Missing a Timbers match is not something I take lightly.
A team of wild horses won’t be able to drag me away from the Timbers match Sunday at PGE Park.
However, I missed both goals.
And I only had time for two delicious beers.
Because I left just before halftime.
I walked the three miles home.
I would not make such sacrifices for just any restaurant.
But last night I had a date with some friends at Lovely Hula Hands (4057 North Mississippi Avenue).
Higgins is my favorite restaurant in Portland. I’m always impressed with the food and service and beer selection. It’s been a biweekly stop for over a decade, and for three years I even lived within the block in an apartment I selected partly due to its proximity to the restaurant.
But now I’ve moved to North Mississippi, and once again my decision to relocate was partially influenced by proximity to a restaurant; Lovely Hula Hands is a half block from my front door.
On perhaps one of the last summer-like days of the year we sat at a table in the beautiful airy upstairs space.
Our friendly, pretty, and beauty-marked waitress started us off with a few signature cocktails. I awkwardly ordered a Beauty Mark (sour cherries, Makers Mark, fresh orange juice). My companions had a Talulah’s Bathwater (pomegranate molasses, Sauza, fresh lime, sugar) and a Nik’s ol’ Fashion (Makers Mark, sour black cherries, one sugar cube, dash of bitters, topped off with soda water).
After my three mile walk I was thirsty; I downed my drink and ordered a Dick’s Best Bitter (one of my favorite non-Oregon beers) to go with the meal.
Another friend who’d visited recently had recommended the sea salty Padrón peppers fried in olive oil and the Viridian Farm peaches with Parma prosciutto, browned butter and thyme. We followed his suggestions, but also tried the ahi tuna carpaccio with avocado, lime, cilantro, shaved fennel and jalapeño oil. All three choices were delicious and uncomplicated. My favorite was the super-simply prepared peppers; not spicy at all, okra-like sans slime. The browned butter made the peaches; I forgot the prosciutto and thyme were even there. The ahi was beautiful.
For the main course I ordered the pan roasted northern halibut with pounded basil oil, aioli and a shellbean, peperonata and Romano bean ragout. The halibut was perfectly cooked and lightly browned on top. The ragout was as simple and summery as it sounds.
My companions had the spaghetti with basil pesto, heirloom tomatoes and Parmesan and the Draper Farm chicken breast stuffed under the skin with wild mushroom sausage and served on mashed sweet potatoes. They both were pleased.
For dessert I tried the almond cornmeal cake with huckleberries and whipped cream. Again, simple and perfect. Of course I shared.
A relatively current menu is periodically updated on the website. The menu seems always to include a vegan, a pasta, a fish, and several meat options, plus the ubiquitous burger (I eagerly await the Portland Hamburgers review).
I’ve only been to Lovely Hula Hands a few times, but they have a perfect record so far. The location can’t be beat and the big old building is quirkily comfortable. The food is fantastic and the service is great. If they keep this up for a decade or so they may join Higgins on the throne.