Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quick Hits: Munchin' and Lunchin'

Three recent lunch stops were très tasty, not very expensive and speedy without being rushed. Check 'em out:

I'd been curious about Las Primas, the colorfully decorated little spot on North Williams Avenue advertising itself as a "Peruvian Kitchen." Not being familiar with the street food of that country, an adventurous friend and I decided to meet there for lunch.

Order at the counter and grab a seat.

The menu features a wide selection of snacks, salads, soups, sandwiches and sweets, with a fun yet thoughtful children's menu that my kid would have loved…simple sausages, fries, a cheese sandwich, mild roasted chicken and fish. Then there's a fairly extensive cocktail list divided between those made with pisco, a Peruvian white brandy, and rum, with a house sangria and a nice beer list.

Lots of choices…pick your fave!

Though we were tempted to indulge in what is rumored to be one of the best Pisco Sours in town, my friend and I both had work rather than naps on our afternoon schedules, so we demurred and opted for the housemade juice drinks and sandwiches instead. The sandwich menu runs heavy on meat with a couple of token offerings for the vegetarian and vegan-inclined, but there are several snacks and salads that would make a decent meal for those who prefer not to indulge in animal flesh.

My Buttifara, a ciabatta-like roll stuffed with pepper-rubbed sliced pork, mild chili pepper mayo, lettuce and a salsa criolla of lime-marinated red onions and cilantro, was super fresh, with plenty of moist pork and a hint of heat from the spread. They have several condiment sauces to choose from, as well, so you can pep the sammy up or down depending on your desires.

A great casual spot for lunch, it would also be fun for an early dinner with one of the aforementioned cocktails.

Details: Las Primas Peruvian Kitchen, 3971 N Williams Ave. 503-206-5790.

* * *

Ever since my brother moved his wine shop, Vino, from its original location in Sellwood, I'd lost a reason to drive across town to Sellwood. Which is kind of ridiculous, considering the neighborhood is home to one of my favorite lunch spots, Jade Teahouse and Patisserie. Fortunately, a friend was in the mood for something warm, noodle-y and delicious, the weather having turned cold and dark in recent days.

Lucy (left) and April Eklund.

And when you need warmth with a side of neighborhood cheer, the place has few equals. Lucy Eklund, along with her husband and daughter, have built a little landmark for great food and pastries at very reasonable prices. What used to be a "secret menu" of specials has grown to be a list of its own along with the extensive regular offerings like Asian appetizers, sandwiches and noodle dishes.

I love choices!

My khao soi, a brothy, tomato-based soup with wide housemade noodles, wilted baby spinach and crumbled pork, was as good as I remembered, and my friend's crab and pork soup, which was new to the specials list, had a wonderful rich broth and lots of meaty bits buried in Lucy's version of udon noodles. Combined with a pot of tea personally brewed by teamaster (and local blogger/photographer) Josh Chang, this lunch was like being wrapped in a warm comforter—or one of Lucy's signature hugs.

Details: Jade Teahouse and Patisserie, 7912 SE 13th Ave. 503-477-8985.

* * *

About lunchtime I not only start getting peckish, the morning's toast and coffee having worn off by then, but the lack of activity from sitting in front of the computer has a chill settling on my shoulders. So all it took was a quick call and I soon found myself grabbing my coat and heading out the door.

A recent side of pickled Asian pears…awesome!

I've been a fan of Boke Bowl since Patrick Fleming, Brannon Riceci and Tim Parsons started one of the first pop-up restaurant sensations to hit Portland. (The striking flavor and texture of Patrick's handmade ramen noodles prompted me to write an article about the art of making them.) Within a year they had gone from roving restaurateurs to brick-and-mortar barons, hosting legions of fans in the middle of one of the hottest new food locales in town.

A recent visit brought back the excitement of those pop-up days—if anything, the soup and sides are better and more consistent than back when they were essentially camping out in strange kitchens. The decor is bright and happy without being precious, and the crew in the open kitchen is dedicated to giving each customer a superior bowl and personal service.

It's great to see good folks succeed!

Details: Boke Bowl, 1028 SE Water Ave. 503-719-5698.

No comments: