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Downtown Portland

Portland's Other Schnitz

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Mistakes were made. At least one big one was, so a correction’s in order. Turns out that my original suggestion in Neighborhood Notes that Karel and Monika Vitek's Schnitzelwich is surprisingly light was remarkably wrong.

I’ve come to learn that a Tábor Schnitzelwich is, in fact, a commitment—I'd originally typed that finishing off this burly sando in a single sitting would leave you feeling A-Okay, but that's because when I first ate one, I'd eaten just half, then, still hungry an hour later, finished the other half. I felt great. And delightfully surprised. But 60 minutes can make all the difference.

I've since come to learn on subsequent visits to wrap up and eat later what I can’t finish now rather than have at it in one go, which probably says a lot more about me than the sandwich, itself. Still, this sando's a keeper, and well worth the short wait it takes to have one prepared, even if it means standing in the rain.

Served on a ciabatta roll and topped with crisp Romain lettuce, a pleasantly pungent horseradish sour cream and an electric red ajvar (a Czech relish made with garlic, eggplant and roasted red peppers), the Vitek's breaded and panfried schnitzel sando (your choice of either pork or chicken—but c'mon: are you really going to ask for chicken?) long ago leapfrogged lotsa spots to become one of Portland's most iconic sandwiches—an honor it richly deserves.

Just remember: if you find yourself halfway through, take a breather and think, should I trust my belly or my own lyin' eyes? The answer is obvious: trust your belly. Finish what you can, wrap up what you can't, and give yourself a short rest before filling the rest of you up. Of course, you can always choose to bring along a friend to help you finish it.*

*And should you bring along that friend, consider going on a Wednesday. You can pair that split sandwich while splitting a bramborák (a bulging omelet-like 10-inch potato pancake that you can have stuffed with sauerkraut, ham, spinach and that same spicy sour cream), or pony up and share a bowl of Bohemian Gulash, availably daily, and prepared weekly with thematic twists—the Viteks make Guinness Gulash, Szekely Gulash, Pilsner Gulash and Gypsy Gulash just, as Karel says “to make the point that Gulash has many faces and endures infinite possibilities.”

 

Imperial's Tap Vieux Carré

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I've written about barman Brandon Wise's tap Vieux Carré plenty of times—twice for MIX Magazine (RIP MIX!), and once for Neighborhood Notes. As I've written in the past, it's Wise's favorite classic cocktail—he's used Vieux Carré shots to boilermake pints of beer and he's even used shots to flavor snow cones)—and because of him (he's the one who finally hipped me to it), it's mine too.

In fact, I try to turn as many people on to it as I can—not just because of the way it tastes, or because of how easy it is to drink (think: candied whiskey)—but because it's easily one of the best deals in town.

While a standard mixer or a draft pint of craft beer can easily run you $6 (to say nothing of craft cocktails that can often run north of $10), Wise's Vieux Carré will cost you just $7—and, because it's mixed in large batches and argon-gassed from a korny keg (which keeps prep time down), it costs just $5 during Imperial's two daily happy hours.

If you head out for one (or two)—and trust me, you should—keep in mind that this is a drink that'll sneak up on you.

Besides the lemon twist and the large hand-carved ice cube, the Vieux Carré’s all spirits (rye, cognac, Benedictine, Italian vermouth and splashes of Angostura and Peychaud's bitters).

But that ice plays its part—about five minutes after your cocktail's been poured, it melts, glacially, providing your Vieux Carré with what Wise calls a "sweet spot" in which each spirit's many notes harmoniously blend themselves together into the same proper key.

Imperial, 400 SW Broadway St., 503.228.7222