Restaurant Review Son of a Biscuit

dish__colosi_sonofabiscuit_007Micah Camden doesn’t lack confidence. Coming off the excellent Boxer Ramen, the restaurateur of Little Big Burger and Blue Star Donuts fame was bullish about Son of a Biscuit, his new fried-chicken joint in a former Pizzicato on Southeast Division Street.

“It’s going to be the shit,” Camden told Portland Monthly. “You don’t know how many times I got off shift at Yakuza and just ate bags of Popeyes. Now, I’m going after Popeyes the same way I went after Burgerville.”

Does Biscuit best Popeyes? Sure. What about Portland’s best fried chicken, three blocks east at Reel M Inn? Biscuit wins only on convenience—it takes 30 minutes to get Portland’s standard-setter at a dive bar compared to 10 at Biscuit. How does Biscuit stack up against the Nashville hot-chicken joints Camden claims as inspiration? So far, it’s not close.

Biscuit’s build-out is what we’ve come to expect from Camden: sparse,

Sic Semper Lactucis All hail the Mextiza Caesar salad

dish.mextizaI may never return to the original Caesar salad. Tijuana, where the Caesar was created by an Italian immigrant in 1924, is supposedly still safe for tourists. I’m not so sure.

That salad—long ribs of crisp romaine bombed with umami through anchovies, raw egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan—made a lasting impression. But so do photos of bloody bodies scattered by a beach where sunbathers lay in a disconcertingly like pose.

Why venture down Tijuana’s Avenue de la Revolucion, risking pickpockets and the remote possibility of an errant bullet from warring cartels, when there’s an equally impressive Caesar salad at Portland’s Mextiza? At my table, that salad ($8) inspired a Mexican standoff over the last garlic-infused, lime-kissed crouton. Eyes narrowed and forks twitched before we halved it.

Mextiza is the second restaurant from Autentica chef and owner Oswaldo Bibiano. I can’t speak to what Autentica was at its peak, but

The Rice Den

Article Lead - wide1000354462gjmoj1image.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gjl2fy.png1442551779965.jpg-620x0Jacqui Taffel

Chandos Street, St Leonards, is not the kind of place that springs to mind when planning a fun night out with friends. Yet on a cold night, in a gloomy canyon of empty office buildings near the Pacific Highway, a glowing corner beckons.

Inside, it’s warm and buzzing with diners and staff. The concrete-floored room is artfully decked out with hanging birdcages, wooden abacus joinery and artful floral wallpaper; it makes me think of In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai’s modern classic set in Hong Kong in the 1960s. But this is modern Sydney, where Chinese dining has undergone a velvet revolution as the next generation of restaurateurs rises through the ranks. The chairs are upholstered in colourful Tibetan-style fabric, a shelf holds bottles of Prickle Hill Worcester sauce made near Wagga Wagga, and the bartender looks as though he’s just in from an epic surf.

Rice Den’s co-owners and head chefs, Roy Chan and Nelson Cheng, became friends while boarding at north shore private school St Joseph’s College. Chan bought his first restaurant at 22, where the staff thought

Mokis Hawaiian Grill Laid Back Poke Shack

Thanks to the presence of a robust Polynesian culture here in Utah, it’s possible to find authentic Hawaiian-style cuisine right here in the Beehive State. I’ve written before about places like Mo’ Bettah Steaks and Big Sai’s Hawaiian BBQ, both of which I like a lot. But I recently discovered two more Hawaiian eateries—each very different from the other in menus and style—that are equally excellent.

Moki’s Hawaiian Grill is located on a section of Redwood Road that is a smorgasbord of ethnic flavors and eateries. There’s lots of parking, and Moki’s is very roomy, decked out with plenty of Hawaiian kitschy décor like ukuleles, beach signs, shark’s teeth, tables with surfboards etched into them, Hawaiian and reggae music playing, etc. But somehow, it all works together. The folks who run the place are Hawaiian, and frequently speak in Hawaiian among themselves; guests are greeted with a friendly “Aloha!”

