Old Pal

Dear Liza,

When you were here in April, we couldn’t take you to our local HobNob because they had closed. The business-killing Pandemic and the owner’s own fight with Covid caused this fun local favorite to close up shop.

But now a new place has opened up in the same building. It is called Old Pal, and is run by Jeremy Larter and Emily Bixler. According to the website, they have an environmental approach to food, using low-carbon footprint, local, organic ingredients.

Co-owner Jeremy, busy on opening night!

Last week, we got to attend their opening. It was delightful and delicious.

The interior has been redecorated to be more modern, with deep blue walls for accent and white ceilings for brightness. The ping pong table is gone, and there is a check-in desk right by the door to eliminate the awkward entrance.

The furnishings have cleaner lines with smaller tables. There are no booths, which makes the space feel bigger, but also creates some echo. The art is very earthy and woodsy, adding to the ’land-friendly’ vibe.

Since we are three, we were seated at “The Godfather Table”which seats four. We were served by Marika, who brought some wine and answered our questions.

I had a Narragansett barratta, which is a creamy cheese wrapped up in mozzarellas, set in a tasty splash of strawberry and basil with pickled rhubarb. Eaten little by little with the crusty bread from Ken’s Artisanal bakery, it was like a very rich cheese sandwich with touches of jam and pesto.

Grandpa Nelson had wine and Auntie Bridgett had a big salad, and we chatted with neighbors as they came and went, eager to hear news and their opinions of the place.

Old Pal is a new friend, and I’m sure we will spend many happy hours there, eating and chatting and watching the world go by.


Grandma Judy

The Hob Nob Returns

Dear Liza,

Our neighborhood has dozens of eateries, pubs, bars, pizzerias and taquerias. That’s one of the reasons we bought this house…. Walkability to all sorts of goodies!

But the pandemic shuttered many of them. Some, like The Nerd Out, closed up shop for good. Others, like the Taqueria Los Punales, opened amidst the craziness and have done well with take out and outdoor seating.

But The HobNob was special. It served good casual food and drinks. It is super close (our Real Estate agent called it “staggering distance”). But mostly, the people were friendly, funny, and welcoming. It was Our Place.

With the pandemic it shut down, then tried to open again. The owner, Jason, got sick. The doors were closed and locked for months. We were worried.

And now, da Nob is back! Sunday evening, dozens of our neighbors collected at the outdoor tables (some under a newly-built patio on SE 34th) to eat, drink, and socialize.

Jason greeted everyone like old friends, Megan brought us drinks and food, and the world felt better.

I know the city is still messed up. Crazy people, both the powerful and the powerless, make things complicated and scary. But having a place to meet with friends, and seeing small businesses succeeding, gives me hope.


Grandma Judy

The Egyptian Brothers

Dear Liza,

After a few really rainy days, we had a cold, clear Friday. Fridays are the evenings we try and give some business to our local restaurants, as well as giving me the night off from cooking.

Sadly, some of our favorite places have closed, at least for the duration of the pandemic. The Hob Nob and the Belmont Inn just around the corner, and the Rocking Frog down the way, just weren’t able to make business work with only take out or delivery.

But in a city with thousands of people who love to eat out, there will always be something. Last night we ordered take out online from The Egyptian Brothers, a food truck at the food cart pod at 28th and Ash. On the walk over to pick it up, we enjoyed the sunset colored clouds and the patterns made by power lines, and the parade of folks walking their dogs to Laurelhurst Park and home again.

The Food Court has metal fire pits and some outdoor heaters set up in the middle of carts featuring Tobiko Bowl Japanese food, Wolf and Bear Lebanese, FOMO Chicken, and the Crepe place, make for a cheerful atmosphere. Quite a few folks were seated around the fire or at tables, socially distanced, but not very masked.

It was refreshing to see people talking and laughing, having some beer or wine with friends. It felt almost normal. But it didn’t feel like I wanted to stick around.

Our dinner was ready when we got there, smelling delicious. We headed home in the gathering dark, getting hungrier by the minute. Grandpa Nelson had opened a bottle of Columbia Crest Red Blend, and we enjoyed our lamb gyros with tzitziki sauce and wine before our Scrabble game.

Grandpa Nelson won handily, Auntie Bridgett came in second, but I think I had as much fun as anyone. Happy Friday! Welcome to your weekend!


Grandma Judy