The Burnside Brewing Company – Try the East Side

2017 has seen Thebeerchaser’ Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs move slightly away (although never too far in physical proximity and thought) from classic dive bars to breweries and brewpubs.  Recent visits to the relatively new Portland brewpubs of Ten Barrel and Breakside in the Pearl District were interesting (the reviews are forthcoming) but the east side of the Rose City cried out for attention.

While not in the legendary Barmuda Triangle southeast of the Willamette River and not a new establishment, having been opened in 2010, Burnside Brewing Company has a nice atmosphere, some good beer and a reputation for being a progressive and innovative force in the Oregon beer community.

Not only experts on the Code, but great people!

As has been the case at two prior Beerchasing events (Life of Riley Tavern (3/16/16) and Brannon’s in Beaverton (3/3/15) – a venue which had great potential, but unfortunately a rather short lifespan, I joined a distinguished and erudite group (if you will…..) – eight individuals who all are either current or former members (or have a direct connection) to the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm Tax and Estate Planning Group.

For the brewery’s grain storage

Burnside Brewing, like many of its competitors, is housed in a building with roots other than malt and hops – in this case an industrial laundry built in 1927, according to Mary, the manager.  The exterior is pretty Spartan and aside from the massive and distinctive silo (used to store the grain for brewing) and the patio in front, Burnside looks like a plain industrial facility.

The availability of parking in its lot and spaces available on the street is a plus, however,  and one which makes parking in the Pearl District frustrating.

The interior is spacious and pleasant with high ceilings, an exposed kitchen, a long walnut bar with walnut tables and a Pacific Northwest décor that is tasteful and interesting.  Compared to a similar nearby (5 minutes or 2.3 miles) venue previously visited by Thebeerchaser – that being Ecliptic Brewing (5/6/15) – it has much better ambiance.

The lunchtime crowd had a nice energy – and it wasn’t just because of the outgoing natures of our cadre of tax lawyers who not only earned law degrees, but supplemented those three years with Master of Tax (LLM) degrees.  This graduate degree required an additional year of focus on such stimulating topics as conduit entities, the assignment of income doctrine and constructive receipt.  

The brewery prides itself on innovation and their “think-outside-the-box approach to brewing reminded me of the nearby Hair-of-the-Dog Brewery reviewed on this blog in February23, 2016 –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/02/23/hair-of-the-dog-brewery                  

  For example Burnside’s website states:

“The people of Burnside Brewing Co. make it what it is. They are risk takers, lovers of food to be enjoyed with easy to drink beers……takes an alchemist approach to enhance the craft beer and culinary experience……is widely recognized as a visionary leader in the Northwest brewing industry—bold enough to take risks and smart enough to leave a creative impression on your palate. The finished product is an outstanding combination of original cuisine and beer, both deeply rooted in innovation and quality.”

And the press and media reviews are very positive about this seven-year old venture of co-founders Jay Gilbert and Jason McAdam and echo plaudits for their creative approach to brewing, which the Portland Mercury described in a 4/28/2011 article, the year after the brewery opened, as “Beer-ed Science – Burnside Brewing’s Futuristic Fermentation.”

Beer-ed Science

Another example is this excerpt from the 2016 Willamette Week Bar Guide:

“Between its extensive, off-the-wall lineup of seasonals and decor guaranteed to appease the expectations of tourists visiting a Real Portland Brewpub™, Burnside has maintained its status as a must-visit for nearly six years…….. To complement its enduringly popular IPA and throwback Couch Select Lager, Burnside has concoctions infused with everything from Earl Grey tea to galangal, pumpkin puree and pepitas.”

We had various sandwiches on the lunch menu ranging from the chicken and the schnitzel sandwiches to the cubano and the burger.  All were good and had a generous helping of fries although the prices were a little bit high at $14 and $12 for the burger.  And one of the more pleasant parts of our lunch was the demeanor and competence of our server, Amethist, (she changed the y to an “i” but she is still a real gem!)

