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#21 Flynn

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 08:09 AM

Woa, that's a Yelp and a half right there. OK, I'll try to unwind at least some of it.

I think your experience with the salt might be an outlier. Although I think the dishes at smallwares are assertive, I'd give them a 7 on a scale of 1-Tanuki. I have not had any dishes that were excessively salty, and I haven't heard about any from the group of people I know who've been there. So you might have wandered into a bad evening.

I disagree about the compositions. I think that's a strength of the place. In fact, I'm predisposed to be less picky about pricing when dishes are thoughtfully constructed, as I feel the ones at smallwares are. I'm much more likely to get pissed off about a bad $32 ribeye than I am about $11 dungeness crab/chili/nigella/egg/chili flake. I think the pricing is comparable to Wafu, within about 10% at least (although I agree with Vrunka that the compositions are closer to Aviary). I don't feel ripped off. I also do not care about the bathroom location nor the Beaumont neighborhood in general (yes, I saw your sneaky edit of that comment).

It's too bad the kitchen screwed up your meal. I hope you give them another shot at some point. I think smallwares/barwares has a lot of potential and that the kitchen is very creative. It's one of my favorite new places this year, trailing slightly behind Aviary and Ox.

#22 Angelhair

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:00 AM

The Oregonian chimes in: http://www.oregonliv..._smallware.html

#23 Tallguy

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:15 AM

Had a great dinner here recently, the braised oxtails with scotch bonnet was really f-ing good.....

#24 vrunka

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 01:40 PM

The prices seem pretty reasonable to me. It's hard for me to imagine someone eating one smaller plate and one larger plate and leaving there hungry - and that would set you back something like $25. I just looked at our total for food. For 4 people to get more than enough food (we took some home), the total was $103. Drinks added another $50. For a high quality meal, that seems perfectly reasonable and no one left hungry.

As far as the saltiness goes, she does have a pretty strong hand with the seasoning, but it seemed appropriate and nowhere near as over the top as Tanuki (I loves me some 'Nuki, but I'm always parched and bloated for days after).

I hope Smallwares gets on the foodie radar and becomes a destination spot. I don't think they have much hope of becoming a neighborhood favorite.

#25 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:01 PM

Thanks y'all for your insight. I was on a pent up roll (been avoiding commenting for weeks now) ...
But Yelp, Flynn??? I'm gonna punch you in the dick next time I see you ! HA!!! kidding of course ;-P

I appreciate yours and vrunka's take on it. I found the aggressive seasoning much more intense than Nuki where the balance is usually noticeable on balance, though I've known Janis to say she makes salty food for drinking, but I really don't feel salt overload at the new place like maybe in the early days. The miso kale with bacon at Smallwares was literally burning with sodium, all the way down the throat. I feel they maybe salted the blanch water (assuming they use this step), then salted the greens, then added salty miso, and very salty good bacon (neuskies? sp?).

I clearly experienced an off night (though all of the many dishes we tried were equally out of balance across the board). But that could have been the heavy hand that night. I'll go again when I get a bonus or tax return. LOL . Knowing the wholesales on the food and drinks on the menu, I know what her mark up is. And it's high. But if the market will bear it then it's not high at all (note that every note I read mentions how empty the place is - I was there on a weekend night with only one other 2 top next to our 4 top, and no one else the entire time we were there). It's no surprise that her pricing schedule is a tad high (10% over wafu, agreed). Because she has publicly made her financial struggles known with the kickstarter fund to buy bar stools, etc. I genuinely felt for her when I saw that. I used to think I wanted to open my own little place some day. Until dozens of my industry peeps / owners practically begged me, implored me to reconsider for my own good. It's a struggle I probably am not cut out to handle.

