Friday, August 07, 2009

Quick Bites PDX: Rick's Wild Seafood; Bar Avignon; Jade Teahouse; Por Que No

For something with so much universal appeal, why is it so hard to find good fish and chips in Portland? It doesn't seem that tough to make, but still there is constant disappointment to be had in the oily, or over-battered, or soggy, or not fresh fish, or limp fries versions that are littering the restaurant landscape. That's why it was with more than a little interest that I'd been reading about the Rick's Wild Seafood cart on the corner of SW 3rd and Ankeny downtown. Online buzz had it that they are putting out some kickass pieces of fried fish, with better than average fries. Obviously this was something that needed my attention. When I walked up to place my order...for the cod, which is my barometer...I noticed how spotless the cart looked inside. Good in any food cart, but seems especially important in fish shack on wheels. With just a short wait, out came my order (for just $6), three pieces of what looked like lightly battered fish sitting on top of a pile of fries with a side of slaw. I took a bite, hoping for the best. As the thin batter fell away under my bite and I noted the fresh fish flavor, I knew. Mmm, this was good stuff! The fries were also very good, crunchy, not limp or overcooked, nice potatoey bites, and the slaw did not disappoint either, although I would like a touch more dressing. A minor complaint when I know I can get F&C this good. If only there was a beer cart next door, it would indeed be nirvana! I'll be back, regularly, for more. Also, follow Rick's on twitter for specials (@wild_seafood). It seems like the billboard above the cart perfectly expresses the Rick's ethos.

I also have a soft spot for the F&C at Horse Brass Pub. I'd love to know where you get your fried fish tell!
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This is a great time to be going by and checking out Bar Avignon on SE Division & 21st. Owners Nancy and Randy have always had the beverage side dialed in, with food that also doesn't disappoint. But they have just hired Jeremy Eckel as their new chef, and he is slowly making his mark on the menu. Eckel has been in town for about a year, working at Lincoln, and previously in his Bay Area life he was chef at the highly regarded Foreign Cinema. If you go, don't miss his addictive Washington mussels with white wine, cream, and tarragon; the fra'mani ham sandwich; and I just noticed he has some fried squash blossoms working, a rarely seen but always worthy indulgence. The seasonal flag is flying in the kitchen at BA, and combining this new kitchen energy with the always comfy (and affordable) drinking vibe bodes well for future visits!
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What you see to the left are, in my semi-informed opinion, the best salad rolls in the city. Jade Teahouse in Sellwood (@JadeTeahouse on twitter) has once again thrilled my palate. These salad rolls, at a very reasonable $5 for a very generous portion, are sparkling fresh and vibrant with flavor. The chicken or shrimp versions are most desirable, and their peanut dipping sauce (with a splash of Sriracha chili sauce on the side) is the perfect thing to snap your palate into shape. I don't why I am always so surprised at just how good Jade's food is, but this is absolutely some of the best Thai/SE Asian food in town!
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I've mentioned before my appreciation for having the new-ish Por Que No on Hawthorne a mere three blocks away from my front door. It really is unfair to my weak mind and hungry tummy to put their other-worldly carnitas tacos within such easy reach. Not to mention some very credible margaritas that do much credit to their main ingredient. No weak sisters, these beverages. Their whole menu seems to be working, but w and I have a weak spot for Sunday brunch at PQN. Last week I had their migas (pic at left), a mix of tortilla chips, eggs, and veggies perfectly suited for sliding between their house made fresh tortillas. w had the huevos, which never disappoints, and don't miss their ginormous breakfast torta if it's on the specials board of you're a fan of waddling.


Unknown said...

Jade Teahouse Salad rolls are the best tasting, and the best deal in town!

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Anonymous said...

Bui's Natural Tofu at 76th and NE Glisan actually has the best salad rolls. $3 for two big rolls with shrimp and the tastiest/sassiest peanut sauce you can find. Try it!

bb said...

Nicole...again, I love everything they do!

Anon....I will put that on my list for immediate investigation. Thanks!

dds said...

I tried a fish taco at Rick's, and though lacking in salt (thus flavor), it was super fresh and clean tasting. The fries that others were eating looked and smelled delish, but since this was dessert after a sopapilla at the soon-to-move-to-NoPo Nuevo Mexico cart, I abstained. I definitely loved being able to order a half order (one taco), and it was healthier than heading to Voodoo Doughnuts a block further down.

bb said...

dds....Ha! Fish tacos for dessert? is it any wonder we get along so well?! Totally agree about the freshness but needs salt thing too. Voodoo donuts very overrated. You were much better served by Rick's!