Category Archives: restaurants

TWW’s Cool Places: Pine State Biscuits

home_logoSometimes the best approach to competing in a city full of amazing breakfast places is to not compete. Instead of filling your menu with creative omelets and interesting meat and waffle pairings start with one basic food item: the buttermilk biscuit. From there, build a small menu that has nothing more complicated than a fried egg. Open a two table, three stool diner, get there early to get the smell of fresh baked biscuits going, supply your customers with Stumptown coffee while they wait, and watch the customer line pile up outside the door.

Pine State Biscuits has executed this strategy to perfection and as a result it has become one of the most popular breakfast joints in Portland and one of our favorite places to start the day. Their biscuits are huge and flaky and provide the perfect platform for menu items like the Moneyball (biscuit and gravy topped with egg over easy) and the Reggie (fried chicken, bacon and cheese, topped with gravy). Too much? Get just the biscuit and some of their amazing jam. Regardless of your order, the food is guaranteed to be good, the service fun and quick, and the line outside the door full of interesting people to talk to to pass the time. We love this place. As will you.

Pine State Biscuits

Location: 3640 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR and at the Portland Saturday Farmers Market

Hours: Monday thru Sunday, 7AM to 2PM

Contact: (503) 236-3346

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Oregon, Portland, restaurants, reviews, TWW's Cool Places

Broder

Broder logoAll too often breakfast can become a meal defined by its excesses rather than the actual cuisine. We go to pancake houses and greasy spoon diners because we like the fact that the pancakes are plate sized, come with eggs and cost only $3.99. We tell ourselves that such gluttony is okay because we grew up on the notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that a large and greasy one is the best cure for a hangover, which is all well and good until breakfast becomes an event in which you need to impress someone in a way that has nothing to do with your ability to hoover three gigantic pancakes, some saugage and four eggs without breaking a sweat.

Think of Broder as the antithesis of the greasy spoon breakfast/hangover cure/$3.99 special. Instead, picture a European minimalist breakfast cafe, where the food is presented in such a delicate way that it seems almost a shame to disturb the plate. Picture menu items like a baked scramble with smoked trout, aebleskivers with lemon curd and brown bread with a softboiled egg and ham. Picture Broder as the place where you bring the girl you finally asked out and brought home last night and now want to impress with your sense of style and knowledge of great Portland food.

Broder opened its doors in 2007 as a Swedish restaurant, bringing its northern European aesthetic to the Northwest, and combining the best of both cultures in its food. The interior of the long and narrow restaurant is divided into two sections; the dining area along one wall and the open grill along the other. The open grill creates the feeling of a large family kitchen, evoking  a communal sense of eating, which is helped along by the small and closely placed tables. Broder’s intimate space much more suited to couples than large groups.

The food fits Broder’s intimate setting, arriving on small, basic plates and wood boards in delicate presentations that showcase the visual aesthetics of the food. I’m a large guy, and at Broder I feel like a giant when the food arrives. But in its presentation lies Broder’s strength; the place knows it is a Swedish restaurant and it makes no compromises in order to fit the American idea of breakfast. This notion is reflected in the food itself which is incredibly and surprisingly flavorful. Among our favorites are the aebleskivers; Swedish style pancakes served with lemon curd, jam and maple syrup that can be eaten with your hands, and the breakfast sandwich; duroc ham, baked eggs, gruyere cheese, marjoram cream and tomatoes. The bords are all great as well (Bords are the Swedish version of a continental breakfast plate: bread, jam, egg, and usually ham). Everything we have tried here has been wonderful, which keeps us coming back and makes us eager to explore more of their menu. Make sure to check out their drink menu as well; the coffee is Stumptown and their bloody mary is fantastic.

The service here also skews distinctly non-Portland, which usually suffers from a weird dichotomy of great food with generally awful service. Broder’s service is efficient and quick. The server rarely lingers to chat, allowing you to focus on your breakfast date and the food, which generally arrives quickly. The only downfall of the service is that Broder is incredibly busy, which can cause a bit of a lag, especially if you arrive with the eight other tables once the doors open. However, this is a testament to Broder’s appeal more than a service issue, so its hard to fault them for falling behind a bit.

Broder has quickly become one of our favorite breakfast places in a city that has some incredible breakfast options. This place has style and grace, and provides a wonderful little respite from American breakfast dining. Bring people here to impress. Keep coming back here because your paradigm of what breakfast should be has shifted. Welcome to Broder.

Location: 2508 SE Clinton Street, Portland, Oregon

Hours: Breakfast/Lunch is from 9am to 2pm daily, Dinner is 6pm to 10pm Thursday thru Saturday

Price Point: breakfast is between $7 and $10, dinner entrees run between $7 and $10. Nothing on Broder’s menu is over $10.

