Just blocks away from the riverfront in the City of Roses, Portland, Oregon’s Mother’s Bistro and Bar is a touch of home in the city. Chef Owner Lisa Schroeder has created a restaurant ripe with memory-inducing comfort foods reminiscent of those served at your own mom and grandmom’s tables. The classically trained Schroeder elevates simple comfort food with rich sauces, homemade bread and pastas, and slow cooked flavor.
But be forewarned. Mother’s food is delicious – and quite filling. Portions are very generous, but the restaurant does offer half portions of some entrees.
We ordered way too much, but we wanted to taste a wide range of Mother’s specialties. Starting the meal was a classic matzo ball soup. The stock was extremely flavorful and the matzo ball on point – a great choice.
Next up was the fried ravioli with a basil tomato sauce. Now having just moved back to the states from Italy, my pasta expectations are a little skewed. Though I wouldn’t compare Mother’s ravioli with the Italian counterparts I’ve enjoyed of late, I can say hers was quite tasty with a fluffy center and a spice dusted crisp exterior that I particularly liked.
Where Mother’s shines is in its slow-cooked, long-simmered meats such as pot roast and pulled pork. Fork tender and succulent, the meats won’t disappoint and will draw comparisons to your best childhood meals.
Now I must admit that I have a hard time tasting any macaroni and cheese that lives up to my own mother’s. My own mom’s is baked and rich, with a thick toasted cheese crust and tons of butter. (I’m still trying to duplicate it myself but I always think she makes it better!) Chef Schroeder approaches mac and cheese differently, offering daily specials with varying flavor combinations. I tried the Mother’s classic cheddar mac – al dente farfalle noodles in a smooth, creamy sauce made of simple cream and cheese. Very satisfying – but opposite of my own mom’s.
After tasting pulled pork in country gravy (far too rich for me) and hearty chicken and dumplings, we were beyond full. Mother’s dessert menu is rich with cakes and pies that could soothe any number of blue days. Save room and indulge.
After all was tasted, we did top our meal with coffee and bite-sized sweets from pastry chef Debbie Putnam. My favorite? The sinfully rich ganache-topped walnut brownies and the crispy cocoa cookies. Enjoy!
212 SW Stark Street at the corner of Second Avenue
Portland, OR 97204