Is there anything better than the taste of salty, fresh mozzarella accompanied by a crisp pinot gris? Don't you just LOVE biscotti? Aren't you CRAZY about J. Crew? Don't you just hate people who snicker during Literary Arts lectures? Then you've probably already been to Flying Elephants, the new deli in the Fox Tower. A calf of the NW Elephant's Deli--a Portland institution and seat to the Elephant's catering empire--Flying Elephants operates with a simple assumption: Fancy Food + Saran Wrap = Profits. It's so crazy, it might just work.
The space is clean and bright. Even at lunchtime, the efficient and friendly staff move people through quickly, so the wait is never more than a few minutes. The clientele is a mix of fresh-faced, young professionals and pathological shoppers.
Patrons pick up sandwiches, salads, pastries, and drinks (21 different kinds of water!) and order hot food (including soup!) at a back counter. If I were, hypothetically, to eat the same sandwich every day no matter what, it would be the Northern Italian, a happy marriage of ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, seasoned with olive oil and salt and pepper, on a handmade ficelle baguette ($5.25). Be warned: THIS IS NOT DATE FOOD. The baguette is extra chewy and raccoon-like movements are required for consumption. LIPSTICK MUST BE REMOVED BEFORE EATING. It is worth it. The tomatoes and basil burst with flavor and the mozzarella tastes salty, firm, and fresh.
Also try the Northwestern Salad, a mix of romaine and green leaf lettuce, walnuts, mandarin orange pieces, and apple bits, topped with a non-fat curry orange dressing ($4.95). The textures in this salad are just right; the burst of mandarin, the crunchy walnuts, the mealy apple bites. The sweet mandarin and sour apple work wonderfully with the tasty curry dressing (best in moderation), an unusual and interesting treat.
Flying Elephants also offers breakfast foods, sundries (Zantac! Excedrin!), and reading materials (The New Yorker! The New York Times!). In summary, a perfect place to dine after a browse at Saks and before catching the matinee screening of Memento.