McMenamins’ Old Church and Pub

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Since starting Thebeerchaser blog in 2011, I’ve avoided reviewing bars or breweries that are primarily restaurants rather than neighborhood watering holes or dives.  I’ve made a number of exceptions for the McMenamin venues based on several factors. (See the end of the post for pictures and reviews of those exceptions)

First, the McMenamin venues I’ve reviewed are all historic structures or are significant in the development of Oregon’s Craft Brewing Industry.  Secondly, the McMenamin brothers have made incredible economic, cultural and social contributions to the Northwest.   

The fact that Brian and Mike are both fellow Oregon State University graduates also doesn’t hurt. (Photos #1 -2 below – attribution at end of the post.)

And I fondly remember working with their dad, Robert, at both the Oregon State Bar and the City Club of Portland when he was on the boards of those organizations. 

The late Bob McMenamin was an outstanding lawyer (he received the Bar’s highest honor – the Award of Merit in 1975 ) and wonderful man known for his contributions to his profession and community.

The elegant “Bob’s Bar” in the basement of McMenamin’s Grand Lodge is named his honor.  He loved Hammerhead Ale and once said:

“When you’re out of Hammerhead, you’re out of beer!”   (Bob can be seen holding his favorite beer in his namesake bar below. #3)

Their commitment to history is commendable as reported in The Oregon Encyclopedia article by Tiah Edmundson-Morton.  (How many breweries have their own historian on staff?):

“Historic preservation is integral to McMenamin’s business model. A small history department, led for nearly thirty years by historian Tim Hills, researches the buildings and neighborhoods and gathers community memories.

Their work is incorporated into each property’s art, food, and architectural details. The department also sponsors a well-established program of public talks, with presentations that range from science to social justice to Oregon history.” (#4)

The Oregon Encyclopedia provides definitive and authoritative information about the State of Oregon and its history.

The Wilsonville Old Church

As with Steeplejack Brewing in NE Portland in 2021, a more than century-old church was saved from demolition for condos or a shopping mall by transformation into a brewery and pub which retained the historic structure.

(When the congregation moved in the 1990’s, the property was sold to Fred Meyer Corp.)

“The simple, but graceful church, which literally celebrates its centennial during the same month of its opening as part of the new McMenamins’ location, was completed in  August 1911 by the Wilsonville Methodist Society. 

It’s just like poetry to learn that its first minister, John W. Exon, had formerly been (and would be again) a respected riverboat captain, whose career had taken him on many journeys up and down the Willamette River, with regular stops at Wilsonville.” (McMenamin’s History Flyer)  (#5)

I laughed when I read that the brewery is located in the church basement where the nursery used to be operated during Sunday services.  And the expansive structures and grounds are more than just a brewery and pub:

“Linking the old and new is a grassy amphitheater, ideal for quiet conversations and rollicking music performances…”

There is also event space for weddings, reunions and anniversary parties.  They haven’t had live music since COVID “but we’re working on bringing it back.”

I didn’t have the chance to explore the grounds in depth, but there is a wealth of nice patio space and the inner eating area – in a separate building in back of the church – is nicely maintained and comfortable. 

(You can see by the sign below at the entrance that hiring food and beverage industry staff is still a real challenge.)

My friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes and I had lunch inside and the service was courteous and efficient.  Check out his new gig on Rip City Radio – 620 with Chad Doing in the afternoons from 3 to 5 PM.

What About the Food?

Dwight had a two-piece Fish and Chips ($20.50) and I had a large Blue Bayou Salad (romaine, bacon, chopped egg, blue cheese crumbles, tomato, blue cheese dressing)  – $17.50 – I took almost half of it home – for our lunches and both were very good and presented well.

A Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Burger is $17.25 and I was almost sorry I didn’t order it because I could have told my wife that in the interest of budgetary prudence, I got the Tator Tots as a side because a green salad was an extra $1.75!

Their Happy Hour is daily from 3 – 6pm and 9pm until close.  A pint of any of the McMenamins’ ales is $1 off and they have a good offering of bites and appetizers. (#6)

450px-Happy_Hour

Happy Hour – It’s always 5:00 somewhere….

I always check out the reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor just to get a sample of comments and with the realization that a number of people who do these ratings should have adult supervision when writing them based on the substance of their comments.  But I was impressed with the assessments overall.

