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Silver Palace

Do words like sub gum, chop suey and combination plate #2 give you the
heebie jeebies? Then you'd do well to steer clear of Tigard. They do their
Chinese vintage, red vinyl booth, cocktail lounge in back, hamburgers on the
American menu style. When your dad brags about a great Chinese restaurant
where he and the rest of the Lions Club meet bi-monthly, and complains about
General Tso chicken being too spicy, you'd better know what you're in for.
You're in for a shitload of food for five bucks: egg drop soup in that
abnormally yellow (from dye? extra yolk?) style with corn thrown in for good
measure, fried rice, mar far chicken (battered, chicken strips served with
that near extinct little dish with 70% ketchup, 15% hot mustard and 15%
sesame seeds) and kung pao three ways with beef, chicken, shrimp and
scallops (yes, that's more than three ways).
The ominous fortune spooked me slightly, "Do not be intimidated by the
eloquence of others." I don't like to think that I am. It prompted my dad to
talk about how can fit in any social situation, "It's common sense. if you
to a black-tie affair you wear a suit jacket." Plain and simple. Strange,
because I'd just been given Paul Fussel's humorously scathing "Class" to
read and it had filled my mind with all sorts of ideas about social strata,
middle class aspirations and proletariat ideals. My genes are so prole they
hurt. Middle class would totally stress over impressing at an event, which
is ridiculous in its own way. Proles just go with the flow because as they
say ignorance is bliss. (11/29/02)

Silver Palace * 1455 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard, OR

Noble Rot

Small plates, small plates. I guess this is the rage in Portland. Wine and
small plates. The endive, beet and blue cheese salad and squash and goat
cheese panini Todd and I shared just seemed like food. The Beaujolais
Nouveau we were advised against (everyone's so down on the damn stuff we
felt it was our duty to not only try it, but like it) seemed like wine. The
place was very amenable, though odd, being just a block from the seedy bar I
used to frequent with alarming regularity when I lived in the neighborhood.
The times are a changing. It's the kind of place know-nothing, out of touch
youth might refer to as "yuppie," as if Portland is so gritty, bohemian and
downscale otherwise. Please, this isn't the '80s.

""> * 2724 SE
Ankeny, Portland, OR


Not the old lady perfume (which I actually own) or the funky band (which I don’t). It’s Oregon’s, and quite possibly the world’s, freakiest Indian restaurant. Smack dab in the middle of nowheresville, this suburban raja’s palace gives one pause.

I’d never heard of Orenco Station till that very morning when I was skimming “Oregonian” ads and saw some whole foods store called New Seasons in a place called Orenco Station in Hillsboro. Moving out of Oregon four and a half years ago, I’d missed the boom years and subsequent housing developments in former outskirts now made accessible by new light rail lines.

Many factors played in this dining choice. The main one being my friend Todd’s curiosity after reading a review in “The Willamette Week” (disgustingly called “Willie Week” by a former coworker) coupled with my creepy fascination with sterile suburbs. Plus, it was minutes from my mom’s mobile home where I was staying. It played into my fantasy of visiting Portland without ever actually stepping foot in the city, as well as Todd’s of riding MAX to a planned community for dinner.

We made plans to meet up that evening at Orenco Station. The “community” is beyond bizarre. I think the original idea was to re-create a small-town, main street atmosphere with housing for various income levels, complete with dining, shopping, parks and a town square. Idyllic, no? Well, there is one main street, the one pictured on the webpage. And that’s it. There is a Kitchen Kaboodle, Starbucks, the aforementioned New Seasons, an Italian restaurant and Shalimar, all above pricey “hip kitchen lofts” that lord only knows who lives in. Identical ’40s-style “cottages” flank a long grassy
strip of land beyond the shopping area.

At 8pm the entire area was desolate. We feared getting beat up by merely standing in the gazebo after dark, and joked about being pegged for young lovers and subsequently harassed (he’s 40+ and gay). Such solitude breeds suspicion. Benches abound. No one would ever dare sit on them, though. The half-mile or so between the development and the train station is filled with driveways that end in grass and more aimless benches scattered throughout the sidewalks yet to used for foot traffic. There are no homes, just empty lots. Who on earth lives here?

Oh, but the food. The food is fine. Not remarkable, but better than to be expected in such a setting. Someone went wild with the menu descriptions. An Afghani lamb dish is inspired by “outlandish, free spirited farmers.” All right, they were talking to us!

Back to the neighborhood. As it turns out, the money ran out. All the empty space is not waiting to be filled, but at a perpetual stand still. The nearby tech jobs have dried up and the area is now a once affluent ghost town. So much for 1998’s “America’s Community of the Year.” God bless the Northwest. They try. If I were an eccentric billionaire I’d snatch up a place in Orenco Station just for shits and giggles.

Shalimar* 1340 Orenco Station, Hillsboro, OR

Blue Smoke

Some moderately clever reviewer could craft some line about Blue Smoke and
mirrors, since most BBQ aficionados don't believe this latest Danny Meyer
creation is all that it's beefed up to be. I'm no bbq aficionado. Heck, I
enjoy Dallas BBQ. I've never been to the Carolinas, Texas, Kansas City or
Kentucky. I've lived in one city in the NW and one city in the NE. What I'm
saying is that Blue Smoke made a perfectly acceptable Saturday night
excursion because what you don't know won't kill you.

