Perusing Portland: Central

I like Dallas fine, I guess. People are generally friendly and my kids attend school in a top notch school district.  But as they grow older I know I will be presented an opportunity for change.  In just a few short years I will begin to decide where to settle for the foreseeable future.  I think I may have found the spot.  My trip to Portland last weekend confirmed what I had imagined.  Although I was only there for 5 days, I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it.  Granted, I visited during some of the most favorable weather, but even if there had been rain, there was so much to love about Portland.

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I was quite busy with the International Food Bloggers Conference, but on my fourth day I found some time to take the light rail into downtown.  As luck would have it there was a street festival in progress just blocks from the stop I chose.  The place was filled with food cart fragrance and street performers.  Block after block buzzed with people moving about examining the wares offered by artisans and crafters.

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In my quest for food and drink (what else?) I stumbled upon a burger sitting in the window of Central, a quaint cocktail bar.  I stopped to get permission to photograph the burger and was approached by the owner, Dustin Knox, and chef, Aaron Crane.  We chatted a bit about my visit to the city and then they invited me inside to have a cocktail and take photos.  They could have stopped at cocktail, but I was thrilled for the opportunity to shoot some photos.

The place was small.  It had an industrial theme with a Portland twist.  The mounted deer head said ‘welcome to the Northwest’.  Industrial filament bulbs filled the space with appropriately dim light.  The bar was a beautiful rough-edged wood slab.  While somewhat masculine, they were clever enough to introduce some subtle softer touches like the gorgeous stemware, brocade wall covering, and vases filled with zinnias.

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As I approached the bar, I had no idea what I would order.  I typically stick to my go-to gin and tonic or dirty martini, but based on the backlit bar wall and dapper bartender I knew they had more to offer than standard libations.  I met the bartender, Micah, who asked about my preferences and then he promptly recommended a Martinez.  This is apparently a classic drink that, until that Sunday, I had never tasted or even known.  Thank goodness for adventurous spirit! 

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Micah prepared my drink expertly and presented it in a most apropos glass.  The drink is smooth and tastes a bit of amaretto, but not in an overbearing almondy way.  I finished it over conversation about Portland.  I didn’t want the conversation (or the drink) to end, so I had another.  The Martinez wasn’t reason enough to move to Portland eventually, but it’s nice to know it’ll be there after a long weekend of unpacking. 

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