Amethist – a real gem!

Burnside takes pride in its food prep (“a menu offering cured meats, charcuterie, pickling, and culinary artistry all done in-house”) and gets good marks especially on the dinner menu for such entrées as Maple Cured Pork Loin ($15), Grilled Octopus ($16) or the old standard – Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($16.

There are also some good bargains during the Fermentation Hour menu and beer is only $3.75 for a pint on Wednesdays – $4.75 on other days)  Check out their brunch menu – Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 3:00, where you might want to try the Pork Belly Eggs Benedict.

A Jambalaya special with chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage.

Since a majority of our group was still working, partaking of beer was minimal, but I returned a few weeks later and had a sample of the Isomer IPA and a pint of the Burnside IPA, two of their flagship beers – I understand why.  The Isomer had a nice fruit taste and the IPA was just the right hoppiness for me.

Grace, the bartender also talked about the cherry wheat beer they were introducing later that day which would have been a good bet.  And the pints were only $4.25.

National and State recognition for its beers

Burnside has been recognized for its beers, winning its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in 2012 for Sweet Heat Ale (The chutney inspired wheat beer made with apricots and Scotch bonnet peppers won the gold medal in the Herb and Spice Beer category.”

Sweet Heat Ale –  Gold Medal Winner

More recent awards were at the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards including a silver medal for their Juin in the Belgian category and a gold in the dark and hoppy category for their Keg Nog.

One way to explore the broad selection of beers at Burnside and which draws rave reviews, is to try the sampler.  As Grace explained, one can either sample the nine seasonal beers or seven perennials for $12 each or try the entire menu (usually 18 beers on their tap list) for a very reasonable $20.  Typical reaction to the deal is this 12/5/16 review on Yelp:

“The fact that they offer a sampler of everything on tap for $20 is amazing.  We split that sucker 3 ways and left feeling good.   The vibe here is a cool and definitely different from the typical hipster brewery feel.  It’s more classed up and full of adults on dates and stuff.  That and 3 wet dudes at the bar drinking 17 beers (it’s now 18) for $20.”

Sample either the Perennials or the Seasonals or all 18 for $20

The following complaint about the sampler was a little bit unusual – it’s from 2014 so the sampler had only 12 beers for $16:

“……the sampler tray (made of wooden blocks) was filled with beer that the bar tender over poured so the sampler tray was seeping beer onto the table and the cups were dripping a lot when picked up.”  Yelp 10/14

Most of my Beerchasing companions would not look at this as a negative and would just ask for a sponge and then slurp up the seepage, but then we are not a genteel crowd.

Now some who have read the past posts in which the Beerchasers attending are tax lawyers have questioned the quality of the conversation with such a learned professional group.  They have asked rhetorically, “Who wants to ponder the advantages of an S versus a C corp while swilling the seepage on a beer sampler or downing a pint of the Burnside porter named ‘Guts and Black Stuff?’” 

A great law firm with an outstanding Tax and Estate Planning group

But as I have stated before, this team is a well-rounded and quality group of individuals involved in broad civic, athletic and intellectual adventures.  As evidence, take Pete Osborne – now partially retired and of counsel at Schwabe, but recognized by his peers as one of the brightest tax lawyers in Portland.

Pete Osborne

Pete and his wife Terry, now retired from the legal department at Standard Insurance, are reading the Modern Library list of the 100 best 20th century novels.  Pete has checked forty-seven off his list although he admits that a number of them were read in his twenties ((on top of his law school reading….) including A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises both of Ernest Hemingway’s works on the list .  He also stated:

The biggest surprise author for me on the list was Carson McCullers’ ‘The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter’. The weirdest book so far is ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess.”

Note:  I can identify with Pete’s earnest ambition although from a slightly different focus.  Pete is reading 100 of the greatest novels and after five years of Thebeerchaser, I have now visited and/or written on 208 bars, taverns and pubs in Oregon, Europe and throughout the US.  Having a “worthwhile” educational goal in retirement is very important!

