Jake’s Famous Crawfish – Downtown Portland

Thinking about a Saturday night dinner with a couple friends, we made reservations in 2 places. But eventually, went with Jake’s Famous Crawfish because that just felt right. I’ve seen the name so many times when I search for top restaurants in the city, couldn’t wait to try it out.

Outside Jake’s Famous Crawfish in Downtown Portland

This is Portland’s 2nd oldest restaurant that is still in business. Dating back to 1892, this is a 130 years old eatery in the heart of bustling downtown Portland, serving classic seafood dishes. Some of their menu items still use recipes from the early 1900s. Celebrities like Madonna, Michael Jordan, and many more added to its golden history by enjoying meals here over the last many decades. This is a piece from their menu worth sharing: “Menus are crafted and printed each day, after the early morning delivery of seafood and shellfish from the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico. Locally sourced produce and ingredients ensure unmatched freshness.” No wonder it has scored to be on the nation’s top 10 restaurants few times.

Inside Jake’s Famous Crawfish

This is relatively a big and upscale restaurant which can accommodate many people in a few different sections. There are also tables and chairs outside by the street if the weather permits. We made a reservation for the Saturday night, but I feel like it’s so big…we could have gotten a table without booking anything earlier. With a fancy interior, stain glass roof, chandeliers, old fashioned charm, and elegant furniture, this is a place where you would want to celebrate an occasion, like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or take that special someone for a date night.

Dungeness crab and bay shrimp cakes in ginger/jalapeño aioli

The menu is packed with tons of seafood appetizers, soups, salads, and main courses. There are some other meaty options too. Try their fresh and warm bread and butter that come right after you sit down. From crawfish, to Dungeness crabs to shrimp, salmon, steelhead, lobster, to anything…this place has it all.

Pan fried oysters with tartar sauce

After hearing few of the recommendations from our server (horseradish crusted steelhead and etouffee), we started with some appetizers – Dungeness crab and bay shrimp cakes in ginger/jalapeño aioli and pan fried oysters with tartar sauce. I am from Maryland and have had some of the best crab cakes in my life, but this crab and shrimp cake was just PERFECT. And for oysters, I usually go for fresh oysters, but this time pan fried sounded adventurous and wanted to try it…very delicate yet crunchy and fresh.

Jake’s Traditional Bouillabaisse

For dinner, we had a bowl of seafood medley, called “Jake’s Traditional Bouillabaisse” where a bowl of light broth contained mussels, clams, scallops, prawns, salmon, and crab legs with a couple garlic breads. This was more like a soup than a stew, but the size is way too big for me (no complain, had a doggy bag to bring back with me). We also tried stuffed cod with veges and mashed potatoes.

Stuffed cod with potatoes and vegetables

You gotta reserve Jake’s Famous Crawfish for those special nights when you want to impress your guests who value good Pacific Northwest seafood classics. The place is definitely not a cheap one…but I don’t mind spending money on an unforgettable place or plates, that also gives me unforgettable memories.

Vanilla crème Brule for dessert

Ovation Bistro & Bar in Historic Downtown Milwaukie, OR

What do you do when you have a day off and you are trying to find a French place to have a lunch get together with a friend? Well, after searching for all the French restaurants in Portland, I saw that most of them aren’t open until 5pm.

Inside Ovation Bistro & Bar

Ovation Bistro & Bar is a cute hang out place with an airy ambience in the historic downtown of Milwaukie near Portland. They have a bright and relaxed indoor sitting arrangements, but it was one of those rare and gorgeous October day in Portland with no rain. So, we decided to hangout outside on their front patio. Lots of picnic benches and high chair/tables with umbrellas are surrounded by tons of hanging flower baskets are here. It felt fresh and just the right place to chill and catch up with a friend.

