We ordered a grilled fish plate, the pork plate and a couple fried fish plates. The grilled fish was seasoned with cinnamon and some tropical spices that didn't seem to compliment the fish very well, but it may have been because the fish wasn't very fresh. However the pork plate was terrific, especially the dirty rice and beans. Oddly enough the beans had very little flavor, but were the absolute perfect consistency. The rice, which we suspect was cooked in the water the beans soaked in, was light and starchy, and again with little flavor and mostly texture which accompanied the flavorful pork really well.
Grilled Fish Plate
Mojito's Fried Fish
Pork Plate with Yummy Rice & Beans
Oh Mojitos we'll be dreaming of your limeade-like caipirinhas all summer long!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Low Key 4th of July Photo Dump

With the 4th of July falling on a Wednesday this year we didn't plan to do much and put no effort in finding out where the parties were. Instead we went for a really long walk to the grocery store to get what else? Burger fixings! It turned out to be a really great day with a lot of time outside and delicious burgers for dinner! Hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Ours ended with no fireworks at all and us falling asleep to what sounded like a war zone outside.

Here are pictures of what we saw. The cutest tree house.

Tree House

Someone else in the neighborhood has hairhat lanterns, a whole fence full!

Hairhat Lanterns

The coolest VW bus/truck.

VW Truck

HA! This made us laugh. It was part of some random house's 4th of July decor.

4th of July Holiday Decoration

We walked through the park and there were a ton of people out celebrating. It made us wish we had planned a burger picnic in the park too.

Celebration in the Park

MMMMM...grilled burgers.

Celebration Burgers

Monday, July 16, 2012

Homemade Burgers

Memorial Day and the 4th of July celebrations included all-American burgers on the menu. Even though we had much healthier salmon as an option we just felt it wasn't U-S-of-A enough. We also recently came across this CHOW TV "You're Doing It All Wrong: How to Make a Burger", which described how to hand-chop your own burger. We were inspired and have been hand chopping our own steak meat into burger patties since. Another key is to not slap the chopped meat in your hands like you are golf clapping, gently form them on a flat surface. MMMMM...grilled-hand-chopped-burgers!

We started with a nice steak cut that was super fatty as instructed by the video.

Fatty Steak for Burgers

Then came the chopping by hand.

Chopping Steak

Chopping Steak for Burgers


All chopped and ready for seasoning.

Chopped and Ready to Mix

We stuffed our with a shredded cheddar-chopped bacon mix.

Stuffing Burgers

Combined and Ready for Grilling

Once the coals were hot and ready to go we slapped the hand-built burgers on the grill!

Grilling in the Rain


We also grilled an onion, which we sliced and placed on the burgers while they were still on the grill and then topped them with a slice of swiss! I know! Crazy!

Swiss Cheese Topped Stuffed Cheddar Burgeres

Ready for Assembly

Burgers are great because they can be personalized and stacked however you like them. One of us doesn't like ketchup on their burgers, while obviously the other person does! And of course the condiments can be arranged however you like.

All the Fixings


MMMMMM....Juicy Lucy Burgertime!

Juicy Lucy Burger

Hope everyone is getting serious grill time in this summer and if you get a chance try chopping your own burger meat, it's totally worth it!