Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Rocking Frog Cafe

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

The Rocking Frog Cafe

In a renovated house on the corner of Belmont and 25th a frog sits in a rocking chair, sipping a cup of coffee. Not really, but that’s is the image on the shop’s sign. Inside this house has been turn into a café, similarly to Vivace, but in this case I almost feel it was done better. The bookshelves are packed with books, knick-knacks, or items for purchase. The dining room looks out into the street. The backyard was even preserved and turned into a wonderful patio. But of course there’s the coffee. On my visit I had a double macchiato. The shots seemed decent, but there was simply too much milk, it was like a mini-latte. Using Ristretto Roasters, for the non-snob coffee drinker it would be fantastic.

Being in a renovated old house, they have a kitchen, which means they serve food. Their menu includes breakfast and lunch items such as:

Waffles, pancakes such as the Elvis with peanut butter and banana

B.L.A.T. – Bacon Lettuce Avocado Tomato sandwhich

Pink Mohawk – Cucumber, avocado, tomato, lettuce, red onion, and cream cheese

BBQ pulled pork paniniThe bar @ Rocking Frog

Soups and salads

Build your own bagel

And more!

They even have their own donut shop in the back-yard! Donuts are $1 each (or $5 for 6) and made on demand. They are only served on Saturdays and Sundays and in my opinion were quite good (I had the cinnamon and sugar).

So that’s the Rock Frog Café. They’re good, they’re not Barista or Coffee House NW, but has much more character. I would visit again, if for nothing else but to try their food as it did sound good.

Missoula Montana – Cafe Dolce, Catalyst, La Petit

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Cafe Dolce

This May, my family and I, all went to Missoula Montana for my little brother’s college graduation. After hearing about all the cool coffee shops and bakeries around the town I couldn’t wait for the grand tour. He took me to Cafe Dolce, The Catalyst, and La Petit Outre.

Cafe Dolce Coffee

First up, Café Dolce. The building, specially built for the café has 2-story ceilings covered in French country designs, lots of blue/yellow. You can get an idea from the picture of my latte and palmier. The latte was decent, I’ve had much better. I’m not sure they even attempted a rosetta, it’s just sort of a blob. I was surprised to see a bag of Café Umbria beans beneath the counter. The pastries were great, they were from La Petit which I’ll cover later. They have a great patio area out back too, feels very European. On a side note, we found out a while ago, my favorite barista at Barista here in Portland use to work there. She probably had served my brother a number of times. Anyway, for where and what it is, it is a fantastic café. If I lived in Missoula I’d visit often.

The CatalystSecond, we visited The Catalyst. My brother’s landlord in Missoula also owns this shop. Similar to Café Dolce it has a modern feel. The Catalyst has some fantastic soups and sandwiches. It is definitely more of a local café, as opposed to a “coffee shop.” There is local artists’ work around the walls, and big glass windows view onto one of the city’s downtown streets. It has a great atmosphere.

Both of these reminded me of Sydney’s here in Portland. That more modern, clean, feeling with decent coffee but great food.

La Petite Outre is a local bakery in Missoula with fantastic breads and pastries. My brother would regularly stop for baguettes while biking home. I was able to try one of their baguettes, it was fantastic. They are larger than most I have had, but it was delicious. Trying a shot of their coffee wasn’t anything to brag about, but they are a bakery. Lots of great looking breads, delivering all over Missoula. If I was living in the area I’d make regular stops for bread.

So that’s some of the shops around Missoula. They don’t have quite the hipster scene like we do here in Portland, but they have great people trying to make great food and drinks and I would say for the most part they’re succeeding. If you’re visiting the city and are curious, here are the addresses for each shop.

Café Dolce

500 Brooks St, Missoula, MT 59801

The Catalyst

111 N Higgins Ave, Missoula, MT 59802
Get Directions

La Petit Outre

129 S 4th St W, Missoula MT 59801

Sydney’s Cafe – Portland

Saturday, April 18th, 2009


An amazing ¾ view of the Fremont bridge greets you when arriving at Sydney’s. A loading-bay door serves as a window, and is opened on nice days for an open-air feel. Clean wooden tables and white chairs contrast with the brick walls leading up from hardwood floors. The overhead lights at most tables provide plenty of electrical outlets for laptops, and of course they have free wi-fi. They even have a little area for kids to play around in, and a few toys to keep them busy. They have very cool looking cups and saucers too.

This is a great place for those web 2.0 entrepreneurs, people that want to go to a Portland café without the grunge or hipsters, or want a neat place to meet for work. Personally I think the hard-core coffee drinker may be left wanting more. Their drinks are more of a café style, rather than coffee shop or brewpub. That is, their mochas are very sweet with plenty of whipped cream and chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, they taste great, but I wouldn’t have one every day. I did try their shots too. They come out smooth and creamy, they’re really not bad. I’m not sure if it is manual or the machine timing the shots. Personally, if I wanted Café Umbria coffee, I would go to Sydney’s not Umbria.

Anyway, to sum it up. Sydney’s is a classier coffee shop, more modern and clean feeling than many in Portland. While not a hipster hangout, it is definitely a Portland café. I don’t feel the coffee alone is worth the trip, I would recommend going for the atmosphere, the view, the people, or as a great place to meet-up and chat.

The Lowdown:

Location: 1800 NW 16th Ave, Portland, OR

Roaster: Café Umbria

Shots: Smooth, creamy mouth feel, very drinkable

Other drinks: Café style, the mochas are almost a dessert

Food: In addition to the normal café pastries they have soups, salads, and sandwiches. A little expensive but good.

View: Fantastic view as long as you don’t mind the occasional train (they’re not bad at all)

Music: Calm and classy, but not jazz, it stays in the background

Anna Bannana’s – Review

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Anna Bannana’s (that’s with 3 n’s) is @ 21st between Northrup and Overton

The music is chill’n jazzy stuff, NOT lite jazz, good for an evening writing blogs :) I asked Ian to make me his best drink, which turned out to be a latte with a nice fern/feather/”!”. It was yummy, well done. To get the espresso just right Ian took 3 tries. That’s 3 pulls, not making the whole drink, and 1 was after I mentioned I was going to write this blog. Getting it just right is important, so I commend you sir.

Anna Bannana's front yard

Anna Bannana's front yard

The place is nice and cozy. Anna Bannana’s is in a converted old house so the rooms have a lot of character. The front room has a few tables and a view out to the porch and street. There is a darker, more quiet, room toward the back with some big nice tables. In the basement are some great couches and chairs, it’s a little tight, feels like someone’s basement in their home. Keep in mind that the furnishings are 2nd hand tables, chairs, and couches, and all well used. If you’re into hip shiny new places go elsewhere. If you want someplace that feels like your living room, go here.

This is a very friendly, neighborhood café. During my time there, many friends came through (not mine, they knew each other) or at least a lot of talkative and friendly people.

It’s a great place to go chill for a while or meet your neighbors if you live in the area. Check it out, I’m for sure going back.