The Berlin Inn
3131 SE 12th Ave, 236-6761
Most Americans' prejudice against German food has to do with people mistakenly assuming that it is all fried in bacon fat.
That's only about half true. Only a few dishes on the menu at the Berlin Inn are smothered in gravy, and they use Canola oil wherever possible. Density? My beef roulade was only about 1.5" x 3", but weighed over 10 pounds. It took me three days to eat the leftovers. But you know what? It was really delicious, even the fifth time around.
A plate of sliced sausage loaf with potato pancakes was light, crisp, and easy on the stomach. The cold loaf, sliced thick, was marinated in a sweet and acidic dressing and sprinkled with fresh green onions. It was the perfect complement to the warm, crunchy potato cakes, which were even better than my old Aunt Fern's latkes. Späzle are a required treat here; they've got a supple texture unlike any pasta and are specially suited to soak up the thick, full-flavored gravies that come with the sauerbraten and the schnitzels. PL
5832 NE Glisan, 236-5575
Parilla is a little bigger than a hole in the wall and there are about 20 Platillos (plates) options on the menu. Each of these plates are served with rice and beans, and are authentic, hearty dishes such as Encebollado, Tortas, Plato Relleno, Tamales, and even Torta de Lengua (chopped tongue, which also comes in burrito form).
Of course, Parilla also serves the standard Tacos, Burritos, and even Hamburguesas. All of these usuals are put together with finesse and balance--the meat is extremely tender and well seasoned, and if there's cheese present in any of these dishes, I didn't notice, because the meat has such distinct flavor, it doesn't even need cheese. The lettuce is crisp, shredded, and deliciously iceberg. KD
2108 NW Glisan St, 274-7926
At S.B. there's food on the table within minutes of arrival; on a recent occasion, we were given crunchy crostini topped with crabmeat. We discovered, upon close inspection, that our water had been infused with cucumber juice, but this special water was poured only before and after the meal. Bread was from Pearl Bakery--delightful, of course--and was served with unusually creamy, high quality butter.
My avocado vichyssoise was a wonderful summer dish. It was as creamy as can be, specked with crème fraîche, and evoked a mild, but pronounced, avocado flavor.
For entrees, I went with the Chinook salmon. It had been crisped on the outside due to skillful pan searing, but remained smooth and buttery on the inside. The levels of salt in this dish, and indeed in most everything else, were right on; management is so justifiably confident about this that there are no saltshakers on the tables. The salmon was given a subtle Asian treatment, paired with roasted baby bok choy and some kind of soy ginger "consommé." It worked. The nine-month-old Begonias seems to have grown into its own skin, taking its place in the upper echelons of Portland dining. PL