Ducktales Kitchen

OK… I’m a little behind on my restaurant reviews.  Fortunately I do take notes … these aren’t based on my memory!  My memory just isn’t that good!  I do remember though that on the day we visited this restaurant for lunch it was a dreadfully HOT day.  I think we both just wanted to get out of the house, and out of the heat, which is what brought us to Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver.   And the fact that we had a LivingSocial voucher was certainly another incentive…

Location:  612 N. Devine Road, Vancouver, Washington

Order:  I ordered the special of the day which was an Artichoke and Feta Cheese Ravioli with chicken and pesto sauce.  The special came with a choice of soup or salad – I chose the Caesar Salad.

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver, Washington is very comfortable, very homey.  From the artwork from local artists hanging on the wall to the friendly waitstaff that treats you more like family than like patrons, it is a very warm and inviting kind of place.

The service is pretty quick, too.  My salad seemed to arrive almost immediately after placing the order.  The salad was composed of very fresh, crisp romaine, Parmesan shreds, croutons and dressing.  The lettuce was ice cold, and this was especially refreshing on such a hot day.  But … there was just too much dressing!  Had I known that the Caesar salad would be so drenched in dressing, I would have preferred the soup (although, it might have been too hot to really enjoy the soup!) or the house salad with dressing on the side.  It was still a tasty salad, but, there was just way too much dressing.  The croutons on the salad were a little “off” too, they tasted stale and they were kind of chewy.  I appreciated the freshness and chilly temperature of the romaine lettuce, but the rest of the salad was kind of disappointing.

Fortunately, the ravioli made up for whatever the salad was lacking.  When the plate was first brought out, I noted that the pasta sauce was a little soupy, but it was incredibly flavorful.  So flavorful, in fact, I was kind of wishing I had a soup spoon to dish out the sauce and eat it by itself!  By the time I was about halfway finished with my dish, the sauce had thickened up nicely, though.  The chicken was very tender, and the ravioli was delicious, filled with lots of tangy feta cheese.  There wasn’t much artichoke in these pillows of pasta, but, I like feta cheese, so I couldn’t really find a whole lot of fault with them, except that I did notice that the pasta of the ravioli was just a little bit chewy.  Other than that, though, everything about this dish, from the sweet, juicy tomatoes and olives to the juicy chicken and flavorful sauce was really, really enjoyable.

My husband ordered a burger, and he really enjoyed it.  At the time of our visit, Ducktales was in a competition with one of the local radio stations where patrons would vote on their favorite burger, and Ducktales was in the top three.  We helped out by texting in a few votes, and in return we got a free dessert!

For dessert, we chose the berry cobbler, and it was so yummy.  Filled with marionberries, this dessert tasted like something that would have come out of my gramma’s kitchen.

My Final Thoughts:

I think that the dessert exemplifies what I really liked best about Ducktales Kitchen.  The food may not have been perfect, but it was really good.  It tasted like it was made with love and care … just like gramma would have made.  It tastes like a good, home cooked meal that I didn’t have to cook, and I really like that!

Ducktales on Urbanspoon

Main Event Sports Grill

I don’t know what possessed me to order another Sports Bar/Grill Living Social voucher.  I guess I am a glutton for punishment!  But, I was kind of excited about this place, if for no other reason than because it was in Vancouver.  We wouldn’t have to worry about the rush hour traffic if we’re a little late headed home after lunch, and even though I call my blog “Hungry In Portland,” I do love the city I call home:  Vancouver, Washington.  So I tried to remain optimistic, and hoped that this would not be a repeat of the past sports bar experiences (the food was great; the atmosphere just wasn’t my thing.)

The Adult Mac & Cheese

Location:  800 Main Street, Vancouver

Order:  I ordered the Adult Mac & Cheese along with a Watermelon Lemonade while my husband ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger with Fries.