Outdoor patio, where we sat

This modern French country style place would be my ideal place for brunch or lunch. We went for simple food. From the appetizer, we had some steak frites, where marinated sirloin steaks are served in cubes with shoestring fries. I had their soup of the day, which was tomato bisque served with a mini baguette. And my friend had some fettucine pasta in home-made ratatouille sauce with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and eggplants. The tomato soup was definitely one of the best I’ve tried so far. And those shoestring fries with garlic aioli sauce was simply addictive. Pasta was great too, I may try a different one next time.

Steak frites in Ovation Bistro & Bar

People, food, and the whole place are all amazing at Ovation Bistro & Bar. Opened back in the summer of 2020, they are making real good food in a small restaurant with casual vibe. Being the historic downtown adds a bit more excitement to this location. Definitely have to come back at night sometime to see the crowds of this place.

Pasta on the top and tomato soup at the bottom in Ovation Bistro & Bar

Gado Gado – Dutch-Indonesian Cuisine in NE Portland

A friend of mine and I made a sudden plan to have dinner together tonight and her, never experiencing Indonesian food before, I suggested Gado Gado. I love Indonesian dishes which is a mixture of Oriental Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. There are many similar spices and ingredients in that part of the world, plus the way dishes are prepped and cooked share common techniques.

Outside Gado Gado

Gado Gado in NE Portland is a casual and bustling place with dimmed light and soft decorations. The eatery boasts for their pan-Asian/Indo-Chinese & Dutch-Indonesian plates. There is an outdoor but shaded sitting option too. With friendly service and a couple of different menu options, this is one of the top Indonesian places to try out in Portland.

Inside Gado Gado

There are 2 ways you can order in Gado Gado. One is order from the a la carte. Second one, called Rice Table experience, is more exciting. With the Rice Table experience, you pay $85 per person but you get a family style feasting encounter, where everyone has to participate and your whole table will be filled with many items from appetizers all the way to desserts.

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce

Since it was only 2 of us, we ordered total 3 items from the menu. First came the chicken satay as an appetizer. They were beautifully charcoal grilled on skewers and served with peanut sauce on the side. Then came the main entrées. Charcoal grilled albacore with fermented turnips in a pool of coconut broth with tons of cilantro had a fabulous fresh scent of fresh lime/lemon leaves. Last one, “Sumatran Style Beef Rendang” was recommended by our server. The beef came with a side of scented coconut rice, boiled eggs, shrimp crisps, and sambal sauce. The beef was soft and almost looked like shredded/pulled beef with perfect amount of spices and a slight kick of chili.

Sumatran Style Beef Rendang

There dessert menu is not that great currently (only had one option – orange cardamom donuts). But if you want to get out of your comfort zone and try something not-so-popular cuisine, I can bet everyone will love Indonesian dishes. I’ve heard about Gado Gado from few different people and it definitely served my expectations.

Grilled albacore with fermented turnip in coconut gravy

Casa Zoraya

Tonight was my second time trying Casa Zoraya. First time I was there with a close friend and tonight with an ex-colleague who I saw after about a year.

Inside Casa Zoraya

I have a thing for Peruvian cuisine and tried most of the top Peruvian places in Portland. Casa Zoraya has a great atmosphere (with lots of plants) to just chill…and…relax and enjoy heartwarming good food. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, though I’d recommend sitting outside…it’s just beautiful. Servers are super friendly and nice.

My ceviche dish in Casa Zoraya

It’s a casual hangout place but aesthetic enough to surprise your guest(s). The menu isn’t super big but has most of the Peruvian dishes that I usually go for and loved during my visit to Peru.

Lomo Saltados at Casa Zoraya

After trying ceviches from many different countries, Peruvian ceviche is my most favorite one, because it usually has a slight kick of chilies. Ceviche at Casa Zoraya is nicely blend with corns, fried calamari, herbs, onions, and raw seafoods. It may not have the heat but the portion of the dish, presentation, and freshness of all the ingredients make it so palatable.

My colleague’s vegetarian dish

Their Lomo Saltados is what I took when I was their first time. Again perfectly cooked beef with white rice, and veges in a pool of gravy .

