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Eaten, Barely Blogged: How Do You Like Them Apples (and Andouille)?

Donovan's duo

Donovan’s Woodside on St. Patrick’s Day is like marching into the belly of the beast, though far more family than the fratty scene I envision at the Irish pubs of Manhattan. We waited an hour at Donovan’s for a table where we were serenaded loudly by drums and bagpipes (that’s me pretending not to notice the ruckus) as one does. Corned beef, cabbage, and a single boiled potato should’ve been on my plate (I do love that meal and am surprised so many dislike it) but you know, Donovan’s is famous for its burger and I wasn’t changing my usual order just because it was a holiday.

Sripraphai quad

Sripraphai All the usual suspects: crispy pork with chile and basil, duck curry with eggplant, crispy watercress salad (which I love so much that I recreated it at home the following weekend but forgot to photograph because I was in a hurry to get it made before The Walking Dead season finale aired) plus a rarely ordered larb and never-before Thai mojito. Remind me again, to never go to Sripraphai on a Saturday night (and kick me for pretending to be Thai-knowledgeable with never having tried Centerpoint on the next block). Beyond the insane crowds and weirdo orderers who eat dishes like individual, non-sharable entrees, the spice just isn’t there. Thai-wise, I’m looking forward to the new Chao Thai branch, and I suppose Pok Pok, as well, but as a Portland transplant I have weird feelings about fellow Portland transplants.

Toby's pizzaToby’s Public House “Weird but good” was my honest response to “How was the special? The cook wants to know.” Both pizzas we picked were oddly sweet. I happen to be a freak for sweet-savory mash-ups so that’s not a knock. The special in question paired andouille with green apples, a not-unpleasant though untraditional combo. The surprise was more from the asparagus pizza that was nearly candied sweet from caramelized onions, and I don’t know, there had to be something else at work. I want to say that the stubs of asparagus were cooked in balsamic vinegar? If it were up to me, I might combine the apples with the onions, add a little bacon, and pretend the pizza was a tarte flambee. I’d also sprinkle some blue cheese, thought that would dilute the Alsatian theme.  At that rate, there was no way I was going to opt for the much-lauded nutella-ricotta calzone.  Who needed dessert?

Blue Ribbon In my 20s, I never understood it when friends a decade older would say “I can’t drink like I used to” or genuinely old folks might have to forgo spicy or rich food, i.e. “I like butter, but butter doesn’t like me.” What? Shut up. As I approach middle age, though, I’m afraid some of this is becoming a reality. Thankfully, painfully hot food is not a problem…yet. The night after a night of over-imbibing I was still feeling too rough to handle the roasted bone marrow at Blue Ribbon. The pure fat coupled with a rich oxtail marmalade was wreaking havoc. Weird as it may have been, I just had it wrapped up and ate it the next day no problem. Why  not eat bone marrow on toast for breakfast? As the regular Blue Ribbon and the sushi version next door morph into one, they’ve begun offering raw fish preparations at the original. The small plate of sashimi was a welcome relief from the intended appetizer (which would’ve been better for sharing, except that Lent is still a thing) though I still think everything at Blue Ribbon is overpriced and yes, the crowd leans heavily Bay Ridge/Staten Island even if that characterization (not by me) offended a Chowhound four years after the fact.


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