Saturday, May 4, 2013

Honeymoon: BridgePort Brewing and Portland Food Carts

Saturday May 4, NW and SW Portland OR

After touring the incredible farmer's market at Portland State University, we decided to grab a beer and check out the food cart scene, not necessarily in that order. Because we were already in SW, we drove over to the food truck pod at 10th and Alder SW, the one that we had driven by on our way into town and scouted the offerings. Because it was still before noon, a lot of the carts weren't open, but Ann and I each picked a cart to sample later in the afternoon.

Bridgeport: Still Great Beer
We decided to make a beer detour for a while until the food carts got fully ramped up, so we drove a few short blocks up to NW to BridgePort Brewing for drinks and appetizers.

I spent a lot of time drinking IPAs and Blue Herons at Bridgeport when I was making regular visits to Portland back in the 1980s. The beer was very good back then and I am happy to report that the beer remains good to this day.

Since then, I have moved up in style from pale ales to imperial pale ales and I really enjoyed the first pint of Hop Czar, a big hop monster of a beer. Me like. After this pint, our server tasted me on a couple of other beers (including the Kingpin Double Red Ale) that he thought I would like as well, but I ended up having another Hop Czar. After you start with a hop monster, it is hard to go backwards.

Ann's "Margarita"
While Ann was off in the restroom, I ordered a Summer Squeeze Bright Ale for her, but she wasn't much of a fan: her taste runs mainly to straightforward lightly hopped lagers, Mexican or Asian. So she ordered some kind of pink Margarita that looked pretty good. I didn't taste it but it seems like she enjoyed it. I'm totally drawing a blank on what was in it.

At this point, it was about 1 pm and we decided to get a little bit to eat while we were there. And it turns out that they have pretty decent food; in any case, it way exceeded my expectations (which are admittedly pretty low when it comes to brewpubs). We ordered a Mediterranean Plate and an order of warm soft pretzels.

Mediterranean Plate: Decent Brewpub Food
The Mediterranean Plate was pretty tasty even if the pita was a bit odd. I don't believe I have ever seen a whole white pita docked so that it wouldn't rise. It wasn't bad, just odd. On the plate was hummus, a quinoa "tabouleh" that was kind of fun, olives with feta, and a so-called "Moroccan carrot-walnut pate." This appears to me to be a riff on halwa and I liked it because it wasn't sweet.

Pretzels, Quintessential Beer Drinking Food
The pretzels came with a Kingpin Ale-Honey Mustard and a Porter-Cheddar spread. I liked the honey mustard but I didn't get much cheese flavor out of the cheddar spread.

On our way back to our B&B in SE, we stopped back by 10th and Alder SW to grab a couple of things from the food trucks there. I will say in advance that I think we struck out here. The food we got was not great and not what we expected of the vibrant cart scene. Clearly, we chose poorly. It happens; not often, but it happens.

Click to Read the Fine Print on the Downtown Sign

Ann Chose a Fancy Burger from Sideshow
The Sideshow cart has pretty good reviews for their fries and poutine, but it was the window sign that got Ann's attention. She loves a good burger and was seduced by the Fancy Burger at the Sideshow food cart. Reading that description, what foodie wouldn't want to try the burger? The burger was really meh. Really meh. Super, super average. Meh.

I fared about equally well with a porchetta sandwich at The People's Pig. I am a big porchetta fan and if I do say so myself, I make kick-ass porchetta. I always like to taste other people's versions though, just to widen my frame of reference. Sadly, the People's Pig porchetta might as well have been a smoked pork shoulder sandwich. It had a good smoky flavor, which most porchetta does not, but who can fault a guy for throwing some smoke to a pig? My porchetta is cured for several days in a great fennel, rosemary, and garlic rub. This, this had no flavor other than smoked pork. Which would have been fine chopped with a good bit of East Carolina sauce. But to call it porchetta is something of a crime.

Porchetta? Who Can Resist?

How about So-So Pork Sandwiches?

Love me Some Pig. Pig Didn't Love me Back.

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