What I Think:

My “sports bar” concerns were not assuaged when I first walked into the Main Event Sports Grill and to my left, I saw a stripper pole.  Oh great.  This place is SCREAMING sports bar with television screens on every wall at every angle so that no matter where you might be sitting, you can watch a game, and it’s dim lighting and dark decor.  However, after looking past the stripper pole and seeing that most of the patrons were actually female, my spirits began to lift.  Maybe this place might not be so bad after all…

I found a nice table (or so I thought) that was located near a window.  However, it happened to be located next to a table that had been occupied by several women, and my husband complained about their tendency to … well … talk.  A lot.  But that certainly is not the fault of the establishment.  I guess I should have chosen the other side of the booth, so that I would have been the one to endure most of the chatting.

We were served our drinks pretty quickly, and let me just say:  the Watermelon Lemonade ROCKS!  Oh my goodness.  So sweet and delicious.  The sweetness of the watermelon softened the tart lemon, and made for a very smooth beverage.

My “Adult” Mac & Cheese was also delicious.  The “mac” was represented by penne pasta that was tender and not mushy, and it had been smothered in a spicy cheese sauce … seasoned with what I surmised was chipotle pepper and onions.  Bacon was crumbled and tossed in with the pasta, and then the whole cheesy mixture was topped with breadcrumbs and then put under the broiler until it was golden brown.  Finally, the whole thing was topped with some Bleu cheese and served with a lightly buttered breadstick.

Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries

The first thing I noticed is that this bowl was HUGE.  Then, I noticed that the sauce was very … well, saucy.  That is to say, it seemed to be rather thin.  But by the time I’d reached the halfway point, the sauce had thickened up quite a bit and was no longer a puddle of sauce at the bottom of my bowl.

This Adult Mac &  Cheese is a delightful medley of flavors – but it is definitely not for sissies.  It has a real kick to it … and is one of the most flavorful macaroni and cheese dishes I’ve enjoyed in a long time.  The cheese was creamy and tangy, the spice sort of crept up on me, starting out as just an enjoyable warmth but before I knew it, it was a real kick in the mouth!  (It’s a good thing I had that watermelon lemonade!)  The bacon added a pleasing texture and smoky, bacon-y flavor to it all.  Even the breadstick was enjoyable – buttery and a little bit crisp, but warm and tender on the inside.  YUM!

My husband enjoyed his burger, but I think the atmosphere sort of wore on him, and I think he would have enjoyed the experience a bit more if I had selected a different table.  I did manage to steal a fry or two, and they were deliciously crisp, shoestring fries.

My Final Thoughts:

I think I enjoyed this experience a bit more than my husband.  I don’t think we’ll be back, because I think that the atmosphere left a very unfavorable impression on my husband, but as for me, I’d go back if only for the Watermelon Lemonade and Mac & Cheese … maybe a to-go order?  The menu is a bit pricy for us though, however, when one takes in to account that you leave there STUFFED because the portions are large, it seems to soften the blow of the price tag just a bit.  I enjoyed it, my husband not so much, and there are many other places we can go to that are just as good that my husband will also enjoy.

Main Event on Urbanspoon

El Valle Mexican Grill

I wasn’t too excited about visiting this place on the day that we did.  That day was actually reserved for Eat. Art. Theater. (E.A.T) but as it turned out, when we arrived at the address for E.A.T. the restaurant had been closed and the establishment had changed ownership.  I was sad, because E.A.T. really sounded like a place I would have enjoyed.  So, as we were headed back to Vancouver, I remembered that I had a voucher for El Valle and we decided to visit.  And even though this wasn’t the place we had planned on visiting that day, as it turned out, we found a great place for Mexican fare.

Location:  6700 NE 162nd Avenue, Suite #713, Vancouver, Washington

Order:  We ordered a plate of Nachos for an appetizer and I ordered the Combination Plate with a Chicken Enchilada and a Chili Relleno.   To drink, I ordered a HORCHATA!

What I Think:

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, there was still some lingering disappointment when we first arrived at El Valle… not in El Valle itself, but in the fact that we didn’t get to visit E.A.T.  But my disappointment disappeared rapidly when we ordered.  I noticed there was horchata on the menu (and this tends to be one of THE deciding factors for me on whether or not I’ll revisit a place … whether or not they have horchata!)