Menus: breakfast, lunch, wine list, beer list, beverages

Contact: (503) 736-3333, broderpdx@gmail.com

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Filed under Oregon, Portland, restaurants, reviews

Bunk Sandwhiches

BUNK.logo.inddHave you ever taken a road trip and stopped at one of those highway-side diners that you spot periodically on the way? The ones where the waitress has been there for 30 years, the cook looks like he might be on his second trip through the parole system and the sandwiches are greasy piles of meat and cheese that stick to your ribs and make you love, and loath, the fact that you didn’t hold out for a healthier alternative. Think of Bunk Sandwiches as that diet destroying diner done by the hipster elite of the liberal arts college crowd; a greasy lunch counter packed with people and the smell of fried onions and toasted bread, replete with the mandatory Portland hipster staff and Northwest cuisine infused menu.

Tucked along SE Morrison in a neighborhood that looks like it has seen better days, Bunk can be spotted by the line out the door, a result of both the quality of food they serve and the limited seating space. Inside, the long room is divided between seating and the open kitchen, allowing you to watch and smell everything that goes into one of Bunk’s sandwiches.  The chalkboard menu, to the right of the door once you walk in, changes daily, but is anchored by some Bunk staples such as the Meatball Hero and the Italian Cured Meats sandwich. From there, the menu ventures into items like Bone Marrow and Snails on Toast and Tongue on Rye with onions and spicy mustard. Our favorite so far? The Elvis: peanut butter, banana and bacon done pannini style. Greasy spoon appearance aside, the sandwich chefs at Bunk create food that is wondrously flavorful, and surprisingly light on the stomach.

If the sandwiches alone aren’t enough to fill you up, the sides provide another avenue of food exploration. Items like Potato Salad with Bacon and Eggs and Roasted Butternut Squash Agro Dolce are mild enough to compliment the sandwiches, but flavorful enough to enjoy on their own. And no diner experience would be complete without cake and cupcakes, especially ones that are made locally by friends of Bunk’s proprietors. Bunk also does a very basic breakfast, with two basic sandwiches that are both amazing, and greats starts to a cold and dreary Portland day.

The staff at Bunk is knowledgeable, quick and generally friendly in that “I’m way too cool to talk to you right now but I’ll try and be overly nice” kind of way. On a recent visit the cashier was quick to provide recommendations and steer me towards some of the menu boards better items, entertaining my questions even though the place was packed (I was totally that douchebag asking questions while people where impatiently waiting).

For us, Bunk has become one of our go to food spots in Portland, a place we somehow talk about every time someone mentions the great food in the city. Don’t let the neighborhood or the greasy diner appearance scare you; the line out the door is testament to the quality of this place. Recently, a friend  summed up her first experience at Bunk by looking at me with a mixed look of satisfaction, desperation and loathing: “I can’t believe that place is so close to my house. This is going to be dangerous. I’m not sure if a ‘thanks’ is appropriate. Good find, douchebag.”

Location: 621 SE Morrison, Portland, OR

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 8 to 3pm

Price Point: Most sandwiches fall in the $8 range, with sides between $2.50 and $5. Breakfast sandwiches are $5.

Menu
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Filed under Cities and Towns, Oregon, Portland, restaurants, reviews

Trocadero Cafe and Bar

trocadero_logoWe are firm believers that eating out should be almost equal parts food and ambiance. This, of course, is not to say that one cannot exist without the other, but to truly enjoy a restaurant experience we like both. Milwaukee’s Trocadero Cafe has mastered the art of destination dining; creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere that is grounded by the solid food and drink offerings. This is not a place to take Grandma and Grandpa for a nice meal. This is a place to bring your out of town friends when you want to show them that Milwaukee is an up and coming city that knows its food.

Located on Milwaukee’s hip Eastside area, Trocadero’s European cafe theme stands in stark contrast to the industrial setting that surrounds it. Inside, the sectional layout of the restaurant creates the sense that it’s much smaller than it really is, resulting in a sense of intimacy when dining. The cafe has two standout areas; its Terrace area, centered by a fountain, that in the warmer months is usually packed and plays host to live music and the see and be seen crowd. Inside, the bar area dominates the largest room of the cafe. Minimalist in design, the bar centers the restaurant and with it’s paired down shelving, chalkboard menus and exposed brick, conveys a bit of a coffee shop vibe that fits in perfectly with the cafe theme of the restaurant.

A great setting is nothing without the food to compliment it, and the Trocadero knows how to do food. The menu is heavily French cuisine influenced with options like the Burger D’Alsace; Angus beef, gruyere cheese with a garlic aioli, and three different versions of steamed mussels. Some of the items are hit and miss (we love the burgers, the brie, tomato and basil sandwich was only okay), but the upside is that for the price ($8 to $15 for most items) you can eat well without killing your wallet.

Lunch and dinner aside, the Trocadero is known for its Brunch, which packs the Terrace on the weekends and forms the backbone of the cafe. The crepe and quiche heavy menu is balanced by more traditional items like Eggs Benedict and a variety of omelettes. The stuffed french toast special is always one of our favorites, as is the Fromage Omelette. Our only complaint with the brunch is the price point; a bit on the expensive side for the amount of food you get. The brunch crowd packs the Terrace on the weekends, so if you want to get a seat outside get there early and not with a large group. Complimenting the brunch menu, and really the main reason why we love Trocadero’s Brunch, is the bloody mary menu; 5 different versions, each of which is outstanding and worth exploring. Our favorite is the Southsider; Absolute Peppar, extra Tabasco Sauce with the Trocadero’s house bloody mary mix and garnished with jalapeno stuffed olives, pickles, beans and asparagus. Almost hearty enough to serve as the only brunch item you need.

