Sunday, August 10, 2008
If summer is fading as fast as your hopes for getting away for a tropical vacation, get yourself over to Portland's outpost of Cuban vibes, Pambiche. You'll come away with an infusion of paradisical soul, swaying to the sounds of the trés and claves, not to mention a happy belly-full of the comidas and bebidas of this island's cuisine.
The tiny restaurant is usually packed to the gills, and who wants to sit inside on a summer day anyway? So grab a seat at one of the colorful picnic tables on either side of the colonnaded walkway in front of the restaurant and take a gander at the several-page menu. Proud of its native cuisine, you'll have a hard time choosing based on the delicious descriptions. You're pretty safe, though, since I can't say I've had a bad meal here, but have enjoyed several memorable ones.
For lunch the other day, my dining companion and I each ordered a fresh lemonade to sip while we pondered our options. She went with the Ajiaco (pron. ah-hee-AH-coh), a "one-pot meal that comes brimming with a variety of tropical roots and vegetables, corn dumplings and Creole-seasoned pork and beef" (right), a flavorful stew of the aforementioned ingredients that has a slightly fruity undertone and a deep, rich broth.
I decided on the Plato Cubano (left), a dish the menu describes as a "typical Cuban plate. Adobo marinated roast pork, served with your choice of Cuban beans [black or red] and rice." The kind of authentic, simple, well-executed food I absolutely love, the pork was tender and juicy with a salsa verde that added pungency and that south-of-the-border hit. The beans were perfectly spiced with just the right mixture of Creole seasonings, giving it that mysteriously addictive quality that only a great bean dish has.
With a happy hour (from 2 till 6 pm) and late hours and breakfast on the weekends, this is a spot I'd happily go any time of the day or night. And how many places can you say that about?
Details: Pambiche, 2811 NE Glisan St. Phone 503-233-0511.