Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back for pastrami

My friend Ryan was up from Eugene last evening, so after a tasting of 1993 Jos. Christoffel jr. Riesling - Spätlese I'd been saving to share (wonderful complex wine that kept opening and unfolding rapidly in the glass), we headed down to Kenny & Zuke's for pastrami on rye. Remarkably for a great Portland restaurant, it was about half-full. It may have been the only good place in town where we didn't need to wait 45 minutes to be seated. The pastrami was incredible, just as tasty as the first time I visited but much more tender. Ryan and I were both very pleased.

We were just as lucky at our next stop, the Teardrop Lounge, a short distance away in NW Portland. We arrived to find the place less than half-full and had the opportunity for a short conversation with the bartenders before grabbing the last available four-top. The Teardrop is part of a new wave of bars serving innovative new cocktails and solid interpretations of old favorites, built from the best ingredients, some of which (like the Teardrop's jalapeño orange bitters) are house-made. Ryan and I were joined by his wife, Jenaya, and her mother. Shortly after they arrived, the bar hit its stride and it was soon packed to the rafters.

We tried an array of house cocktails (check the menu on their website), all of which were interesting concoctions. Even though the place was jammed, the waitstaff was very attentive and efficient; the bartenders were extremely fast. I finished with their take on a Sidecar, built from Germain-Robin's excellent brandy (although I'd been given the opportunity to make my own choice).

The Teardrop has high ceilings and a very open feeling, even when it was packed. Our only grievance was the really awful music (bad disco?) pounding through the room. And, well, not a cheap tab but given the location and the attention given to high-quality ingredients, it wasn't at all unreasonable.