Now, the idea of networking generally leaves the Bite with the same uncomfortable feeling as a trip to our gynecologist. But when we received an invite to the women's networking group Dinner Grrls--at Northeast Fremont Street's Dining Room restaurant, no less--we were intrigued. After all, white-collar chitchat can't be all that bad when it's paired with posh eats and cocktails, right?

Turns out more than 250 women around town agree. Dinner Grrls has been connecting power-dining females with clever supper dates everywhere from Misohapi and BeWon to Ripe since August 2002. Today, the Portland group has a waiting list for its handful of 10- to 15-seat dinner parties each month, as well as an e-list that's eclipsed in numbers only by the original Grrls group in New York City.

Pix Patisserie owner Cheryl Wakerhauser came to the Dining Room dinner last week to school Grrls on the sugar-and-spice of owning a business--over lavender martinis and flatiron steak.

True to form, our dining-room table of 12 women included a market analyst, an ex-Intel employee, a seamstress, a writer and a few entrepreneurs. We quickly morphed into a band of impromptu food critics and personality assassins, or--in other words--friends. It could have been our stellar networking chops. Then again, it could have been the bittersweet chocolate/chipotle chili torte.

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Venturing into the dark, Viking-sized environs of McFadden's (107 NW Couch St., 220-5055), the Bite expected the New York/ Chicago basics: a pint of Guinness, ESPN and khakis. But scanning the refined pub menu, we spied the ultimate East Coast homage: sliders. A nod to White Castle's infamous "Slyders," these mini-burgers were a Stumptown rarity until this "modern Irish bar/nightclub" chain muscled into Old Town a few weeks ago.

McFadden's chef, Jon Scarper, has gussied up the embarrassingly tasty grease bombs. He serves the wee burgers on Portland French Bakery potato rolls with caramelized onions, melted American cheese and homemade jus for dippin'. A plate of three sliders and a massive mound of steak-cut fries is $7, but purists can get their paws on a box of original WC Slyders in the frozen-foods section of local groceries such as Zupan's.

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Urban Wineworks has been holding one-shot blending classes, where the Bite Club had a chance to mix our own cuvée from the Northwest wine shop's selection of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other Oregon and Washington wines. The $25 class fee even includes a 750mL take-home bottle of your personal blend. Slurp and sample every Saturday afternoon and Tuesday night. Salut!

For the lowdown on the next Dinner Grrls event, visit or email .

Blend-your-own- wine class;
Urban Wineworks, 407 NW 16th Ave.,
226-9797. 6:30-7:30 pm Tuesdays and 1-2 pm Saturdays. $25.