My friend’s dish from my first visit to Casa Zoraya

Checkout this place to be nicely surprised by their setup and mainly by their flavorful dishes. Definitely make a reservation and be ready to park on the streets.

Quaintrelle – From Chef’s Menu

What a find by my friend!!! Quaintrelle is a farm to table restaurant in SE Portland where you can choose whatever you want from the menu or be surprised by the chef from a 5 or 7 or 9 or 12 course dinner experience. The items in these courses depend on the season and the ingredients chef finds that day in the farmer’s market.

In front of Quaintrelle in SE Portland

We went ahead with the 7 course menu for $145 per person…drinks are separate. You gotta be a passionate foodie to try a restaurant like this and be ready for anything. We felt lazy to go over the menu and wanted to be surprised by the chef.

Raw tuna in tomato water, salmon with pickled onion, lightly cooked scallops with Damon roe, and duck in Quaintrelle

We started off with some drinks “Un” and “Deux” a couple of non-alcoholic drinks. Then the non-stop series of plates started coming.

Corn ice-cream dessert

First, some of the best oysters I had in my life, then some very lightly cooked scallops, then raw tuna, breads with homemade flavored butter and olives, salmon, duck (I don’t usually eat duck, but this was the best), grapefruit sorbet with olive oil and wasabi, pita crackers with cheese, a dessert with corn ice cream and plum sorbet.

Inside Quaintrelle in Portland

Quaintrelle, which is about a year old in this location, is a perfect place to take your loved ones, guests, a date, or people who just love going thru culinary adventures. It’s not very big inside…be ready to be a bit cozy with your neighboring tables. I’d also recommend making a reservation first.

These were the best oysters I have had so far, in Quaintrelle

If you are a vegan or pescatarian or don’t eat pork, they will work around your diet to give you the best experience.

This was a little piece of heaven, grapefruit sorbet with olive oil and wasabi. H

When you are in Quaintrelle, you just have to sit back, relax, and let the chef take the wheel. Enjoy the vibe of this place, the presentations, the stories behind these dishes, and finally, the music.

Arabella Cafe in Washington sq. mall

I had to go back to this café for the 2nd time and try at least one of their hot beverages before I started blogging about them. Not the greatest blog intro but here I am, satisfied and excited that we have a posh café/bakery inside the Washington Square Mall in Tigard. Yes, we definitely needed one of these in this area.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

Arabella is my new favorite place to hang out with friends, kids, or just to enjoy some masala tea by myself when in the mall. With it’s luxurious look and cozy atmosphere, it didn’t take much for the people to flock to this café in no time. Man, it was crowded this Saturday evening when my friend and I met up there. We had some sweet cheese bites and a Jordanian pastry. My friend ordered some of their decadent chocolates to go with her Turkish coffee and my “Karak” tea.

This was not my first time in Arabella. My daughter and I were shocked when we went to the mall few weeks ago and saw this brand new stylish place right outside the Macy’s. The grand opening was just couple weeks before our visit. After going inside the store, we discovered this is not your normal, every day coffee place. This had a unique Middle Eastern cultural touch in every corner. A big mural on the center wall, a history on the Jordanian town called “Arabella” on one side, gorgeous front-desk with varieties of chocolates individually packed as your front focal point, a marble table displaying different kinds of sweets on another side, and finally, a barista station where you get your exotic coffees from. Oh, if you are not in the mood for any drinks or chocolates, then at least go inside for all the gift items they have to offer, like chocolate boxes, Turkish coffee sets or Jordanian teapots, and tons of other stuff.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

There are quite a few numbers of chairs and tables to sit down and enjoy your coffee/tea inside the store. What surprised me the most was that I knew the owner from way before and I even bought food from her few years ago at different community events. I was just thrilled to see that she and her husband established this beautiful eatery so close to me.

