Named one of Portland's top-10 most romantic restaurants by Gayot, the Joel Palmer House fills fine china with globally inspired dishes, which fuse locally produced herbs and vegetables with wild Oregon mushrooms. Amorous eaters take breaks from sweetheart staring contests to thaw benumbed tongues with warm bowls of Joe's wild-mushroom soup, a 75-year-old family recipe that combines the rich essence of pureed suillus mushrooms with creamy crème fraiche ($9). The beef stroganoff, prepared with succulent meat, wild mushrooms, and seasoned rice ($30), pleases palates, and the sautéed sea scallops, served with lotus root, wild mushroom duxelles, and a Creole pinot gris sauce ($32), fill abdominal abysses. Fortify fungus fare with a bottle of locally fermented pinot noir from a sprawling list of Oregon wines and achieve a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
Having carved out its own elegantly understated space inside the Red Lion Hotel, Willamette Valley Grill recently restyled its menu to feature appetizers, entrees, and salads beaming with the bravado of classic American bistro fare. Inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, chefs entice palates with starter dishes of steamer clams sauteed with pancetta, leeks, tomato, garlic, and wine. Velvety bowls of butternut squash and gorgonzola ravioli create a symphony of autumn flavors while aromas pan-roasted halibut and chimichurri ribeye mingle through the dining room. After dining and sipping on a range of Pacific Northwest wines, guests can trade the restaurant's tasteful ambiance for the colorful hues of an adjacent lounge.
On mornings at Broadway Cafe, patrons cozy into pink-cushioned chairs and turquoise booths for American breakfasts of french toast, syrup-slathered pancakes, and hearty three-egg omelets. For lunch, tables populate with juicy burgers and amply stuffed sandwiches held together by gooey swiss and cheddar cheese. After sipping the last of a strawberry lemonade or iced tea, patrons can dig into desserts, including pie à la mode or an ice-cream sundae.
Head Chef Bac Thien cooks up a menu of pan-Asian specialties that leans heavily on the culinary traditions of Vietnam. That means showcasing pho soups, grilled meats over rice noodles, and chicken wings accompanied by sweet mangosteen chili sauce. Diners will also find a handful of dishes from Thailand and India made, like everything else, with fresh ingredients from local sources whenever possible. To round out the ambience, modern paintings hang from the dining room walls and brighten the day of guests on a lunch break from Intel's Jones Farm Campus or art critics that don't feel like dealing with lines at the Portland Art Museum.
Sports stream from a fleet of televisions that line almost every wall inside The Spot Sports Bar & Grill. As diners root on their favorite teams and shoot pool, the wait staff hustles between high-top tables and stools with pulled-pork sandwiches, enchiladas, wings, and calamari. The eclectic menu also includes deep-fried peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and super nachos that pack a hearty mix of cheese, beans, vegetables, and choice of meat. A DJ busts out the latest tunes on Friday and Saturday nights, and families gather around the giant projector screen for Thursday karaoke, singing favorite hits or reciting the Latin phrase woven into their family crest.
The exterior of Blue Moon Diner doubles as a lesson in classic Americana. A neon sign perches atop the polished chrome exterior of the long, low building, which evokes a nostalgia for the 1950s even before you step inside and see the silver-trimmed booths and covers of Life magazine hanging on the walls. The menu is another throwback to yesteryear with its diner-style burgers, rich milkshakes, and Cadillac-size breakfast plates.