McMenamins’ has sometimes been viewed as having good food and great beer, but service which is slow.  That doesn’t seem to be the case at the Old Church Pub and the majority of the reviewers appreciated the attentiveness of the servers – even during the pandemic.  

I’m always impressed when there are complaints on social media and Management responds (when they appear to be legitimate) and either apologizes or takes steps to remedy.  Such was the case with this McMenamins’. 

Cajun Tater Tots and Starters

The most emphatically positive comments on food were about the “Starters” and included the Soft Pretzel Sticks ($14.25) and Cajun Tots. ($10.25 and $15.25)

“I ordered the pretzel sticks as an appetizer just because I was starving, and man… they did not disappoint. The cheese sauce here is absolutely delicious! I ordered an extra order of the cheese sauce to go and took home the leftover pretzels.” (Yelp 5/8/22)  (#7)

Now, I learned something from the review below.  Although banks, schools and government offices aren’t closed, each February 2 is National Tater Tot Day:

“We stopped by to celebrate Tater Tots Day and a birthday dinner. We love the Cajun Tots and always split a Small basket between us; by the way a large Tot is 2 lbs of Tots! “  (Yelp 2/3/22)

Even going back to August 23 2019, people were effusive about the Cajun Tots:

“But what really stole the show, was the Cajun Tots. HOLY COW THESE ARE THE BEST TOTS IN THE WORLD IF YOU LIKE TOTS ORDER THESE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE ITS LIKE CRISPY HOT CAJUN HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH. Not joking guys. We shared a large order for the 5 of us and it was a large serving and even the pickiest eater of the group enjoyed them.”

So I plan to return to the Old Church and have a beer and some tots at Happy Hour in the Undercroft Bar which is in the basement and has been closed because of COVID.  One can’t go wrong at any of the McMenamins’ and the Wilsonville Old Church Pub certainly affirms that premise.

Previous McMenamin Establishment Reviewed by Thebeerchaser

McMenamins now has more than 60 establishments throughout the Northwest and I’ve been to a number.  The following are those I’ve reviewed with historic significance.  To see the review, click on the link over the name.

And I encourage you to visit them not only to enjoy the food and beer, but to grasp the historical import of these buildings that are preserved due to Mike and Brian’s efforts.

The White Eagle Saloon – 2012

We visited with friends Pat and Leona Green to see his brother, Beerchaser-of-the-Month Forrest Green, play a gig at the bar during JAM-O-Rama.

“The White Eagle originally opened in 1905 and is now on the National Historic Register. Did you know the White Eagle is called ‘one of the most haunted places’ in Portland?

……. Set in North Portland’s industrial neighborhood, underneath the mighty span of the Fremont Bridge, the legendary White Eagle Cafe and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel echoes with tall tales of resident spirits, poker games and Shanghai tunnels……”

The St. John’s Pub – 2015

Two former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, who both worked at the University of Portland nearby, joined me for an afternoon drink.   Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor of business and also an internationally recognized consultant on the micro-craft industry, and the late and critically acclaimed author, Brian Doyle and I enjoyed the historic ambiance with our drinks.

Built in 1905 as the National Cash Register Company’s exhibit hall for Portland’s Lewis and Clark Exposition, this spectacular building was barged down the Willamette River after the expo to its current location.

It’s subsequent incarnations included a Lutheran church, an American Legion post, a bingo parlor and a home for Gypsy wakes. The ever-evolving domed structure was later reinvented as Duffy’s Irish Pub and finally, St. Johns Theater & Pub.” 

The Fulton Pub – 2016

I didn’t review this historic pub opened in 1988 by the McMenamin brothers until 2016 although my initial visit in 2012 was the first time I met Brian Doyle for an interview and when we struck up a friendship.

Brian said it was his favorite bar, in part, because he loved Hammerhead Ale.  According to the McMenamin website, …..legend has it that the brew’s hallowed recipe (Hammerhead) was perfected here.”

“(The pub) dates back to 1926, when it was a Prohibition-era hangout serving home-cooked meals, pinball games, stogies, candy and ice cream. Speculation says that during Prohibition the pub might even have provided patrons the odd pint as an unadvertised special.”  

In Closing

Every time I reminisce about my Beerchasing exploits and interaction with Brian Doyle, it is with profound sadness that I reflect on how this remarkable human being left us far too soon in 2017 from brain cancer.   

His accomplishments transcend what most people could do in three lifetimes as does the impact he had on those who knew him.  My tribute to him was in the post: 

 https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

The post will give you an idea of his wonderful writing talent and sense of humor and I’ll leave you with the words of Fr. Mark Poorman, then President of UP, where Brian worked for twenty-six years.

“He was a man filled with a sense of humanity and wonder, who was interested in everyone’s story and who saw everyone’s potential. His warmth, humor, and passion of life will be deeply missed and his loss will be acutely felt here and beyond.”

External Photo Attribution

#1.  The Oregon Encyclopedia (https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/mcmenamins/#.YzeHvXbMKUk) Article by Tiah Edmundson-Morton.   (Oregon Historical Society)

#2.  McMenamins’ Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/mcmenaminsbreweries/photos/10159113704914864)

#3.  McMenamins’ History Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/McMenaminsHistory/photos/a./

#4.  The Oregon Encyclopedia Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=532027042257551&set=a.532027008924221)

#5. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Methodist_Church_Wilsonville.JPG)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  M.O. Stevens 14 May 2009

#6.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Happy_Hour.jpg)  The copyright holder of this work, released this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.  Author: Hovev  2008

#7.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tater_tot_hotdish_8286689740_o.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Tony Webster 9 March 2014

Beerchaser Miscellany – Fall of 2017

The Brooklyn Park Pub – Revisiting the First Stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs and One of My Favorite Bartenders

Seven years ago, when I decided to implement my crazy idea as a retirement hobby, I was concerned about how it would be perceived by the bartenders I would interview.  For it to be successful, I needed them to answer my questions about what makes their bar different, comment on the tavern’s regulars and offer info on their own background.

Would they dismiss these inquiries as some old guy with idiosyncratic tendencies or support the idea that highlighting the history and distinguishing factors of Portland’s many watering holes was a cool idea?

Phoebe in August 2011

Well, my trepidation was unnecessary when the first bartender I interviewed became one of the most memorable.  Phoebe Newcomb was behind the bar at the Brooklyn, a great little Southeast neighborhood pub – and still one of my favorites after seven years.

She told me about the Whiskey Club, talked about the tradition of serving their draft beers in Mason jars and to check out the woodchuck posters…..

Phoebe’s gift at my first stop on the Tour….

When I told her that the Brooklyn was my first of what I hoped would be many bars on the tour, she gave me a Brooklyn Park Pub cap and signed it.   I still remembered her charming and distinctive laugh that echoed through the bar as she was interacting with her customers.

In July, I was reviewing Willamette Week’s Best of Portland issue and discovered that third place for Best Portland Bartender was none other than Phoebe, who now works at the Landmark Saloon besides the Brooklyn.

This motivated me to return to the first of what has become 85 Portland bars and another 125 in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a slew of places in the continental US and all over Oregon on Thebeerchaser’s tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/08/07/the-first-establisment-on-the-chase/

A reunion six years later. And the beer is still served in Mason jars

I was not disappointed in Phoebe’s reaction when I again told her my story and that I had returned to thank her for the positive kickstart to Thebeerchaser’s Tour.  I donned the treasured BPP hat and one of the regulars took our picture.

Brian Doyle – His Legacy Lives On – As followers of Thebeerchaser blog and those who appreciate good literature know, we lost a great human being in May with the passing of Brian Doyle who succumbed to brain cancer.   Brian was prolific, authoring about thirty books including novels, collections of short stories and penetrating essays, was the editor of the award-winning Portland magazine published by the University of Portland and a gifted speaker.

Having a brewski in the St. Johns Pub with University of Portland colleague, Dr. Sam Holloway

I met Brian in 2013 when I informed him by letter that I had named him my eleventh Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and all it required for him to receive the “award” (a pint of beer) was to meet me for an interview at the saloon of his choice.  He chose the Fulton Pub.

We had drinks after that on a number of occasions and corresponded by e-mail in which he never failed to demonstrate his positive view of humanity, his religious faith and his imaginative and fanciful sense of humor.

I was therefore pleased when in July I received an e-mail  request from the Design Editor of Melbourne Catholic Magazine in Australia requesting permission to use one of the pictures posted in a tribute to Brian in the blog shortly after his passing.    I laughed when I found out that they selected the one I took at the Fulton Pub the first time we raised a mug.

