I've been looking forward to my husband's birthday for a few weeks now. I saved my tips from the last few weekends of working so that I could treat him to a whole day of goodies- just a payback for all the sweet birthdays he's hooked me up with over the years. Last year he bought me a tattoo! After a morning at the farmer's market (picked up some small eggplants that you'll see later this week!), an afternoon of asparagus & chevre pizza slices at Hot Lips, dropping off our son at the grandparents' house for an overnight stay, and snacking on fancy cheeses we picked up at the market (dill havarti and smoked gouda, mm)- the time came to decide on dinner. I'd been kind of hounding the husband for the last few days- excited about what restaurant he might choose. Since I'd purposely saved up some cash, we weren't particularly worried about spending, so I had visions of fancy dishes floating around in my head. But, when it came down to it, he just wasn't in the mood for fancy. And it turns out- neither was I.
I've lived in the Portland area my whole life, but I've never eaten at the original Delta Cafe on SE Woodstock- not even now that I work only a few blocks away! One night, my husband and I had a craving for delicious food, so we decided to try it out- but the restaurant had closed only a few moments before, and even though we could have ordered food at the bar, it was standing room only. Boo! So, we forgot about it for awhile, until the owner of the Woodstock Delta Cafe sold the restaurant and moved across town to open Miss Delta- a similar cafe on N. Mississippi Ave.
I spent the whole week leading up to birthday dinner DESPERATELY CRAVING a giant cut of meat. I don't know, maybe it was a hormone thing, whatever. I just knew that wherever we went, some kind of loin or flank or tenderwhatever was in my future. So when my husband mentioned Miss Delta, it was like everything fell into place. DUH!
All my buddies have been raving about Slow Bar's "Slow Burger"- supposedly the best burger to grace mankind since- well, ever. It's made with Strawberry Mountain beef, which is a local farm that I don't know a lot about, other than it appeals to foodies. I believe it's grassfed, organic beef. You know, the hippie stuff. So- when I saw a Strawberry Mountain flank steak on the menu at Miss Delta last night, my little heart sang out "YES! Give us some protein!"
I tried to avoid the full-on MEAT SHOT since I know it's not very appealing to some of our readers, but you can see in the upper right area of the shot, my medium-rare (well, it was pretty rare. which I like.) flank steak, sitting pretty next to a ridiculously huge mound of mashed potatoes. DELICIOUS mashed potatoes, I mean. Listen, posting this is just kind of making me drool, it's kind of bumming me out. I want to re-eat this dinner SO BAD. The steak was charred as hell on the outside but tender and pink on the inside- and I don't know if they brined it with something fancy or if I was just psyching myself out with crazy expectations or what, but I honestly have never tasted beef this phenomenal in my life. I know that Strawberry Mountain isn't exactly "top tier" like UBER FANCY BEEF, but it's certainly higher quality than what you'd get at your average grocery store. I was practically weeping as I ate- a common reaction to delicious foods. You could say it gave me a culinary boner, to quote Summer's awesome Top Chef t-shirt.
Jason went for the gumbo, which we lovingly described as the Ultimate Salt & Brown® - a silly inside joke. Recently we ate at a horrific chain restaurant which shall remain nameless- let's call it Crackaroni Shill. I'm not going to defend it- I'll just say that we were at the mall on an unrelated errand and we were STARVING, so we went there, and it was so god-awful I wish I could go back in time and un-eat it. The food was terrible, but it spurred a conversation about beloved childhood foods, many of which were basically packets of msg and sodium and weird powdered cheese or beef stock or something- mixed water and spooned over meat. One of my favorite dishes when I was a kid was something my mom just called "Chicken and Noodles." It was a huge bowl of egg noodles, topped with a couple of roasted chicken breasts, and ladled over with a massive amount of this bizarre yellow gravy- it was just a packet gravy from the 'packet aisle' of the grocery store. They don't make it anymore, I guess- which is a shame, I adored it. Anyway, we joked about how all of our favorite flavors from our childhoods can be described simply as Salt & Brown. Salisbury Steak, brown gravy, etc.- Just salt and "brown." So anyway, this gumbo did Salt & Brown with flair, and I'm guessing it's marginally healthier than the shit you get from a packet.
If you're in the Portland area, and you're tired of heading to Montage for your late-night cajun fix, hit Miss Delta, because oh my damn- do you need a steak? Yes, you need a steak. And some Salt & Brown. (P.S. DO NOT STEAL OUR IDEA! We also joked about someday opening a 'comfort food' restaurant and calling it Salt & Brown. THIS IS NOW A LEGAL DOCUMENT! HANDS OFF OUR AWESOME NAME! Ha!)