The New Girl in Town
Working at a hostel, my least favorite question is: “So do you have recommendations for a good place to eat around here?” Shudder. It’s not that I’m annoyed with the question itself. It’s perfectly logical, and the guest is smart to get a local’s perspective–hint to future guests: ask locals for the gems instead of just doing touristy things. I just have a hard time answering the question because unlike most 20-30 somethings, I cook most of my meals and haven’t explored as much of the foodie scene as most people. Plus, what if the guest doesn’t like the place? Food recommendations are pretty risky.
But because it was my birthday last week, and I got a few offers for brunch, I decided to cash them in at new places I hadn’t tried before. Enter Harlow on Hawthorne. A recent addition to the district, I noticed it on my walk home from work and was intrigued by the decor: chic casual with soft lighting and lots of space. Then I found out it was a sister to Prasad in the Pearl, and I got excited. Prasad is a raw, vegan friendly restaurant owned by a yoga studio downtown Portland. For someone who is not vegan or vegetarian but trying to eat whole prepared foods, I knew this would be a good place to something tasty AND nourishing. Plus, they had cocktails and spiked drinks on the menu. ‘Nuff said.
It was as inviting inside as out, with a rustic chic look. Everything was hand written on chalkboards. There was even a guy writing out the specials as we entered, and his handwriting was beautiful.
The girl at the counter was super friendly. She patiently and attentively answered my questions as I agonized over the granola vs. oatmeal–I know what you’re thinking, but nothing gets me faster than housemade granola with gluten free oats! For six bucks, the granola was the perfect size with coconut, pepitas, dried cranberries, toasted pecans and sunflower seeds, served with fresh fruit and choice of milk. Now Portland coffee shops and cafes have a pretty good selection of ‘milks’ for all of us allergic people out there, but when I heard almond hemp milk, my eyes got as big as saucers. Yes, please.
Round it out with a wellness toddy with echinacea, honey, lemon and a kick of cayenne pepper, it was the perfect addition on the eve of the Snowpocalypse. I was satisfied.
My roomate got The Lone Star, a raw dish with shredded collards and spinach tossed in jalapeno cream cheese with dehydrated tomatoes, chili lime walnuts, housemade guacamole, chipotle hot sauce, almond parmesan, cilantro, scallions & fresh lime. Though it looked like a pile of just raw greens, it was quite tasty and also had a little kick to it.
Overall, the menu has a good selection. There were even eggs and two selections of gluten free pancakes. From other reviews I’ve read, it looks like the poppyseed quinoa is the darling. They have bowls for lunch, tons of smoothies and juices that I couldn’t even look at and vegan pastries. My roomate and I split the raw chocolate cookie bar. Then she later went back and got the peanut butter cookies, all very tasty and satisfying. And did I mention that they have a pretty good cocktail menu?! On top of that they aren’t as guilty with ingredients like coconut milk and ginger.
I think the clincher for me was when one of the guests who had recommended it to me the night before showed up not too long after we set down. He said he been to Harlow everyday since he had been staying at the hostel and recommended some other good dishes to us. I took note because I definitely plan on coming back. My roomate wants to be a regular. Harlow will be seeing us again, and I will definitely be recommending to other guests who need a vegan/raw food fix.