Obornes rendering of The Three Sisters

In the prior posts, I also included some of Pete’s art, which is impressive and asked him to send me his latest piece which is untitled –  a collagraph (a print made from a collage of various materials glued onto a board.)

Untitled caligrograph

As additional evidence that Pete is a Renaissance Man besides understanding the nuances of the Internal Revenue Code  he is a skilled poker player.   He travels to Las Vegas each year for the World Series of Poker and reported that in 2016 while playing in the Super Seniors (over 65) No Limit Hold Em event last June, he placed 36th out of 1,476 entries –  “This was in the money.”

Finished “In the Money”

One final note on Burnside Brewery.  Some patrons prefer a venue where they can raise a mug without having to watch or listen to youngsters as part of the equation.   Burnside is one of a number of breweries and pubs where kids are welcomed  – until 10:00 PM when accompanied by an adult.  However, sometimes this creates dissonance with the patron who craves a more sedate experience as evidenced by this 2/28/16 complaint on Yelp:

“Special note for Parents who bring in their precious spoiled children:  DON’T!!  Can’t you monitor your brood and keep them from tearing up the crayons so OTHER children may play with them???? Is it really that hard?? JUST STOP IT.” 

At least the dispute wasn’t about the President.

Or perhaps the complainant was irate because his or her kid didn’t get to use the crayons.  This was not a problem with the tax group because they unequivocally deferred to Pete’s use of the crayons given his artistic talents.

By the way, another interesting feature of the décor is the local art they feature.  Most recently, one of the prominent pieces is the one of the “hairless cat” which changes colors and one unnamed source opined that the regulars would probably not be sorry to see it go.  (While having no artistic judgement, it did appear to be inconsistent with the rest of the décor and was a distraction.)

In summary, Burnside Brewing Company earns good marks for ambiance, beer, food, parking, the staff and its entrepreneurial spirit.  While there are some good options on the Westside, try this near Eastside venue and you will want to return.

Amethist and Grace at work with local art in the background (notice that the cat is now green…)

Be sure to say “hello” to both Amethist and Grace, and if it is a nice day, stretch out with a pint of Burnside’s Immaculate Decoction Belgian Strong Golden Ale and dig into W. Somerset Maugham’s novel Of Human Bondage.

British novelist and playwright

Then return and have their Too Sticky to Roll IRA and start your second work on the Modern Library 100 list – let’s say, Oregon’s own, Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.  Maybe Pete Osborne will be willing to start a book club with meetings at breweries – “Book and Brew” might be a good moniker!

Note:  I see that Book & a Brew is also the label for a “……one stop monthly subscription (£12.99) service for book lovers and people who appreciate a nice brew,” but it should be noted that the brew, in this case, is tea rather than beer. 

A good place for a book and a brew on a sunny day…

Burnside Brewing Company           701 East Burnside

Beerchaser Miscellany – Five Years of Thebeerchaser

The first bar on Thebeerchaser Tour in August, 2011

The first bar on Thebeerchaser Tour in August, 2011

The Bars in Portland

Measuring Up Against a Standard

My retirement hobby – Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs started in August 2011.  The original intent was to restrict my visits and review of watering holes to Portland venues (after all, there are over 750 establishments and more breweries per capita than any other city in the world) but retirement travel opened new options.

Thebeerchaser with Janet - a supportive spouse.....

Thebeerchaser with Janet – a supportive spouse…..

The hobby is successful, in part, because of my wonderful and supportive spouse, Janet, especially when we have traveled.  Posts on Thebeerchaser include saloons in Europe, Alaska and Hawaii and many other states within the Continental US and, of course, some great bars in Central and Eastern Oregon plus those on the Oregon Coast.

After five years, the count of Portland bars is 78 and those outside of Portland number 97 for a grand total of 175.

