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#41 aristo

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 12:45 AM

I had two excellent meals at Smallware recently. Prices were very reasonable.

Standout dishes were:
* Mapo tofu custard.
* 6-minutes egg. (Yes, it sounds boring but it is VERY good.)
* Fried chicken lollipop.

Some items (like the above egg, and a smaller portion of the chicken lollipop) are listed only on the bar menu. However, I was told that upon request, they will serve them in the main room too. Personally, I hope that they just start offering all options at both rooms without special requests.

#42 FoodLuvr

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 07:42 AM

As much as I am reluctant to post anything negative about any place, I'm posting because I would want this promising place to improve. I have to say I agree with PtH in that the flavors of just about everything my friend and I had were just not in balance. For example, the fresh oysters had straight up fish sauce on them! It ruined the fresh flavors of the oyster and made it way too salty to eat. For a place that had a lot of rave reviews, I left disappointed about the food. The drinks, service and decor were great though!

#43 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:14 PM

Agreed! Wonderful drinks and service, and what a cute space!! Haven't seen Barwares yet, but I'll check it out, at least to have drinks.
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#44 Flynn

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:27 PM

Weird to see such a split on one place. I've been a few times now and still sit firmly in the 'Yes' camp. I'd like to try out some of the new dishes though to see how they stack up.

I agree with Der Zuke that the scallion tofu cream with the hanger steak just doesn't work. It makes me less inclined to order that dish.

Love the oxtail curry, but you do need to cowboy up and get the scotch bonnet salsa involved. If you enjoy Japanese curry, you'll like the results but in a spicier way.

I've downgraded my opinion of the cocktails. They're good, but not "top notch". I think the Agave in particular is a little too sweet. I like the Whiskey a bit better. Their sake is good in any case.

#45 Jill-O

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:33 PM

I want to go back, I really enjoyed my first meal there.

And Zuke, even I liked that scotch bonnet salsa with the oxtail curry! HA! ;o)

Those oxtails, along with the fried squash and the scallop sashimi were my faves the night I went. Only one dish fell flat for me, the cured salmon.
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#46 Quo Vadis

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:43 PM

Weird to see such a split on one place.


I dunno, they're still relatively new and I imagine they must have a large number of staff.
They have 2 spots, Barwares and Smallwares
They're open 7 days a week, 5 days for lunch and dinner.
They're open until 2 am.
Unless they want to be paying a lot of cooks time and a half that's a lot of cooks to keep on for hours coverage.
That would explain some inconsistency for sure.
It's why most fine dining places try to get cooks on salary, less cooks working more hours is usually better for consistency.
It's sure to suss itself out over time.
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

#47 ExtraMSG

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 03:38 PM

I want to go back, I really enjoyed my first meal there.

And Zuke, even I liked that scotch bonnet salsa with the oxtail curry! HA! ;o)

Those oxtails, along with the fried squash and the scallop sashimi were my faves the night I went. Only one dish fell flat for me, the cured salmon.


I might have been more willing to Cowboy up if I didn't have to work after that. Nobody wants their food served by someone with a severe case of scotch bonnet belly. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, too, but I was thinking more Thai curry going in. As I've said, there's something about Japanese curries that has never really done it for me. Too earthy without the balance that you get in Thai or Indian curries, perhaps. It's certainly possible we just chose dishes that were mistakes for us. Usually I'm pretty good at picking things for my palate.

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#48 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:32 PM

.

I've downgraded my opinion of the cocktails. They're good, but not "top notch". I think the Agave in particular is a little too sweet. I like the Whiskey a bit better. Their sake is good in any case.


Dang it... Okay, confession. The drinks were tasty (only tasted two) because fruit and sugar are....well, tasty! Yes, they were both way too sweet. The confession beguiles even me. It is the case that, for some strange reason, I keep feeling like I want to be overly forgiving about my opinions on the food and drink I / we had there. The service was completely acceptable and even nice. The drinks small, expensive, out of balance to the sweet angle (but that's ONLY my take on it, and I like VERY bitter and sour drinks, so maybe don't even listen to me). And the food sweet, salty to a fault, "busy", but beautifully presented.
I have heard so much about what an awesome person the owner is that I keep thinking we'll no doubt run into each other given mutual friends and biz, and I'll feel bad about being nearly the only voice in town who was displeased with nearly every aspect of my time at Smallwares.

