Ever since my brother moved his wine shop, Vino, from its decade-long home in Sellwood to a new (and awesome) location on 28th Avenue, I've been neglecting my haunts in the old neighborhood. One in particular, Jade Bistro, would spring to mind whenever I was craving a warming soup, a great banh mi or one of Lucy Eklund's stunning pastries. I returned a couple of weeks ago to find April, Lucy's daughter, smiling at me behind the counter despite my absence (which made me feel even guiltier) and Josh Chang working his magic with the mysterious, shining tower of tea tins behind the counter. Friends and I shared a big bowl of Lucy's rich, flavorful soup, billowing clouds of fragrant steam, the toothy handmade noodles giving testimony to what makes this place so special. We also split a spice-infused steamed chicken and a pork and eggplant concoction that reminded me how much I love purple ovoids, especially in Asian preparations. And of course we had to have a piece or two of Lucy's irresistible green Vietnamese wedding cake to take with us. As God is my witness, I swear that even without a case of wine to pick up, I'll be going back again soon.
Details: Jade Bistro, 7912 SE 13th Ave. 503-477-8985.
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Ned Ludd chef and owner Jason French was doing the other evening as I walked in with friends. Fortunately he did put down his very sharp knife long enough for a hug, but picked it right up again as we took our seats. Though I consider Ned Ludd to be one of my favorite places in town for a great meal, it had been awhile (yes, there's a theme here) since I'd been in. I'm happy to report that the service continues to be solid and the food is still stellar, all of it (well, except for the cold plates) coming from the glowing wood-fired oven that's front and center in the dining room. From the puffy warm flatbreads to the everything-made-in-house meat board to the pork, trout and amazing seasonal vegetable offerings, this place rocks my world every time. And with great cocktails and a very reasonably priced (and well-curated) wine list, it's easy to order a beverage that will complement the food perfectly. This place literally glows from the inside, and not just because of the fire in the oven…it's a genuinely friendly, completely Portland kind of place that draws you in with open arms.
Details: Ned Ludd, 3925 NE Martin Luther King Blvd. 503-288-6900.