Board & Brush Creative Studio- Portland

By Peter Zimmerman

You can find Portland’s newest DIY craze on SE Division.  Recently opened on May 4th, Board and Brush sees its guests becoming masters at sign building.  The two-story, industrial style studio is stocked with everything needed for this style of woodworking.  Upon entering the studio you are greeted by long worktables flanked by tools.  Hammers, saws and drills hang from the walls underneath finished signs of the style made in the workshops, and a cooler stocked with beer and wine stands nearby ready for the next adult workshop.

Owner Kayla Grami got the idea to open a DIY sign building studio after attending a similar style workshop in Washington last year.  She was months into researching the idea and creating a business plan when she discovered Board and Brush.  Created in Wisconsin, Board and Brush is a franchise that boasts over 200 locations around the country, but Grami’s studio is the first in Portland.  After reaching out and going to Wisconsin to learn how the original location operates, Grami started creating her space this past March, ultimately opening her doors in May.

The Board and Brush studio holds instructor led workshops for everything from Girl’s Nights to Baby Showers to teambuilding exercises, and everything is made from scratch.  The instructor leads the guests through a step-by-step process beginning with distressing the wood and ending with a custom wax coat at the ends.  Guests can choose from different woods and styles and utilize 76 different colors and seven different stains.

Grami’s calendar is filling up with events, and she expects the business to grow, foreseeing multiple locations in Portland.  You can find Board and Brush online and on Facebook

1100 SE Division St.

STE 111, 

971.727.9907

boardandbrush.com/portland/

Bamboo House

Phò – Grill – Bar

By Nancy Tannler

For any of the regulars who have already ventured into the Bamboo House, (formerly Thanh Thao) 4005 SE Hawthorne Blvd., you will note that things are being done differently. There are a still a few dishes that are the same but the new owner, Linh Bien, has created a menu that focuses more on primarily Vietnamese dishes.

Linh is the niece of the former owner Khanh Nguyen (Tom), who first opened the restaurant thirty years ago. It was a combination of Vietnamese and Thai food and that meant there were a lot of choices on the menu.

Today’s food trends are different. Diners tend to be more interested in having a specific and unique taste experience. In order to cook the type of Vietnamese food Linh wants to serve, she has simplified the menu there by ensuring that each dish is individually prepared using fresh ingredients and carefully blended seasonings and sauces.

But the intention of serving their favorite foods to the people of their adopted country is the same for Linh as it was when her uncle had the restaurant. “We love to show our appreciation to the people here by serving our food to them in a family friendly place,” she said.

The Bamboo House is a very welcoming. The new remodel keeps the open, lightness of the dining room but with new fixtures, seating and decor. The wait staff is friendly and attentive. “I try to hire other Vietnamese immigrants, using the younger English speaking in the front of the restaurant and the others in food preparation.” The idea is for them to eventually learn to speak fluent English too.

The sampling of some of the items on the menu was very satisfying both in flavor and serving size. The Beef Rib Phò was so savory and included the whole short rib bone, the meat literally melted in your mouth. The Vegan Phò, served with king mushrooms, tofu, bean curd and toppings was flavorful too. “I am from a farming community and I understand how Vietnamese food should taste and want to serve some of our best recipes.”

Salt and Pepper Squid and Shaking Beef served over salad were a couple of other dishes that were tantalizing and offered some unique flavors. Many of the menu items can be made vegan or vegetarian. “We serve some of our  homemade favorites with no shortcuts, everything is made fresh,” Linh said.

Linh Bien

Immigrating from a town around the Mekong Delta to Seattle six years ago, Linh attended school to learn English and get her degree. “I mostly learned to speak English by watching reruns of Friends.”

Linh was originally in the corporate world but when word went around that her aunt and uncle were ready to retire, she and her cousin Christina Nguyen decided to refashion the restaurant into the Bamboo House, retaining their legacy and bringing the next level of Vietnamese food to the people of Portland.

To accommodate people’s busy schedules they will deliver. A complete menu can be found online at: zmenu.com/bamboo-house-portland-online-men or call 503.238.6263.