But when it came time to order, our server informed me that they were “out” of horchata.  I was visibly disappointed, and my husband remarked “this happens every time we visit a Mexican restaurant.  She sees horchata on the menu, and they don’t end up having it.”  At that, the server said, “I can make more.”  And they did!  And it was delicious!  Yay!

The salsa served at the start (with still-warm, freshly made chips) tasted very fresh.  A lot of tomato in it, with very little cilantro and onion in comparison to the amount of tomatoes … but I like tomatoes, and it had a nice level of spice to it.  I was becoming more and more encouraged with each bite that I was in for some good Mexican food!

The nachos were also quite tasty.  They were smothered in refried beans and loaded with cheese.  Not a cheese sauce… but shredded cheese that was all melted and gooey.  They also had a dollop of sour cream and guacamole on top, and I love guacamole, so I ate the side with the guacamole, while my husband prefers sour cream … so guess which side he ate from?  This is really how I love nachos.  Sure, there could have been other toppings … maybe some fresh tomatoes or something, but, I liked these just the way they were.  Delicious and very filling!

So filling, in fact, that I found it difficult to finish my combination plate.  I did manage to eat a good portion of it, though!  The relleno was delicious.  Chili rellenos are another “deciding” factor for me when it comes to Mexican restaurants.  If their chili rellenos do not impress me, I won’t be back.  They are like a Mexican staple for me, and my stepmother could even make a decent chili relleno, so if a Mexican restaurant cannot make a good one, I won’t return.

But this one was good.  It was stuffed full of cheese, and it had a moderate amount of mild heat from the chili and the batter was light and cooked through (yes, I’ve had chili rellenos that had uncooked egg-y stuff between the cooked outside and the chili … and it was revolting.  Which is why, as I said above, if I go to a place with bad chili rellenos, I won’t be returning).

The chicken enchilada was also quite good.  The chicken was flavorful and very tender.  It seemed to melt in the mouth.  The side of Spanish seasoned rice was tasty, as was the side of cheese topped refried beans.  I didn’t eat too much of either of the rice or the beans, because I had really filled up from the nachos appetizer.

My Final Thoughts:

I will definitely be happy to revisit El Valle.  The flavors that I wanted were there.  I left full and satisfied.  And the fact that they had horchata and even made a fresh batch of it for me really REALLY impressed me.  So, yes, this has elevated El Valle to my favorite Mexican restaurant in this area.  Other Mexican restaurants, take note:  I want HORCHATA!  But as for El Valle:  We will be back.

EL Valle on Urbanspoon

Pow! Pow! Wings

My husband and I both love wings.  Spicy hot Buffalo wings!  YUM!  It isn’t just about the tender chicken and spicy sauce, at least not for me.  It’s the whole experience of wings:  the crisply fried wings that have been dredged in spicy hot sauce, and then dipping the wings generously in a cooling bath of creamy bleu cheese dressing and following it all up with a refreshing crunch of a celery stick.   So when I noticed that Living Social was offering a voucher to the newest wing joint in Vancouver, Pow! Pow! Wings, I couldn’t pass it up! 

Location:  5930 NE 4th Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Washington

Order:  for an appetizer, we ordered an order of Original Fries ($4) and a Veggie Boat ($3).  For the main event, we chose 24 Boneless Wings ($17.80) dredged in the Traditional Buffalo sauce.

What I Think:

My first impression of this place is that it is loud.  We went there on what appeared to be a slow afternoon, at the time we arrived there was only one other table that was occupied, but, that one table was noisy enough to compete with a bar full of drunks.

But then, their behavior wasn’t the fault of Pow! Pow! Wings so I’ll just leave it at that.  This place looks like it would be a good place to go to watch the game, it looked to be sporting a very sport-y theme with its decor and it has a bar and some of the best wings that I’ve ever tasted … so sports fans, take note!