I don't know when I'll be in that neighborhood again as there is no other draw and I'm not a resident there, but I'll give them another try. Or at least the bar. I love the space other than the community building aspect with the ghetto waiting to get mugged bathrooms. Ha ha, my ex-couples therapist is in the same strip mall, so maybe I'm just making a bad association ;-P Kidding. She's actually rad anyway :-)

Lastly, I recently coined the phrase (pointed at me) "It's not expensive, you just can't afford it". I thought of it after enjoying Yama twice and feeling I'd gotten my money's worth at $180 on myself...twice. I did not have that sense of value and surreal dining experience at Smallwares, though it was less money. I will have to try again.

thanks again for the balanced input. You know I need it!!! :-)
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#26 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:05 PM

Oh, and Flynn... that sneaking edit was because I realized that my reason for saying the hood wasn't ideal was not clearly conveyed. I meant not convenient for me. The 'hood itself is nice! I wish I lived over there , personally. I realized it sounded like I was saying it's a bad neighborhood, so I edited it to be more clear. I've gotten drunk at McPeets many a time, and miss the chicken livers at Fife. That was back when I was a sales rep who covered that territory. Now I never go that far out. That's on me.
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#27 Quo Vadis

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:31 PM

Value for dollar may be the single most completely subjective thing there is when talking about drinking/dining.

Because it isn't just about a number.
You can spend $180 and feel like it was worth every penny and you can spend $6.50 and feel ripped off.
I don't automatically think someone is cheap when they complain something is too expensive for what it is.

And yes, Neil, you're right, I have pulled back on the salt. In the other lcoation peoples' insistence on treating us as a restaurant was so problematic that I definitely amped up the YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONSUME THIS WITHOUT BEER as a matter of the survival of my business. People seem to get the concept in the new location a little better. :rolleyes:
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#28 Egads

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:35 PM

Oh, and Flynn... that sneaking edit was because I realized that my reason for saying the hood wasn't ideal was not clearly conveyed. I meant not convenient for me. The 'hood itself is nice! I wish I lived over there , personally. I realized it sounded like I was saying it's a bad neighborhood, so I edited it to be more clear. I've gotten drunk at McPeets many a time, and miss the chicken livers at Fife. That was back when I was a sales rep who covered that territory. Now I never go that far out. That's on me.

Oh, man, the chicken livers at Fife. I'm still in mourning.

#29 jmatt

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:34 PM

Oh, and Flynn... that sneaking edit was because I realized that my reason for saying the hood wasn't ideal was not clearly conveyed. I meant not convenient for me. The 'hood itself is nice! I wish I lived over there , personally. I realized it sounded like I was saying it's a bad neighborhood, so I edited it to be more clear. I've gotten drunk at McPeets many a time, and miss the chicken livers at Fife. That was back when I was a sales rep who covered that territory. Now I never go that far out. That's on me.


It's a good area and as I live in Roseway and pass by all the time, I've had high hopes for this place as it's on my way home and perfectly sited for late night food and drinks after work, but had a experience similar to yours. I've always wondered why there weren't better places in that neighborhood, but chalk it up to the fact that it isn't a transient, trendy, or recently gentrified area (like Mississippi, Williams corridor, Alberta), mostly families in the area, and there are few apartment complexes nearby. Wonder how long the late night hours will be in effect---bet it isn't too long. Love to see something open up in Roseway. Love the Vietnamese options in the area, but would love a bar & eatery that isn't a sleazy coke den in the area (though they have their place too), and Roseway also ripe for a coffeeshop/meeting place like Bipartisan in Montavilla.

#30 Flynn

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:31 PM

I'm always up for a well-deserved dickpunching, PtH. You know how I roll.

I hope smallwares/barwares does well. I don't see why folks in N/NE wouldn't make the short trip for destination-quality food (at least IMO it's destination worthy).

I'm getting a bit of that 'Pixti in St. Johns' feeling though, which is unfortunate. There's not a lot of good food available past midnight in *any* corner of town. Come on Beaumont/Alameda/Alberta/Nopo/Irvington etc. You can nut up and drive up Fremont. Make it a double stop with the newly rebooted Free House Bar next to Acadia. It's a chill spot for a cocktail.

