The weekend began with take-out Mexican food and then a cocktail party...already off to a bad start.
Saturday morning I awoke and realized we had nothing to make for breakfast. It then dawned on me that we did have some frozen blueberries. Blueberry pancakes...a-ha! I pulled out my favorite cookbook, America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and got to work (waking Shawn up in the process and getting him excited for pancakes). Despite being a pretty good cook, I have a couple of trouble spots. One is pie crusts. The other is breakfast food. I can cook up a few things really well, and improvise with leftovers like a whiz, but when it comes to basics like pancakes, I doubt every instinct I have. Which was the case on Saturday morning. I decided to add some whey protein powder and displace some of the flour. When the batter looked awfully thin, I decided I should add the flour back in. Then I over mixed it. Then the pancakes wouldn't rise. It was an overall disaster. Devastated and broke, I figured we'd just have to eat them anyway and deal with it. Then Shawn pulled out the emergency "Carmel-doesn't-want-to-cook" piggy bank and we were off to Beaterville (coffee in toe to save a little).
Beaterville is one of my favorite Portland breakfast spots. Not because it serves the best breakfast, but just for the casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, and solid offerings. It was 11am and the place was still packed when we got there (as I'm sure many people in the area were enjoying some holiday spirits the night before as well). However, the staff there always seems to be pretty chipper, even when completely packed. Luckily it wasn't raining and we dressed appropriately for the chilly weather, so we enjoyed our coffee and waited. (Just a side note, even if you don't bring your own coffee, they have it available at the front of the restaurant...Portland Roasting--not my favorite, but it's not bad). After we were seated, it didn't take long to order and receive our food. Feeling a little slighted by my own pancake experience that morning, I ended up choosing a Denver omelette. Satisfying, but it reminded me why I don't get omelettes in general--just a little too slimy in the middle. I'm more of a scramble kinda gal. At least I got my toast fix and was able to top it with the delicious strawberry jam they make.
Saturday was a very easy-going day. After our weekly house cleaning and grocery shopping (at my favorite store, New Seasons), we headed down to Hawthorne to do some vintage window shopping. After wandering around for awhile, it was time to decide on dinner. We ended up at Hopworks Urban Brewery.
Since its opening last year, Hopworks has been pretty steadily busy given that its structure is perfect for a town like Portland. It boasts its organic beers and sustainable structure. Given that the environment, organic methods, and sustainability are all important issues to me, I wondered why it had taken us so long to get down there. We managed to grab one of the last spots in the very tight parking lot. The brewery sits right on Powell Blvd, across from the bowling alley. Walking in, it feels more like a chain restaurant than new, hip Portland eatery. Despite the creatively recycled pieces decorating the place, it felt less like the Rebuilding Center and more like T.G.I. Friday's. The staff was a little overwhelming as we were told the exact whereabouts of our waitress and not to worry that we'd get beverages shortly. And then were checked up on every 5 minutes. It's not that I want to be ignored, but you have to strike a balance.
So, once our server arrived, as promised, Shawn and I both ordered the winter seasonal beer. It was surprisingly light and floral for a winter, but very tasty. We started our meal off with a large Caesar salad which was accompanied by some warm parmesan breadsticks. The dressing on the salad was very nice--garlicky, without being offensive, and more of an oil-base, rather than the creamy version. We unfortunately had little time to enjoy the salad as our pizza arrive only about 5 minutes after the salad. I don't think we were eating that slowly either. The pizza was pretty good. I appreciate the commitment to better ingredients and saw the kitchen tossing the pizza dough, so I know it wasn't pulled out of the refrigerator pre-made. We had the sausage, mushroom, and black olive pizza. The sausage was delightfully spicy and crumbly. We topped off our meal with another beer. This time I tried the deluxe organic ale, and Shawn the IPA. Both were just as good as the winter ale. Given that we had quite a bit to eat and drink, I was pleasantly surprised by the bill. Turns out we had made it during happy hour where beers are $0.75 off regular price. It's a little shocking, as a Portlander, though to see the regular beer prices being $4.25-$4.50 a pint. For organic beer, I'm willing to get over it.
Overall, if I had to give it a rating out of 5 stars, it would only be 3. The food and drink were well above average (especially the beer), but the atmosphere really affected my experience. Next time (and I think there will be a next time), we'll just try the bar.