In the Fulton Pub

The article entitled, “Minor Prophets – A Tribute to a Favourite Author” will be published in September.  Ann Rennie, the author, states in part:

“(Minor prophets) remind us of the universal and eternal.  They remind us of God and of good, and the everyday revelation of the glory in life in all its weariness and work and woe; in its humdrum, ordinary decency and its scintillating, soul stirring wonder.   One such profit (was) the American writer, Brian Doyle, whose beautiful words, written with candour and joy and lyricism, help us to find again the simple and larger truths.””

The picture of the main character on the cover has a strong resemblance to ……

I recently finished Chicago the second to the last novel which Brian wrote in 2016 and it’s my favorite – it’s a perfect example of his keen observations of nature, people and events, some of which many would view as trite or inconsequential.   I’m sure that Brian could have ridden the #33 Tri-Met bus (McLoughlin Blvd…..) from Oregon City into Portland and have written a lengthy and entertaining essay (with very long sentences…..) on what he observed that would have been a good read.

As with another one of my favorite Doyle novels, Martin Marten, I fold back pages as I read so I can go back and write down phrases or paragraphs I want to ponder and remember.  (The book ends up having more pages with folds than those that are not.)

Author, poet and hero of Edward

You should read Brian’s account of Chicago – his descriptions of Chicago White Sox games and players and the Chicago Bulls, gyros, meeting former NBA great Artis Gilmore on a walk, street basketball, Lake Michigan and dribbling his “worn and shiny basketball” through miles and miles of the urban landscape.   And as in Martin Marten, one of his main characters is an intriguing, erudite and marvelously resourceful animal – this one, a talking dog named Edward who had a strong and enduring admiration for both Abe Lincoln and Walt Whitman.  

“But to say of Edward merely that he was a dog and leave the description at that, would be a grave disservice not only to him but to you, for he was one of the most subtle and gracious beings I ever met, and the litany of his adventures alone would fill a shelf of books, before getting to his influence on other beings, for example, which was both considerable and renowned, so much so that creatures of various species would come to Edward for consultation and counsel, from birds to people of all manners and modes of life.”  (Chicago page 2)

The following is a description of his main character’s daily walks in Chicago as he ambled (dribbled…) through countless blocks of the urban landscape.  I offer this as one of many examples why Ann Rennie ended her article with the words, “Thank you Brian, for words that warmed our hearts, enlarged our minds and touched our souls.”  

“….So I walked; and there were days when I thought it likely that I had walked farther and deeper in Chicago that day than anyone else in the whole city, and this was a city of three million souls…

..I met a roan horse….I met buskers by the score, a hundred street basketball players, dozens of people fishing the lake.  I met librarians and bookshop owners and probably every gyro vendor north and west of the Loop.  I met train conductors and bus drivers and taxi drivers….I met teachers and policemen (curiously, never a police woman) and many mayoral candidates – it seemed like every other person in the city that year was running for mayor – and bartenders. (Chicago – page 188)

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

Pondering Those that Come and Go – I am saddened to report that one of Portland’s  most iconic breweries has “chugged” into the sunset.  The Tugboat Brewery, which I visited with former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams in March 2013 and was downtown Portland’s oldest craft brewery,  was severely water-damaged when the ceiling of the apartment above it in the Stewart Hotel collapsed.  While initially, the plan was to open after repairs, the damage was evidently too extensive.

They posted a sign which stated, “The flea bag hotel above us had an arson fire…..that caused water damage to our pub.”  https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/03/08/say-tug-boat-brewery-ten-times-really-fast/

Sam Adams at the Tugboat in 2013

Similarly, MadSon’s Pub closed in August although no reason was supplied other than rumors of electrical and HVAC issues which would have required extensive repairs.  MadSon’s was a cool and spacious neighborhood-type bar on the near Eastside which had a nice ambiance and a superb brunch.  My first visit was with Portland lawyer, Jack Faust and his clan.  

Add the Hop & Vine on North Killingsworth to the list of closures after eight years of serving beer and wine to its loyal customers.   And, of course, the historic and famous Lotus Cardroom, in downtown Portland is also gone in the name of development.

