Woodsman Tavern: Overpriced, Overhyped

My usual practice is if I eat out at a place and I don’t like it, I don’t write about it.  The Woodsman Tavern falls into this weird category where I would say the food is good but I wouldn’t recommend it because it is so overpriced.  As I mentioned in my last post, Portland is really lucky to have so many great places to eat.  One benefit of us living in such a foodie town is that even the neighborhood pub has to step it up a notch because we expect more.  The other side to that coin is if you are going to bill yourself as a high end restaurant you better freaking bring it.  The Woodsman Tavern tries that but falls short.

We went to the Woodsman for a friend’s birthday party and we sampled a variety of things on the menu. Nothing was bad, it was all good. But there was also nothing outstanding about it. It was, I think by Portland standards, average. For the price that you are paying ($25-$29 main course, $9-$12 apps) you should be saying wow. Also, the portions sizes for the main courses were huge, too big in fact. I like leaving a restaurant feeling full not gross and I don’t know about you but when I pay $30 for a meal I feel compelled to eat it.

As for the service I thought it was average. My biggest gripe was waiting 20 minutes for a server to show up at our table after being seated. Which is not a huge deal just annoying. But again, at this price point I expect better.

If I had one word to describe the Woodsman it would be overpriced.  I do not mind paying for an expensive dinner if the food is worth it.  At this price point there are better options in Portland, where you can have a meal and think wow.  If you want to drop a $100+ on dinner I would suggest going down the street to Ava Genes. Nothing at this place justifies the cost. This is Portland, there are plenty of places where you can get better food for less money, so why come here?

The bottom line is the food is by Portland standards is good but not great, and the price just makes it not worth going to. They should cut the portion sizes in half and reduce the prices by a third and this place would be worth going to.

The Woodsman Tavern on Urbanspoon

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When It Comes to Restaurants, Do Portlanders Know They’re Spoiled?

It has been awhile since I posted a restaurant review.  Which, at least on my end is poor blogging practice since restaurant reviews are some of my more popular posts.  It’s not like I haven’t gone out much, we still go out once a week, but I haven’t really been any place spectacular.  I usually reserve the restaurant posts on here for places that I think are worth going out of the way for.  That isn’t to say where we have been has not been good, they have, just not special.  But then something occurred to me the other day.

We were having dinner at our neighborhood pub, Darcy’s up in St. Johns.  This is the kind of place where you can order breakfast for dinner (which I did).

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My wife ordered a bacon cheese burger, which is a half pound of angus certified beef, and a darn good burger.

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So I’m eating dinner, drinking a beer (West Coast IPA, soo good and I couldn’t believe they had it on tap), and I think to myself man we have it good!  This place has at least 10 very good craft beers on tap and the food is good.  In spite of all that I would say for Portland standards, this place is average.  You will never see this place make a list on the Oregonian, Willamette Week, or Portland Monthly.

The great thing about Portland is that every neighborhood in town has a place like Darcy’s.  Where you can get good food and find a variety of high quality craft beer. Portland is such a foodie town that I think it lifts up all restaurants because the customers just expect more and that is a great thing.

So I write this to say, if you are visiting Portland don’t forget the places where locals go day in and day out.  Visit the marquee spots but try these places as well.  You are not going to find a list of these places.  You just have go out and explore but chances are if you just walk around and see a crowd of locals you can bet it’s worth trying.

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More Direct Flights to Europe From PDX

In the last month there has been some positive news for PDX based travelers.  For those of us who use PDX as our home airport our options for direct flights for international travel are limited.  PDX has only one direct flight to Asia, on Delta to Tokyo, and one direct flight to Europe, on Delta to Amsterdam.  Next summer that is going to change.

Direct Flights to Iceland

Starting in May 2015 Icelandair is going to start direct flights from Portland to Reykjavik on Wednesdays and Fridays. This is great news for us locals, for two reasons.  One, Iceland is cool.  Second,  Icelandair is a great airline for connecting to the rest of Europe.  Check out their route map.

As you can see, Icelandair has a lot of destinations in Europe.  But, that is not what makes Icelandair good for connecting to Europe.  What is cool about Icelandair, is that they allow stopovers in Iceland for up to 7 days at no additional cost.  The flight from Portland is also short at about 7 hours.  From Portland you can take a relatively short flight to Iceland, stopover for a few days, then continue on to your destination.  It is two vacations on one ticket.

Direct Flights to Germany

Starting in July of 2015 Condor will operate direct flights from PDX to Frankfurt on Tuesdays and Fridays. Lufthansa used to operate direct flights on this route until is was discontinued in 2009.  I’m happy that Portland will have another flight directly to continental Europe.

For those of us that also geek out about frequent flyer miles, this flight is also an award flight gem. Condor is a member the Miles & More frequent flyer program.  A one way ticket from Portland to Frankfurt is only 25,000 miles in economy.  How can you get Miles & More miles? Currently the Lufthansa credit card has a 50,000 mile sign up bonus. Lufthansa is also a member of the Miles & More program, meaning the miles from that credit card can be redeemed on Condor.

The bottom line here is that more direct flights to any destination is a plus for those of us who fly out of PDX.  I’m doubly excited that PDX is increasing the number of direct flights to Europe.  I hope these are a commercial success for the airport so more airlines may be encouraged to add routes.

Update:  Looks like flights on Condor will start June 19th.  

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