Pok Pok and Rimsky’s

August 22, 2007

For our four-week anniversary, I took Sweetie to Pok Pok, a Thai restaurant. But calling it a “Thai restaurant” isn’t descriptive: you probably think Thai means four different curries with your choice of chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, or tofu, plus Pad Thai, and, if you’re lucky, a decent Tom Yum soup, right? Right. Pok Pok isn’t that. Pok Pok is a temple to Thai street food (think hot sour salty sweet perfectly grilled delicacies) that started as a small walk-up shack and has grown into a sprawling little complex that includes a great bar, truly exciting food, and a waitstaff that’s happy to get into the gory details of what’s good and which rice goes with what, when the intricate menu gets overwhelming. Oh, and along the way, it got named the 2007 Oregonian restaurant of the year — which I think is unusual for a place that doesn’t have any dishes over $15 or so. (Though they are small plate dishes, and you’ll want three or four of them for two people.)

Pok Pok was wonderful, I’m starting to salivate thinking about the leftovers I’m having for lunch today, and I can’t wait to go back again. If only we had stayed for dessert.

But I just had to go to the Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse instead. I’d been reading about this place, this local institution, ever since I started researching coffee shops open late. It sounded so good — it’s in an old house, there’s no sign (you just have to know it’s there), it’s all funky and weird, people seem to like it. Sweetie had told me it wasn’t really that great, but she was game for another trip and me making up my own mind. “Not really that great” turned out to be overselling it: I can’t believe anybody goes there twice. The service was miserable (for some unimaginable reason they wait tables instead of having a counter), the hot chocolate positively watery, and the ($6.50!) Waffle Hot Fudge Sunday? Well, the ice cream was OK. The hot fudge tasted like warmed-up Hershey’s syrup. The whip cream was either underwhipped or, more likely, had sat around too long. And the waffle? The little tiny Belgian waffle under there? Thank goodness it was so small — it still must have weighed a pound. I should have brought a Dremel Tool to cut it. Oy. Yeah, it’s funky and grungy-hip and seems like a great place to people-watch, but they must spend about $50 a month on cleaning and upkeep in that place and have a 9000% markup on their desserts — so I wonder who’s pocketing all that profit. What a scam!