Something I really like about Portland’s and its dining scene is the fact that so many places are open for lunch. It opened up so many more restaurant options for Keith and me to try, especially since we had a limited amount of meals slots to fill (five dinners, five lunches and five breakfasts). I was really excited to learn the Pearl‘s Park Kitchen was one of the spots with lunchtime hours. Not only that, but the weather was also so nice that we were able to sit outside, so that’s two things that are tricky to do in Boston: find a great lunch, and dine al fresco. Of course that’s not to say that it’s impossible to do both back home, but I do think its options are significantly more limited than Portland’s.
I knew as soon as I held the Park Kitchen menu in my hot little hands that I wanted to start with the cucumber salad ($7.50 for a half-portion). With quinoa, snap peas, goat cheese and walnuts scattered atop a cluster of greens, it was fresh and light, the absolutely perfect salad for a hot and sunny day. I thought the quinoa was great surprise, since its presence was completely unexpected. Along with the walnuts, it added a meatiness of sorts to the plate and gave the salad more substance.
Of course, when it came to picking my main dish, I was caught between two options — a lovely-sounding asparagus panino, and a devilishly interesting hot dog. I quickly realized that I simply had to go for the hot dog; even though I love love love panini, there was just something so ideal about the hot dog. After all, it’s summer food, and it is July…
Truly, the Park Kitchen hot dog ($8.00) is not to be missed, and here’s why: house-made ketchup. Now, I like ketchup, but I always only use the tiniest smidge on my fries and burgers. I tried a bit on my dog (which also comes with pickled root vegetables and house-made potato chips) and then the craziest thing happened — I turned into a ketchup fiend. I smeared not only the surface of my grilled bun with it, but also the surface of my dog (which, it must be said, was more sausage than hot dog). The ketchup was so sweet and delectable and just plain tomato-y that I even ended up dunking my chips in it.
Would I go back to Park Kitchen for dinner? I don’t see why not. My lunch, while nice, wasn’t so delicious as to have me wanting to visit again and again (unlike Sel Gris), though I would certainly give the dinner menu a go. But I’d also order a side of ketchup, and ask for a spoon to dip into it.
422 NW Eighth Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209