Our appetizers came out first, but to be honest, since we were ordering items that were much more like side dishes than appetizers, I would have been fine with – and actually preferred – the appetizers to be brought out with the wings.  But we were hungry and a little pressed for time, so we started munching on the fries.  They were delicious, crisp and well, they were french fries.  Nothing all that special about them except that they were cooked until golden brown and delicious.

We ordered the veggie boat because I speculated that there wouldn’t be much in the way of celery sticks along with the wings if they were offering them as part of the appetizer.  So, I figured, just to be safe, I’d order the veggie boat.  We ate a few of the veggies, but saved most of them for the arrival of the wings.  The veggies were nice and fresh.

My only complaint about the Veggie Boat would be the carrots:  the carrots are too big.  Yes, they cut them into fairly decent sized planks and some are larger than others, but the problem is with the carrot itself.  They are starting out with whole carrots that are too large, which means that the carrots end up tasting less sweet and juicy and instead are a bit on the woody side.  They were still tasty enough, but they would have been so much better if the carrots were younger and smaller to begin with.

When it came to the wings, at first I was a little skeptical, because, I usually find that the boneless wings tend to be nothing more than glorified chicken nuggets.  You know, overly processed bits of chicken that have been lightly breaded and deep-fried.  Some places do this right (Applebee’s), others leave much to be desired.

However, THESE boneless wings from Pow!  Pow!  Wings are exceptional.  They actually look like wings.  They look like someone took the time to remove the bone and the skin from the wing while leaving the meat intact.  And what was left is amazing.  Usually the skin of a cooked chicken is my favorite part (love me some good, crispy, fried chicken skin!) but I didn’t even miss the skin on these.  In fact, at one point, I found myself questioning whether or not the skin was actually there.  Like I said, these boneless wings are exceptional!

The boneless wings were so plump and moist and meaty!  Juicy and flavorful, I didn’t miss the bones one bit.  In fact, the fact that there were no bones made these much less messy to eat, which is something I appreciate.  The sauce tasted very much like a classic wing sauce, it didn’t really stray much from the sauce that you’d get anywhere else, and was probably a blend of Tabasco (or some other hot pepper sauce) and butter. I’m sure my husband would have rather had a slightly hotter sauce, and I actually had my eye on a gentler sauce when we ordered, but, I’m glad that I stuck with the traditional sauce here.  It is hot, but, it isn’t so hot that I felt the need to constantly “extinguish the flames” in my mouth.

My Final Thoughts:

We will most definitely be returning, I think, because we both really loved these wings.  And if you go – and you really should! – I recommend ordering more than you think you can eat, because the left-overs are really good too.  I might even argue that the left-overs are better because I can use my favorite bleu cheese dressing on it (it’s the Marie’s brand, by the way, the one that you can find in the grocer’s produce section), and with wings, the bleu cheese is almost as important as the wings themselves!

While Christmas Shopping I Discovered Simply Sweets!

I love cupcakes.  They are probably my favorite treat … I don’t know what it is about them.  Maybe it’s because they’re so cute, maybe it’s because they’re a personal size.  But, yeah, I definitely hopped on the cupcake wagon when they became all the rage over the past few years.  So, I was very excited to find Simply Sweets during a recent shopping trip at the Vancouver Mall. 

Location:   8700 NE Vancouver Mall, Suite 169, Vancouver, WA

Order:  I chose the three seasonal mini cupcakes offered on this week’s menu:  Eggnog, Gingerbread & Candy Cane.

What I Think:

Each week, Simply Sweets offers six different cupcakes on their menu.  For this week, the menu consisted of:  Red Velvet, Candy Cane, Egg Nog, Gingerbread, Simply Vanilla, and Simply Chocolate.  Since this was my first visit and I speculated that I’d be visiting again, I chose the three seasonal varieties on the menu because I figured I probably wouldn’t be there again before the holiday, and it would be my one chance to try those (I’m thinking that Candy Cane and Egg Nog aren’t going to be on the menu in February, you know?)

