A Weekend in Portland, Oregon

4th January 2009

I ventured home to Oregon this past week to visit my family for the holidays. We spent the weekend in Portland, which I haven’t done in a number of years. Portland has come a long way in the past decade, and despite the weather, it’s one of my favorite cities in the US.

We stayed at the brand-new Starwood hotel, The Nines, overlooking Pioneer Courthouse Square. The hotel sits on top of Macy’s which was the old Meier & Frank store. Starwood did an amazing job paying tribute to Meier & Frank’s history, while also creating a cutting-edge, boutique style hotel with amazing modern amenities. And, as the hotel just opened in October, they are offering great deals.

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Saturday night we went to dinner at Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel, just off Burnside between downtown and the Pearl District. The menu was one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen, and the prices were very reasonable. For starters we tried beets with spinach, beluga lentils, oranges and a paprika vinaigrette, and a simple green salad with house vinaigrette. For our main entrees we shared seared duck breast, confit leg, cabbage and sherry braised onions, and a roasted half chicken with chantrelles, spaetzle, apple and giblet sauce. We also tried a side of sunchokes, which I expected to be like artichokes, but were a root vegetable tasting much like a sweet potato. I’m told Clyde Common also offers a great happy-hour burger, so if you’re looking for a great, inexpensive dinner, stop by.

After dinner we checked out the Ace Hotel, which The New York Times has named “the country’s most original new hotel.” There was an awesome photo booth in the lobby, and I’m told some of the rooms come with spin tables. Also, if you’re coming with a big group, the hotel offers a “bunk room,” which looks like a pretty cool crash pad.

On Sunday morning we had brunch at Urban Farmer, the restaurant in the lobby of The Nines. I had an incredible omelet filled with Dungeness crab, bacon and wild mushrooms, served with hollandaise sauce and a potato galette. It might be the best brunch I’ve ever had!

After our meal we ventured into the Pearl District, which I think has grown the most over the past decade. Every block has a new restaurant, shop, gallery or apartment building. It’s pretty amazing – definitely a great area for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

The list of things to do in Portland is endless, but here are a few things you can’t miss: the Portland Art Museum, Portland Rose Garden, and Shanghai Tunnel Tours. Portland is also a great place to see live music, so be sure to keep your eye out. And last but not least, I recommend you stop for burger and fries at any of the McMenamin’s restaurants; they’re my absolute favorite!

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