Accanto, My Brothers CrayFish, Sunny’s Diner, Cafe Mingo. He Said Extra.

He Said


We continue in our quest to try all top 10 Italian restaurants in PDX. Accanto is in the space next to where the Genoa restaurant used to be. For you non-geezers Genoa was at one time the best restaurant in the city. I wonder how it would compare to today’s restaurants.

Accanto serves Italian bistro style. I started with scallop carpaccio, corn, purslane, leek flowers that was delicious. I am a sushi fan and the thinly sliced raw scallops were delicious combined with the crunchy corn and sauce. But not, I am afraid, as good as the scallops of Mucca Osteria.

For the entree it was cavatelli con mias: sweet corn, house cured lardo, sorrel, ricotta, bread crumbs that was also good but the lardo were tiny to the point of vanishing. The dish was a delight with the chewy pasta, but if there were lardo I would not have known. Big pig is the best pig.

For dessert it was zeppoli, the Italian version of beignets, more like a fried cake than a donut-like beignet with a lemon curd. It was a touch dry and I will admit I prefer the Cajun style.

The drinks (Modern Fashion: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cocchi barolo chinato and Peychauds bitters over large ice cubes and LION’S TAIL Old Overholt Rye, St, Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, fresh lime, the latter more of a Christmas time drink with the allspice) and service were fine as well. We picked a booth in back. If you eat there choose the front of the restaurant where you can watch the bartender work and the food go by. The temperature is warmer in the back and the acoustics of the restaurant seem to focus all the sound to the back of the room, making it loud and echo-y.

Overall a very good meal at a reasonable price in a nice environment.

My Brothers Crawfish

Cajun is my favorite styles of food. Just spicy enough for a heat wimp. We used to go to frequently to My Brothers Crawfish but somehow got out of the habit after we heard (not true) that is was going out of business.

The restaurant is on NE 82nd in a pod mall with at least half a dozen other Asian restaurants that look good. I remember one paper calling it the best pod mall for food in PDX. I can see why.

After several years away, we went returned. The restaurant is smaller by half. Do not be put off by the lack of windows in the front that gives the outside a sketchy vibe. The food is fantastic.

The decor is kind of divey, part arty part vinyl but with good service. I usually have the boils (no, not Staph filled abscesses) but seafood and vegetables boiled in broth, but his time I went for the blackened catfish, corn bread, and dirty rice. Mmmmm. And best dirty rice I have ever had.

They have a full bar, although the tap was down when we where there.  Two warnings. In Beervana, they offer a New Orleans brew, Abita, as if it were a big deal. It isn’t. Abita is a fine brew, but nothing special. And no desert offering. Big mistake. They should at least offer Banana’s Foster.

But for Cajun better than any place in town? Absolutely.

Sunny’s Diner

For a very short while in the neighborhood was a Boardwalk burger joint. My son and I tried it once and were both disappointed. The burger was dry and tasteless. The shake was great, but did not make up for the burger. It is hard to screw up a burger, but they managed. I was not surprised the place did not last.

In its place is Sunny’s Diner and the breakfasts are great.

Everything is from scratch including the toast. The buttermilk pancakes are the size of dinner plates, tart and chewy. Perfect for breakfast, as are the eggs, sausage (5 links!) and bacon (5 slices!). They do not skimp on size or flavor. Two caveats. No waffles, so count my son out. And no eggs Benedict. But otherwise a fantastic place for classic breakfast food.

Service was pokey from order to food, which seems to be an issue on Yelp. But worth the weight and the wait.

Cafe Mingo

I like to say that while I cannot remember by first kiss (I can’t) I distinctly remember my first great restaurant, Saint Estephes in Manhattan Beach over 30 years ago. One of my few epiphanies and certainly a more memorable oral experience than a mere kiss. My son remembers ever shot he has ever made in golf. I say this as I tend to remember memorable food.

A couple of weeks ago we went to dinner after a movie at Cinema 21 and picked Cafe Mingo since we are trying to go to all top 10 PDX Italian restaurants. Life became busy with work and vacation and when I sat down to write about the meal, I realized the meal made no impression on me.

I remember sitting by the door on a warm day. The service was a bit pokey but I was so busy ranting about the movie so it didn’t matter. A weak beer selection and no cocktails. There was a Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes but not enough basil, always the case with a Caprese. It is hard to make a bad Caprese. The entree? Got me. They change the menu weekly so the internet is no help. Dessert? A chocolate panna cotta with that was more pudding than panna cotta and if it were not for the interwebs I would never have remembered. Fine but nothing special.

So maybe it was a good meal. What does that say? I am getting senile? The dinner was meh? I was so irritated at the movie (Don’t Think Twice which I though was a mediocre sitcom at best and do not know why it received such rave reviews) that I paid no attention to the food? That we need to go back? Or not?  

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