During the first visit with my older daughter, we picked 4-5 different kinds of cookies, sweets, and desserts. Usually they are mostly made from figs, dates, pistachios or various other similar dry ingredients. All of them were absolutely perfect…not too sweet nor too rich or too big. These are light and airy bites to go perfectly with their big selection of teas and coffees.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

For now, I am waiting to take my younger daughter to Arabella, since she is the one in our family with a sweet tooth and I know she would love whatever they have on display when we go. But seriously, do check out this place…you won’t regret it. If anything you’ll thank me for introducing you to this one of a kind café in Portland.

PS. You can request to borrow one of their red Turkish/Sufi hats in case you want to take a selfie in it 😉

Southpark Seafood on Salmon St, Portland Downtown

Couple weeks ago, four of my travel chicas and I went out for a dinner get together in one of the best seafood places in Portland downtown. FYI, our travel pack, which consists of 5 girls, has traveled to Cabo, Mexico and Punta Cana, DR so far, our next trip is coming up soon later this year for some girl time fun.

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Seafood/oyster bar inside Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

For dinner that Sunday evening, we wanted to go to Tusk at first, then stopped at Mediterranean Exploration Company…but waiting time was more than an hour in both places. So, while looking for something nearby and considering a previous recommendation, we ended up going to Southpark Seafood on Salmon Street…only couple minutes drive from Portland waterfront. The restaurant is about 20 years old but it has upgraded its reputation recently in the last few years.

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The bar inside in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

Southpark Seafood is a contemporary and stylish restaurant where you want to bring your loved ones for a grand treat or to celebrate an extra special event. It can be a bit noisy but I admired that casual ambiance here. The restaurant features sustainable seafood with a daily changing menu. They not only compost all their food waste and practice the reduce/reuse/recycle diligently, but also use straws made from corn and bar picks made of wood. If you happen to be an environmentalist AND an oyster lover, like me, they have one of the largest selections of oysters in town.

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Clam chowder with gnocchi in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

For appetizers and entrees, we had half a dozen oysters, clam chowder with gnocchi, Salmon Poke with seaweed/radish/nuts with sesame crackers, burger, Manila Clams with garlic/chili flake, Fried chicken with peanuts/maple syrup, Garlic Confit brick oven pizza with lemon zest/parsley, and Squid Ink Fettuccine with manila clams/tomato/scallions. At the end, we had an order of Warm Banana Bread Pudding which came with caramel, candied walnuts, and bruléed bananas. I tried every single dish from my friends’ and my small plates, except for the clam chowder and the Manila clams, and I don’t remember tasting something and going “Oh, I don’t like this one” for any dish in Southpark Seafood. Everything that I’ve tasted had unique flavors and signature touch to it.

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Manila clams and oysters in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

Oysters that we had were the freshest, although, taste-wise, I probably liked the ones in Dan & Louise better. What I’ve heard from my friends about clam chowder was that it was creamy with the perfect combination of thickness and flavor that came with small sizes of gnocchi. Salmon Poke was probably the best one that really stood out on our table. It’s raw salmon with crunchy nuts and seaweed…a simple yet so yummy small plate that we could eat it for a main portion of dinner. I don’t usually eat burgers at a seafood restaurant but it was definitely beyond my expectation. Same for the fried chicken…something I wouldn’t have tried at a seafood place, especially I with maple syrup (bummer). But my friend requested the syrup on the side…therefore, the fried chicken alone tasted excellent crunchiness outside and super soft inside texture. The oven baked thin crust pizza was also very authentic and aromatic. My second favorite here, after the Salmon Poke, was my dish “Squid Ink Fettuccine”. Phew, the dish came with some gorgeous manila clams in a medium portion. The added tomato and scallion kicked this squid ink pasta dish to another level of elegance…totally got my umami effect from this. To end the mean, bread pudding was presented delicately on a wooden board…warm with candied nuts and caramelized banana slices, couldn’t have been any better.