Fortunately, some other rumored closings did not occur including Tony’s Tavern, a noted dive bar for twenty-one years on West Burnside.   Like Joe’s Cellar, Tony’s reportedly closed because of lease issues, but reopened and is back in business.   This is fortunate.  As one of Tony’s bartenders stated in the Willamette Week clip “It’s where people are friendly.  Some of our customers are assholes, but they’re friendly.”

Other rumors of closings which fortunately did not become a reality were the Laurelthirst Public House and the Dockside, which will see a multi-story office building built immediately adjacent to it.  The Dockside is “best known locally as the place Tonya Harding’s then husband, Jeff Gillooly, tried to dispose of evidence in the kneecapping of (Olympic figure skater) Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.”  (Willamette Week)

And Some That Thrive….! – I am happy to report that on a recent and one of many return visits to what has become one of my favorite brewpubs – FlyBoy Brewing in Tigard, Mark Becker and Michelle Faubion report that their expectations have been exceeded since the opening earlier this year. The City of Tigard has been very helpful in the permit process and they will be opening a new patio in front of the pub in several weeks.

The Flyboy Management Team

The newest of the Flyboy Brews Pilot’s Peach Ale (ABV: 5.50%) has been well received (It had sold out on my visit) and Michelle stated that some patrons are mixing it with Flyboy’s White Cloud Imperial IPA (5.80% ABV).  My first pint of the Peach Ale is one – not the only reason – I keep returning.  https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/flyboy-brewing/

A remarkable beer

Drop by and try some of the thirty beers on tap and the great food on their menu.  Happy Hour is from 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday.

Thebeerchaser Goes Civic –  I was pleased to be able to make a repeat performance relating the story of Thebeerchaser blog and why it has become a wonderful retirement hobby – this time in August at the Lincoln City Rotary Club.   I made the same presentation to the West Linn Rotary Club in 2016.

They appeared to enjoy the stories on the dive bars, especially since one of my favorites is Lincoln City’s venerable Old Oregon Saloon.   And it was gratifying when the principal of one of the local schools came up afterwards and said, “I loved the dive bar stories and descriptions.  I grew up in one.  My parents owned a dive bar in Washington.”

Farewell to a Portland Legend – Born in Hot Springs, South Dakota, Jack Stutzman died in Portland last week at the age of 77.  He graduated from Oregon’s West Linn High School and found his niche in the bar and restaurant business after Army service.  His first tavern, the Green Spot was followed by The Local Gentry, Gassy Jack’s and he then purchased the Hoot Owl in John’s Landing in 1973.

It became the legendary Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery, named after one of his favorite towns in South Dakota:

“The Gap grew from a seating capacity of 25 to 250……Became a neighborhood tavern, a home away from home.  It sheltered a diverse crowd from all walks of life, the neighbors, the  young and old party goers, the students from Lewis and Clark, the medical community from OHSU, the commuters between PDX and Lake Oswego, the occasional celebrity and everyone in between.”  From obituary in Oregon Live 

Holly Eldridge, our server, and Jack Faust at the Buffalo Gap in 2011

The Gap was one of Thebeerchaser’s first watering holes visited when this blog started in 2011 with Beerchaser regular, Jack Faust.  Drop by this great saloon which still thrives on SW Macadam and toastJack Stutzman’s  memory.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/12/14/the-buffalo-gap-saloon/

Mummy’s – A (Buried) Portland Treasure

photo-nov-15-5-08-29-pm

Thebeerchaser and Brian before descending……

It is not the typical practice of Thebeerchaser to feature bars that are more of an ancillary feature of a restaurant.  There have been only several exceptions in the five years of this blog – three McMeneman establishments (White Eagle Saloon, Fulton Pub and St. John’s Pub), and the Buffalo Gap Saloon – all worthy of this distinction based on their rich histories. (For Thebeerchaser reviews, click on the link of each name.)

Well Mummy’s has a much lower profile than those above – it’s a subterranean chamber on SW Columbia Street – right across from the now empty high rise that once housed what is now a dying organization – The OregonianStay tuned, or better yet, try it and I think you will agree as do my two Beerchasing companions on my last visit to this venerable place that it is a Portland treasure.

