Tag Archives: burger

Sonny’s Serves Up Sexy Tapas and Drinks with a Twist

22 Feb

In case you haven’t noticed a theme, Mark and I absolutely love Latin American inspired cuisine. The only type of food we might even come close to loving more is Italian, and these are two of the hardest types to find in, and around, Portland. I will say, the Latin American scene has come a long way in the two years since we’ve arrived. People have been telling me for months that Sonny’s on Exchange Street is excellent, but I guess I hadn’t been ready to dive in yet. Maybe it was the fear that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, or maybe it was the fear that it would and I’d never be able to drag myself away from this place—turns out the situation is closer to the latter. So, Mark and I headed out for dinner and some late night drinks there with our pals Ben and Laura.

Sonny’s and Local 188 share the same owner. That fact alone should have been enough to alert me that we would be in for a treat. We’ve also been told that Sonny’s is home to some of the best bartenders in Portland, and with one look at their menu, I saw why. One look and I was instantly excited.

There were some very obscure drinks on the menu. Mark decided on The Wilkenson, which was their version of a Manhattan made with Rye Whiskey. He loved it so much he had two more before the night was over. I ordered the Caipirinha, which I have always had with vodka before, but was made with rum here. It was delicious and refreshing.

Cocktails at Sonny's on Exchange Street

After we got all juiced up, we were ready for some tapas. We decided to order the Cuban Meatballs and the Pork Empanada to start.

Pork Empanda

Cuban Meatballs

Both were surprising and delicious. When the Cuban Meatballs arrived, they looked just like a bowl of ordinary meatballs. One bite had me standing corrected though, as they sent a burst of flavor into my mouth, the likes of which my taste buds had never experienced from a mere ball of meat. They were hot and spicy, and the tomato-based sauce was so delicious we sopped every last drop of it up with our bread. These were definitely a winner, and since it came with four it was really filling for two people.

The Pork Empanada was the next to succumb to our hungry wrath. It was perfectly fried in a substantial pastry packed with meat and other fillings. Possibly the best part (aside from the luscious pork) was the interesting chipotle sauce that was on the side along with some cabbage slaw. We ate this in about two seconds flat.

By this time I was feeling quite full and satisfied, but we still had our “entrees” to eat. When I wasn’t sure I had any room left, let alone desire to eat, the Burger and Chili Relleno arrived.

Sonny's Cheeseburger

Mark’s burger was the best we’ve had in Portland. It was so juicy and with the cheddar and roasted poblanos on top, it was a home run. The flavors and quality were unsurpassed. Mark said this tops the list of his favorite “gourmet” burger in Portland.

Chili Relleno

My Chili Relleno was also excellent. I will say this with the caveat that I do feel, while the one at Zapoteca is saltier, it is decidedly better. I will also say that this one was a very, very close second though. I would order it again and definitely recommend it to others.

After dinner our dear friends Ben and Laura popped into meet us for some more drinks and dessert.

I ordered a Pisco Sour, a drink made from a clear Peruvian bandy with foamy egg whites one top. I am really picky about my Pisco Sour’s, and this wasn’t the best I have had. The egg whites on top were more slime than foam, so I don’t think they shook them long enough before pouring the drink. It was fine other than that.

Ben ordered a Pink Stiletto and Laura ordered a Pinky Tuscadero. They both seemed happy with their choices, as I heard zero complaints. Then, as if we hadn’t ordered enough food, each couple somehow found it imperative to order a slice of German Chocolate Cake for dessert.

German Chocolate Cake

The cake was quite delicious, but a little dry for my liking. Ben pretty much single-handedly ate his and Laura’s slice. After that we were all really regretting the choice to top off our tanks with an ever-expanding piece of cake. The coconut didn’t help matters either— it left me in complete misery. I wouldn’t recommend dessert to those who are already too full to speak.

Sonny’s turned out to be a great double-date night spot. The striking red brick walls are loaded with big, bold art, while the bold and colorful flavors were served up on bright white plates. The ambiance is superb, and the service is fantastic. This is an upscale establishment, but it doesn’t feel stuffy in the least. The wait staff is alternatively clad lending even more depth to the vibrant and eclectic atmosphere of the space. If you haven’t gone yet, GO! If you don’t like the food order another cocktail. If you don’t like the cocktails, you should probably just move out of the state.