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Salmon Poke in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

Some of the other highlighted items in the menu were seafood stew, fish and chips, different kinds of salads, soups, sandwiches, habanero aioli fries, grilled octopus and scallops, Ahi Tuna, dungeness crab, King salmon, seafood tower that includes oysters/crab/tuna/scallops/prawns with assorted sauce, pasta with lamb ragu, beet + goat cheese ravioli, and a whole lot of other very appetizing dishes. For the dessert menu, other than the banana bread pudding that we ordered, it also includes lemon cheesecake, German chocolate cake, cookie plate, gelato, sorbet, and some more.

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My Squid Ink Fettuccine dish in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

It’s not just the food, but their friendly and fast service also that gave all of us a beautiful evening. Plan to park in a paid area or find a street parking for this restaurant. It’s a big restaurant…mostly likely, you won’t reservation for a small or big group. No doubt, I would highly recommend this to all of my people…come and check it out, let me know which dish you liked the most.

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Our dessert – Warm Banana Bread Pudding in Southpark Seafood, Portland, OR

Canard in E. Burnside, Portland

Our mother-daughter date could not have been any better last Saturday night. My younger one was at a play-date (which turned into a sleep over) and my older teen daughter was fancying a posh restaurant with elegant yet casual vibes. What better way to fulfill that wish other than taking her to one of the best places in Portland?

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Inside Canard, Portland, OR

Canard is owned by the same talented team as Le Pigeon, which is a French restaurant located right next door. Canard is chef Gabriel Rucker’s most casual place to dine in an elegant yet relaxed mood. The dishes in the menu are from all over the world, but mainly French-inspired. The portion, taste, delicacies, presentation…they all scream OUI in every possible way. Rightfully so, the restaurant won “Best restaurant of the year” within couple weeks of opening it in 2018. I would categorize this as a street side European-style bistro where the food is fine-dining quality. The service is as fantastic as the food and the ambiance, we barely waited 5 minutes to get to be seated and the overall service was fast and friendly.

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Foie Gras Dumplings in Canard, Portland, OR

So, now to the best part…the dishes we ordered. We had half a dozen of mignonette oysters with green chili juice, their signature Garlic Fries with home-made sauce, Foie Gras Dumplings with celery root, black garlic, and orange cubes, and Thai Fried Trout with green curry guacamole that came with thinly sliced picked carrots and butter lettuce. If you are there just for snacks or drink and want to try only one item…it should be their garlic fries. This is probably the most addicting french fries I have tried so far which is perfectly cut, infused with garlic flavor, seasoned with the right amount of herbs, and fried for the right amount of time. The oysters were fresh and small, but the hint of the chili sauce added a delicious kick. For Foie Gras dumpling, I have never tried it before even after living in Belgium for few years. The ones in Canard were not only creamy and flavorful but also it managed to prove my skepticism about foie gras. Black garlic with the dumplings were just small pieces of savory heaven in that bowl…something I’ve never tried before either. Another main entree, Thai Fried Trout, was crunchy outside, yet soft and moist inside…not greasy at all. Every piece of trout in the bowl was aromatic and classy. Finally, to the finish the meal, we had one order of Paris Brest to share. This was probably a regret there and we should not have ordered it after eating all those above. It was fantastic with cookies & cream and chocolate sauce. But the size and consistency didn’t work well, since we were already too full.

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Thai Fried Trout in Canard, Portland, OR

Overall, we had an excellent experience here. This is a great place for date, to hang out with friends or colleagues or for girls night out. But I wouldn’t bring small kids here…I don’t think my 10-year old would have appreciated this place or its food to the fullest. You will get the oysters for half the price if you come here during happy hour. Next time, I got to try the next door sister restaurant, La Pigeon to see what the hype about is about this place. Plan to park parallel on nearby streets when you want to come here.

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Our dessert – Paris Brest at Canard, Portland, OR

Dan & Louis Oyster Bar – Portland

I think I finally got a perfect place to get fresh seafood dishes in Portland. That means, I don’t have to drive to the coastal towns when I am craving some good quality oysters or chowder. I don’t know if it happens to you, but once in a while I literally crave for fresh/top quality oysters. And it was one of those nights when it hit me that I needed some oysters. My friend and I searched some places and the place we initially wanted to go was closed. So, we had to look for another nearby place where we could to devour some oysters.

