GREASETRAP EATS: Portland Dining Month

There's so much food in this town! Even better, I found out a secret (Editors Note: not actually a secret). Once a year in the month of March, restaurants all across portland cut special deals on curated menus. Of course I had to try this out. And try it out I did. Ultimately, I ended up at three different places and it should go without saying that I had a wonderful time.

The first stop was at The Waiting Room. Sitting at the foot of Nob Hill, the eatery did that thing that's so popular here, where you turn an old house into a restaurant. It was classy, though. The courses consisted of appetizer, entree, and dessert, picked from two choices. I just had a double order and tried it all. The appetizers were hush puppies and a kind of cajun shrimp, both very flavorful, though the shrimp had an odd, not exactly unpleasant aftertaste. The entrees were both amazing; pan fried catfish and dark chicken battered and fried in an utterly lovely buttery breading that was just light, and just crunchy enough between your jaws. Dessert was a butterscotch blondie cup and a flourless chocolate cake. The cake was pure decadence. I would give every coin I ever earned to taste it again (Editors Note: no, you wouldn't).

My second great meal of the month was at Departure. At the top of the Nines Hotel right off Pioneer Courthouse Square, it was glitzy. I have to admit I didn't feel quite like I belonged--it was a little bit of Las Vegas or Los Angeles right in the heart of downtown, all gleaming neon and people trying to take my coat. Which, seriously, I get that you're trying to be polite but I only molt once a year and it doesn't happen on command.

Just to make the most of it, I ordered a little extra from the normal menu. That meant I ended up trying dim sum inspired "short rib bun," along with a carrot salad, a shrimp lemongrass salad, yellow curry, and roasted pacific snapper. Dessert was a lemon bar and a chocolate ganache cake. Now, I'm all for experimentation, and this "fusion" thing I keep hearing about locally has a LOT of potential. But that short rib bun was nothing like a pork bao bun! I mean, sure, it was extremely tasty and all, but the dough wasn't even contiguous! Between that and the general air of pretension, my opinion wasn't doing well. But the view was admittedly amazing. Being up that high had to be what flying feels like. Also the snapper was AMAZING. Just, so buttery soft that it melted on your tongue. And the fermented chili/lime spices gave it all a wonderful zing.

Last on my journey was Kachka. A russian-themed eatery, the food was very different, and very excellent. This time I ordered the monthly special menu, and just a bunch of stuff off the plain menu to give it a try. There was a salad done in russian style, but using broccoli and midwestern-style veggies. Not bad. Then came the farmer's cheese dumplings (Editor's Note: Tvorog Vareniki) which were quite delicious. The main course was a braised shortrib with carrots, served kind of like a pot roast stew. But better than that by far was the special of the day, a beef brisket rubbed with Georgian spices and served with homemade flatbread. It was wonderful. Tender and juicy and bursting with flavor. I think I swallowed a fang, I ate it so quickly.

Dessert was weird. A kind of soda float with grapefruit ice cream, and cookies that tasted like Ferrero Roche. The float didn't agree with me (Editor's Note: He still ate/drank all of it). Also, I had a flight of vodka, because it was appropriate. It burned on the way down and made the walls wobbly, which was a strange thing for a drink to do.

All in all? An excellent adventure. I'm gonna do it again next year. And all three spots on this list are worth visiting. Five out of five fangs for Portland Dining Month.