This day started with a visit to one of my favourite Portland places and again, Mharie had never been so we had to go!
Dirty Lettuce - Plant-Based Southern Eats - Portland, Oregon
The Portland Japanese Garden is part of a huge complex that includes the Oregon Zoo and Hoyt Arboretum. It is easily accessed on transit but today we paid for parking since the rest of our day is more easily accessed by car. We read a comment by someone (not just a random but someone who would know) who rated this as the best Japanese Garden outside of Japan. It is peaceful and beautiful and begs you to meditate. So meditate we did but soon thoughts of vegan soul food crept into our consciousness.
Dirty Lettuce is located near NE 42nd on NE Freemont in a picturesque maybe trendy or touristy area. It was easy to find street parking (of course it was Thursday afternoon). It's a nice area for a post-lunch stroll and we would definitely need it.
Our strategy was to try everything that we could and as I always say, we eat healthy at home. While we ordered a couple of plates with sides, to fit the fried chicken in, we ordered a basket which came with fries. Everything that we tried was made with seitan and tasted similar (although seitan like tofu is a palate to which you add flavours, like chicken flavour) but in each case it was the coating that counted. In this case the fried chicken coating was mouthwatering like your favourite f.c. and crispy. We chose their house comeback sauce for our fries which was amazing.
Next up was the Fried Catfish Plate which was the most amazing of all! Plates come with your choice of sides and we ordered the southern fried squash and the Infamous Bowl. The cornmeal crust on the catfish was legendary and could have fooled the most dedicated catfish eater. The I.B. is infamous for a reason. On a bowl of mashed potatoes there are chicken nuggets and corn, smothered in gravy. This side dish really deserves its own blog post!
Finally, we had the BBQ Rib Plate. Vegan ribs can be challenging but we think that these are the best that we have had. They were fall off the bone (?) tender and smokey and the sauce was sweet and a little spicy. I'm not in a position to argue Kansas versus Memphis, I just know they were very good. With excellent cornbread and tasty long cooked greens this was another amazing plate. There was plenty that we could not finish and a lot of food went home with us.
It feels a little like you've been invited into somebodies kitchen for a meal (presumably someone southern), with mismatched wooden chairs and tables and older wooden floors. The word charming comes to mind. Our server was welcoming and helpful. This is our favourite new place in a very long time! Come here! This could not have been more enjoyable!
Food 5 out of 5
Vegan Options 5 out of 5
Comfort 5 out of 5
Service 5 out of 5
Value 5 out of 5
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