An invaluable Beerchaser resource - the Annual Willamette Week Bar Guide

An invaluable Beerchaser resource – the Annual Willamette Week Bar Guide

 

The annual Willamette Week Bar Guide has been an invaluable resource and to demonstrate the potential future grist for this blog, I have compared the Portland venues in the 2016 WW Bar Guide to those I have reviewed in the last five years.  Keep in mind that each review requires at least two visits in addition to my on-line research before the blog posts (150 to this point) are published.

The 2016 Bar Guide has brief descriptions of the reporters’ 167 favorite Portland bars.  I adjusted downward to eliminate strip clubs, wine and cider bars, and restaurants that have bars such as Higgins – none of which I include when I select bars (exceptions were made for two of the McMenamin establishments with historic bars – the White Eagle Saloon and the St. John’s Pub and the memorable Buffalo Gap Saloon) Thus, the 2016 net figure of potential Beerchaser options in the Bar Guide was 135.

Exception made to recognize historic establishments

Exception made to recognize historic establishments

Of the 78 Portland area bars I have reviewed, there are very few I did not like or wouldn’t recommend e.g. The Yardhouse in Pioneer Place (for a host of reasons, it didn’t ‘measure up….”) and the Pearl District’s Low Brow Lounge, which had a surly staff.  Yet only 57.7% of my bars made the Willamette Week list.

The Yard House - Ambiance of an Olive Garden......

The Yard House – Ambiance of an Olive Garden……

Perhaps I need to accelerate my visits in the second five years.  It is obvious that there are still plenty of opportunities for Beerchasing without return visits to those seen from 2011 to 2016!

To see the list of bars featured  both in Portland and outside the Rose City, check out the tab entitled “List of Bars” in the header at the top of this page. There is one post for bars outside of Portland and another for those in the Portland metro area.

Are Dive Bars Disappearing?

Seattle dive bars bookIn an April 15, 2016 article in the Seattle Times, reporter, Bob Young, asserts: “Seattle’s dive bars are becoming an endangered species.”  He justifies his premise by citing the fact that, “Thirty-one of the 100 in Mike Seely’s ‘Seattle’s Best Dive Bars’ have shuttered since the book’s 2009 publication.” 

Some have expressed the same sentiment about Portland.  For example, a December 2014 article in Willamette Week entitled, “Closing Time” with a subheading,2014 Was Barmageddon in Portland.”  The article maintained that the closing of the historic bars such as Slab TownTiga, the Matador and others is the “canary in the coal mine.”  It quoted one bartender as stating, Every good bar, everything you see is going under. Everything is going straight to shi%#.”

Slabtown - gone but not forgotten....

Slabtown – gone but not forgotten….

The Portland Mercury also did an article on March 9, 2016 entitled “The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society.” on the same theme and summarized brilliantly with this excerpt:

“Portland’s lost a bunch of dive bars recently. A few were absolute shitholes that deserved to disappear, but most were victims of circumstance and change. A number of other bars have changed ownership and been fancied up to suit the modern market. Dive bars, if not endangered, are at the very least under threat.” 

The article lists thirty-eight bar 2014 closures including institutions such as Slab Town,  the Grand Café (Frank Peters’ former establishment), the East Bank Saloon, Tiga, Pal’s Shanty and the Matador.  Although it was more of a restaurant than a bar, the picture below shows what is left of the long-term establishment the Macadam Bar and Grill which closed last year and was razed last week.   

The Grand Café is gone but back as Pour Sports Bar

The Grand Café is gone but back as Pour Sports Bar

(I mention this one only because it used to be a Mazzi’s Restaurant and my wife and I went there for our first dinner date in 1979!)

Macadam Bar and Grill - the remnants.....

Macadam Bar and Grill – the remnants…..