Of these three, my favorite was the Egg Nog.  Why?  Because it tasted the truest to its name.  It was moist, sweet, and very egg-nog-y.  The Gingerbread was probably the most disappointing of the three, because it didn’t really have that POW flavor I expected from something called gingerbread.  (I guess you can blame Liz Lovely’s Ginger Snapdragons for whetting my appetite for that spicy gingerbread flavor)

The Candy Cane cupcake was very tasty.  Even though I enjoyed it very much, it doesn’t get my vote for the favorite cupcake because really, it was little more than a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting topped with crumbled peppermint candy and two tasty chocolate mint candies.  The chocolate cupcake didn’t taste as though it had been flavored with peppermint, nor did the frosting.  I think that this cupcake could have been elevated to amazing with just a little more peppermint flavor.

But, I think there lies my main disappointment with this cupcake shop.  The cupcakes aren’t really all that special.  There’s not really much to them.  The flavors aren’t all that extraordinary.  The frosting is the best part of the cupcake, because it has a nice, fluffy texture and I’m not finding it to be too sweet – you know how some bakery frosting just tastes sickeningly sweet… this doesn’t, and that’s a good thing.

My Final Thoughts:

Honestly, the best thing about these cupcakes is that I didn’t have to make them myself.  I don’t consider myself to be an outstanding baker by any stretch of the imagination … I usually bake from mixes because I don’t like measuring.  But, really, I can’t say that these cupcakes tasted better than anything I’ve baked myself.  I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy more cupcakes from this establishment any time soon.  If I happen to be in the mall and I’m in the mood for cupcakes (and really, when am I ever NOT in the mood for a cupcake?) I might stop in.  But, I’m not going to make a special trip, because I am not really finding these to be special enough for that trip.

Simply Sweets on Urbanspoon

A Celebration of Chocolate at Seattle’s Best Coffee

Sometime before the announcement of the closure of Border’s Books, my youngest daughter and I spent some time there, and enjoyed a chocoholic’s feast at the in-store coffee shop, Seattle’s Best Coffee.  Now that Border’s is closed, I suppose these treats can be found at any Seattle’s Best Coffee location…

Chocolate Chunk Brownie

Location:  811 SE 160th Avenue, Vancouver, WA

Order:  Chocolate Javakula, Hot Chocolate (for my daughter) and a Chocolate Chunk Brownie (I told you this was a chocoholic’s feast, didn’t I?)

What I Think:

Being a lover of tea, I had ordered a chai latte before I noticed that at the register, they had the cutest samples of their Chocolate Javakula.  Asking first if they had coffee in them (coffee doesn’t agree with me), I was assured that there was not and I tried this heavenly chocolate drink.  I changed my order after the first sip!  YUM!

Chocolate Javakula

The Chocolate Javakula is an ice-blended drink that was perfect for this very warm afternoon.  It is sweet, rich and chocolate-y; not to mention incredibly cooling because of the ice.  Imagine your favorite hot chocolate turned into an ice slush!  That’s what this tastes like.  Now imagine it topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle.  (commence drooling!)  It was perfect liquid refreshment for this chocoholic.

My daughter had a rich, creamy hot chocolate which was also topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, plus a little bite of chocolate on the side.

But of course, this wasn’t enough chocolate for us… we had to go for it, and go big!  We also ordered their Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  They warmed it up for us, which made the huge chocolate chunks in the brownie melt slightly.  It was fudge-y and gooey.  It was heavenly!

My Final Thoughts:

We don’t get out like that very often, but, it sure was a nice treat.  I’m sad that Border’s has closed… it was my favorite book store.  Not just for the eats, but I love the casual atmosphere, and they had a great spot for kids there where they could browse through books to find just what they wanted.  I will miss Borders!

Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

A few weeks ago, my husband and youngest daughter decided to have dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Vancouver.  It would seem that this dinner would be our last at this establishment, as I learned last Thursday that this location had closed permanently.

