As Miss Dish's good friend Tevye the milkman likes to posit, "sunrise, sunset/ swiftly fly the days." Indeed, when it comes to this city's restaurant plain, the scenery is ever-changing.
!Item! Miss Dish has always thought there weren't enough Eastern European places in Portland, considering the growing population flowing in from Russia and its satellite countries. Well, add another one to the list. Ararat (111 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 235-5526), which used to be solely an Armenian bakery, expanded in May: One half is now a Russian and Armenian restaurant and nightclub. If you're jonesing for cabbage rolls, beef stroganoff or Armenian-style kabobs along with gypsy dancers and Euro disco, this is the spot. Miss D. spoke with manager Boris Imerell and tried to squeeze him to get the down low on the secret ingredient to the kabob marinade, but he wouldn't budge. "Chefs are smart people too," he reminded the Czarina of Dishdom. If only that were always the case....
¡Item! Fans of the sweet little taqueria Ensenadas (way north of Ararat at 3962 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.), who were no doubt mourning the loss of the fast and friendly Mexi spot that had a way with that spicy tinga taco, will be pleased to know that the new venture in the space, La Fonda, is in the same spirit. Señorita Disha chatted with cook Gildardo Barajas, whose family bought the place, and he says it's his goal to "slowly educate people to appreciate real Mexican food." Specialities of the house include pollo adobe with a mole-like sauce and fish tacos topped with a lemon-mango coleslaw. Barajas says the restaurant's name comes from the Mexican term for diner, which is appropriate because the interior design with its luncheonette counter and booths is in pure American greasy-spoon decor. You can reach La Fonda at 284-1467.
!Item! For a place that hasn't had its official christening yet, the new pizza-slash-salad-slash-pool-slash-beer joint on Alberta called binks is already hopping. Owners Bianca Weston and Justin Youngers unveiled the place (2715 NE Alberta St., 493-4430) quietly May 24 but are hosting a big grand-opening blowout Saturday, June 23; everything will be deeply discounted. "We make the pizzas ourselves," Youngers told Miss D. "We have a small menu, but its kind of funky." Funky as in tandoori chicken pizza funky. As the summer exposes itself, look to binks' pool room fitted with a garage door that opens onto the street as a sure shot.
!Item! Gone, gone, gone is the British Tea Garden at 725 SW 10th Ave. Here, here, here is its replacement: Details. The new dandyish spot is calling itself a home for exciting tea-garden action and "European fusion cuisine." It is here that you can get finger sandwiches, lemon curd tartlet with cream and a Caesar salad.
!Item! It was cute and it was good, but please say your parting prayers for the Red Electric Café, which recently shuttered. The tenacious Miss D. left a message at former owner Douglas Terrill's home, to ask him why, why WHY? But alas, he did not heed her call. Maybe the closing had to do with the liens against the place? Hmmm, hard to tell.