Tag Archives: cocktails

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

Localizing Portland’s Fine Dining Scene

18 Jun

A few weeks ago we decided to go out and eat with our dear friends, Jen and Kyle, on a Saturday night. It was a last-minute whim, but we decided to try somewhere we hadn’t eaten at before. Since none of us are native Mainers, let alone, native Portlanders, we are all still relatively new to the restaurant scene here (we’ve only been here since 2010). We were all discussing where we should go when, low and behold, it was discovered that none of us had eaten at Local 188 for dinner! Surely this was a crime! A nano second later we were in our cars driving across town to try to score a table at 7:30 on a Saturday night. We got in eventually, but we definitely should have made a reservation beforehand.

We started the night with some drinks while waiting for a table. The cocktail menu at Local is unpretentiously unique. None of their specialty drinks are anything I have ever seen on a menu elsewhere. I decided to try something my blogger friend, Laura of Fore Front Fashion, recommended–Basil Lemonade. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after my first sip I realized how dangerous their cocktails are. They taste so smooth, it’s almost as if there isn’t any alcohol in them, but be forewarned, there definitely is. Jen started with a wonderful White Lotus, Mark had a Dropkick Murphy, and Kyle had a beer. Everyone was quite pleased with their selection, and Kyle commented that the beer list was large and diverse.

After a round, we were seated. The restaurant itself is dimly lit at night, which creates a fantastic ambiance. It’s not a quiet place, as the kitchen is open and most of the people dining there were in large parties. A birthday was being celebrated next to us and the laughter that filled the air made it feel more like we were dining in someone’s large dining room. All in all, a welcoming establishment.

Our waitress came over to our hungry crowd and asked if we had questions about the menu. With everything sounding so amazing of course we would have about a million questions for her! After some time of explaining the specials and some particular items on the menu that we were eyeing, Jen took her time to debate whether or not to get the night’s special–Ahi Tuna (note: she is a lover of Ahi and orders it everywhere she goes. She cannot turn it down, even if she thinks she might want something else, the pull is too strong). After consulting with our waitress for a few minutes over that, she decided to take the plunge.

Perfectly seared fresh catch, Ahi Tuna

Mark ordered the Steak Tartare appetizer and the oven roasted white fish for an entrée.

Steak Tartare

Grilled White Fish

Kyle ordered the Split Pea Soup with Chipotle Oil (a special that evening) as an appetizer and the lamb shank entrée.

Split Pea Soup with Chipotle Oil

Lamb Shank

I opted for the chicken livers appetizer (because like Jen I also have obsessions, mine is with liver. Yummy, earthy liver! Oh yeah, and little chicken livers are my absolute favorite. I can’t turn them down, ever.  And then the seafood paella for an entrée.

Chicken Livers with Shallot

The chicken livers were the best I have ever had anywhere, and I order liver anytime I see it on a menu. Jen and Kyle had never had liver before and were very impressed by the dish. Kyle’s Split Pea Soup was also over the top. The chipotle oil drizzle added a hint of spice that complemented the dish in a way none of us thought was possible, it was the best vegetable based soup I have ever put in my mouth. And then Mark’s tartare–I don’t even know where to start! So many people are afraid of raw meat dishes, but this beef was perfectly fresh and the seasoning on it was just wonderful. I have had tartare at Hugo’s that didn’t measure up to the quality of this beef!

Then after we licked our appetizer plates clean, even more goodness started arriving at our table. I felt like I was at a feast for royalty. Jen raved about her Ahi, saying she thinks it was one of the top five preparations of the dish she had ever had in her life. Kyle’s lamb was so tender and juicy it was falling off the bone and onto everyone’s fork (I hope he got at least three bites of his own meal). Mark’s white fish was good, but it was definitely the most lackluster of all the dishes, but was in no way inedible. The fish was cooked perfectly and the lentils that accompanied it were good, it was just overall an “okay” dish in comparison to the other entrées at the table. My seafood paella was nothing short of fresh, fresh, fresh! The mussels were tasty, the shrimp in the dish was cooked just right (sometimes they can be rubbery in paella from overcooking), and the clams seemed as if they were just pulled the bottom of the bay.

Overall, it was an unexpectedly wonderful dinner out with friends. We all commented that we went there with zero expectations and came out thinking this is one of the most solid meals we have ever had out in Portland. I suggest that you, run, not walk, to Local 188 if you haven’t been there, and if you haven’t been there in a while, make a reservation to try it again. I know I’ll be dreaming of those chicken livers until we meet again…

Our dear friends, Jen and Kyle, at Local 188

Local 188 on Urbanspoon

Chocoholics and Alcoholics Unite!

26 Apr

A few nights ago Mark and I were craving something sweet and savory. We had recently heard a rumor that Portland has a Bar of Chocolate, yes that would be a bar dedicated to all things chocolate! Immediately we knew we had to check it out.

Little did we know that this little Wharf Street gem would not only have a case full of amazing homemade desserts, but they also have Absinthe. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the much-loved, made famous in France, neon green liqueur let me tell you–it’s not for the faint of heart! I have had it numerous times, and the overwhelming flavor of anise (black licorice) makes me despise it every single time. Mark, on the other hand, loves it. Since he hadn’t had it in a while he decided he had to have one of the bar’s unique concoctions, which is aptly named ‘Death in the Afternoon.’ So, at our candlelit table Mark proceeded to have a drink that would make anyone buzzed after a single serving: Champagne mixed in equal parts with Absinthe.  A true, liqueur’s quicker glass.

Death in the Afternoon

I decided on something sensible to go with my dessert–an Argentinean Malbec. So, while Mark happily swilled down his beloved green poison, I sipped my wine. Then, our cake was delivered!

Salted Caramel Cake

We decided to go with the salted caramel cake since we had come in craving something sweet and savory. While the cake itself is a bit dry for my taste, the icing and the salted caramel on top clearly makes up for any moistness that the cake is lacking. It’s simply amazing. I find myself craving it once a week…so between there and Red’s Dairy I will weigh 1000 pound by Labor Day.

So, stop in The Bar of Chocolate, by Cinque Terre on Wharf street. It’s great for pre-or-post-dinner drinks and/or dessert!

The Bar of Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

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