Location:  916 SE 164th Avenue, Vancouver, WA

Order:  From their new Summer Mixed Grill menu:  Mango Chicken & Jumbo Shrimp ($11.99) with steamed broccoli and white cheddar mashed potatoes on the side.

What I Think:

When we visited Ruby Tuesday, we had no idea that it would be closing in another week.  I ordered from their Summer Mixed Grill menu – I had originally placed an order from their regular menu, and then I took a look at the special menu – and ran to find my server.  She was very nice and changed my order with a smile.

The food arrived so quickly!  The chicken was nicely cooked.  It was juicy and flavorful – not a dry bite on the whole portion.  And what I noticed about this grilled chicken specifically is that it is actually GRILLED.  Not marked with some sort of artificial grill mark or grilled under a broiler.  I could taste a hint of smoke to the chicken which told me that this had been grilled over a fire.

The chicken breast was topped with a mango salsa that was sweet, chunky and had just enough spicy kick to it to keep it interesting.  That spicy note builds upon the palate, and by the time my plate was clean, I could feel that heat on my tongue.  Fortunately, my daughter had fresh apple chunks as one of her side dishes, and she gave me one to help cleanse the palate.

The shrimp were delicious, although they weren’t terribly exciting.  They were plump and indeed “jumbo” – some of the largest shrimp I’ve seen.  They were cooked nicely, not overdone or tough.

The broccoli was steamed to just beyond the tender-crisp point, to the point that I personally find perfect.  Not too mushy, but also not too crunchy.  Just enough snap to the vegetable but still tender.

To drink, I had the seasonal soda:  Watermelon Fizz.  I didn’t really read the ingredients in this drink – they had me at “watermelon.”  Fortunately, I was very pleased with this beverage, which is a concoction of fresh watermelon, lime, mint and club soda.  This was deliciously refreshing, although it is certainly not for everyone.  My husband didn’t really seem too excited about it, nor did my daughter (although she was very happy to munch on the fresh watermelon garnish).

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the food very much, and the service was even better than the food.  My only complaint was that our table … well, the finish was a little worn, and (as it was explained to us by our server), the cleanser that they use to clean the tables leaves them a little sticky.  Our server was quick to help us with a rinsing wipe-down, and after that, all was well.   The service is friendly (I even had changed my order after it had been placed, and they were incredibly understanding) and very fast!  I am sad that this location is no longer open.

Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon

Goldie’s BBQ

For the past few months, my husband and I have been driving past Goldie’s BBQ on an almost weekly basis.  It is very close to my daughter’s dance school.  As we’d drive by, we’d say something like “we really ought to try that place sometime…” Finally, we decided it was time!

photo from Goldies BBQ website

Location:  15640 NE 4th Plain Road in Vancouver, WA

Order:  we (my husband and I) ordered a couple of combination plates to share so that we could get a little bit of a bunch of what Goldie’s has to offer.  We ordered 1 Two Meat Combo Plate ($14.99) and 1 Three Meat Combo Plate ($16.99) to share between the two of us.

What I think:

The atmosphere at Goldie’s BBQ is pretty unremarkable:  not a lot of flash or flair, but, really, it doesn’t need it.  Here, the food does all the talking.  It doesn’t need a lot of fancy decor to spice things up – the spice is in the food!

You have the choice of two different sauces:  spicy or mild.  Actually, there is a third sauce – “mixed” – which I presume is a mixture of the first two.  I chose the mild sauce but asked for a side of the spicy sauce just to get a taste of what I might be missing.  I am glad that I chose the mild sauce!  The spicy sauce is just that.  SPICY!  The mild sauce is sweet with a little tangy kick but I would have liked just a little more spice.  I think next time I visit, I’ll have to try the mixed sauce … I’m thinking it will be the best of both worlds.

Also along with our combination plates, were were given the choice of four sides, and I chose one each of french fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries and baked beans.  The first three were pretty average.  They tasted like others I’ve had before.  They weren’t bad at all – they were very tasty – but, they weren’t going to bring me back for more.  The baked beans, on the other hand, well, they are quite good.  Sweet, brown-sugar-y goodness.  They taste to me like they had been simmering over low heat for a long time.