The ambition is so clearly there. The passion even. And people obviously love it. Maybe it's just plain not for me. I like a subtle and minimal approach to most food, and where I do prefer big flavors, it's just a different set of flavors... or style.
On the other hand, the food was infinitely better than the (literally) inedible excuse for "food" I recently had at Corazon. So I can refocus my attentions there now I suppose ;-P

Guess I've said enough on the matter. Glad to have points of agreement with MSG and even more so with FoodLuvr. I was feeling pretty crazy over this one :-/
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#49 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:00 PM

And another vote to make me feel SLIGHTLY less crazy. A friend ate lunch here yesterday and had identical notes as I, foodluvr and msg (to some extent). His comments to,me kept using the words" sweet", "salty" and no balance.

Whew! :-P
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#50 Flynn

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:27 PM

I have a friend who totally agrees with me that Smallwares is great. She's from Niagara Falls...you wouldn't know her.

#51 Prone to Hyperbole

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:14 PM

;-) lol
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#52 Jill-O

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:00 AM

WWeek ROY runner-up (Aviary got top pick):

http://www.wweek.com..._runner_up.html

Smallwares—and our Restaurant of the Year, Aviary, which has similarly ambitious ideas about how to create new dishes from an assortment of exotic flavors—are good enough to change how Portlanders look at unfamiliar dishes. When it comes to the fried kale, for example, eating is understanding. The kale, which has become a signature offering, features broad leaves of the dark green cabbage fried in a light rice batter and covered with smoky candied bacon and a light dressing of bright mint and fish sauce. The dish adroitly juggles five flavors, and is a splendid introduction to what Ware calls “weird, undefined cuisines.” Though bold, it’s not difficult to appreciate. And priced at $10, it’s not exactly high stakes.


Congrats to them. I like their food, I need to get back up there for some drinks and a meal soon...
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#53 beme

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:50 PM

Been to barwares now several times, and we really enjoy it. I wish the prices were a little lower, as we can't seem to even get out of the bar for under $70 and only drinking beer to keep costs down. My foodie leanings are tempered by a limited budget after choosing to go artist some years ago. Its not the deal that tanuki is, but its just a few blocks away from home and we really like the flavors. I was surprised to read about the oyster complaint. I really like the flavor, and I had no problem still tasting the Pacific. I have a mental note to hit it for the wed 10pm and later dollar oysters. We also really like the 6 minute egg, which is delicious and great with a beer. As far as general menu items, we have only had the hamachi (fav), the scallops (fine but not awesome), and octopus with pumpkin which was very good. I like how unexpected the flavors are, and to my palette they work.

#54 polloelastico

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 09:46 AM

A lot of the items at first glance don't seem like they would make sense or perhaps seem forced into the "aggressive Asian prism", but what I've had here has hit the spot. For instance, the oysters with fish sauce, cilantro and lime sounded like it would be way too overpowering a sucker punch, but the delivery was more of nuoc cham flavor profile and the oysters were delicious. They were served on top of konbu, which was I imagine was meant for presentational purposes but of course I ate it.

 

Other dishes like "grilled octopus salad with miso, radish, sesame, pine nuts, pumpkin" at first glance seem like they have too many ingredients, but the dish worked. The greens I think were nicely bitter beet ends, and the dressing again had flavors of a fish sauce-based Vietnamese nuoc cham, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and the octopus was grilled perfectly with a crunchy exterior but tender at the same time.

 

Scallop sashimi was served with aji amarillo and each slice of tender raw scallop was topped with a section of lychee fruit, and dusted with pink peppercorn and chive sections. It was sort of a Peruvian/Chinese mashup that really sung to me. Even the drinks veer into this tenuous fusion-ey territory (whiskey with garam masala syrup) that perhaps in less capable hands could be clumsy, but seems to work.

 

I wish this place was closer. I used to live in the neighborhood at one point in my life, and if Bar/Smallwares had been around it's the type of place I would frequent. 


