A quick trip to Portland, Oregon, this last weekend.
I’d read about Bailey’s Taproom on some Portland forum or another. It recently opened across the street from the restaurant we were dining at later in the evening, Saucebox. A nice selection of what I would call “Extreme” beers. Beers from Stone, Russian River, Deschutes, Amnesia, etc. Almost every beer on the menu over 6% alcohol. We tried a couple of very nice examples of the style. If you’re in the mood for this sort of thing, Bailey’s is the place to go.
Saucebox was all right. A West Coast take on kind of Asian/tiki food and cocktails. A little mirror-ey, clubby for me.
For breakfast the next day we went to Mother’s, a Portland institution. I’d heard Portland was a great breakfast town, and Mother’s didn’t let us down.
Every foodie I talked to recommended we go to Park Kitchen, and they were right. Unfortunately, nearly the whole restaurant was booked for a wedding party. But, we got there early enough to get one of the first come first serve tables on the sidewalk. Fantastic, friendly service and fantastic food. I’ve been kind of down on fancy dining lately, and Park Kitchen went a long way to restoring my faith in the institution.
I’d been told by drinky friends that the one bar I needed to check out was the Teardrop Lounge. Handily, it was within staggering distance of Park Kitchen, so we stopped in for drinks after dinner.
Opened a couple months ago by relocated San Franciscans Daniel Shoemaker and Ted Charak, it is a pretty fantastic venue. After working in “volume” bars in San Francisco, Daniel and Ted had a dream of opening a true cocktailian bar. Fresh ingredients, quality spirits, homemade mixers and bitters. Unfortunately, the economics of San Francisco didn’t work out, so they looked to Portland. After a brave struggle with the bureaucratic powers that be, they are finally living that dream. If you care about cocktails, you owe it to yourself to check out what these guys are doing.
We had another great breakfast at Zell’s the next morning, and cleared our heads for another day of Portland.
Bartender and bloggerJeffrey Morgenthaler was kind enough to arrange for a tour and tasting of the House Spirits distilling facilities.
House Spirits make several products including a popular Gin, Vodka, and Aquavit.
Owner Lee Medoff gave us the run down on the production of these products and then let some of Jeffrey’s other friends, who also turned out to be bartenders, take turns at making drinks.
I sort of suspected that I might have to take a turn at the bar, but, had luckily spied the ingredients necessary for one of my favorite Savoy Cocktails, The ATTY Cocktail. Whew! Talk about nerve racking! I’d never really made cocktails behind a bar before, let alone in front of 5 bartenders and the manufacturer of the gin I was mixing. Fortunately, I didn’t completely choke, and managed to score a slight victory for an unjustly ignored drink. Well, it does have two very difficult to find ingredients, so will likely remain somewhat obscure for the foreseeable future. Still, the Aviation Gin was very, very good in the ATTY.
While we were chatting at House Spirits, and swilling gin cocktails, Jeffrey mentioned that some of the folks from Imbibe Magazine were going to be at Clyde Common for drinks. What the heck! I’d had a few drinks, surely meeting journalists couldn’t be more nerve racking than mixing drinks for bartenders!
Clyde Common turned out to be an unusual concept. Restaurants in San Francisco have been adding common tables; but, Clyde Common is all common tables. We had some appetizers at the bar, chatted, drank a couple more drinks, and parted ways.
We had one last Portland breakfast at Bijou Cafe, packed up, and flew back home.
Whew! My head is still spinning!