Mmmm, grilled cheese

Along with beer, bikes and strip clubs, good food has become embedded in Portland’s image. So I figure that reviewing a grilled cheese sandwich ought to fit Culture Shock’s mission of keenly observing art and life in Portland.

I dashed out of the office today to grab a quick lunch at the food carts at SW 10th and Alder, and decided to give the Savor Soup House a try. I’ve heard raves about the soup, but opted for the comfort food of grilled cheese sandwich. Today’s special was “The Tress” – grilled Tillamook cheddar on Grand Central sourdough with bacon and apple butter. If you don’t like that combo, you’re welcome to build your own, starting with a base of cheddar or gruyere and adding one (or all) of the following: Dijon mustard, giardineira, carmelized onion, sliced tomato, homemade pesto, truffle oil, Black Forest Ham, or applewood smoked bacon.

I sampled the chicken mulligatawny soup and will come back for a cup or bowl someday when the raining is pouring down (soon no doubt). The folks at Savor are happy to hand out samples in lovely china tea cups—no Seinfeld Soup Nazis here. You can read more reviews of Savor Soup House (and other vendors) at Food Carts Portland.

When the "Amazing Race" series concluded in Portland last December, the contestants raced to the “food cart pods” at 10th and Alder. Does anyone in Portland call them food cart pods? I didn’t think so, but then I found this recent story in the Willamette Week, which uses that phrase. (Perhaps the WW picked it up from television). If I understand correctly, the “pod” refers to the collection of food stands, not an individual vendor. What do you call them?

I love that Portland fills the edges of its downtown parking lots with food carts. Most serve good food at a reasonable price, and most strike the right balance between charming funkiness and “oh my god, is this really sanitary?” Here's another story about them from Northwest Palate Magazine.

If the Blazers want to develop an "entertainment district" at the Rose Quarter that is even remotely Portlandesque, it ought to include an outdoor (but covered) collection of food vendors like the food stalls I remember when I lived in Singapore as a teenager. Man, those were good eats, and the mingled aroma of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian foods was tantalizing. Forget about installing a strip mall of Fuddruckers, Chili’s and ersatz music clubs – give us places like Pok Pok and the trailers on SE Hawthorne and 12th.

The picture below is from Kuala Lumpur, but you get the idea.


Stephen said...

NY Times "Budget Gourmet" columnist/blogger just did a piece on bargain eating in Portland & he featured the carts.
Love your blog.

MightyToyCannon said...

Steven, thanks for the tip (and compliment). Here's the link to the NYT article:

Other than the obligatory opening reference to Portland's love of waterproof fabrics and fleece, the article succeeds in pointing out many fine hot spots in town.

MightyToyCannon said...

And sorry, I meant to type "Stephen"!