Sonny's on Urbanspoon

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Red Meat Heaven at The Grill Room

12 Nov

Mark is addicted to The Grill Room, and he’s hardly apologetic about it. We figured out that since moving to Portland in January 2010, we have eaten there nine times. That’s nine times I would have rather tried somewhere new, but sometimes love means compromise (me) and never having to say your are sorry for loving meat (him). That is not to say though, that I don’t equally love this place. It was actually the first restaurant we ever went to in Portland together, so it has such a special place in my heart for that. I have read the reviews and I know not everyone holds it in such high regard, but I have honestly, in all those times never had a bad meal there, until now.

We stepped into The Grill Room on beautiful fall evening at 6:30. We wanted to get some grub before the Steelers game came on at 8:00, and I’ll admit that I was just too lazy to cook. When we walked in there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. This was a new scene to witness as there are usually no tables in the whole place, but I suppose everyone was busy at a bar or their house watching the Patriots lose to the Giants. We, on the other hand, were poised to enjoy unobstructed views of the fall of the house of Brady while having a gourmet burger.

Every time I eat at The Grill Room I feel like I have been instantly transported to Chicago. The beautiful exposed brick walls, polished dark wooden tables, and elegant, but not overly pretentious bar feel very Windy City. Or, maybe it’s the meat? Am I alone in thinking that Chicagoans love to eat meat (especially red meat)? Maybe it’s all the Italian Beef they make…

One thing I really love about The Grill Room, is that while they are known for their steaks, they also have excellent seafood as well. All of their meat is also locally sourced from Pineland Farms and grass-fed to boot (this is my preemptive apology to those of you who worship at the church of corn-fed beef, but green grass is not only healthier, but tastier too in my opinion)!

So, having eaten there more times than is really necessary for any sane human to do in less than two years time span, we decided to go and try out menu items we have always wanted, but have never ordered. For Mark this meant their Gourmet Pineland Farms Burger, seared to a perfect medium-well.

Grill Room's Gourmet Pineland Farms Burger

It was oozing with juicy deliciousness, topped with cheddar (also Pineland Farms), arugula, and homemade aioli. Simply spectacular. I think I heard an angel trumpet when I snuck a bite!  The side of sea-salted fries that came with it were a meal in and of themselves. There were simply so many it was disturbing, but in a deliciously gluttonous way. Mark took some home to enjoy during the game.

I had been eying up the duck and brie pizza since about our second visit, but had never had the heart to order it over any of the other beloved seafood dishes that I have had there (the trout there is simply unbelievable. If you can drag yourself away from their steaks you should try it. You will not be disappointed).

Duck and Brie Pizza

This was actually quite awful. Duck confit, brie, apples, and caramelized onions all with a balsamic drizzle on top. Sounds like it would be divine, but I assure you, this is not made with the same love that their grilled items are. Obviously, it was my irrational mistake; if someplace calls themselves The Grill Room, don’t order brick oven pizza there. The duck was so dry, I couldn’t tell if it had been confited earlier in the day, or earlier this year. It was absolutely horrible. The brie tasted like Président brand from Hannford, which I will admit, I have eaten, but come on! I expected something of a somewhat higher quality here. The dismal balsamic drizzle added little to the whole preparation. The apples and caramelized onions, also left tons to be desired. The apples were far too undercooked, while the onions were wilty and lacking in any onion flavor (which I am still trying to figure out how that was even possible). The whole pizza was a complete and utter failure on their part. I would never order this again or suggest it to anyone—in fact, I propose they remove all pizzas from their menu effective yesterday to save anyone else from making as horrific of a mistake as I did.

Despite the pizza mishap, there is no way I won’t be eating here again, there are too many other wonderful menu items to keep me from coming back, but I am going to go with this brief closing sentiment. Go for the grilled items, blow off anything else (or risk extreme dissatisfaction). In short—burger, amazing. Pizza, lousy.

Grill Room & Bar on Urbanspoon

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