City Commissioner Randy Leonard is under fire in this week's Tribune for spending his left-over campaign funds on steak dinners. Corrupt? Meh. This ain't The Wire, and Leonard ain't no Clay Davis. Indeed, the commissioner says he just "follows the law." But of more interest, and indeed, concern, to the Mercury is the fact that Leonard chose to spend much of the money in steakhouses:
• May 14, 2008: $198 for Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse dinner with unspecified guest
• June 5, 2008: $225 Ringside dinner with Mayor-elect Sam Adams
• July 15, 2008: $341 for Ringside dinner with Greg Goodman
• Nov. 3, 2008: $338 for Ringside dinner with blues musician Curtis Salgado
• Dec. 4, 2008: $183 for Ringside dinner with union leader James Hester
Steak, as you may know, is high in cholesterol, one of the leading causes of heart disease, for which, as a former firefighter, Leonard is already at high risk. It's also a shame, with the commissioner pushing citizens to "choose local," that he chose to eat at a national chain like Ruth's Chris. But perhaps worst of all is that the Commissioner would choose to restrict his food choices in a town with such a wide variety of culinary options available.
Fortunately, Leonard still has $15,826 in his campaign fund to splurge on dinners out. So I asked Mercury food editor Patrick Coleman to come up with 10 restaurants in Portland that the Commissioner might like to choose as alternatives, in the future. Here they are, with links to the Mercury's restaurant reviews and totally awesome restaurant search(TM), along with Coleman's comments:
1.Bunk. "Politics is said to always happen in smoky back rooms," says Coleman. "But Leonard can bring transparency into the operation while keeping the smoky room at Bunk. He can hang with the groundlings while still enjoying his meat."
2.Slow Bar. "If he needs a place where that requires a more cloistered environment," says Coleman. "The booths at Slow Bar are the perfect place to haggle over new city initiatives. Great drink selection and one of the best burgers in town."
3.Andina. "White linen tablecloth, flavorful slabs of meat, hearty fare," says Coleman. "Would do well to help showcase his belief in diversity while maintaining that air of sophistication."
4.Bete-Lukas. "Ethiopian proves he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty," says Coleman. "And that he can stand the heat."
5.Hot Pot, either Beijing Hot Pot or Hot Pot City. "The trick with Hot Pot is that in the end, the flavor of the broth depends on what you cook in it," says Coleman. "If Leonard is dining with a group, he can prove that he’s able to cooperate, collaborate and share."
6.Firehouse. "Is there any better place for an ex fire fighter?" asks Coleman, whose inspiration I think may have been flagging, by number 6.
7.Toro Bravo. "Consistently excellent and much beloved by Portlanders, Leonard being seen here would heighten his social cachet among many of his constituents," Coleman affirms. "Plus, it’s delicious."
8.Portobello Vegan Trattoria. "Again, this is about increasing his good standing among a small but incredibly vocal group of constituents," says Coleman. "I also hear that it’s actually quite good."
9.Higgins. "One of the very first Portland restaurants to think local, seasonal, sustainable, this restaurant serves what Greg Higgins considers good farm food," says Coleman. "In other words, it’s wholesome. Plus, James Bond ate here a couple times."
10.Goose Hollow Inn. "If it’s good enough for Mayor Bud Clark, it’s good enough for Leonard," says Coleman. "He can sit at the bar, drink a pint and converse with very opinionated regulars, or reminisce about the days when Mayors were controversial in a fun way."
Don't mention it, Commissioner. Just make us your "unspecified guests" next time.