It is Friday afternoon, and somehow, by the grace of god, you have a date with that cute freshman you met in a drunken stupor last weekend. Problem one: you haven’t showered in a week. Problem two: there are hundreds of restaurants in the rose city and you have to pick a good one, a restaurant that won’t break the bank but still impress upon your date your worldliness and good taste. Problem three: You don’t know anything about restaurants. Solutions: While bathing is a personal, private affair, do what my friends do for 2 and 3, call the Gastronaut.
Ring ring…Gastronaut: hello?
Friend: hey gastro! What is going on dude?
G: nothing much man, what can I do ya for?
F: I have a hot date tonight.
G: Really? Anyone I know?
F: that freshman girl I introduced to you at that party that one time.
G: Very specific dude, I’m proud of your descriptive prowess.
F: Hey, fuck you.
G: You called me, buddy.
F: true, true. Anyway, where do you think I should take her?
G: I don’t know man, how much do you wanna spend?
F: not too much, but enough to impress.
G: What kinda food does she like?
F: I don’t fuckin know man.
G: Great, you’ve really done your fuckin homework.
F: Hey, fuck you!
G: I’m just kidding man, relax. She got any qualms?
F: Qualms? Whaddya mean qualms? I don’t date anyone with qualms man, that shit is contagious.
G: Restrictions. Y’know… is there anything she won’t eat?
F: Oh… I think she hates cilantro.
G: Okay. Are you on foot? Bus? You gotta car?
F: we be bussin’ it yo.
G: What do you wanna eat?
F: I don’t really care. Maybe Italian or something?
G: You are firmly non-committal.
F: Yeah, well, I figure you’re the expert, y’know?
G: Thanks… Hmmm… How much of a date is this?
F: I really like her.
G: Gotcha. Well you’ve got options, for sure. I won’t send you on a goose chase to Northeast or anything, but there are still tons of choices. There are three places that come to mind immediately. First is The Farm café on 7th and Burnside. (10 E 7th, 5037363276) They make some seriously good, disarmingly simple food. Their wine list… oh wait she’s a freshman. Anyway, it’s in a nice old house and it has a really intimate, scenester vibe. They also manage to make some tasty drinks and desserts. Entrees average about $10.
Another is Lauro, on 33nd and Division. (3377 SE Division 5032397000) Lauro is the Willamette Week’s restaurant of the year for 2005, for good reason. The chef knocks out some great, Moroccan inflected dishes, and the service is entirely too good for the prices (entrees $8-18). The bonus with Lauro is that Pix Patisserie (3402 SE Division, 5032324407) is across the street, making for more romantic times and desserts that have seriously arousing effects.
A third place is Papa Haydn on Milwaukie, (5829 SE Milwaukie, 5032329440) which would earn more consideration if it weren’t such a pain in the ass to get to because of the bridge construction. Their pastry chef is very well known, for good reason, but the food is too predictably northwest cliché for me (hazelnut encrusted salmon anyone?). Out of the three, Papa Haydn is the priciest.
F: thanks dude.
G: good luck amigo. Portase bien.
Ring Ring F: hello?
G: I forgot man; none of these places take reservations. Well, Papa Haydn takes them during the week, so that doesn’t help you. Be prepared to wait if you get there at any reasonable hour, but that just makes you look sexier, doesn’t it.
F: yeah, it does.