However, I would suggest that the concern is not as dire as it appears.  In Portland, we are fortunate to have entrepreneur’s such as Marcus Archambault and Warren Boothby who have totally renovated the historic Sandy Hut (or Handy Slut if you are a regular) and the Double Barrel.

There was concern that the wonderful Skyline Tavern would be razed and replaced by condos, but fortunately the owner invested additional capital and it was Willamette Week’s 2016 Bar of the Year.

Produce Row closed for about a year, but reopened and is thriving in the Eastside Industrial District.  Joe’s Cellar, one of my favorite NW dive bars, closed and like the proverbial Phoenix, rose again the next year and is pumping out draft PBRs like there is no tomorrow.  Both the Grand Café and Eastbank Saloon reopened as new bars (Pour Sports and the Bit House Saloon, respectively.)

New Copper Penny will turn into apartments....

New Copper Penny will turn into apartments….

But consider the recent loss of the venerable New Copper Penny in Lents, which after many years is closing as part of the Portland Development Commission’s ambitious goal to make Lents into a thriving mixed-use community.

New Copper Penny - history goes to auction

New Copper Penny – history goes to auction

What can you do?  Continue to patronize the many establishments which are truly bars and avoid the “fashionable” trend to get a beer at Starbucks or retail establishments ranging from ski shops to bicycle stores which put in a tap or two and attempt to reinvent themselves as a watering hole —-They’re Not!

Similarly, if you fly on one of the airlines now offering microbrews such as Virgin America (San Francisco’s 21st Amendment BreweryDelta (Sam Adams) or Southwest (New Belgium’s Fat Tire) and have a beer, you don’t have to tell your spouse that you stopped at a bar on your way home.

Not to be considered a dive bar or a pub......

Not to be considered a dive bar or a pub……

That said, don’t make the mistake of one Luke Thomas Watts (27) who on an Alaska Airlines flight from Sacramento to Seattle, locked himself in the bathroom and threatened to become violent if the flight attendants did not serve him a beer. The plane landed in Portland and Luke was removed.  He was indicted and went to trial in July!)  http://koin.com/2016/05/11/feds-man-locks-himself-in-airplane-bathroom-after-he-wasnt-served-alcohol/

These Brews Made the Cut….

While this blog, notwithstanding the name, is primarily about bars rather than trying to articulate the subtle taste differences between the hundreds of IPAs or analyze how hoppy a microbrew with an IBU (international bittering unit) of 60 is compared to a similar beer ten units lower, I do periodically mention beers.

Ryan popped the question - and a bottle of champagne at the summit of the South Sister in 2015

Ryan popped the question – and a bottle of champagne at the summit of the South Sister in 2015

My youngest daughter, Laura, and her fiancé’, Ryan Keene, are tying the knot on September 17th at Vista Hills Winery, right outside of Dundee. (My suggestion that the reception be held at one of my favorite Dundee dives – Lumpy’s Landing – was understandably rejected.) 

Rejected as wedding reception site....

Rejected as wedding reception site….

 

While Vista Hills has wonderful wine, there will be a few canned beers available and some family members recently got together for dinner and a blind tasting test to determine which brews would be offered during that celebration.  We tasted about ten beers that night and the following made the cut:

Oakshire Watershed IPA       Worthy Easy-Day Kolsch    Good Life Sweet As Pacific Ale

There will also be one cider – that being Portland Cider Co.’s “Hop’rageous.”

The tasting group and Wesley - making critical wedding decisions!

The tasting group and Wesley – making critical wedding decisions!

I told Ryan that his favorite professor at the University of Portland (where both of them graduated), Dr. Sam Holloway would be pleased since he sits on the Board of Eugene’s Oakshire Brewery.  Sam is also an internationally known expert on the business of brewing as documented when he was named Beerchaser of the Quarter for this blog – see link)

            ——————

What Would George Washington Think?

Thebeerchaser generally stays away from politics although the 2016 election cycle has made that more difficult.  Suffice to say that because of Beerchasing in Europe, at least unlike the Republican Presidential Nominee, I know that Belgium is a country and not “a beautiful city…..

