by Christine M. Gordon
1) The Porter Portland Hotel
Hip urbanites and professionals hit the The Porter Portland Hotel’s super cool rooftop bar early in the evening to see and be seen. A stay is a must, try out the hotel’s super luxe wellness area with outdoor meditation area, sauna and pool all designed by Sherri Cline and the Widewaters Hotels team.
2) Portland Japanese Garden
Feeling chill but adventurous? Head north to the Portland Japanese Garden where 12 acres of rock and water elements are perfectly rendered to create a spiritual haven away from the hustle and bustle of city and cell phone life. This miniature world of tranquility holds another gem, the Umami Café, a tea-house that appears to float in air. Complete your sensory adventure with a steaming bowl of hand-whisked, jade green matcha.
If you only have a few nights in Portland, or time for just one fine dining experience, than Headwaters is your best bet. The restaurant’s scallop crudo with truffle vinaigrette and foie gras starter is a steal at $11, as is the Oregon Rockfish and Chips at $18. Make sure to also order one, or several, warm Parker House Roll with butter and mineral-rich briny kelp salt. A true steal at $1.50 each.
4) Steven Smith Teamaker
Tea for two, or four … or six and up, at hot west coast tea haven, Steven Smith Teamaker. This popular mainstay imports full leaf teas from around the world and adheres to recipes developed in their on-site lab. Not tasting like the last batch? Not a problem—master tea maker Tony Tellin blends in brighter notes, “to make up for mother nature’s ups and downs.” Try a tea flight of four flavors, a draft cold brew, or an elixir.
5) Portland Museum
Will the real Picasso please stand up? Before Antonio Banderas’ Genius premiered, the master was churning out stunners like Bull—plate 11′ (lithograph) on display at the Portland Museum. Other finds include Ed Tuscha’s iconic Coyote (lithograph), Max Klinger’s fantastical Bar and Elfe (Bear and Fairy) and, quick, hide the children … John Baldessari’s Animal (Black) at Ocean: Agitated, in which the mighty wolf, nightmarishly superimposed against an idyllic beach scene, takes a bashing yet again.
6) Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw serves up ice cream for your nerves! Chocolate or vanilla? Paleeze. Yes, you can find those flavors here, but why not try the Tokyo PB&J with Japanese Whiskey-Spiked Strawberry Jam, Peanut Butter and Caramelized White Chocolate Feuilletine, or the Duck Crackling with Cherry Preserves Duck Fat Ice Cream and Honey Gastrique? Loosen that belt, you’re in for a taste sensation x infinity.
7) Headwaters, Oui! Wine Bar + Restaurant at the Southeast Wine Collective
Portland is a diner’s extravaganza and along with Headwaters, Oui! Wine Bar + Restaurant at the Southeast Wine Collective gives you that opulent night out you’ve been craving with your girlfriends or that certain someone. The music of choice when I happily settled in was Led Zeppelin, which bumped up the energy, calling for a bottle, not a glass of the Domaine Rolet 2012 Crémant de Jura, Chardonnay/Poulsard ($40). If you haven’t had the pleasure, Crémant is a sparkling wine made in the same way that Champagne is produced. This Crémant tasted better than the butteriest Veuve Clicquot. Pair it with the Chicken Liver Mousse with riesling poached rhubarb, dijon mustard + baguette ($15).
8) Lan Su Chinese Garden
Set adrift among gritty industrial buildings is the Lan Su Chinese Garden. There’s an air of solitude and tender charm in this piece of tranquility bordered by busy city streets with an interior broken up by koi ponds. As I wondered through Covered Walk to Knowing the Fish Pavilion a voice spoke to me through an opening in a concrete wall. “Are there Koi in the pond?” she asked. Yes, there are koi in the pond.
Christine M. Gordon