#31 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:04 PM

"....People seem to get the concept in the new location a little better."

the pinball machines and 50" tv filled with hamster camembert porn probably help with that.
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#32 ExtraMSG

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:29 PM

I'm always up for a well-deserved dickpunching, PtH. You know how I roll.


Sounds like a good Tanuki promotion: "Punch Flynn in the Dick Night!" Can I go last?

"....People seem to get the concept in the new location a little better."

the pinball machines and 50" tv filled with hamster camembert porn probably help with that.


Like you'd find it if you didn't get it to begin with.

I'm getting a bit of that 'Pixti in St. Johns' feeling though, which is unfortunate. There's not a lot of good food available past midnight in *any* corner of town. Come on Beaumont/Alameda/Alberta/Nopo/Irvington etc. You can nut up and drive up Fremont. Make it a double stop with the newly rebooted Free House Bar next to Acadia. It's a chill spot for a cocktail.


St. Johns is truly out there. Beaumont isn't. It's worth noting that Aviary was never killing it either in a better neighborhood for what they're doing. And there is a lot of relatively new competition for when people are in the mood for Asian flavors in town -- and most of its more centrally located. There's also a glut of places opening in the midscale range despite high unemployment and stagnant wages. If a savvy restauranteur like Machado has to close down his flagship restaurant, it's tough out there. I have people walk-out several times a night because they can't get cheese enchiladas or nachos or carne asada. And I've got shit like meatballs on the menu and my average ticket is $10. I know us Portlanders like to think of ourselves as worldly and open-minded, but need I remind everyone how goddam popular burgers are in this town? I spent too many nights at Clyde Common watching 25% or more of plates have a burger on them to not be cynical. (And yes, I realize the irony of me complaining about burgers given that I contributed to the hype.)

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#33 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:30 PM

you said it Nick.... about PDX dining / diner expectations. I have, without exaggeration, heard more over the years about Biwa's burger, Toro Bravo's burger, Higgin's Burger, and Castagna's burger than anything else on their menus from the general public. They're smart to have them I guess, since it's money on the table. But damn.... really??? You go to Biwa for a hamburger??? egads......
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#34 joburn

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 02:55 PM

Went to Barwares last night. Our experience was much in the Flynn camp of really enjoying the food, beverages and service. Ordered the scallop crudo which is somewhat along the lines of Mirakutei's new style dishes (although little beats that octopus dish) - and it was quite decent. A nice spice to it and some sweetness in the saucing. Not oversalted at all (nothing was oversalted all night and we are both, my wife especially, well aware when something sorts excessive sodium use) - everything had a spicy kick on some level to it but not a sodium burn.

Poached egg with roe was excellent and a nice balance of flavors. Spicy noodles with fried egg were very good and veering perhaps a bit closer to a Tanuki-like style, but they are not really the same type of places at all (Tanuki being far bolder, earthier and less delicate all around, and of course the omakase and the booze are the most unbelievable screaming deal I can even think of). Oxtail was very good and rich and well spiced when we used all of the scotch bonnet sauce.

The one mixed drink (the Gin) was very balanced and herbal, nice sake selection, wife had an Upright 4 and they brought over a free Asahi when I ran out of my second glass of sake (Yuki no Bosha junmai gingjo cabin in the snow - which I learned to love at, natch, Tanuki) during my final dish. Service was excellent and well-rewarded for it. Tariff before tip was $82 and we thought well worth it and were quite satisfied with the overall quantity of food. We also live near the neighborhood so are very excited to have it up the road and will be going quite a lot.

It is not Tanuki at which I ate the week before and well as we know there is just no other place like Tanuki - it certainly doesn't need me to write it up here - but Smallwares is a different approach. It is not Aviary either which was excellent and has somewhat more complex food although overall felt ultimately more expensive than Smallwares.

Maybe a consistency issue if you read all comments above, but our one experience so far was very, very enjoyable and there were absolutely none of the issues mentioned above.