Moki’s is primarily known for what in Hawaii is called the “plate lunch,” although there’s no reason you can’t have it for dinner. The prototypical plate lunch is one or two proteins with macaroni salad and scoops of white rice alongside. Food historians say

Restaurant Review Pizza Maria

The margherita pizza is almost as simple as it gets—crust, sauce, cheese and basil. It’s how American pizza snobs usually judge pies, because there’s nothing to hide behind.

Lately, an even simpler pie is getting a little wood-fired love. Traditional marinara pies are the simplest of three styles recognized by the Neapolitan dons of authenticity: just crust, sauce, sliced garlic and a sprinkle of oregano. Maybe you sprinkle sea salt and crushed red pepper on it, maybe you don’t. Without mozz gobs to conceal imperfections, the pie is red-faced and naked in front of God and everybody.

Apizza Scholls does a marinara, though it’s mostly for vegans. The Portland location of the Via Tribunali chain and the new Life of Pie on North Williams Avenue do them, too. Roman Candle, Duane Sorenson’s casual pizza parlor on Southeast Division Street, brought the tomato pie to prominence locally with thick slabs of pizza al taglio topped with garlic, oregano and marinara. Now, the new Neapolitanesque Pizza Maria makes a

Indian street food thats pure Portland

Chef Troy MacLarty may have walked the streets of Kolkata to research the food for his new Indian bistro Bollywood Theater, but in feeling his restaurant is pure Portland: upscale street food amid mismatched tables, variegated artisanal knickknackery and deeply ironized shrines to foreign film.

MacLarty’s menu is full of India’s “poor man’s burgers” and mill-worker favorites, chutnied-beef kati rolls, Goan-Portuguese bastard foods made with buttered rolls—the food of streetside carts and home skillets. The kati rolls ($6.50) are a Mughlai hybrid food—hence the beef option—essentially kebab wrapped in Indian flat bread. They’re also among the unmitigated successes on the menu, with achingly tender beef accented by the bright tones of green chutney and pickled onion.

The egg masala ($7) features hard-boiled eggs in a tangy, mildly spiced tomato curry that recalls a salsa brava. It’s a delicious surprise, as was the beautifully balanced sambar (vegetable, tamarind and pigeon-pea stew, $2). The lightly curried Goan-style


Teote bills itself as an areperia, after the Venezuelan corn cakes that accompany most of the plates on the menu. But that’s a bit like calling a Chinese restaurant a rice house. However delightfully buttered and crisped, the arepas—much like the food at certain Russian restaurants—are a front. Leaving aside the handful of vegetarian options, this two-story Ladd’s Addition eatery is a high, unholy temple of meat, painted inside and out like a roll of tropical-fruit Life Savers.

The guy who greeted us in the ordering line was quick to point out that Teote—short for “the ends of the earth”—was not authentic Venezuelan food. It is instead a paint pot of various South American grilling traditions and Pacific Northwest sensibilities, leading to lovely concoctions like the El Diablo ($6.50), crisped pork belly in a sweeter-than-hot chili maple sauce that absorbs pickled onions and queso fresco into its caramelized, umami-drenched stew. It is a shameless Latinized rendition of General Tso’s, and it can be eaten with or without the halved arepas that stand at attention in its bowl

The European

Kirsten Lawson

The Artespresso site hasn’t been an easy one to bring to life, with a series of incarnations for several years, few of which have sung. Now, Danny Tosolini has taken this space in the bottom of an apartment building opposite Silo Bakery in Kingston and given it a shake-up to pretty good effect.

The look is semi-industrial in a swish, grown-up way, with muted dark greys, greens and metallic, clean lines, Bentwood chairs and bare tables, a tiled wall, and good-looking hanging lights over each table.

The feeling is more restaurant than we had expected from Tosolini’s description of a casual multi-use place that also serves as a wine bar, but there are bar stools and tables on the other side of the room that are well filled tonight with people who look to be meeting for a drink.

So the European, as it is now called, looks good, and you get the feeling from the number of happy people here that it has found a formula that will work. In the food, there is a way to go, with some very good dishes, and some that don’t come together as