Portland: as a list

Last week Jeff, Thomas Rickert, and I took a short trip to Portland, Oregon to indulge in the craft beer scene. After the jump, the trip, list style.

Travel

  • Before I left, it was pouring, and I fell, twisting my right ankle and landing on my left shoulder. They are still swollen and bruised, respectively.
  • Instead of the usual US67, I drove IL336/US61 to avoid flooding in southern Illinois. All the creeks and rivers I crossed were swollen and moving fast. Later, I found out I missed flash foods and the closing of US61 in Hannibal by less than two hours.
  • Just after Jeff and I began our light rail trip from PDX to downtown Portland, a homeless hipster wearing a suit hopped on the train. He discussed drunken escapades and compared shelters with a fellow who got on a few stops later, then handed out cigarettes to a few people. We saw him two more times during the trip–once smoking a gigantic cigar.
  • Best travel experience: a cab ride with Radio Cab’s Bobby A., who drove his cab at 99.9% of its limit and punctuated our conversation with a series of “You guys” and other colorful expressions. My gut hurt from laughing when our trip was finished.
  • Our return flight from Denver to St Louis was delayed because of flight crew issues. The Frontier agent herding passengers said to nobody in particular, “This hurts me more than it hurts you–I’m supposed to go home now!” Jeff scowled and fired back, “What? So are we!”
  • “We have a full flight. Help us out–we’ll gate check your bag for free,” announced the Frontier agents every time we boarded the plane. Doubly absurd: (1) they want $25 for a bag each way, and are surprised when nearly everyone carries their stuff on; (2) they expect travelers to wrangle bags through security and to the gate–and then check them?
  • Going home, I got out of STL at 7.20p. Drove by a few fast food places and decided to skip them all–I bought a quart of milk and drank that instead. Arrived at 10.30pm to a dark house and sleepy girls.

Breaktimes

  • On our way to the gardens in Washington Park, we came across the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. Incredible. I thought about it the rest of the day.
  • Between pubs Tuesday, Thomas bought a long-sleeve shirt at the American Apparel store, while Jeff and I stood around and looked completely out of place.
  • Wednesday morning, we enjoyed R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated and a nice roster of contemporary artwork at the Portland Art Museum. I could have stayed at the museum a lot longer; I particularly liked the photography.
  • After a fellow with a oversized hat and neon-green sunglasses walked by us late Tuesday, we begin rating the hipsters we encountered on a 1-10 scale. Portland is thick with ’em. It would be easy to generate a year’s worth of material for LATFH in a weekend.

Bars and pubs (in order)

laurel2 Deschutes Brewery Public House: we got there around 7.30p on Tuesday, and it was swamped: line out the front door, and just a few seats at the bar. Excellent beer (cask bitter!) and good food, too–elk meatball appetizer and mussels. Jeff and Thomas got elk burgers.

Henry’s 12th St Tavern: we visited several times since they had a long list and it was close to our hotel, Park Lane Suites. Solid pours, and good service, but very noisy, and too many beers on the list were out. I almost left my laptop there Thursday night; returned to find it hiding under our darkened table. (Whew.)

Laurelwood NW Public House: our first stop Wednesday. We ate on the porch, enjoying a very fine roster of beers which, though they were similar styles, had excellent differentiation. Small samples (3oz), so we got two trays. Thomas particularly liked the red ale; I preferred the Hop Monkey IPA. Very good food; we all opted for the fresh greens with our sandwiches.

New Old Lompoc: our first (and most surprising) disappointment. Nice to see hops growing outside, but the place was very grimy, with people smoking on the patio and sticky menus. Worse, several of the beers had quality issues. We were in and out in less than an hour.

luckylab1 Lucky Labrador Beer Hall: a huge place, almost empty in the early afternoon. I’d been to the original pub on Hawthorne years ago, and remembered that I used to have a Stumptown Porter shirt. Generous samples, almost half-pints. Roots “kolsch” was really a gruit (which is why Thomas and I complained about it). We munched peanuts and enjoyed the “Super Dawg” IPAs.

Living Room Theaters: waiting for Tugboat to open, we stopped here so Thomas could get an espresso, and discovered they had Ninkasi on tap. I had water.

Tugboat Brewing Company: very disappointing. No pale of any kind on tap–in Portland, Oregon?!? Fewer than 10 handles. I liked the cheesy books at the table, and the great slogan: “Small, dependable, hard working”–but no sample pours, and lousy ESB. I left half of my half-pint on the table.

Bailey’s Taproom: across the street and miles ahead of Tugboat, a fairly new place with a very diverse roster of taps (about 20) with one of the few sours we enjoyed on the trip (Cascade The Vine). They offered sample trays, and again we got two, with a super variety of styles: Upright #4 saison, Fourth St Vienna Lager, Cascade Imperial Wheat IPA.

Harborside Pilsner Room: nightcap for Tuesday. We arrived fairly late, after our trip to Salty’s and back (see below), shortly before the place was closing. Terrific location right on the Willamette River. They offered a variety of Full Sail beers and a few guests on tap, which was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Horse Brass Pub: the first place we visited Wednesday, after a long wait for the eastbound bus after leaving the museum. We had half-pints and a plate of outstanding fries–hand-cut, skin-on, nicely seasoned–then returned after lunch at ¿Porqué No? to find several beers on tap not there when we first arrived. Nice conversation with our server. I particularly liked the Beer Valley Pigskin Pale (cask) and the Double Mountain kolsch–very close to style.

Belmont Station: beer nerds’ heaven. A small bar connected to a store jammed with amazing beer. To support the Oregon Craft Beer festival, all their taps but two were Oregon beers. Amazing stuff. We each had three different half-pints. Heater Allen Isarweizen: wow.

Hopworks Urban Brewery: got here at the wrong time; the place was jammed and our palettes tired after Belmont. We had a half-pint and headed out for dinner.

Food

Portland Bagel Company: flavorful, light bagels and pastries. Thomas and Jeff split a bear claw, and raved about it. But whatever they were using to mop the floor just wasn’t cutting it. Sticky: ew.

Salty’s: recommended by our waiter at Laurelwood, right on the Columbia River near PDX. After a $30 cab ride there, we guessed the place has been riding on reputation for years. Menu, decor, and food right out of 1978. Way overpriced. The waiter was overbooked and the service slow: as Thomas said, you could tell he had just given up. Thankfully, the wine list was good and the sommelier helpful.

Kornblatt’s Deli: unlike PBC, traditional bagels, doughy, chewy, and more my style. Excellent service at this “breakfast all day” deli I’d visit regularly if I lived in the neighborhood.

¿Por Qué No?: amazing tacos. We got there just after 1:00 and there was a line–and there was still a line when we left. Not a minute after we’d been in the place, a server put pints of Hopworks Red Ale into our hands. Sooooo fresh and delicious: guac, chips, fish tacos, pork tacos. And very reasonably priced.

Ten-01: Thomas picked this restaurant. Outstanding service and very good food. I had halibut, and it was perfect: buttery, crisp on the outside, flaky, tender and juicy. Excellent desert wines, too.

Next time:

  • Amnesia Brewing
  • Country Cat
  • Green Dragon
  • Hair of the Dog
  • Hop & Vine
  • Malay Satay Hut
  • McMenamins Edgefield
  • Produce Row Café
  • Saravesa
  • Traveling with my girls

(Pictures belong to Jeff. Check out his posts, too.)

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