Friday, July 18, 2008

The Classical and the Trivial

Been a little busy this week and haven't been updating a few of the events I attended. I've been pumping up my social life a tad this summer and as such will probably be doing more updates.

Sunday I attended the final performance of this year's Bach Festival, which is Eugene's little classical music shindig. Been going on for nearly four decades now, bringing high culture to the burg every summer. The performance I attended was "The Passion of St. Matthew," a three hour depiction of the last days of Jesus sung in German. I know, thrilling, but I actually am a total sucker for anything by Bach and had a great time. The concert was in the Hult Center, the large performing arts center in Eugene. The seats are built with pygmies in mind as the expected audience, but otherwise its a great place to catch a play or symphony performance.

The median age of the audience was old enough to collect social security, so I felt a tad out of place, but at least I didn't fall asleep during the performance as I noticed a couple of the old timers do.

While not done by a world-class symphony or choir, the performance was still more than worthwhile. I look forward to next year, so I can feel all posh and sophisticated for another couple of hours before going home to my one-bedroom apartment to eat Rice-A-Roni.

The second event I attended this week was a little less high class and a little more interactive. Max's Tavern is one of the better bars in town, a classic college town bar that doesn't make you feel like a total tool for hanging out there. Every Tuesday night is Trivia Night, a common enough bar activity that Max's lays its own laid-back attitude over.

Teams sign up for the event and compete in two rounds of three innings of six questions a piece, with one three-question lightning round at the end. Contestants fill in cards with their answers and the scores are tabulated at the end of the inning, with raffles held between innings for cheap prizes. The winners get a slightly higher class of cheap prize at the end.

I didn't have a team and didn't know anyone at the bar, so I competed alone, the only guy flying solo in the competition. I came in fifth out of 15 teams, meaning that I beat a combined total of 30 drunkards in a trivia contest. I won a Frisbee in a raffle and some guy offered to buy me a beer in exchange for it (I got a Guinness). I also got a honorable mention prize at the end, which meant I got to pick something from the pile of cheap crap they had in the back. I picked up a box of cupcake mix (I was on my third beer by that point) and called it a night.

Overall, a fun social event and as good a way as any to spend a Tuesday evening. I'll have to make some friends so I can have a team next time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wine 'n' Dine

Just for something to write about, here are my thoughts on some of the restaurants here in town. I'm only listing places I've been to in the last few months and only ones I feel like writing about.

Broken down by cuisine. Enjoy:


Pegasus Pizza: Decent college pizza and good beer. I've had great pizza there and I've had bad pizza there, but most of it lands in the "pretty good" zone.

Sy's Pizza: The closest thing I've ever found to New York-style pizza on the West coast. A good, cheap meal.


Rennie's Landing: Basically, pub food. Solid burgers and beer, though it's really more of a hang-out that a dine-out kind of place. I used to go there for lunch until I got bored with it.

Cornucopia: Best burgers in town, in my opinion. The Blond Bomb is a big, cheesy chunk of delicious. Great beer selection and good specials. The meatball and provolone sandwich is another favorite. Doesn't seem like you get enough for the price, but I'm never unsatisfied when I finish it.

McMenamins (any of them, there are three in town and they're all the same): Good burgers, good fries and the Terminator Stout is a pure delight. Can't go wrong with a place that names a burger after a Led Zeppelin song. This Northwest-based company is trying to own every bar & grill in Oregon, I'm pretty sure.

The 'Witch House: Fairly new gourmet sandwich place on Willamette. I've never had anything there that I haven't thought was at least decent. They do a solid braised pork sandwich that's one of my favorite meals in town. Every time I want to go there, I'm worried it will be closed. I never see anyone there (must do solid lunchtime business).


Sweet Basil/Sweet Basil Express: Solid pad thai and some pretty good curries. Makes a good lunchtime stop, but I think it's overrated.

Ta Ra Rin: Excellent and highly recommend. The yellow curry is the stuff of dreams.


Bombay Palace: Good lunch buffet and a cheap, but no great shakes. Has all the atmosphere of a truck stop, though they play soccer matches on the big screen every now and then.

Evergreen: Very good lunch buffet, with a rotating selection of curries that I always enjoy (I had goat curry there once, and was not disappointed). The rice pudding is always a good way to end a meal.


Caspian: Nice little place on the 13th Ave. stretch heading into the UO campus. Serves some good kebabs and gyros (lamb kebab with rice is a favorite) as well as traditional American breakfast items.


Mid-Town: I've never eaten at the restaurant in the same building, but the coffee shop is one of the best in town. Real pros making the drinks, and some innovative specials (the honey cardamom latte is the best thing I've had on the menu).

Full City: Eugene's classic. Sort of MOR for a high end coffee shop, but the do good, consistent work.

The Beanery: Allan Bros.' own coffee stand in town. Great espresso made with handle-pulled machines (if you know what that means you already drink there) and a fine tea selection. The place is a barn though and it roasts in there all summer. Not a pleasant place to be when the heat gets up into the 80s or 90s.

Espresso Roma: Best coffee shop in town for atmosphere. Nice place to hang out and read/study/chat/lose game after game of Go to my friends. The coffee is motor oil, but strong and effective. Good pastries and some nice smoothies for the hot months.


Cafe Yumm!: Local chain, good for lunch or a light dinner. Most of the menu is variations on the basic Yumm Bowl, which is rice, salsa, veggies, cheddar and "Yumm Sauce," which is what ties the whole thing together into something worthwhile.

Provisions: Small gourmet marketplace in the bottom of the 5th Street Public Market. Good cheese and coffee selection. Also will fulfill anyone's need for gourmet-pizza-with-ingredients-you-wouldn't-think-to-add-to-pizza-but