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Monday, November 28, 2016

Portland, OR: A "Wagon"-Load Of So-So Food ... Ay Caramba!

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant

4534 SE McLoughlin Blvd
Portland, OR 97202
Southeast Portland, Brooklyn
Phone number: (503) 236-8089
Prices: $$$$
Facebook Page

Our realtor told us that La Carreta ("the wagon/cart" in Spanish) is his favorite Mexican restaurant despite the outward appearance. You would think it is an abandoned building as you drive by except for the lights of the sign and inside the restaurant.
A group of Latinas celebrating a birthday occupied the table next to us, always a good sign when people indigenous to the cuisine frequent a place. The food was decent by Left Coast standards, exceptional by Midwest standards, and reasonably priced.
We tried the chili con queso ($5.95) and guacamole ($3.50) for starters. The queso has an odd consistency, similar to ricotta cheese, but was good with big chunks of green chili. The guacamole was cut with something because it neither had the texture of mashed avocado nor the taste.
My wife had the quesadilla and taquitos appetizer (Menu price = $9.95, we paid $10.95) as an entree and it was disappointing. Coming with guacamole, pico de gallo , and sour cream, the quesadilla had hardly any cheese and the taquitos were a bit burnt and dry inside. 
I went with the chile relleno, taco, and enchilada combo ($11.95) with, as my dad used to say, "refired" beans. I asked for a cheese and onion enchilada and shredded beef taco, but got a shredded beef enchilada instead. The taco was good, but came in a pre-fab shell (deal breaker). The enchilada was also good, but not what I ordered. When I told the waiter that I got the wrong enchilada, he scurried off before I could tell him to forget it. He brought a cheese and onion enchilada a few minutes later, but I barely touched it because I was stuffed by that time. What I did eat was very good though. I could not even see the relleno because it was covered with shredded lettuce and tomato. I think it was pretty good, but the taste was masked by the unusual toppings.
The "Cadillac Margarita" ($5.95) was rather tasteless and weak, so I did not bother ordering a second. In conclusion, the service was excellent and the decor cheesy, just as it should be.
CombatCritic Gives La Carreta 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Read Chris S.'s review of La Carreta Mexican Restaurant on Yelp

La Carreta Mexican Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Portland, OR: A "Wagon"-Load Of So-So Food ... Ay Caramba!

Key Words: La Carreta, la, carreta, cart, wagon, Mexican, taco, margarita, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"

Friday, November 25, 2016

Portland, OR: Great French Cuisine, Outstanding Value ... Chez Machin Is Magnifique (Round 2)

Chez Machin

3553 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Southeast Portland - Hawthorne, Sunnyside
Phone: (503) 736-9381
Website: chezmachin.com
Prices: $$$$

Chez Machin is a small place in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland I found with two friends last July (read my initial review), so when I brought my wife to Portland with me this time, we had to return.
Happy Hour runs from 3 to 6pm with a $3 cup of French Onion Soup, $6 Escargots, $5 crepes, and wine for $5/glass or $5 off bottles. We ordered an escargot, a cup of soup, a ham and cheese crepe, and the Baguette with Cheese and Fruit ($3).

The escargots were again tender and full of buttery, garlicky goodness and the onion soup was much better this time than last with plenty of melted cheese atop a big crouton. The baguette and cheese came with half of a sliced apple and a few red grapes, simple, but a nice tapas for the price. The crepe was also well done, appearing to be made from whole wheat, light on the ham and cheese, and topped with swirls of crème fraîche.



We also ordered a the entree "special", pork loin stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon atop a homemade basil pesto ($17.95) with buttered potatoes and green beans. The two large slices of loin were decadent, sumptuous, and superbly done with just the right mix of three varieties of pork ... loin, chorizo, and bacon. The pesto sauce finished the dish precisely and the potatoes, butternut squash and green beans were cooked to perfection - magnifique! 

Our server, Heather, was efficient, friendly, charming and professional. My wife and I ate and drank extremely well for $46, plus tip, a virtual bargain considering how well we ate. Once again, we were not disappointed, but elated by the quality and value of this quaint little French bistro on Hawthorne.

Once Again, CombatCritic Gives Chez Machin 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!
Nine Bombs Equates To:

Chez Machin
Chez Machin
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Portland, OR: Portland, OR: Great French Cuisine, Outstanding Value ... Chez Machin Is Magnifique (Round 2)

Key Words:  Portland, OR, Oregon, French, Chez Machin, chez, machin, escargot, Hawthorne, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH! = "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Portland, OR: Rose City's Italian Denny's Is A "Così" Little Place

Denicolas

3520 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97202
Creston-Kenilworth, Southeast Portland
Phone number: (503) 239-5220
Website: Denicolas.com
Prices: $$$$

Portland has dozens, if not hundreds, of wonderful restaurants, but trying to find a family-style, mom and pop, down-home Italian restaurant without the foo foo plates, faux gourmet tiny portions, and absurd prices is like trying to find a liberal at a Trump rally. Then I saw Denicolas menu, photos and reviews online, and briefly, very briefly, had some hope.

The smell was right when we walked in, but the place looks more like a Denny's than an Italian restaurant, bright lights, vinyl booth seats, and all. It took our server ten minutes to greet us and we rarely saw her after that. She took our order and brought us our bill, but other staff members did everything else.
My wife ordered the Special of the Day, cheese ravioli in a creamy mushroom and Marsala sauce ($14.95) and I, the Veal Parmigiana ($21.50), both adding a side salad and the antipasto at $2.79 a pop.


I had a glass of wine, the Dolcetto di Dogliani (2005), an Italian red ($6.25) that was decent for the price. The salads were small and simple, but fresh with romaine, grape tomatoes, and dressing on the side. The antipasto consisted of a few carrot slices, three small cubes of mozzarella, pepperoni and salami, and some peperoncini for two of us to share, accompanied by four slices of Italian bread and four small squares of focaccia topped with herbs and tomatoes. So far, so good.
My wife's ravioli looked mass produced and frozen, but were plentiful and not that bad, and the mushroom Marsala sauce was actually very good. When my wife, who was born and raised in Italy, thinks American-Italian food is good, that is not a bad sign. She liked the sauce, but thought there was too much Marsala, but I had to disagree because there can never be too much Marsala ... Bravo!
The veal was plentiful, but, like many places, a bit too thick, not pounded as thin as it should be before being breaded and pan fried. The veal was topped with ample sauce and mozzarella, then put under the broiler a tad too long. It was not bad, not the worst, but far from the best ... "così così" ("so-so" in Italian and pronounced like the word "cozy") as my grandfather would have said. The accompanying pasta with "meat sauce" had very little meat (or as the Wendy's lady used to say: "Where's the beef?") and was a bit on the skimpy side with barely enough sauce to coat the pasta. Once I did combine the two, adding a ton of parmesan for flavor, I saw that the pasta had not been drained well and there was water pooling underneath, one of the ten deadly sins of pasta serving (second photo below).

The prices were not that bad, the food not that great, and the service only adequate. Denicolas would definitely be the best Italian restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas (not a high bar), one of the worst in Brooklyn, New York, and in Portland "così così" if that tells you anything.

CombatCritic Gives Denicolas 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Read Chris S.'s review of Denicolas Restaurant on Yelp

DeNicola's Italian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

DeNicola's Italian RestaurantDeNicola's Italian Restaurant
WINE MENU


Title: Portland, OR: Rose City's Italian Denny's Is A "Così" Little Place

Key Words: Denicolas, DeNicolas, de, nicolas, Portland, Oregon, Italian, pasta, veal, 97202, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog, 

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"

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