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Outside of Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland, OR

Located in the heart of Old Portland, Dan & Louis Oyster Bar is an old-school seafood stop for the seafood lovers. With nautical decors and port-city atmosphere inside plus a cool outdoor sitting arrangements, this place has been serving oysters and chowders since 1907. It’s not just the decor, but the friendly service, absolutely delicious food, and the steeped history that made me a big fan of this gem in my city. This is a must stop if you love freshest seafood options in a classic restaurant that has been owned by five generations of the family for over 100 years…makes this the oldest family owned restaurant in Portland, Oregon.

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Inside Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland, OR

Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, as the name implies, is specialized in oysters, although every dish we ordered was outstanding and was made to perfection. Honestly, it is a bit hard to order from the menu when everything there sounds so mouth-watering. We had half a dozen of “Oysters on the Half Shell”, Oysters Parmesan, clam chowder, Seafood Saute with the choices of prawns and calamari. As I said before, these fresh Northwest oysters here are to die for. The Oysters Parmesan are large fresh shucked oysters baked with Parmesan and garlic butter…you can’t have enough of them. The chowder was yet one of the best I’ve tried so far…flawless combination of seafood, potato, and creaminess…blended with terrific flavors. Finally, the only main entree we ordered was the saute seafood with prawns and calamari that came with slightly fried thin zucchini slices.  This dish was served with perfectly cooked prawns and calamari. Seriously, I can’t say enough of this place…you just gotta come and try it.

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Oysters on half shells and baked oysters in Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland, OR

They also have fish tacos, different kinds of sandwiches, all sorts of fried seafood options, smoked seafood varieties, gumbo, grilled fish, and etc. I am sure, whatever types of seafood you are looking for, you will find it in Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. This is a great place to celebrate any special occasion or just to hang out with friends on a Friday night or to bring your date for a fancy yet casual dinner. And yes, I am going back there AGAIN.

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Sauted prawns and calamari in Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland, OR

 

La Rosé Pâtisserie in Beaverton

After coming back from Europe, I started to admire and respect local non-ordinary patisserie places with not-so-long menu of items but that has an elegant attitude towards fresh bakery. La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, Oregon is one of those French/Asian patisserie spots that just showed up in my Google map when my friend and I were deciding where to go for some good pastries on a late Sunday afternoon.

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La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, Oregon

Opened recently in 2019, La Rose Patisserie’s owner and baker is a graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. This is a small  shop where you can get freshly baked French baked breads, very uniquely designed custom cakes, macaroons, exquisite pastries, different flavors of bubble teas, and other hot/cold drinks. The sitting arrangements inside may not be ideal for a large group or even more than couple small groups.

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La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, Oregon

 

We picked up few different single-sized cakes, pastries, and macaroons.  While I personally didn’t try any macaroons, the way my friend’s kids almost finished the whole half a dozen macaroons box in just few minutes, tells me that they have to be very delicious.

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Mango-mango in La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, Oregon

Some of the pastries we picked and tried were witch’s heart, honey-lavender white chocolate cake, Belgian white chocolate with raspberry cake, rainbow crepe cake, and mango-mango cake. To be very honest, EACH of those pastries that we picked were delightful in their own way. And I am not exaggerating when I say that each of those pastries had perfect textures, flavors, and just the right amount of sweetness. I am not a big fan of too rich or too sugary desserts with too much dairy or flour. The creamy consistency of these cakes were perfect combination of everything which will just melt in your mouths.

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Rainbow crepe layered cake in La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, Oregon

I am eagerly waiting to take my kids here, I know they would go crazy looking at all the fancy shapes of cakes and delicacies that La Rose has to offer to their customers. Oh, and I can’t wait to order one of their custom made birthday cakes either…they all looked fabulously fantastic.

Food and culinary Adventure in Portland, Oregon