Longtime WW contributor Chris Stamm broke our hearts and moved to Seattle a few months ago. We asked him to give us his assessment of the Emerald City's version of PDX cuisine. Feel free to leave your own 5 Spot taste test notes in the comments.
As Ruth Brown reported last month
, Seattle comfort food institution 5 Spot
apparently has a rotating gimmick menu, would be putting Portland on the chopping
block this summer
, with high-calorie odes to Rose City indulgence.
Bothered by a tinge of homesickness and, more pressingly, incredibly hungry, I visited
this vaunted hilltop diner to get some idea of Seattle’s perception of Portland.
First thing I see upon entering the dining room: Birds. On things. Everywhere.
that joke is not old in Seattle yet. And so a ream of construction paper had to sacrifice
itself so that this gag could be beaten to death on every available surface.
Where paper birds were not swarming the walls hung paintings depicting iconic Portland
people, places and things: Powell’s, Darcelle (bearded and big-headed), the “Made
in Oregon” sign, a Voodoo donut, and, duh, food carts (which were inserted as head
replacements into a reproduction of American Gothic
Fair enough, I thought. Those are a few Portland features I know and love or at least
like enough to visit once in a while, and I’ve certainly encouraged curious visitors to
check them out, as long as I’m sure said visitors have a high tolerance for obnoxious
An admittedly fuzzy shot of 5 Spot's Portland decor courtesy of Chris Stamm.
Now, about the menu. First, I was disappointed to find that there was not a Gus
or a list of “BLeverages.” Second, you should know that I went with a
vegetarian who was paying for me, so I felt a rare carnivorous guilt while perusing
the “Portlandia” page, which offered Colin the Hazelnut Stuffed Chicken and Mary’s
Club “Strip” Steak (served with “g-string beans,” by the way, which, come on, is gross).
Basically, I felt weird about making a kind animal lover subsidize murder, and so I was
only able to sample a few vegetarian dishes.
Which is all to say that my take on 5 Spot’s food should not be misconstrued as a
careful appraisal of whatever culinary skill might exist in this Seattle restaurant. The
place has been around for quite some time, so let’s just assume they’re able to please
some of the people all of the time.
With that, here goes: judging by admittedly limited experience with 5 Spot’s menu, and
taking a huge and irresponsible leap into completely unjustified extrapolatory madness,
I can tell you with no further ado that Seattle hates Portland.
I felt not even a hint of flattered gratitude while picking my way through the Rose
City Salad, a pile of butter lettuce, Oregonzola bleu cheese and candied hazelnuts
drenched in a cloying vinaigrette that recalled the “healthy” options at that one Portland
McDonalds everyone loves so much.
And the Brandisi Meets Burnside cheese plate, which featured a blob of fried cheese
accompanied by three sad baguette slices swimming in grease, absolutely nailed the
subtle intoxication that I’d once thought could only be found in a plastic container of
scrumptious leftovers from that one McMenamins everyone loves so much.
The P-Town Chick-P Sandwich, essentially a falafel burger that made me wish I’d been
eating either a mediocre hamburger or a middling falafel wrap, fared slightly better, if
only because the mysterious “flannel fries” turned out to be spot-on imitations of those
criss-cut fries that got cold on the drive home from that one Burgerville everyone loves
But that, thank god, was the extent of my experience. (Oh wait, I did get to drink a
Laurelwood IPA, which was quite nice.) Maybe 5 Spot is doing wonderful things with
Portland-inspired meat dishes, but I have a feeling I won’t be back to find out.