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#55 Flynn

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 09:21 PM

Smallwares currently has a duck leg ramen on the menu. Seems relevant given the recent ramen interest.

#56 crepeguy

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 07:15 PM

Smallwares currently has a duck leg ramen on the menu. Seems relevant given the recent ramen interest.

 

 I want to thank you for posting this. 

 

We've gone to Smallwares/Barwares a few times now and I really like it. The service has always been spot on and Johanna Wares pulls it off better than most.

 

I've never encountered uneven or unbalanced dishes here (though I've only been going the past six months, so I'm a relative newcomer). What I can say is the duck ramen was delicious and I would go there before Biwa (overhyped) or Boxer (ditto) for this dish alone. Unfortunately, the ramen changes up every few months or so. This one had a perfectly cooked egg, a tender confit of duck leg, spinach, cilantro, corn, red onion in a Shōyu broth which was flavorful, yet NOT too salty. 

 

I feel for Johanna that her chosen neighborhood has never fully embraced her concept. Honestly, she'd be better off in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Capitol Hill, Seattle, but then her rent would be much higher. 



#57 crepeguy

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 07:55 PM

Well, here we go. . . Today, we were telling a friend about the fabulous duck ramen, so we decided to go back for more. I did have duck, but here I eat crow as I now have to pull back on my prior review above. We started with an app “special” of sea urchin served over a bed of rice cake seared with bacon fat and topped with chutney. It was delicious--slightly over-salted, but the urchin was lost on the other flavors (and at $12 an order, it was way overpriced). Next, we tried an app “special” of fried green tomatoes with an aioli and side of  fresh dressed cilantro. The tomatoes were slightly undercooked (a bit hard) and although flavorful, it was way too salty. Embarrassingly so. Next up the ramen. Not as much broth as three days ago, the flavor was nice (yet slightly over-salted), however, the confit of duck leg was hard as a rock--not tender as before. It took me 5 minutes to get the meat off the bone. All three of us got this dish and all three duck legs were the same--rock hard. My guess is this: they sold out of the ramen on Friday night and didn’t have enough time to properly braise/poach the duck for tonight. So, the bartender/server asked how everything was and we responded great although all three duck legs were too hard. He said “I’ll inform the kitchen.” When he brought the check I inquired if he informed the kitchen. He said he did, and the chef replied “Fucking assholes!” But he added, “Not you of course, but the cooks who screwed it up.” There were no comps, so I don't think the issue was handled well. 



#58 pwillen1

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 05:44 PM

I love your candor (and your crepes!) 


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#59 jmatt

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 05:42 AM

Well, here we go. . . Today, we were telling a friend about the fabulous duck ramen, so we decided to go back for more. I did have duck, but here I eat crow as I now have to pull back on my prior review above. We started with an app “special” of sea urchin served over a bed of rice cake seared with bacon fat and topped with chutney. It was delicious--slightly over-salted, but the urchin was lost on the other flavors (and at $12 an order, it was way overpriced). Next, we tried an app “special” of fried green tomatoes with an aioli and side of  fresh dressed cilantro. The tomatoes were slightly undercooked (a bit hard) and although flavorful, it was way too salty. Embarrassingly so. Next up the ramen. Not as much broth as three days ago, the flavor was nice (yet slightly over-salted), however, the confit of duck leg was hard as a rock--not tender as before. It took me 5 minutes to get the meat off the bone. All three of us got this dish and all three duck legs were the same--rock hard. My guess is this: they sold out of the ramen on Friday night and didn’t have enough time to properly braise/poach the duck for tonight. So, the bartender/server asked how everything was and we responded great although all three duck legs were too hard. He said “I’ll inform the kitchen.” When he brought the check I inquired if he informed the kitchen. He said he did, and the chef replied “Fucking assholes!” But he added, “Not you of course, but the cooks who screwed it up.” There were no comps, so I don't think the issue was handled well. 

Inconsistancy? In Portland? No fucking way!



#60 crepeguy

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 07:45 AM

Inconsistancy? In Portland? No fucking way!

 

You have a point.