BlueSmoke * 116 E. 27th St., New
York, NY

White Kat, Big Kat

So, I hear there are White Kit Kats floating around NYC. Supposedly, they’re at Duane Reade, but I haven’t seen them. Duane Reade does have the limited edition dark chocolate Kit Kat, but who cares — that’s too classy. White chocolate is all cheap and gauche, just like me. And why is there no American Kit Kat site? I see British and Japanese (damn them, they have strawberry, banana and Hello Kitty varieties No white, though). I think it’s because Hershey’s sucks, and Kit Kats are made by Nestle elsewhere. Oh shit, but look at this. A Hershey’s mega store opening in Times Square holiday season 2002. Isn’t that right now?

Maybe I should just hold on to my horses. England had the Big Kat first, then we got it, so maybe we’ll eventually get the white chocolate and orange varieties too (they can keep their mint version). It’s just like the dulce de leche M&Ms. New York’s always the last to know when it comes to mainstream confections.

Also heard, but not seen is the rainbow Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish. I’m starting to think I imagined seeing an ad somewhere.

Five Points

This started as a brunch suggestion for James to take his parents (not with
me in tow) while they were in town. I didn't know what I was talking about
from experience, I just read it off Citysearch.
They ended up going somewhere in Westchester, but the following weekend
James randomly made reservations for the two of us, which was sort of
baffling since we don't normally do the Sunday brunch thing, let alone at
swank-ish places.

I wasn't complaining. They seem to be all about their wood-burning oven
(jeez, who isn't these days?) so it only seemed right to order fancy eggs
benedict with smoked salmon on brioche, cooked in the contraption. Very
nice. And while opting-out of a morning cocktail (too much wine at Les
Halles the night before), I was impressed that they made Ramos Gin Fizzes by
the pitcher.

Five Points * Great Jones St., New York, NY

Les Halles Downtown

All that a bistro should be, at least it feels that way. I went all classic
and ordered the hanger steak with frites and a frisee salad with lardons and
blue cheese. Meals like this make me think the Atkins Diet might actually be
doable. But can man live on meat and fat alone? (11/9/02)

Oh, this place always makes me go overboard on fat. The lardon filled
frisee salad with blue cheese heaped crouton-bruschetta would be a
sufficient meal, but I went nuts and also ordered the duck confit with
truffled potatoes. You know, I think I mightve ordered that exact same combo
the last time I visited Les Halles, which wasn't recently at all.

The food is always satisfying, but the service tends to mystify. Waiters
change throughout the meal, drinks are screwed up and then you are never
asked the rest of the evening if youd like another or even how your food is.
There's nothing maliciously poor about any of it, but you get the sense that
no one knows what theyre doing.

I was internally making fun of the young obvious out-of-towners a table
down from us because they wanted vegan items and then the guy just ordered
and ate while his girlfriend watched (I guess she was the no animal product
person). Why would anyone think French food would lend itself to this style
of eating? But then the tables were turned (almost literally) when I tried
to squeeze out of our two-seater without pulling out the table and my tipsy
(I eventually was able to flag down more wine) fat ass barely fit between
ours and the next and I almost fell on my head. Though I still think trying
to order vegan fare in a bistro is more foolish than forcing a large body
into a small space. (6/30/05)

* John St., New York,NY

Midtown Friday’s

All those commercials about "in here it's always Friday," making the chain
dining experience look like a blast, the bartenders something like
"Cocktail" era maestros, don't apply to this location. Chains are weird in
NYC to begin with. At least the Times Square location can boast being the
largest in the United States. Since chains are always inexplicably busy,
hour or more waits not uncommon for Olive Gardens and Red Lobsters, it
seemed baffling that TGI Friday's could be dead, on of all nights, Friday.

Along a tourist corridor, the prices were easily $5 higher than
reasonable for fajitas, chicken strips and the like. But the suburban
experience in the city doesn't come cheap, and I could abide that. We were
quite possibly the only "locals" downing Buffalo wings and BBQ chicken pizza
that evening.

TGIFriday's *
1680 Broadway, New York, NY

Blue 9 Burger

I'd heard they were like In-n-Out, so I thought I'd give them a try. But
then, I've only ever eaten one lukewarm In-n-Out burger on an airplane, so
it's not as if I have much point of reference. That said, I did like Blue
9's burger and fries. In fact, that's all they have on the menu, which is
kind of refreshing in these days of haute fast food, all crazy with
remoulade and Niman Ranch wieners (Blue 9 does have a chili mango sauce next
to the ketchup pump, but that's okay).

It's not cheap as fast food, but it's not like a sit-down restaurant
either. I think the cheeseburger was $3.50. The reason I mention this is
because on our way out, a scruffy guy out front who looked like he was going
to ask for change or a cigarette instead asked, "Is the food cheap?" I don't
know why that struck me as so amusing. It had never occurred to me to ask
someone that on their way out of a restaurant–maybe I should give it a try.
I wasn't sure how to answer. I think I said something along the lines of
"not, cheap, but not expensive, sort of in the middle." Not too decisive, am

I'm very curious to see how long this restaurant holds out in this
cursed spot. The last two didn't even make it past the six month mark.

Blue 9 Burger * 92 Third Ave., New York, NY


It's a "French-American roadhouse," if there is such a thing. I think
this means serving things like rabbit with grits. Starfoods seems potentially
scene-y, though it was pleasantly low-key during opening week. The Space
Invaders tiles in the bar are cute. In fact, I'd be more likely to stop
back in the bar than the restaurant and I can't say why for sure.