Befitting most of Milwaukee’s East Side bars and restaurants, the waitstaff is young and attractive, and are, for the most part, fast, friendly and competent (some are “oh my God please let me look awesome right now” attractive – making starting the day that much better). Every now and again, when the place is packed, service lags a bit, but the wait staff is good about letting you know when the kitchen is backed up and make sure your cups are full to ease the grumbling stomachs.

Overall, we like Trocadero for its decently priced food, Brunch and menu options. We love Trocadero for its bloody marys, ambience and Terrace area. This is a place that needs to be explored when you are in Milwaukee; take a friend, take yourself, take the girl (or dude) you brought home last night. The Trocadero’s combination of good food and better atmosphere showcases Milwaukee’s young and vibrant side, fills your belly and keeps your wallet mostly full.

Location: 1758 North Water Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Hours: Open weekdays at 11am, Saturday and Sunday Brunch starts at 9am

Price Point: Lunch and Dinner range from $6 to $20, with Brunch ranging between $8 and $13.

Menus (in PDF format): brunch, lunch/dinner, wine, beer.

Contact: (414) 272-0205, info@ztrocadero.com

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Filed under Milwaukee, restaurants, reviews, Wisconsin

Trinity Brewery


The Trinity Brewing Company stands out simply because it does not belong in Colorado Springs. A brewery that is built around environmental consciousness, artisan beer, progressive ideas, indy rock shows, the largest micro-brew tap in the city and food that skews toward vegetarian is decidedly the weird kid on the playground, existing in a town that is known more for mega-churches and unhinged religious leaders than for beer called “Chi.” As it’s tagline sums up well, Trinity is the home of “artisanal beer, slow food, conscious people.” Trinity is James Dobson‘s dining nightmare come to fruition; “the long hairs are everywhere!! It’s the Apocalypse!”

Oddly located in a new strip mall development, within convenient biking/running distance of Garden of the Gods Park, Trinity has carved a thriving little niche in the Colorado Springs bar scene by creating a selection of great beers, in a very unique setting, and hosting a great selection of microbrews from throughout Colorado and the West Coast. The bar draws a decidedly left leaning crowd who have an affinity for good beer and the granola-centric setting. Long and narrow, the brewery has a number of tables for dining, along with an open area at the back that hosts large, comfy couches and provides space for the live music. Additionally, there is a patio out front that gets plenty of sun during the warmer months.

Trinity houses the best beer tap in the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area, rivaling some of the bigger bars in Denver. You won’t find Pabst or Bud Light anywhere near this place, but you will find some favorites like Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, New Belgium and Stone Brewing, along with Trinity’s selection of house made beers. The bar prides itself on presentation; with each beer coming in its own “custom” glass and served by one of the numerous, attractive, bartenders. The set up is conducive to serving large crowds, and the service while sitting at the bar is excellent. The actual bar is one of the most unique features of the brewery; running almost half the length of the brewery, the bar is made of beer bottles that have been broken down and lacquered, creating a semi-opaque, mulit-colored platform that fits nicely with Trinity’s progressive, eco-friendly image.

While Trinity excels at its beer and bar service the food has managed to suffer from misstep after misstep, making it one of the biggest restaurant misfires in town. The menu Revolving around vegetarian friendly fare (ie; Vegetarian Buffalo Wings), soups and sandwiches (no burgers in sight), the food at Trinity suffers from a poorly planned menu, schizophrenic execution (on one visit, the cheese plate looked like a piece of art, and on the next like someone threw the bread and cheese on the plate while dancing a jig, while wasted on PCP) and incredibly slow service. This is a place that makes you get your own silverware, bus your own table and get your own water; You would think they could manage to at least be on top of the food. No luck. On top of the poor food execution, the wait service is horrendous. Waiters disappear for long periods of time, you’re never sure which one is yours and it takes active participation to make sure everything you order comes out right, if at all; “excuse me ma’am, I’m pretty sure I ordered that sandwhich that’s been sitting under the heat lamp for about thirty minutes now. Thanks.” Overall, a consistently horrendous dining experience (apart from that one cheese plate, that one time).

We have some friends that have worked at Trinity, and from what we hear, many of the kitchen and waitstaff issues can be chalked up to one of the owner’s over confidence in his restaurant running capabilities. Nothing kills a kitchen like an owner with crappy ideas. Here’s to hoping that something or someone will turn the restaurant side of Trinity around. Until then, Trinity is a great place to enjoy great beer. If you get hungry, we recommend a stop at the nearby Chipotle.

Menu (in PDF form)

Location: 1466 Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Hours: Sunday thru Wednesday: 11am to 10pm, Thursday thru Saturday: 11am to midnight

Pricing: beers range from $4 to $6 and beyond, with Trinity’s beers generally being the cheapest. Food ranges from $5 for the soups and salads, $6 to $7 for the appetizers and $8 for most of the sandwiches and “stuffers”.

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Colorado, Colorado Springs, restaurants, reviews