#35 HappyHourHero

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 04:08 PM

you said it Nick.... about PDX dining / diner expectations. I have, without exaggeration, heard more over the years about Biwa's burger, Toro Bravo's burger, Higgin's Burger, and Castagna's burger than anything else on their menus from the general public. They're smart to have them I guess, since it's money on the table. But damn.... really??? You go to Biwa for a hamburger??? egads......


I get the burger at Biwa, because I find everything else on the menu generally overpriced and meh... I have my Izakaya loyalties. But I do want to try Smallwares.

#36 Quo Vadis

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:08 PM

I have my Izakaya loyalties


I'm watching you motherscratcher.
<_<
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#37 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 11:48 PM

Went to Barwares last night. Our experience was much in the Flynn camp of really enjoying the food, beverages and service. Ordered the scallop crudo which is somewhat along the lines of Mirakutei's new style dishes (although little beats that octopus dish) - and it was quite decent. A nice spice to it and some sweetness in the saucing. Not oversalted at all (nothing was oversalted all night and we are both, my wife especially, well aware when something sorts excessive sodium use) - everything had a spicy kick on some level to it but not a sodium burn.

Poached egg with roe was excellent and a nice balance of flavors. Spicy noodles with fried egg were very good and veering perhaps a bit closer to a Tanuki-like style, but they are not really the same type of places at all (Tanuki being far bolder, earthier and less delicate all around, and of course the omakase and the booze are the most unbelievable screaming deal I can even think of). Oxtail was very good and rich and well spiced when we used all of the scotch bonnet sauce.

The one mixed drink (the Gin) was very balanced and herbal, nice sake selection, wife had an Upright 4 and they brought over a free Asahi when I ran out of my second glass of sake (Yuki no Bosha junmai gingjo cabin in the snow - which I learned to love at, natch, Tanuki) during my final dish. Service was excellent and well-rewarded for it. Tariff before tip was $82 and we thought well worth it and were quite satisfied with the overall quantity of food. We also live near the neighborhood so are very excited to have it up the road and will be going quite a lot.

It is not Tanuki at which I ate the week before and well as we know there is just no other place like Tanuki - it certainly doesn't need me to write it up here - but Smallwares is a different approach. It is not Aviary either which was excellent and has somewhat more complex food although overall felt ultimately more expensive than Smallwares.

Maybe a consistency issue if you read all comments above, but our one experience so far was very, very enjoyable and there were absolutely none of the issues mentioned above.


Well, that settles it. I have to go again. Give it another try. I did enjoy my "gin" drink when I was there, though it was a tad sweet, but sugar tastes good, and it was pretty balanced. The "rum" my friend got was def too sweet. I agree about the sweetness and spice in the scallop crudo dish. That one wasn't over salted. The problem was that it seemed too sweet and spicy enough to cover up the scallop flavor, but the texture was nice. (Had the best scallop dish in ages tonight at Biwa - will post there)

I'll probably do barwares next though. I tend to eat dinner after 10 anyway, so that works out well. Thanks for the detailed report. I'll def try them again when I'm on a budget that allow something more than MMM or Tanuki (or the actual "ethnic" places in the burbs where I usually go).
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#38 ExtraMSG

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 03:30 PM

Posted Image

Finally got over to try Smallwares. Lucky for us, it was dead early, even though it was a Friday. It was getting pretty busy by the time we left, around 7pm.

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This may or may not be the exact menu, since I copied and pasted it off the website. However, it has all the dishes we ordered: cured salmon, kimchi, asparagus, quail, steak, oxtail.

Spoiler


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We started with an assortment of their kimchis -- cabbage, daikon, and apple. I thought they were all tasty. I could have done without the skin on the apple, which once it soften just becomes texturally annoying, in my opinion, but I like that they have a few different kinds and they all tasted good.

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Followed the kimchis with the cured salmon. The gravlax was pretty intensely salmony, but fine, except I think I would have liked some of the other elements to be more intense as well to balance it. Other than the ume, the other elements got mostly lost. The balance was fine, but not quite good enough to make a truly delicious dish, and the number of ingredients worked against it. I think this could have been so much better if it had had larger slices of apple, the ume and sage for an accent. The nori was just extra. The red onion did a good job of countering the fish's strong flavor, but kind of blew out the rest of the ingredients. It was decent dish, but disappointing.

