Sunday, November 26, 2006


I finally managed to get my ass into a theater to see Casino Royale. It rocked. It was smart and stylish, suspenseful and well-paced, well-written and well-acted. It was stripped-down and edgy, lean and low-tech. It was what true fans have waited for, for a long long time. Here, I thought Pierce was the best Bond since Connery. Hell, Mr. Craig is really quite possibly better than the original.

If the Broccoli family ever come across this blog, I would just like to say, "Thank you. Finally, you got it right."

How, you may ask, did I ever actually get out to see a movie? (With the missus, no less!!)

What, pray tell, happened to the monkey??

Well my friends, I have one word for you: "Babysitter!"

A trusted twenty-something from the wife's work requested a tot-fix, and we had just the tot for her. By all reports, all went well. The lovely lady arrived, as pre-arranged, with her polite and dapper boyfriend around noon. The monkey napped without incident or alarm for a couple of hours, leaving me with really only one question: "Where in my house did they screw?"

Not that I CARE... I'm just curious.

The mid-day movie-date allowed for a rare luxury, not partaken of since, oh, last May. This of course was the all-adult dining experience. As we drove north, we ran through the litany of all known eating establishments. We don't often have this opportunity, so we decided to make it count. We settled on our favorite Vietnamese Pho house, near where Tom used to live. However, that idea didn't sit quite right.

We randomly called out a few more sorry suggestions, until Mrs. Gin-&-Tonic finally recalled one small cafe up in the northwest part of town that she heard about on the radio. Having wound our way through the narrow streets, we came to the corner of 24th and Thurman, only to discover that the place was gone.

Not to let the loss of a cafe defeat us, we toured some more through the uber-hip over-priced neighborhood, until we came across a little red and white brick building with a simple sign that read Stepping Stone Cafe. It looked deliciously divy. So, we walked in.

Now, I'm not here to tell you that it was the greatest diner in the world, or that it will change your life. However, it was truly tasty, and the wait staff is charming, in a sassy and surly sort of way. Their motto is : "you eat here because we let you."

The Coffee was durable. The proportions were large. The sausage was sizzling, and my wife ordered some sort of thick banana hazelnut French toast thing that would have been appropriate for desert. I will definitely drive back for more, and if you are near Portland, you should too.

Now, while we sat in the cafe for this Sunday's brunch, I began to look around at my fellow patrons. Not surprisingly, it was a typical Sunday Portland crowd with varied ages and economic backgrounds. Most clearly, no one looked like they had just come from church. In fact, many looked like they had just rolled out of bed with delicately disheveled hair and cleverly pre-crumpled ironic clothing. Some wore high-tech outdoorsy weather gear. Some wore khaki. Some wore creative ensembles of all these things.

Most Women had pony tails. Most men were unshaven. A few of the guys still had make up on from the night before, but otherwise mascara was nowhere to be found. This is Portland. Weekend Portland, at least. During the week, downtown is predictable business suits, ties, and dresses, but even then, there is a subversive subcurrent in the professional appearance.

My sister visited from California a couple of years ago, and noticed after a short time, that people in Portland had a, uh, um "different style." Well, fair enough.

so sitting in that cafe this afternoon, I wondered to myself, what exactly is that style? It crosses generations and local geography. Formal dining here means a dinner jacket with your blue jeans. Most wait staff, anywhere in town, is tattooed. There is a hipster sensibility mixed with the necessities of wet winters. There is an outdoor ethos mixed with a blase aloofness. It is concentrated understatement. It is trying too goddamn hard to look like you are not trying at all.

So does it have a name? Deliberate-dress-down-woodsy-chic? Quasi-urban-techno-casual? I don't really know, and perhaps I don't really care. After all, I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard.

But in all seriousness, the food was good. You should go.


  1. Just as long as whatever this style is called, it doesn't include Birkenstocks....

  2. Well, the first thing my parents never fail to note when they vist out here from Ohio is that no one here wears makeup and that the people, in general, are pretty low-maintenance.

    Which is why I call the folks out here "my kinda people."

    Although I do wear makeup. I just hate feeling pressured to.

    That restaurant sounds great. What did you have for lunch today?

  3. Pizza buffet at Round Table.

  4. Guest room
    Lounge floor

    I used to babysit..

  5. Oh man... And you're still living? Round Table pizza can be buh-rutal!

  6. Just as long as you don't call them hippies. Granted they might smoke jeebs and play hacky-sack, but hippies are smelly people without jobs that don't try at all.


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