But regardless of how tiresome the political rhetoric becomes, nothing will irritate me more than the opinion piece in Oregon Live on 2/26/16 written by the Executive Directors of the Oregon Student Association and the Bus Project entitled, Buying Postage is a Burden for Many Would-be Voters.” (click on link to see the narrative)

Usps-vanMario Parker-Milligan and Nikki Fisher, in their youthful wisdom and with righteous indignity, assert that voting by mail, “……assumes ample free time and a drawer full of stamps to get that ballot turned in….But there is a real – sometimes prohibitive (emphasis supplied)  cost getting to a post office during regular business hours….the last thing you should have to do is sacrifice needed income or time with your children to vote.”

Well Mario and Nikki, Thebeerchaser also doesn’t accept the premise that this situation is tantamount to a poll tax and suggests that rather than having urged the 2016 Oregon Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1586 to provide return postage for your ballots, that you just take your completed ballot and WALK to your nearest library or City Hall where you can return it without charge.

Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851

Washington crossing the Delaware. They were concerned about a Stamp Act far more significant than Senate Bill 1586!

And while you are in the Library, you might want to check out a book (it’s free unless you don’t have time to return it before the due date) and read about the sacrifices that George Washington and his Revolutionary Army made when they were fighting the British from 1775 – 1783.  I’m not sure they would have agreed with you on the definition of “burden.”

(It appears that SB 1586 was enacted on 4/4/2016 with an emergency clause, although according to the Secretary of State’s Election Division, the provision for postage was deleted from the final bill.)  Since the financial impact was estimated at $1.2 million annually if every registered voter took advantage (would obviously not be the case) that is fortunate.  Perhaps these funds can be diverted to civics education in the high schools!

And Finally Since we are Talking About Elections….

Thebeerchaser’s first full-time job in 1974 after naval service was as a clerk in the Clackamas County Elections Department, where we administered and conducted both the Primary and General elections in addition to numerous school and special district elections for bond issues, levies and board-of-director contests.

Although Mario and Nikki would be appalled at how onerous the burden, that was before Vote-by-Mail and each voter, unless they cast an absentee ballot, would vote at one of the approximately 120 polling places throughout the county.

Obsolete in Oregon, but not in many states

Obsolete in Oregon, but not in many states

Each location was staffed from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM by four very dedicated and hardworking poll workers and one lead person who collectively reviewed the voter’s eligibility, had them sign the poll book and handed them the appropriate ballot.

They were generally retired ladies who worked for less than minimum wage and these great citizens were also responsible for ballot security since they returned the ballots and supplies to the Data Center in Oregon City after the polls closed.

Poll workers in an election polling location

Poll workers in an election polling location

In reviewing (and recycling based on the mandate by my spouse to “get rid of some of those outdated and unnecessary documents you have in multiple file cabinets in our garage,”) I came across one that also showed how conscientious these ladies were.

The letter below was written by Alta Bluhm, lead poll worker, at Clackamas High School during the Special School District Election on July 27, 1976 and signed by her co-workers:  Dora Burnwalt, Priscilla Coffa, Barbara Aldrich and Betty Jo Partridge:

Opal  L. Johnson (not her real name) entered Clackamas High School, became antagonistic toward the board, signed poll book  #1409, looked through poll book, received ballot #73, asked how to vote but was told we didn’t give out that information.  She hesitated a minute and then tried to leave building with (the) ballot in hand.

Our fourth clerk tried to stop her from taking the ballot from the building.  Opal Johnson then attacked her by striking her with her purse and transistor radio.  Ballot was retrieved and marked spoiled or void.”

I have a feeling that George Washington and other Founding Fathers would be justifiably proud of these five ladies and perhaps even Mario and Nikki would also share that sentiment….

Cheers - a Moretti at the Devil's Forest Pub in Venice in 2012

Cheers – a Moretti at the Devil’s Forest Pub in Venice in 2012

 

Thebeerchaser Rambles on N. Mississippi Ave.

P1040195

Historic North Mississippi Avenue, while it does not have the overall quantity of watering holes as the fabled Barmuda Triangle in Southeast Portland, has become a gold mine for good bars.

P1040172Past visits to establishments such as Prost, Interurban and Sidecar 11 (see  posts dated 11/24/12 – 5/13/12 and 6/6/13) were notable and there are additional venues beckoning such as Bar Bar, Crow Bar and the Liberty Bar and Grill.

My three visits to The Rambler, however, were a pleasure – a quaint and classy neighborhood bar now owned by an entrepreneur who deserves to see his efforts come to full fruition after opening only about ten months ago.

Entrepreneurs with class and vision

Christian – an entrepreneur with class and vision

The ambiance and friendly environment of the Rambler – in a spacious old house was especially appreciated after the sterile, corporate hew permeating the last bar reviewed – The Yard House in Pioneer Place.  The 100+ beers on tap could not compensate for what it totally lacked in ambiance.

I visited the Rambler with my friend and fellow Portland State MPA graduate, Greg Wallinger, who until very recently, was the heart of the City Club of Portland’s respected research program, having served as Research and Policy Director from 2012 to 2016.

Wallenger with the traditional Beerchaser logo

Wallenger with the traditional Beerchaser logo

The Rambler replaces two prior establishments, Casa Naranja and then the Bungalo Bar, which was described by a neighbor in a 2015 Willamette Week article as “a magnet for dirtbags……evidenced by OLCC violations, noise complaints and license suspensions.”

After some lengthy and heated negotiations for the building, there was extensive remodeling to rebuild the bar, salvage the flooring and redo the front of the historic 1920’s bungalow while adding two patios and other features.

Outside by the bocce pit.

Outside by the bocce pit.

Christian Lee, the owner, who relocated to Portland from San Francisco, has established a neighborhood venue which draws rave reviews for the changes including adjectives describing the interior and exterior as, “stupendous, admirable, comfortable and awesome.”   

P1040181

The back patio – like being at the beach……

“Here the fire pit(s) and tasteful stained-wood picnic tables are joined by – wonder of wonders – an outdoor flatscreen.  There’s another patio in the front, and in the sideyard, there’s a bocce pit.  You might as well be at the beach.” (2016 Willamette Week Bar Guide)                                         

P1040177Christian is described as “career bartender” and knows his craft well.  The Rambler has eight beers and five wines on tap – limited but adequate including one very interesting brew  premiered from Portland’s Grateful Deaf Brewery.

And $1 off during Happy Hour

And $1 off during Happy Hour

But it is the craft cocktails that garner the praise and descriptions such as “expertly-crafted and inventive.”          

“……a kegged cocktail named for Doc Brown, plus a host of $8 to $10 variations on the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and vodka fruit punch.”

——

 

Christian's boulevardier - bourbon, sweet vermouth and campari

Christian’s boulevardier – bourbon, sweet vermouth and campari

There are eighteen menu items – no heavy entrees’ but interesting sandwiches and appetizers. Christian stated that they have good dinner crowds.

Almost all of the reviews and comments on the food are favorable with emphasis on the Frito Pie, fried Brussels sprouts with charred onion, fish tacos, smoked brisket chili and a “$13 burger stuffed with more proteins than a vegan bodybuilder’s medicine cabinet.” Willamette Week 2015 Bar Guide.

Good results from the kitchen

Good results from the kitchen

“The Fritos pie and (pork belly) bahn mi (Vietnamese bread) are galactic affairs. Unequivocally great.  From a New Yorker in an April, 2016 Yelp review.

“The bartenders were fantastic, the fish tacos were delicious, and the overall atmosphere of the bar was just awesome.”  From two San Francisco visitors in a 9/15/15 Yelp review.

Lee at work on the brussel sprouts while downing a Portland Skies.....

Lee at work on the brussel sprouts while downing a Portland Skies…..

I did not eat on any of my three visits to The Rambler, but having a great chat with amiable neighborhood regular, Lee, who was eating the Brussels sprouts while consuming the special cocktail of the day as shown in the picture, tempted me to grab a fork and sneak several bites.

Christian explaining the special punch - gin, violette, lavender,lemon

Try the special punch – gin, violette, lavender and lemon topped with bubbly!


 

Of course, the quaint atmosphere of the bar fit well when one is chatting with an erudite fellow like Wallinger, who shepherded twenty-three volunteer-produced research reports through the City Club’s rigorous review process ranging from studies on property tax to marijuana legalization during his tenure.  He felt the one with the most impact was that on Portland’s Street Fees and Gas Tax.

Greg’s undergraduate degree at Susquehanna University was followed by work as a paralegal in a Virginia law firm where he worked on real estate, bonds and tax matters.   Two years followed as an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer working on substance abuse issues for children in Helena, Montana, where he also met his wife, Stephanie.

After living in Reno for two years, they moved to Portland and he earned his Master’s at Portland State, followed by work for Stand for Children and then the City Club stint.   They have an eleven-moth old daughter.

Last day at City Club where Greg (center) left a legacy

Last day at City Club where Greg (center) left a legacy

To momentarily digress and since the City Club studied the issue of marijuana legalization, it is also interesting to note that the old house – next door to the bar is one of the five Nectar group’s recreational cannabis locations:

“Nectar is one of the largest Marijuana dispensary chains in Oregon. We pride ourselves on a phenominal staff, great selection of quality products and a wonderful atmosphere.”

Changing times in PDX...

Changing times in PDX…

I still haven’t figured out why they have a person regardless of the weather, continually sitting on the front porch (she’s hidden by the column).  I guess she is a “bouncer” of sorts, and checks IDs…..

Now while the emphasis so far has been on the downstairs woodwork and the rear patio, any description of this reconditioned bungalow bar needs to mention the upstairs

Walinger, showing he has athletic skills in addition to intellecualism

Wallenger, showing he has athletic skills in addition to a keen intellect

Its a cozy attic-type space with a pool table with “pristine red felt” and “a record player where you can play your own records!!!”           

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Space for a cozy chat or to watch a game.

The art work, while it would not hang in a Park Avenue gallery, is cool and very much in keeping with the atmosphere intended.

And if one wants a cozy nook to either watch a sports event or just chat away from the crowd, there is a room right off the patio to accomplish that

Second-floor artwork

Second-floor artwork

There were good comments about the background music at the bar and since the Rambler reminded me of an old road house, in a fit of nostalgia I started thinking about all the tunes over the years with “Ramblin” or “Rambler” in the title or lyrics.

From Nat King Cole’s “Ramblin Rose” to the Rolling Stone’s “Midnight Rambler,” to the Allman Brothers Band’s “Ramblin Man.”

And don’t forget Dylan’s “Rambler Gambler” or my favorite – “Colder Weather,” by the Zac Brown Band, with these great lyrics:

He said I wanna see you again – But I’m stuck in colder weather –  Maybe tomorrow will be better,  Can I call you then?

She said you’re a ramblin’ man – You ain’t ever gonna change – You got a gypsy soul to blame  – And you were born for leavin’.

Zac Brown Band - they would like The Rambler too.....

Zac Brown Band – they would like The Rambler too…..

Well, while retired and not on a road trip or stuck in a truck-stop diner in Lincoln thinking of a girl left behind in Colorado, Thebeerchaser is definitely a Rambler Man.

I loved this bar, applaud Christian for what he has created and urge you to pay the Rambler a visit to say “hello.”  I might see you there.

The Rambler                 4205 North Mississippi Avenue

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