KnorQ's Kitchen

Serial Hobbyist

Category: Restaurant Reviews

Road Trip>McMinnville Oregon

This weekend was a blast — rollerskating on Friday night at Oaks Park then packed up for a quick trip to McMinnville on Saturday.  Char and I headed out to the countryside to explore the area around McMinnville. This area is packed full of wineries and attracts the wine and cheese bunch from Portland and the surrounding area. Char and I are more beer and nut types so we took advantage of the sunny January day to sit on the roof of our hotel – Hotel Oregon – and sip their suds. Hotel Oregon is part of the Mcmenamins empire and is a noisy but fun place to stay. We had drinks and appetizers at a fancy restaurant in the area but sadly, were not inspired to order a main course. The place was way overpriced and the food was average —  disappointing after reading a glowing review from the Oregonian – maybe it was an off night. We decided instead to fill up on beer at a dive bar down the street and spent some time stalking Ranch Records which was closed but had a good window display. The next night we had a kick-ass, delicious, best-steak-I’ve-had in-many-years dinner at Laurelhurst Market. Yay!! Some snaps below:

Room at Hotel Oregon

Inside ET's tent on the roof of Hotel Oregon

Sunset on the roof of Hotel Oregon

Blurry Tree -- Look at what a pretty shade of blue the sky was

Outside of Ranch Records

One copy of born in the USA, please

After we failed at fancy dinner this is where we ended up

Inside the Blue Moon, move over Merlot

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The Chapel Pub

The Chapel Pub
430 N. Killingsworth St.
Portland, OR 97217
Chapel Pub Outside
My goodness, when I started this blog earlier this month I really had no intention of adding restaurant reviews mainly because I rarely go out to eat. But for some reason I’ve been out to eat a lot this month. D ‘n I’ve been like Annie and Daddy Warbucks – hitting up food joints all over town – not just the 7-11 on the corner. Because financially, this is not sustainable, I will be returning to homemade recipes soon. Until then I will tell you about how we popped into the new McMenamims Chapel Pub in Northeast Portland to split a burger and have a beer. This time the McMenamims franchise has taken over an old Chapel built in 1932. It’s a pretty brick structure that they have turned into a cozy hangout with several nooks anchored by a large rectangular wooden bar.
Stove

Because the day was quite cold D ‘n I opted for the room surrounded by windows and featuring burley old wood burning stove. Lovely. We ordered a burger with mushrooms and bacon and some beer which I think they brew themselves. Sorry, not a beer expert. The burger was good here but I had a burger at their restaurant by PSU and it tasted and reeked of cheap meat or old oil. We played scrabble and came up with only 1 word more than four letters long. The food is good – nothing extraordinary – just solid pub fare. They do have a happy hour at the standard time along with a late night happy hour from 10-12pm during the week where you can get tacos for and spinach dip with bread for $3 a pop. The atmosphere is nice – particularly if you grab a table on a cold night next to the wood burning stove. The Bar
burger

The Car Stops at Clemente’s

Clemente’s Fresh Seafood Restaurant and Market
1335 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR 97103
Crab at Clemente’s

D and I hopped in the car and headed to Astoria. I needed to get out of town. I’m feeling oppressed by all this winter-cold. I’m a California girl for goodness sake and this food blog is the ultimate testimony to what this dreary PacWest weather has done to me. Whoa, that is not what I intended to write about. This day turned out to be a good antidote: the drive was lovely, the sun was out and it felt good to be exploring. Although I’ve been in the area for almost a year I had not ventured all the way up to Astoria. I’ve always wanted to go to Astoria but I didn’t always know it. What I mean is I remember watching the movie, Goonies, and thinking “what a lovely town, where is that, I’d like to go there some day.” About 20 years later I was on my way. By the time we pulled into town the sun was nearing the horizon and our explorations of the city did not make it past the first window that said “fish and chips”. “Fish and Chips” D says, “You want to stop?” says I, “Yea!” says D, EEErrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – says the car breaks. And we came to a stop in front of Clemente’s.

