Friday, May 3, 2013

Honeymoon: Lardo, SE Portland OR

Cool Logo
Once we crossed the Willamette River from downtown in Southeast, we were rolling down Hawthorne Blvd on a GPS-guided pork mission to find chef-owned sandwich shop and biergarten Lardo, a brick and mortar restaurant that started as a food cart. Ann, in her pre-trip planning, decided that we were not going to miss eating at a place called Lardo. And how cool is their logo? It finally dawned on me three weeks after eating there that the logo is actually a stylized pig. Am I stupid or is it that subtle?

You know it is a chef kind of place when you walk in and you see the following wall decorations:

Don't Mind if I Do

All the sandwiches are listed on a chalkboard behind the counter and while there are a bunch of tasty sounding options (Rapini: aged provolone, red pepper agrodolce, caper mayo and Griddled Mortadella: provolone, marinated peppers, whole grain mustard) we were there for the big pig feed, so we ordered the Pork Meatball Bánh Mì with sriracha mayo, pickled vegetables, and cilantro, and a Korean Pork Shoulder sandwich with kimchee and cilantro.

Food ordered, Ann went outside under the big tent next door to scout out a couple of places at a picnic table while I stayed behind inside and ordered beers for us. I happened (through no planning whatsoever, didn't even realize it was one of the random shirts that I packed) to be wearing my Boccolone t-shirt, the one that reads "tasty salted pig parts" on it. The whole counter crew got a kick out of that. I guess it wasn't that difficult for them to pick me out as a fellow traveler.

The beers are listed on a separate chalkboard over a line of about a dozen taps and most are from Oregon, but range as far afield as Stone Brewing in San Diego and Epic Brewing in Salt Lake. I picked a Crux Imperial Mosaic IPA from Bend OR, and for Ann a pilsner from Commons Brewery also located in Southeast. Our second round of beers was an Epic Spiral Jetty Malty IPA and an SOB (Southern Oregon Brewing Medford OR) Na Zdraví pilsner. I can't say that we were blown away by any of the beers. I really think that I am spoiled by having Tröegs beers as our house beers. Too bad the folks from Oregon have to come back East to taste them!

As I walked outside, Zeppelin was jamming on the speakers and I finally found Ann at a picnic table sporting a wooden spoon bearing the number nine, making it easy enough for one of the food runners to find us. As we waited for our food, Zeppelin morphed into some old-school bluesy Clapton and then to more true blues. Good tunes for a wonderful afternoon sitting in a beer garden drinking beer with my girl who doesn't like beer! She keeps trying though!

Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine...
OK, Twist my Arm!
Pork Meatball Bánh Mì
Korean Pork Shoulder

Now these were great sandwiches and I am truly amazed (after living in our painfully culturally deprived, uptight, and conservative food market) to find a place where these sorts of restaurants not only can survive, but can thrive and become institutions in the cultural landscape. I do have to say that my pork meatball bánh mì is better though!

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