Alan Brown’s food and travel blog, day 7, Bainbridge Island to Portland: Hitchcock and Le Pigeon.

08 July, 2014 by
Alan Brown

Eureka garden.

Sad to leave Seattle and our houseboat, but excited about the next stage of our adventure, the much lauded Portland. Everyone we have spoken to from Vancouver to Seattle has sung the merits of Portland and given us recommendations of where to go for the best food and drink. Alas we have but 2 evenings and a day there. Not enough meals at all.

But first to get there. An early Alamo pickup and off to the Bainbridge Island ferry. I had spent the last few taxi and bus journeys researching right side driving technique as it’s been a while and roundabouts can be tricky things not to mention one-way city street layouts! The 300m trip from Alamo to the car ferry took a few extra city blocks and I needed a coffee!

Eureka garden.

Eureka garden.

Streamliner Diner on Bainbridge has been a landmark since 1980 so had to be experienced. Not a greasy spoon in sight. Fresh and good if perhaps rather a lot on a small plate. Those chaps have their routine sussed, one needs to be seated at the bar to watch them in full flight. The filter coffee didn’t quite cut it so we wandered off in search of another option. Hitchcock café and sandwich bar offered the remedy. A handmade Bosco machine (only 10 in the world), the sound of beans grinding to order, perfect milk and a real cup. Alas for our substantially good diner breakfast, no space to put the infamous hot pastrami on rye. Next time a night on the island so we might sample dinner at award winning Hitchcock restaurant next door.

Onwards to Port Townsend a gem of a Victorian township on the north-west tip of the Olympic reserve and another excellent coffee and artisan pastry. Another place to stay a night and explore properly on a longer trip. The drive down the inland coastal road to Olympia would have been even more scenic if they’d only trim the trees a bit! But I guess the owners of the homes and bachs tucked away all along the coastline mean them to be there for just that reason – so we only get occasional glimpses of their little slices of paradise.


Once onto the main interstate the rest of the journey to Portland was quick and we found our next digs with only a small amount of negotiation of one-way streets. Time to stretch the legs and see a bit of the town, a 50 minute walk to Le Pigeon. Two entrees and a main (oops, two starters and an entrée!) as I just couldn’t choose. In that time the seats on either side of us at the communal table changed owners twice. While we try to aim for the bar to watch the kitchen action, the communal dining experience has also been a highlight of the trip so far. Our first companions from San Francisco gave us some tips for both Portland and San Francisco while their replacements turned out to be a local winery salesman and a sommelier and lecturer from Melbourne with Canadian origins. We exchanged eatery advice and much lively and like-minded conversation. Oh, and the food was delicious! Rich, in contrast to what we have been experiencing, but no doubt about it, there is a good reason it is top of many people’s list of places to go in Portland. The 50 minute walk back to our garden retreat was justified.

We are starting to understand why Portland is so popular. It has a feel, and a vibe and a look. It is definitely a place to come.

4th July tomorrow. I think we are in the right place.