Red Star Tavern, Portland

Another example of Portland's brill dining scene, the Red Star Tavern was an easy venue for our last evening and a top recommendation from fellow instablogger @melbfoodstagram. For all our walking, talking and touring we went straight for the steak and chips. I paired it with some local craft brews on tap, a Double Mountain 'Vaporiser' and a Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen; and my friend with a nice drop of Soter Pinot Noir.

Read More

Pacific Pie, Portland

A slice of home! I heartily agree with Pacific Pie's philosophy: "Drink a pint, eat a pie and all is right with the world; Butter plus flour equals magic; Something delicious is always in season". A nice spot of anglo-Aussie meets US cuisine in North West Portland, the perfect place for ex-pats to satisfy a craving for a meat pie. Recommended by our fab Third Wave Coffee tour guide.

Read More

Powell's City of Books, Portland

I am all on board with a city that can support a book store of this size. Taking up a full city block, Powell's is enormous and flatteringly frantic. Packed to the rafters with shoppers, I have to admire a town with such a love of books. Also for travellers, this is where you get your Portland souvenirs - and in hipster fashion they exude cool.

Read More

Third Wave Coffee Tours, Portland

Third Wave Coffee Tours is an excellent way to explore the Oregonian coffee scene. We signed up for Thursday's Artisinal Donuts and Specialty Coffee tour and literally let owner Lora Woodruff lead us about by our noses. The tour gave fascinating insights into the local scene and gave us a stunning array of donuts to sample. We began at Coco Donuts and were offered two varieties of single origin drip coffee paired with our treats; at each donut stop our coffee was offered black and although I don't normally drink it that way I decided to get into the spirit and wasn't sorry. We walked from Coco to Local Roasting Co where we watched the magic at work, hearing the crack of the beans and smelling a freshly roasted batch. From there to Bluestar Donuts, who brewed an interesting, exclusive roast that Lora explained was designed to stand up to the strong flavours of the donuts - one being a sweet potato and sage number - you can't help but notice the perfect pairing. Our final stop on the tour was sampling a short macchiato from fine coffee purveyors, Barista, and we were lucky enough to take in a cupping session in progress. Wish I'd bought the He-Man tee - souvenir regrets!

Read More

Pépé le Moko, Portland

My friend and I have a weakness for espresso martinis and I had Pépé's picked out well before I arrived in Portland. Owner Jeffrey Morgenthaler has quite the reputation as a mixologist magician and Pépé is consistently listed among the top cocktail spots in town. This little basement bar was like going down the rabbit hole; time seemed endless and everything fair shouted 'eat me! drink me!' Our espresso martinis were made with Stumptown, vodka and - unusually - a drop of lemon essence; so good it would have been rude to stop at just one. We gorged ourselves on the best bocadillos on the menu, including a Nutella and Jacobson's sea salt, can't wait to make that back home!

Read More

Ground Kontrol, Portland

A retro arcade with alcohol, um how fast can I get there? A brilliant concept, Ground Kontrol features all the games you knew and loved as an 80s child at a quarter a game, serving a simple bar menu and some whacky nibbles your mother would never let you eat. Not a great place for conversation but with original Space Invaders, Pac-man and Tetris you only need to be able to say "in your face, I win!"

Read More

Courier Coffee, Portland

Another cafe that allows its customers to bathe in sunlight. It is a joy to sit in the window of Courier Coffee with a mason jar of caffe latte and while away the time chatting and people watching. Courier is a very smooth roast and the barista skilled in producing exactly the right ratio of milk so as not to overwhelm the flavour. Visit Joel's blog for an enjoyable read, he waxes poetic beautifully about all things coffee business: "Heating water is a science, but it can be an art as well if you are able to work with your senses. for us making coffee is part science, part art. we need some sort of scale, yet we also need to engage the senses that we have."

Read More

Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen, Portland

On a grey day in Portland, Kenny & Zuke's stands out like a ray of sunshine.  The Deli is large and can seat quite a few but even when busy it still feels expansive.  It is a casual, happy place committed to great pastrami.  I was feeling a bit poorly and well on my way to a winter cold, so I indulged in the best chicken noodle soup I have ever tasted while my friend took on the aforementioned famous pastrami Reuben.

Read More

Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Portland

It wasn't just that I had spent the previous two weeks in hostels and 15 hours on a bus... The Hotel Monaco is an outstanding hotel full of character and beauty, accompanied by excellent service.  Kimpton Hotels operate throughout the States and offer an excellent loyalty program; we secured a bargain nightly rate as well as free beer and wine vouchers to use in the hotel restaurant, the Red Star Tavern.

Read More

Pike Place Public Market, Seattle

Started by farmers as a way to stop the middle-man from unreasonably hiking up the price of produce, Pike Place is the original farmers market. Home to sensational produce and baked goods, this is where you'll find the fishmongers throwing salmon like football and Seattle institutions Lowell's and The Athenian (made famous by Sleepless in Seattle).

Read More

Beneath the Streets Tour, Seattle

This adventure was a tour of Pioneer Square guided by Val from Beneath the Streets. Fascinating to hear about Seattle's early days, the great fire and the process of raising the streets. With much of the street level becoming one level below, skylights like the one below were installed to provide light to shoppers until the process of raising the streets was complete. The original glass can be identified by its magenta hue, having become more beautiful with time.

Read More

Storyville, Seattle

While having multiple locations, Storyville maintains the feel of a boutique cafe. I made the climb to Storyville in Pike Place and amongst cosy surrounds overlooking the bustling marketplace, I picked up a latte that was beautifully whipped, poured and had the perfect ratio of shot to milk. I went back here a couple of days in a row...

Read More

Bainbridge Island, Seattle

After three days of wandering Seattle, my feet were itching to see more so I hopped on a Ferry to Bainbridge Island. The island was brimming with character, charm and friendly faces. My day was spent wandering the town centre, marvelling at vintage wares, locally made jewellery, and wondering exactly how I could choose just one of the fab eateries on Winslow for lunch. Food soon fled my mind when I stepped into the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art which houses a striking collection of local art, heavily influenced by the rich heritage of the First Peoples of the Salish Sea region.

Read More

Seattle Antiques Market

A curio stop on the waterfront, I wasn't looking for the Seattle Antiques Market, I could swear it found me! The market was full of brill vintage items, with an intriguing range of items that were somewhat different to what I would see in a similar market in Australia. A great snapshot of time and place! 

Read More