Till you go to the doctor and have bloodwork done. But that is a matter for another post…

What I refer to here, rather is the situation in which I find myself, some 130 miles south of where I have spent the bulk of my life, young and recently aging. I have spoken more than once of the privilege  of being a Portland native. I took pride in having spent my life there, of knowing what it was like before the descent of Hipster Blight. One thing I heard consistently, from transplants, was how excellent the food was, and how spoiled I had been by my lifelong access to it.

While I could agree that indeed, most of the restaurants in town had at least one decent thing on the menu, and from time to time my mind and mouth would be blown away by something I encountered, I didn’t imagine that to be all that unusual.

And then, I moved to Eugene.

I thought, originally, how different could the culinary options be, really? It’s a liberal, prosperous college town flooded with vegans and Portland ex-pats. Surely the 2 1/2 hour drive wouldn’t have thwarted a southern migration of decent eateries?

How wrong I was. 

I have been consistently disappointed with the fare I’ve come across in town. Turtles, which is very close to both work and home, and has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive has disappointed me repeatedly. I keep hoping I’ll find something tolerable on the menu since it is so convenient, but they have managed to fail at items I consider nearly unfuckupable; chicken strips? Seriously? How can you screw up chicken strips?? Chicken+breading+deep fry=delicious! Also of note, the grilled cheese sandwich. This is my go-to default can’t-go-wrong option when I’m unsure about a menu. But somehow theirs goes wrong; oh how wrong it goes. Worse than either of these are the nachos. As a lover of all things Nach (including, but not by any means limited to: tot-chos) I am personally offended at the hideous use of alfredo sauce in the dish under any circumstances. By all means apply liquid cheese, but for the love of all that is decent, not alfredo.

The Sixth Street Grill had won me over at first, with its small plate offerings which are generally tasty and reasonably priced, but they betrayed me profoundly by removing the best offering from their menu after I had only been able to have it twice. The Olympus was a grilled turkey sandwich with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives on a toasted ciabatta with a jalapeno cream cheese spread. It was fucking fantastic. Now it’s gone, and all I can do is lament its loss and fail to find anything in the place that compares favorably.

The Beer Stein actually has totally decent food, and coupled with that, they offer a fantastic beer selection. They also always have a mead offering, which makes me pretty happy. The last time I was there I had the Father Guido Sarducci which is thinly sliced turkey, honey ham, pepperoni, red onion, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, olive tapenade and provolone on a toasted hoagie roll. It tasted pretty amazing. However the boyfriend has vetoed any further consumption of the sandwich based on the “vile, repulsive, and persistent” nature of my breath once said sandwich was had.

The only place in town that has fed me something I consider equal to my spoiled rotten Portland expectations is a little place right around the corner from my new office called the Agate Alley Laboratory. The place is just adorable as all get out with it’s laboratory chic schtick. The chemical formulas for Chocolate, Cinnamon, and several other goodies are stenciled on the wall. The periodic table is emblazoned against the side wall of the bar. Beakers and flasks everywhere. Aside from that, though, the offerings are amazing. My Moscow Mule was made with genuine ginger ale and a heavy handed pour. The food is locally sourced, lovingly crafted, deliciously realized. So. Fucking. Good.



So, I was happy to find it, even if it is a bit above range for more than an every so often treat, it’s reassuringly extant at any rate.

Nothing, however, will make me stop missing the taquitos at Pepinos. Covered in the salsa that made me realize I had completely reversed my position on cilantro. Or the Muu Muu burger, crammed onto a crusty roll right along with the fries and that magic crack-sauce. Or the Salted Carmel Ice cream from Fifty-Fifty which I am not kidding you I have fervid passionate dreams about.  And by no means the Squashed from Tin Shed; butternut squash ravioli drenched in creamy mushroom sauce and covered in parmesan. Oh, god. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Eugene has a great deal to recommend it. It is beautiful and friendly and a lovely place to live. I am genuinely much happier than I have ever been before. Yet I long for Portland in this one unexpected inexorable way. When I come to town I think first of who I will see, but only moments before I think about where I will eat.