After picking up my road trip partner, the intrepid and talented About Face photographer Tim Sugden, I arrived at the new Mercedes-Benz dealership on Canyon Road in Beaverton. The friendly staff was quick with an umbrella, and just as quick with keys to a gleaming new Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic. There it stood, shining in Cinnebar Red Metallic with 19” wheels, boasting a healthy 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. Just approaching the ML350 elicited a feeling of refinement that can’t be attributed to any other SUV on the road.
As an enthusiastic fan of German engineering, and a Mercedes-Benz C320 owner myself, I’ve been a devotee of the smaller, sportier sedans in recent years. The 2013 ML350 quickly had me considering a larger addition to my stable. Knowing I would be driving this perfectly engineered, all-wheel-drive vehicle through forecasted downpours all the way to Seattle and back, gave me a sense of security and confidence.
Once I was on the road, my confidence was confirmed by the sure-footed performance of this car, and my command view of the road. The power and aggressive stance are a pleasant surprise for a vehicle with such a family-friendly configuration. The well-worn I-5 corridor from Portland to Seattle is rife with deep road ruts, pulling the average family car left and right in rainy conditions and forcing the driver to remain constantly on edge. Not so with the ML350 4Matic.
The road is completely illuminated by Bi-Xenon headlamps, as seen through the large windshield and excellent configuration of side and rear windows. The safety of the ML350 is further enhanced by the collision prevention system, and lane tracking and blind spot monitor. All are great features to have in the event a driver is distracted. The alerts are felt in the steering wheel, an effect similar to running over traffic dots, which is very intuitive. Dash notification is clear but not oppressive.
Purely for the purposes of this review, and my obligation to the readers, I analyzed the acceleration, throttle response, and speedometer thoroughly. In other words, I did step on it. I’m glad to report the ML350 was up to the challenge. The ample passing power came in handy when vying for position with large trucks on I-5. On more than one occasion, I found myself swiftly passing slower moving traffic rather than enduring the road water they were casting on my windshield.
Interior refinements included ample eucalyptus wood and chrome details, which accented the Almond Beige interior. An impressive array of features inside included a Harman/Kardon surround sound system, rear seat entertainment option, and rearview camera. Storage areas, as well as iPod, USB, and charging ports are generous and well distributed throughout the passenger areas. This came in handy for photographer Tim, who had ample storage and charging options for a bevy of professional photographic accoutrements.
We arrived at the hotel feeling fresh, with none of the road fatigue usually associated with the three-hour drive. In fact, we arrived ahead of schedule. The Edgewater is perched stylishly overlooking the Puget Sound and is within walking distance of Pike Street Market and the Seattle Aquarium. While the valet parked the Mercedes, we had time to admire our surroundings.
It’s easy to get distracted once inside the hotel. The ambience and elegance of The Edgewater are commensurate with the regal style of the Mercedes-Benz that we drove to get here. River rock and rough-hewn timbers are melded with modern flourishes of artistic steel and glass finishes, effecting an alchemy of style I would call Northwest nouveau.
The rooms are luxuriously furnished with some of the most comfortable and cushiony beds and pillows I’ve ever slept on. This was not my first visit to The Edgewater, and it will not be my last. The hotel is famously known as the place that welcomed The Beatles during their world tour in 1964, when all other hotels turned them away. Beatles-themed cocktails in the lounge include the Revolver, Strawberry Fields, and Yellow Sub-Martini.
After getting acquainted with the hotel staff, and imbibing one Revolver, I was ready for some football. I took the free hotel shuttle to the Seahawks game, where the electrifying atmosphere at CenturyLink Field was palpable. The Seattle Seahawks routed the New York Jets 28-7 at a game so representative of Northwest culture that the non-stop downpour only seemed to spur on the spirit of the rain-soaked crowd.
A short pedicab ride back to the hotel, and I was ready to warm up with some of the finest cuisine in the Northwest at the famed Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge. The menu creations of renowned Chef John Roberts were tantalizing, but were made even more so by the excellent service and wine pairing advice from our server, Laura. A well-balanced Oregon red was recommended, and provided just the right kick-off to our dining event.
Normally it would be easy to skip past writing about the salad and appetizer, but in this case, that would be a culinary travesty. The BLT salad excites the eyes with color and texture before it even reaches your lips. Sugary, herb-roasted bacon, poblano ranch, and sherry bacon dressing reward you with every bite. Next, a single seared diver scallop, compliments of Sous Chef Erik Nitsche, served in a light coating of butternut and caramel garlic butter. Don’t like scallops? Prepare to change your mind. My road trip partner Tim did immediately.
While waiting for the main course, I looked out over Puget Sound through the floor-to-ceiling windows next to our table. As I watched the lights on the boats gliding by through the dark, I was able to appreciate the stunning ambience of the Six Seven. The elegant lighting lends a relaxing vibe to the contemporary but comfortable atmosphere. Content with my mood, I nearly forgot the best was yet to come.
In the hands of less capable chefs, filet mignon can be ordinary fare. In the hands of the Edgewater chefs, it reminds you of what is best about beef. They presented a choice cut of premium local beef, cooked to perfection, crusted with Oregonzola cheese fresh from the Rogue Creamery near Medford, Oregon, with forager mushroom ragout, asparagus, potato crisp, and natural jus. It was a truly sublime fusion of savory tenderloin juices, and earthy Northwest nuances.
To top it all off, dessert came in the form of a decadent, spiced apple tart, draped in Calvados caramel, paired with after-dinner coffee. The entire experience was truly paradise for the palette. Every person encountered at the Six Seven, as well as at the Edgewater Hotel, was eager to provide excellent service geared towards travelers with discerning taste. Before we left, I booked another trip for myself in December.
The return trip to Portland was safe and uneventful, except for the occasional desire to stop and take pictures of the brilliantly styled ML350 4Matic while we still had the chance. If you haven’t driven a Mercedes-Benz recently, you should indulge yourself by heading over to the new dealership in Beaverton. Join us next time as we take you to another destination in the great Northwest.