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

And before telling the Mummy’s story, as per tradition, I will brief you on my colleagues who shared martinis with me while listening to the great music in Mummy’s.  Brian (Brain) King’s (pictured on the left) first Beerchasing expedition – to Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar was memorable (as you can see from the picture) and deserved a return invitation. 

Brain King in his Idaho duds......

Brain King in his Idaho duds……

He also is noted (at least by me) for his profound suggestion after he joined the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm as a litigator and skilled environmental lawyer.  

Based on his experience while practicing in Idaho, he insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Road and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.  (I returned with my wife this summer so she could gain the experience.) https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/  The initial visit was a key factor in ultimately starting this blog.

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Joining us on her first Beerchasing expedition although not her first visit to imbibe in Mummy’s martinis with me, was another one of my favorite lawyers at Schwabe – Margaret Hoffman.

Besides being honored in her profession as a top product liability litigator (Oregon Super Lawyer and named as one of the Best Lawyers in America), Margaret is an outstanding human being.  She is also skilled at fly fishing and in her “spare time, ” spends additional court-time playing pickle-ball.

2015-09-30-17-13-30

Counselor Hoffmann on our first visit

I might add that my own background with Mummy’s is extensive and why I invited my colleagues to join me.  I used to frequently walk the two blocks from our PacWest Center office for lunch or an after-work drink and say hello to the proprietors described by Portland Bar Fly as, “Hyper-hospitable brother-owners (who) man the small, square bar.”

And an undated article in the Portland Mercury by Denis Theriault, sums it up well: “When he’s not slinging Middle-Eastern staples or mixing up a surprising variety of tiki-inspired blended cocktails, longtime owner, Ghobvial  Mounir, is perfectly willing to sidle up to the rail and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about his homeland. And yours.” 

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

The brothers emigrated from Egypt and originally opened their establishment in NW Portland, but felt they would be more successful in their current location – they moved to it thirty years ago!

Before retiring in late 2011, I would frequently invite several of the firm’s summer associates to lunch – they were the best and brightest law students from schools all over the country working at Schwabe during the summer in the hope of landing a job when they graduated and passed the Oregon State Bar exam.

Since we were competing with other law firms to recruit them, they were typically wined and dined at most of Portland’s finest restaurants – Higgins, the Heathman GrilleJake’s, etc.  To our Recruiting Director’s initial horror, I would take them to either the Lotus Café or Mummy’s – that is until without exception, they would tell her that they loved the “tomb experience,” – the ambiance, Pyramid Beer, the brothers’ hospitality and the good Egyptian cuisine:

“Mummy’s serves the best falafel sandwich in Portland.  It’s delicious, huge, and a great value for only $5 during lunch.  Plenty of other yummy vegetarian and non-veg options are available.” (Yelp 5/20/13)

And the Schwabe managers and my family surprised me after hosting my retirement dinner at nearby Nel Centro, with an after-dinner reception at Mummy’s – it was memorable – in fact, there is a video someplace in the Ethernet of me reluctantly sharing the floor with a belly dancer, who was performing that night.

photo-nov-15-4-44-52-pmMargaret, Brian and I met at the firm at 5:00 and headed on our two-block journey like a reverse exodus of the Children of Israel. 

We dodged Max trains and commuter traffic on SW 6th Ave. and walked by the mausoleum-like remnants of The Oregonian – which seemed to have images of talented past columnists such as Steve Duin, David Sarasohn, Margy Boule, Richard Read and political cartoonist, Jack Ohman staring out the windows wondering what happened……

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Although it did not take us forty-years wondering through the desert, we reached our Promised Land – Mummys –  forthwith and descended to a “mysterious and venerable place…….True to its name, Mummy’s is filled with Egyptian artifacts much like you’d find in an actual crypt.  (It’s) weird, tomb-like, but lovable space.”  Portland Mercury 

The descent......

The descent……

“As I waited, I noticed something. Hieroglyphics are on the bench, hieroglyphics are in a painting on the wall, the cocktails have ancient Egypt themes, the napkin is a pyramid and artifact replicas are in the waiting area.”  Yelp 2/13/16

Even though it had been five years since I had been to their establishment, when I walked in, Ghobvial immediately exclaimed, “Schwabe!” and pointed towards what had been my favorite booth.

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Ghobvial and Phillip kindly acceded to my request for photographs and the former mixed two excellent gin martinis and a vodka martini for Margaret.