4005 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 

Polliwog

By Peter Zimmerman

Nestled on the corner of Everett and 28th sits Polliwog, a children’s store full of things to set the mind of a child soaring.  Stepping into the quaint corner store, one is greeted by vibrant colors, toys of all types, books filled with amazing stories and beautiful art, and cute baby clothes.

Started in 2005 with an original location on Belmont, Polliwog has grown from a clothing specific kids store into what it is today: a place where kids can just be kids.  After the economic downturn in 2008, there was a decline in purchasing for new kids clothes, with parents opting for used as the garments would be grown out of anyway.  The change forced Polliwog to move more towards gifts and books, a model that has held since.

One thing that sticks out while walking the aisles at Polliwog is the lack of flashing lights and the cacophony of noise that usually fills a modern day toy store.  That’s because there are no batteries here; none of the toys feature screens or electronics, and are meant to inspire the imagination.  Co-owner Phoebe Smith feels that keeping a child’s mind active and off of technology longer is better for development, and also just likes the aesthetic of having traditional toys over the animatronics and flash their modern counterparts.

As well as toys, Polliwog is an incredible place to pick up a children’s book.  They are everywhere throughout the store, adding small patches of incredible art to the aesthetic.  In the words of Smith “Books are inspiring” and for parents are easier to store and maintain than a pile of toys.

In the current age of online shopping and Amazon, Polliwog’s brick and mortar setting is a breath of fresh air.  It’s a place where you can browse instead of searching for a single, specific item, and let your imagination decide what gift is right for the child in your life.

234 NE 28th Ave

503.236.3903

polliwogportland.com

Bees & Beans

By Nancy Tannler

The creative chefs of the world continually find new ways to serve old favorites. Nowhere is this more true than at Bees & Beans where the handmade artisan candy bars take the everyday bars we are used to to delicious heights.

Owner Andrea Marks, bought the business a little over two years ago after apprenticing with Faith Dionne, the founder of Bees & Beans. One night Faith dreamt  of making candy bars and she did developing over time the thirteen bars they now produce. She moved on to start a distilling business and Andrea is carrying on the dream of candy bars.

Since buying the business, Andrea has expanded the wholesale business locally and across the country, she continues to give in-store demos and has opened a store front while still making every bar by hand. Bees & Beans is open at 1452 E. Burnside.

Andrea gratefully acknowledges that none of this would have been possible without the help of her husband Andy Marks, by day a techie and by night a candy collaborator.

Before becoming a  confectioner, Andrea was a pastry chef. This training prepared her for the fine nuances necessary to make a really good candy. “The chocolate is tempered by heating, cooling  and reheating. This gives it the sheen and snap,” she said. The addition of honey to the sweetening ingredients means they don’t need to use any stabilizers, no glucose, high fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin–just using the naturally occurring pectin in the honey.

“We sometimes use up to three different chocolates in a bar.”  The cocoa is sourced from Theo, Scharffenberger and E. Guittard, the honey and nuts come for Oregon Growers and Shippers all but a few fruits Andrea picks on Sauvie’s Island–Bees & Beans walks the talk of being a truly sustainable business.

The best part of all this behind-the-scenes work is the flavor of the 13 different candy bars they offer. The pride of the pack is the Reserve Bar–a spin on a Snickers bar only with more depth of flavor. The Malt Bar, think Three Musketeers with a layer of crunch. The Mint Bar is so smooth and creamy with no lumps and a perfect dark chocolate coating. The whole store can be shopped online or at the store front and in several retail locations around town.

As well as chocolates they make a pack of Pate de Fruit, a simple French confection made with mostly local fruit and honey. Andrea is also working on a new bar that should be ready soon and will resemble the crispy, cookie chocolate layered,  Twix.

It is astounding that this is all done in a very efficient store front/kitchen where you will find Andrea going from one task to the next in her one woman production line. She always has samples available for you to try, making her candy bars a hard temptation to resist.

The next dreaming is for a little bigger space, a license to serve coffee, a place to sit down and of course to let the world know about the taste delights of the candy bars from Bees & Beans.

971.506.7018

1452 E. Burnside St. 

beesandbeans.com