its la-arb its la-arb (Jan 2005)

The Gastronaut returns (as usual, come up with something witty)

Hey kids, I’m back for another semester of food and food related drivel. I don’t really feel like writing too much this week, so I’m going to run down a little bit of food news and new restaurants (well, at least new to me) from our little ’hood.

Sunday: The funky little breakfast spot in the old kupie kone has hit its stride; portion sizes are now predictable and appropriate and the service is smooth. I still don’t like the garage sale furniture; it seems as though their attempt at hipster chic went a bit too far and they’ve landed squarely in ghetto-fabulous territory. Still, it’s a walking distance hangover breakfast that is on par with or better than the Hawthorne/Belmont breakfast circuit, which in my opinion, has been going downhill for years. They get extra credit for brewing strong coffee. I’m serious, their coffee is Stumptown, and it’s about as strong as I like it… any stronger and you could turn the mug over and not lose a drop.

Now that the Bybee bridge is back in action, and ugly as sin, I feel it necessary to remind you of some choice spots a skip or a jump further a field from milwaukie row.

Portofinos is an oft-endorsed jersey-style Italian restaurant. Think red sauce, meatballs, the works, and every imaginable ‘a la parmigiana.’ The last time I was there the pasta was homemade. I love homemade pasta so much, I nearly cried. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but still, it is an extra step that so few restaurants do not take.

Sweet Basil Thai is another prime spot on 13th. A reedie, who shall remain anonymous, has been on the line there for a few months, and will vouch for their catering to vegan/vegetarian diets. Their house special curry is an interesting, and delicious marriage of red curry and peanut sauce. Their best dish happens to be their vegetarian take on my favorite Thai dish of all time. It’s so good I ripped of Ren and Stimpy:

Its larb, its larb, its rice its chili its lime
Its larb, its larb, its better than nice it’s divine!

Sweet Basil makes their veggie larb out of Portobello mushrooms. Hot damn it’s good. Larb also has the distinction of being one of the few foodstuffs I can think of that can be used as a verb: I larbed my leftover chicken today. Anther member of this group is curry. If you can think of some others, I’d like to hear them: