You can Always Return to The Nest…and You Should!

The "New" Home of The Nest Lounge

The “New” Home of The Nest Lounge

Webster defines “nest” as “a place of rest, retreat or lodging,” and our recent visit to The Nest Lounge affirmed at least part of that definition.  It was a warren of nooks and crannies in a charming old house that makes a great neighborhood bar on SE Belmont.  It serves as another reminder of the vast array of quirky and fascinating Portland bars awaiting those willing to stray – even if just a little bit from the beaten path.

Barkeep Alex tending to business..

Barkeep Alex tending to business..

Our bartender, Alex, was a nice chap, who haled from Minnesota and came to Oregon seven years ago.  He told us about the disastrous 2012 fire that resulted in the temporary closure of The Nest on NE Alberta and relocation to what was once the home of the Nine Muses Pub“…..with cozy hangout rooms throughout, and their signature ping-pong tables on the back patio.”

“For those searching the web, the place we visited is NOT the Nest Lounge “located on the rooftop of LeFenix Hotel in one of the coolest nightlife areas in Bangkok ,” nor is it the bars with the same name in Decatur Illinois, Omaha or Long Island, New York (TheBeerchaser’s birthplace)  – “…come on down and enjoy a night out that will offer your senses a bit more than you’re accustomed to – You’ll be ‘Nestling’ before you know it.”

A number of Nests ___ throughout the country

A number of Nests can be found throughout the USA and….

And then there is the Indian Wells Nest in the desert, where, “The Nest has long been a favorite of celebrities, golf and tennis legends and locals alike….It’s no wonder that the Nest is at the top of the “Things to Do in Palm Springs.“  As new owners, Dodi and Kevin Henry state, “At The Nest, life begins at five.”  (We assume they are talking about the time of day and not years after birth.)

Ham EmeryI was accompanied by my former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt colleague, Hamilton Emery, now an Associate General Counsel at Cambia Health Solutions in Portland.  “Ham” the moniker by which he is known to his friends, received his law degree at Willamette University College of Law.  As is the case with Thebeerchaser, he  “married up” – in Ham’s case, to Rachael, a Portland physician.

Ham minding the Nest and contemplating various provisions of the Affordable Care Act

Ham minding the Nest and contemplating various provisions of the Affordable Care Act

He spends about 60% of his time working on health care reform issues and would not respond to Conan O’Brien’s  2012 comment regarding the Affordable Care Act

“President Obama says that Congress is very close to getting a new health-care plan, but due to compromises, it ‘won’t include everything that everybody wants……For instance, it covers everything except trips to the doctor or the hospital.”

Alex and Ham with Thebeerchaser logo

Alex and Ham with Thebeerchaser logo

Recreational opportunities besides or while raising a mug..
Recreational opportunities besides or while raising a mug..

Portland Bar Fly review  echoes our experience, “This place is AWESOME.  They’re super cheap…they have a pool table, arcade game, pinball, ping-pong table, juke box…..

Just like in college....!

Just like in college….!

…. also an outdoor – enclosed patio area, projector for movie nights, and some crazy local art.  I felt like I was at someone’s lake house. We kept discovering new areas and being more and more impressed.”

Cool local art located throughout

Cool local art located throughout

Aside from the quirky and interesting physical layout and the cool artwork, there are no other distinguishing characteristics, but they had a nice, albeit limited, selection of beers – P1010869

Ham had an India Red Ale and I had a Vaporizer, both from Hood River’s Double Mountain Brewery. Their food menu is also limited.P1010862

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As an aside, it is interesting that  Bar Fly lists 198 “nearby bars” –although it should be noted that Bar Fly includes strip clubs and restaurants with bars such as Boogie’s Burger and other questionable venues that Thebeerchaser would never consider for his tour because they are restaurants or other establishments and not a bar per se’

For example, The Star Theater and now closed, Hamburger Mary’s.   One can also question the definition of the term “nearby” when the list includes Prost – one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite bars (see post from 11/24/12) – however, on the other side of the Willamette River on North Mississippi Avenue.

Some interesting specialty cocktails

Some interesting specialty cocktails

Ham and I enjoyed our trip to the nest and as we parted, he told me that in the spirit of the new Affordable Care Act and the New Year, he was willing to propose an innovative concept to management.

A Ping-Pong table in the cool (literally) basement
A Ping-Pong table in the cool (literally) basement

Consistent with his nickname, Ham —  he thought that motivating people to take their cholesterol medication by wrapping it in bacon could have a positive impact on patient care and health care expenses.

That idea rocks, Ham and this patio at The Nest will rock during the summer months.  If you’ve been there before – return to The Nest, and if not hatch a plan to try it out – you don’t have to go to Nebraska or Bangkok to make it happen.

Every nest should have a porch or balcony

Every nest should have a porch or balcony

The Nest Lounge    2715 SE Belmont

Gold Dust Meridian – A Nugget on SE Hawthorne

“Brady Bunch” – Mid-Century Modern Exterior

If you’re cruising along SE Hawthorne Blvd., you might not notice Gold Dust Meridian (GDM).  That’s because they “stuck a bar in a mid-century accountant’s office,” or as stated by The Portland Tribune, “If you hanker to party again in the basement of your parents’ suburban ranch house, GDM will joyfully recall those halcyon years.

According to co-owner, Marcus Archambeault, the 1955 office building formerly occupied by Gearhardt & Sons Accounting Firm, looked intriguing  – “mid century, modern style – kind of ‘cold war pristine with glass in front!”

“Perhaps a juke box would look good in place of this desk….”

So why should you want to frequent a bar where CPAs once calculated double-declining balance depreciation and bemoaned the impact of the alternative minimum tax?

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Well, it’s because GDM gets many superlative reviews, including that of thebeerchaser and his group – three lawyers from the Portland law firm of Whipple & Duyck P.C.  GDM has even received plaudits from Playboy Magazine as one of the Twelve Top Late Night Spots in the Nation in 2011:

Naomi affirms legacy of great servers at GDM …

After Midnight, compiled by the editors of Playboy, provides a coast-to-coast glimpse at some of the most coveted late-night watering holes in the nation.  At these legendary spots, after-hours thrill seekers will have no problem catching live music, enjoying generous cocktails, hobnobbing with eclectic crowds, savoring scrumptious late-night eats, and in some cases, learning a bit of local history.”

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The Portland Mercury has also named it one of the best happy-hours in Portland in multiple years.  (Seven days a week from 2 to 8 PM) Keeping in mind the insightful quote:  “You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a sing only you can hear,” let’s discuss the melody emanating from GDM when you walk into the bar:

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Distinguishing Characteristics

Dan Duyck at the spacious bar – that’s native Oregon hardwood…

The Interior – While the exterior doesn’t beckon, walking in GDM reveals in their own words, “large comfortable booths, slanted teak ceilings, a custom bar built with reclaimed Oregon timber, and a dimly lit brick and wood façade.”

Another review summed it up well: The past and present rarely collide so nicely.”   Unlike a lot of bars, conversation is promoted because there are NO televisions, pool tables or video poker machines –  a very refreshing touch.  You can get a deck of Trivial Pursuit to tap your brain, however. They have live music on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and DJs on weekends.

The Art –  it is truly distinctive as evidenced by the two photos below.  A number  of pictures such as “Bird of Prey” are oils on canvas by local artist Hickory Mertsching (I set out to create a peaceful contemplative setting, paintings that illustrate the relationship between man and nature, a reminder of our state of being and the simple aspects of life.”)

Local Art by Hickory Mertsching

ASCII Art – Who is Mandroid?

There was also a large computer-generated “pop art” piece on the south wall, which was very unusual.

The Food and the Cocktails – Naomi said that management seeks ideas for cocktails from the bartenders and servers and Marcus affirmed, “We change our classic and champagne cocktail menu with the seasons to make it more dynamic.”  They have about ten classics ranging from a Marionberry Margarita to a Root Beer Cowboy (WL Weller Bourbon, Apple Jack, Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters and Root Liqueur) and ten more champagne cocktails such as Death in the Afternoon (Champagne,Trillium and Absinthe). 

Scorpion Bowl – because it stings when you don’t expect it….

And there are the three Family Bowls – also known as “Scorpion Bowls described by one who imbibed as,“A sixty-ounce drink served in a huge bowl, garnished with fruit and hanging monkeys and enough straws to share with you friends – these things are dangerous – the zombie tastes just like punch.”

Being somewhat reserved, we ordered some very good Oregon Beers (GDM has ten bottled beers and eight on tap) – Apocalypse IPA from 10 Barrel Brewery in Bend and Double Mountain IPA from the brewery of the same name in Hood River. 

Oly Country….

The one exception was Dan Duyck who ordered a $1.50 Olympia.  When asked for an explanation, Dan, who hales from the rural area of Washington County stated, “It’s beer to bale hay by…..To this day, whenever I catch a whiff of beers such as Oly, Blitz, Rainier and Heidelberg, I am reminded of my youth and that beer is the true reward for hard work  no matter what your age.” 

They also have a number of “Whiskey Flights” where one get shots of three different whiskies ranging from $15 to the more rare at $28.

The food, ranging from appetizers to salads to sandwiches, is also very good and not traditional “pub grub.” –  “It’s 1950’s Trader Vic style with sharable plates”I had a superb oyster poor boy sandwich and one of the lawyers had macaroni and cheese which he described as, “with a wonderful crust and rich and creamy throughout…..”  We then talked about the trend where good Mac & Cheese seems to be ubiquitous on quality pub menus these days, which led one of us to ask:

Available in Fine Bars and Goes Well With Beer

Q: How prevalent is Mac ‘n Cheese on pub menus these days?

A: “Well, it’s more prevalent than Portland Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith’s license suspensions.”

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The Mac ‘n Cheese Candidate?

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The Patio – With the ban on indoor smoking, most bars have patios these days, but many are just stuck in surplus space.  While the outdoor tables in front of the GDM are right on Hawthorne and noisy, the patio areas in the back and at the side have nice vegetation and are spacious.

Marcus and his partner in the bar, Warren Boothby, have a philosophy that to compete and draw patrons, “a bar has to be more than just a bar.”  Even the name Gold Dust Meridian is different.  Marcus said it was developed five years ago, “After a few beers and the (Prime) Median was starting place, of sorts, just like our new venture….”

They recently opened a sister bar – The Club 21 – on NE Sandy and 21st. 

Gold Dust Meridian stands out as a quality bar that distinguishes itself in a number of ways.  Prime yourself for a visit.

Gold Dust Meridian         3267 SE Hawthorne