The meats I chose on our combination platters were baby back ribs, beef brisket (although, there was an error with our order and we received beef ribs instead), pulled pork, mild sausage and chicken drummettes.  Each combination plate also came with a slice of white bread.  The meats were placed upon the bread and then topped with sauce.  This bread sops up the sauce and drippings and becomes quite a treat itself!

My favorite is a toss-up between the pulled pork and the baby back ribs.  The pulled pork was melt-in-my-mouth tender.  The baby back ribs were also tender and they had the benefit of the sauce being caramelized on the meat, so I guess the ribs are the winner!  Overall, the only real disappointment (other than not getting a chance to try the brisket) was the chicken drummettes.  These were overcooked.  But, because the rest was so good, it’s hard to be too disappointed by the drummettes.

While I really enjoyed our meal from Goldie’s BBQ, the next time I visit, I will be armed with a little more knowledge:  Don’t order fries or onion rings, instead, get the beans and maybe the potato salad or coleslaw.  I also won’t be ordering the drummettes.  Instead, I’ll stick to the deliciously tender ribs and pulled pork … and maybe next time I’ll try the brisket!

My Final Thoughts:  

If you’re looking for good barbecue in the Portland area, you should definitely give Goldie’s BBQ a try.  I’m hooked!

Goldies Texas Style Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Burgers at Burger Bungalow

Sometimes, you just want a burger, you know?  And this was one of those times.  We discovered Burger Bungalow shortly after it opened on NE 28th Street in Vancouver after stopping by the grocery store that’s situated on the same corner.  And this place was truly a great discovery!

The "Hall of Famer" Burger with Chips

Location:  11215 NE 28th Street, Suite 1 in Vancouver, WA

Order:  I ordered the Bleu Fungii with french fries while my husband ordered the “Hall of Famer” with chips.

What I Think:

The first time I stopped in at Burger Bungalow, we didn’t order.  I just picked up a to-go menu and left.  To tell the truth, I was a little intimidated by the menu.  It seemed a little too pricey for a burger.  However, our curiosity finally got the best of us, and we decided to give them a try.

And while the prices are a considerably higher for a burger than you’d pay at a fast-food joint (the least expensive burger on the menu is the Sourdough Burger at $8.49), these are certainly no fast-food burgers.  They aren’t even in the same league.  Burger Bungalow doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as “fast food.”  And if it eases the conscience at all, the price does include a fountain drink and a side order of fries (or their homemade, crinkle cut chips).

One thing that makes Burger Bungalow different from the “other guys” is that their beef is “Oregon Country” grass-fed beef raised by local farmers.  These patties are “Organic – Hormone & Antibiotic Free all beef 1/3 lb. burger patties.”  And this really makes all the difference in the world!  And while I realize there are those who may be skeptical, once you taste these burgers, you will be a believer.

Bleu Fungii Burger with French Fries

The Bleu Fungii burger ($8.99) that I ordered is topped with a mushroom blend that has been sautéed in garlic butter, Bleu cheese and Swiss cheese.  The bun is freshly toasted.  The mushrooms were thickly cut and not those thin slivers of mushrooms that end up mushy and slimy after being sautéed.  The thicker cut also results in a tender, meaty flavor and texture.  I couldn’t taste much of the garlic on these, but, the mushrooms tasted so good that I didn’t really need to taste the garlic.

The Swiss Cheese was a little overpowered by the pungent flavor of the Bleu cheese.  Again, I’m not complaining, because I ordered this burger because of the Bleu cheese, and had I given it much thought when I was ordering I would have probably requested to have the Swiss cheese omitted.  Not because I dislike Swiss cheese – I love it! – however, when it comes to burgers, I don’t really like them to be smothered with cheese.  I want to taste that beef!

