Portland Steak & Chophouse
121 SW 3rd St, 223-6200

Cheap and highbrow are two things I'm always looking for in a restaurant. Not because I'm cheap and not because I'm a snob, but because it's nice every once in a while to get your meal without waiting for someone to call your number. That's why the Portland Steak & Chophouse is a good place for an after-work meal or some late-night eats--because, even though they're a swanky restaurant, their super-cheap appetizer menu is in effect everyday from 3:30-6:30 pm and 9:30-close. They have a plethora of generously portioned and tasty dishes, and they all cost just $1.95, so you can go out with your rich rockstar friends and still afford everything on the menu.

Cheapass-yet-tasty appetizers include the Barbecue Beef and Roasted Garlic Pizza, with a thin and floury crust and a little bit of fresh cilantro. The Peppered Beef and Jack Quesadilla is filled with thick chunks of pot roast-style beef, complimented by jack cheese and a hefty layer of salsa and fresh tomatoes. The White Cheddar Cheeseburger is juicy and delicious. Another total winner is the Roma Tomato and Basil Penne Pasta--fresh and plentiful tomatoes, reggiano and feta cheeses, and loads of garlic spike the light olive oil sauce with flavor.

All of these dishes are big enough for a meal--especially with the excellent Caesar salad, modestly dressed in a garlic anchovy dressing, tossed with sourdough croutons, and topped with shaved reggiano cheese. This item alone is worth a trip.

Inferior items are the Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls, because the chicken is ground into a paste, the Bay Shrimp Cocktail because the shrimp are tiny and thawed from frozen, and the flavorless Asiago Spinach Dip. The Seafood Cakes are pretty good (especially the tangy bernaise sauce) but really small, so only get them if you really want them.

The great thing is, though, even if you don't believe me about the crappy items, they're still only $1.95--so cheap they could serve you a new McDonald's bratwurst without it being a big disappointment.