HBH Gourmet Sandwiches. This is totally one of those
places that was new and talked-about and so ridiculously close to my apartment
that I could put off going for some time. It finally turned out to be that
time. (I did not get to Court Street Grocers, however–too many damn sandwiches in the neighborhood.) It's also totally one of those kinds of absolutely delicious (and kind of ugly when transported home and unwrapped) but caloric
sandwiches that makes you wonder why artisanal food gets a health halo–what do
you mean Shake Shack isn't good for you?–while other equally fatty food is disparaged. Quality ingredients, yes, I
know. This Smith St. cheesesteak, all tender short rib meat and taleggio on
cibatta, is nothing like a cheesesteak, so if you're craving shaved beef of
questionable quality and processed cheese, this will not satisfy.
Seersucker. I didn't grow up using the term townie,
which feels more east coast anyway. I didn't need to because Portland was
nothing but townies. I like the word, though, so I'm going to call the person
in my neighborhood who told me that Seersucker was expensive with tiny portions
even for her, a tiny person, a townie. I'd resisted for years, based on the
name alone (which I chalked up to being a crank until a non-cranky coworker who
lived on the block also hated it and was coming up with other deserving
fabrics–perhaps Gabardine? Oh, my, that's already been taken by a Top Chef in
San Diego). My duck with a succotash-ish bed of kernels at first did seem a little
precious, but was rich, and the Berkshire pork, fall-apart belly topped with
cracklings (and I swear there was a third pork component) was flat-out meaty. The
prices were fair and reflective of what was on the plate. It was good enough
that I forgot to even snap lame camera phone pics of the mains and only
captured the starter of ricotta dumplings in a crazy broth perfumed with salty
country ham. One day I may eventually warm up to the owners' future Vietnamese
food project too, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense on the surface.
Prime Meats. There aren't a ton of dining choices
close to 11pm on a weeknight in my now-a-memory south of Fourth Place universe.
I was curious about what pleasures an $18 1/2 lb Creekstone Farms Angus burger
might provide. More than a Guy Fieri burger created from beef of the same
origin, I hated to admit. I only stole a bite, technically a forkful meat
barely held by a wet bun because it was the tail end of the meal and the whole
thing had nearly fallen apart with texture matching my steak tartare. Prime Meats grew on me over time, though I would never crowd in for brunch.