And this beef tastes incredible!  The burger was well-done and I guess if I were to complain about anything, I guess I would have preferred the burger to have been cooked medium.  But in this day and age, I can understand why they choose to cook their burgers well-done.  And even cooked well-done, these burgers are very juicy and flavorful.

The french fries are thick cut and perfectly cooked.  Golden brown and lightly salted, these fries have a fluffy interior with a slightly crisp exterior.  But what really makes the fries special here is the Bungalow Sauce!  Be sure to ask for a side of it for french fry dipping!  This is a mayonnaise based sauce, and I don’t know what else is added to the mayo, but I think it’s a combination of ketchup and mustard.  It’s probably a very simple recipe – but it’s done right!

I also managed to wrangle a bite of the “Hall of Famer” burger ($8.59) from my husband, and this is a tasty burger as well.  Much more of the “classic” kind of burger that’s been topped with the Bungalow Sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.  What makes this burger noteworthy is that the meat has been filled with cheddar cheese, so every bite is cheesy deliciousness.  However, I preferred my Bleu Fungii – I’m just that kind of girl!

My husband ordered the chips instead of the french fries, and these are cooked in-house and cooked fresh-t0-order.  They are lightly salted and peppered, and I love the crunch that these chips deliver.  Next time, I’m going to have to remember to order these instead of the fries!

My Final Thoughts:

Having lived in this area for about ten years now, I can say that I’ve tried a lot of different burger restaurants in this area, but, Burger Bungalow is definitely the BEST burger in Vancouver, Washington. (Although, when in Portland, you gotta hand it to Little Big Burger)

Burger Bungalow on Urbanspoon

Cherry Chip Cupcakes from Fairycakes

This cupcake is much prettier than it appears in this picture. My camera could not capture the irridescent glittery sparkle! It looks like it was sprinkled with fairy dust!

I am not on a gluten-free or otherwise restricted diet, but, I am curious about how gluten-free tastes.  Having heard so much about gluten-free products (most of it negative), I decided to find out for myself.  Lingonberries Market is a store that specializes in gluten-free and other allergy-friendly products, including these cupcakes.

Where to Buy:  Lingonberries Market in Vancouver, WA

About Fairycakes:

I couldn’t find any information about them online, this is straight from the cupcake packaging:


Fairycakes; 10364 NE Sacramento Street; Portland, OR, 97220; (503) 931-3898

About this cupcake:

Gluten-Free Cherry Chip Cupcake with Almond Frosting and Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling (hey, I said it was gluten free, not fat-free!)

What I think:

To be honest, I’m a little out of the know when it comes to gluten.  About all I do know is what little I’ve picked up from watching Alton Brown on the Food Network.  So from what limited knowledge that I do have about gluten, these cakes cannot be made with a typical wheat flour, and a quick glance at the ingredients tells me that is correct.

But, I would not have guessed it if I had not purchased this package myself from Lingonberries Market (package of 2 cupcakes, price $4.00).  They look just like a regular cupcake – they’re so pretty and sparkly!  No kid I know is going to feel like they’re on a special, restricted diet with this cupcake in front of them… they’re just going to feel special.

And they taste like a regular cupcake!  These are not quite as fluffy and light as the cupcakes I might make myself using wheat flour.  Yes, they are a little more dense in texture, but, it isn’t TOO dense.  The cake is moist and flavorful.  It’s made with real cherries too, not some artificially flavored chip.

The chocolate cream cheese filling is smooth, rich and creamy.  The frosting has a pleasing texture.  It doesn’t feel grainy against the tooth nor does it taste (or feel) too sweet.

I like that I can taste and easily recognize each flavor within this cupcake.  The cherries are very evident as I actually got a rather large bit of cherry!  YUM!  The chocolate was very satisfying to this chocoholic, and the almond flavor in the frosting added a nice dimension of flavor to the confection.  Overall, the cupcake tastes fresh and quite simply, it’s delicious!

My Final Thoughts:

To be honest, if I didn’t know it was gluten-free because I bought it from a gluten-free specialty shop and because it says so on the package – I would not have known.  These taste fantastic!