What luck it turns out. Clemente’s is housed in an open and airy brick building (or was it wood?) with big windows all around, small wooden tables, worn wooden floors (or was it black and white tiles?), white table cloths and a big glass case full of fresh fish. The restaurant recently changed ownership (but stayed in the family) and is now in the hands of a really good looking young husband and wife team that seem to be from Boston. They are part fish market, part newly-expanded restaurant. When we asked about Dungeness crab the husband, who is also the waiter, mentioned that his brother-in-law was out fishing for more. The stuff here is FRESH.

We were quite hungry and decided to kick off the meal with Calamari Frito Misto (I think that’s what they called it) which was lovely. The calamari was super tender, the batter was light and the dish was served with a lemon-rind aioli. Clemente’s deep fries all of their fish in rice oil which I guess is healthier. D went straight for one of his favorite dishes, Salmon fish and chips and I chose one of their remaining Dungeness crabs which I had not indulged in since the one I had two seasons ago. Oh yea, we had to get some clam chowder too – quite indulgent for a couple who is always broke. Everything was really good. D dug his Salmon – I tried a few bites and it tasted fresh but I like my Salmon really simple – its already so rich I don’t need it battered and deep fried. But for my mate, who has eaten deep fried bacon more than twice, it was good stuff. The chowder was a little rich for my taste as well – super tasty but I’m not a huge fan of thick chowders. The crab was a nice treat of sweet meat. I’d definitely go back to Clemente’s. The food is really good, the place is charming, the owners are friendly and most important their seafood is incredibly fresh – I look forward to sampling more simple preparations of their freshly caught bounty.
Calamari and Chowder

Chang’s Mongolian Grill

meat

Background: I love places where you get to assemble your food and have it cooked for you. Better yet, cook it yourself like you do with Korean BBQ. It is fun and proactive. I first heard about Mongolian BBQ 3 years ago and I always promised myself I’d check out Kublia Khan’s in San Francisco on Polk Street – a place I’d heard about but never actually spotted. One time I stumbled across a place in Daily City but it was closed. Thanks to D, I’ve finally got my Mongolian BBQ. Whew.

Typically when headed north on the I-5 I blow right past THE CLUSTER known as Jantzen Beach. But, on tip from D, today’s journey took me to the land of strip malls with skanky outlets, fastfood stops and acres of parking lot. Nestled in the heart of this cluster off the I-5 is a hot, round Mongolian (really?) grill cooking up a hodgepodge of veg, meat and sauce. You really can’t go wrong at Chang’s and if you do it’s your own fault. This is an assemble-your-own type of joint. Just belly on up to the buffet and load up a bowl with raw meat (choices range from beef and lamb, to cod and shrimp), noodles, veggies and a variety of liquids to make your own sauce. And when I say sauce I mean sauce, pools and pools of oyster juice, sugar water, ginger, sesame oil that you pour on your solids in good faith. Okay, so you got your bowl of raw meat and veg –now follow the heat wave to the large convex wok manned by Mexicans with spatulas and scrapers – these boys will be cooking up your concoction and handing it back to you on a plate.

Say your mix is off, no worries, Chang’s is all-you-can-eat. My tips: use lots and lots of sauce and steer clear of the sesame seeds which tasted a little rancid. Once you’re back at your booth a waiter will come by with those moo-shoo pork type of wrappers and some rice. Tons of fun. Chang’s itself draws a diverse crowd and the night we went I saw a large Mexican family, a butch dike couple, two black men eating alone, a table full of fatties, a bored old white couple, two hot cheerleader types and a Filipino girl in a wheelchair. Add the end of the meal they serve a little dish of vanilla soft serve. All this for $10 a person.

Chang’s at Jantzen Beach Shopping Center

Photos forthcoming

saucecookingChang’s Inside