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I liked the asparagus better. The miso made it nutty, which was furthered by the pine nuts. It could be fairly salty if too much miso stuck to the asparagus, but the raisins did a great job of balancing it with their sweetness, there just wasn't enough of them. My wife and I were fighting over the raisins. The amount of pine nuts and raisins should have been reversed (making for a much better food cost, too!), imo.

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We weren't sure if we were going to get the quail, but it ended up being the best dish of the night, I think. The quail was cooked perfectly, tender and juicy inside, crisp outside. The combination of the rhubarb and the creme fraiche worked great. Each softened the other, making a delicious sauce that really enhanced the quail. The garlic scapes were cooked nicely and made for a good green accompaniment.

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The hanger steak had some of the best bites of the night, but overall as a dish was less than the sum of its parts. The meat was cooked great, juicy and flavorful, and the pickled pears were wonderful with the meat. Loved that combination. However, the scallion tofu cream didn't work with the rest of the dish at all, imo. I found myself wanting something like a corn and edamame succotash with a little soy and butter or something like that or maybe some simple grilled asparagus. The onion flavor was strong and just didn't work for me. I didn't feel my palate needed the richness of the tofu either.

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The oxtails were the one dish I remembered going in and what I was most looking forward to. However, it disappointed a little. The oxtails were tender and I gladly chewed them off the bone. The curry itself was pretty tasty, reminding me more of a Japanese curry flavor. That may have been part of the problem in that that's not my favorite sort of curry flavor. There was a lot of onion with the dish, too -- too much. And I found myself wanting for some acidity. There was basically none in the dish and the onion didn't work in the same way. The salsa might have worked, but it was too hot for me. Still an enjoyable dish, but from the descriptions, I expected to enjoy it more. The crisp plantains could have used some salt, too.

So overall, it was a mixed bag for me. I liked the meal, but I expected to like it more and I felt like several of the dishes were tasty enough, but close to being a lot more. Without tip or drink (tried a tequila cocktail, as is my norm these days, which was good), it was $68. I thought that was fair, but my wife felt it was overpriced and like she didn't get full. Part of that, though, might have been that I had a few bites of the steak, while she wasn't interested in the oxtail at all.

I'd like to see them add a couple sorbets to the menu for a finisher, too. I think they said they had a chocolate pudding and that was it. Chocolate isn't something I'd eat after an Asian meal very often.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#39 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:50 AM

MSG,

I'm happy (for selfish reasons) to see that I'm not just simply crazy. Well, maybe I am? ;-P

While your report is, as usual, much less hyperbolic than my comments previously, you really captured the exact message I was trying to convey. Key words are lack of balance. I too found some things too salty and/or sweet, where you compliment the fact that oversalty was balanced by something intensely sweet. Or the wrong side to match a main protein, etc. But the idea of too much of this, too little of that.... not an equal sum of parts.... . etc. THAT is actually what I was trying to convey.

Also, I, like your wife, feel that the prices are high. I'd add that they are comparatively substantially higher than other places in town doing nearly identical dishes (candied pear on protein, chilis, etc at Wafu for example. Or housemade kim chi and hanger with green veg at Tanuki, etc).

Thanks for your more specific and detailed report with pics. I'm not left wanting to drop the cash to try it again, just like when I left having eaten there. So, with the drink and tip, you were at what? Nearly $100, yes? At least $90? And yet not full (at least your wife said she was not full). That was my experience with four of us dropping $245 with only 2 drinks each at most. We spend an hour and a half there, yet left not one bit more full or sated than when we showed up.
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#40 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 12:00 PM

If we went to Wildwood or Le Pigeon, one app and one entree each would have cost that much. I don't think we got any less food. I imagine, too, if we had gotten something like noodles that would have bulked up the meal.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's