Pyramid Beer and good martinis - Up with olives....

Pyramid Beer and good martinis – Up with olives….

Note:  Besides a great martini, they also have a number of very inexpensive and creative cocktails such as The Cleopatra (Amaretto, Bailey’s, Irish Cream and coffee) or Ramses (Southern Comfort, peach schnapps and orange and cranberry juice).

We did not order any food on this visit although during the many times I had lunch while working at Schwabe, without exception, the food was always very good.

That said, a number of the comments on Yelp and social media are not overly positive about the food. My sentiments, however, were shared by a recent Yelp reviewer (2/13/16) who stated:

“…………When the veal came, it’s a cutlet, it was splendid. The taste was rich and the rice was outstanding, not a word we usually use for rice. My carrots and mushrooms, vegetables nonetheless, were pleasant to eat. Surprisingly, the command of how to invoke spices was second to none.

The sauces were spectacular. It was a bit pricy, even for the medium portions, but a lot came with my meal, that being the salad and bread too, and this chef should be famous, perhaps on Food Network.” 

photo-nov-15-5-38-43-pmI would also suggest that to garner the Mummys’ “experience,” make your initial trip and if you are not sure about an entrée, just have some drinks and order an appetizer such as the delicious hummus or baba ghanush (a dip made from baked eggplant).  The three of us all think you will return.

And besides, one also has to be careful about the substance of social media reviews.  Let’s look at a couple interesting ones on Mummy’s as evidence.  Although this July 2011 Yelp review was positive, one wonders whether the author needed a geography lesson or some history of the Middle East:

“…….the happy-hour is cheap. They have cute Egyptian-inspired drinks.  I was feeling Gaza Stepish, so I ordered a Pyramid Brewing Hefeweizen.” (emphasis supplied)

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Misperceptions of the Gaza Strip….

Not to be nitpicky, but perhaps someone should tell this person that the “Gaza Strip“, has it’s southern boundary along the border of Egypt and is not in Egypt.  Although there has been some involvement by Egypt in the past including some periods of occupying the territory, Gaza has primarily centered around the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  And,  oh yes, the primary Egyptian pyramids are located near Cairo and are not the Gaza Strip.

Perhaps more curious was this enthusiastic – presumably female Mummys customer, who in addition to appreciating the ambiance, lauded an unusual supplemental feature:

“The place is run by two old Egyptians brothers who still use typewriters.  There is plenty of seating in the cool booths engraved with various Egyptian gods and goddesses.  Bonus perk:  the women’s bathroom has office equipment from the late 80’s.”  (Emphasis supplied)

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

Note: It is beyond the scope of Thebeerchaser blog to further research or verify this issue.

Because Margaret had to return to the office for an evening client meeting, Brian and I decided to have one more martini – that’s when this Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado State University demonstrated again, why he has the erudition to be an outstanding drinking companion.

As an aside, Brian runs Schwabe’s Corvallis office which works out well because his wife is a tenured professor at Oregon State University.  He was recently described as the most interesting man in Corvallis and rumor has it that he is still the life of many fraternity parties that he does not even attend.

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Procedure

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Civil Procedure

Whether it was the admonition by a judge at one time that his motion for summary judgment was like trying to read hieroglyphics, the fact that his surname is “King” and might have some ancient link to Egyptian pharaohs or just his enthusiasm over our plans to visit Mummy’s, Brian was a wealth of information.

His pre-Mummys research, with emphasis on parallels in history, was focused on one of the ancient Pharoahs – Sankhkare Mentuhotep III – who reigned for twelve years during the Middle Kingdom.

Known for his small fingers, protruding abdomen and intellectual shallowness (he never read the scrolls) Mentuhotep was principally known for his journey to the Land of Punt and efforts to build a defensive structure called the “Walls-of-the-Ruler” in Nubia and also to rebuff Canaanite immigrants.

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At least Mentuhotep opted to wear the headgear to hide his questionable hair…..

Fortunately, we finished our martinis before Brian had the opportunity to factor in more recent developments relating to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s term…….

We “wrapped” up our visit, waved goodbye to the two brothers and vowed to make a return trip to what one reviewer labeled, “a gem hidden in plain sight..”

Drop down into this unique Portland venue.  You will assuredly make a return trip.  Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you!

Mummy’s        622 SW Columbia St

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