The Bantam Tavern – Something to Crow* About


Many traditional dives and neighborhood taverns have disappeared from the Portland bar scene and those remaining are at risk given the economy and the tendency to transition the space into higher paying commercial tenants such as condos.  It’s  thus refreshing that a number of Portland entrepreneurs are willing to invest in both traditional and new watering holes.

Rather than the corporate franchises who offer sterile environments such as the Yard House, one can still find quaint environments reflecting individual character thanks, in part, to the efforts of two partnerships – Dan Hart and Chris Navarra and there’s also Warren Boothby and Marcus Archambeault.

A Boothby and Archambeault bar in SE

The latter are responsible for establishments such as Gold Dust Meridian, the rejuvenated Sandy Hut, the Lay Low Tavern and the recently opened Vern, which saved the former Hannigan’s from oblivion.  (the latter two, not yet reviewed by Thebeerchaser.)

Hart and Navarra are co-owners of some of my favorite Beerchasing experiences over the last seven years including Prost, Stammtisch and Interurban, all of which had great beer, outstanding food, wonderful bartenders and servers and an environment that makes one want to return on a regular basis.

Getting the Boot at Prost

They have done it again with the opening of the Bantam Tavern on NW 21st.   Other than to a limited extent in the Pearl District, the concentration of bars – especially good traditional bars – in the NW quadrant, pales in comparison to the Eastside.

The space, formerly occupied by one of the Laughing Planet healthy-food restaurants, which moved across the street, is small and appropriately named as stated by Hart:

“It comes from a bantam, like a small bird or chicken,” he says.  “It’s that ‘small in stature but big in heart’ kind of idea.”

And the Bantam may be diminutive in total size, but packed with the kind of stuff that draws you to a bar.   First, the building in which it’s located is an attractive brick building with an engaging entrance.

Typical Phoenix Brewery – good beer, but strip mall ambiance at Helio Basin.

After recently spending a week in Phoenix in which it seems that about 90% of the bars and breweries – although they had good beer – are located in strip malls and have the ambiance – well….of Phoenix!

The  interior of the Bantam is attractive with only a few tables/booths, but a great bar and backbar. The art and interior décor is distinctive and there’s one TV that is tucked in a back corner, so not overly distracting.  

The idea to hit the Bantam emanated from my friend Steve Oltman, who works only a block away at Sealy Mattress and had said we should make a visit.

In doing preliminary research before the visit, I saw quite a number of really bad social media comments such as this one from Yelp:  “I keep wanting to love it and make it my local bar of choice.  Unfortunately, every experience I have had is just mediocre.”

Steve is a classy guy and I was incredulous that he was so positive — then I realized — I was looking at reviews for the Bantam Pub in Atlanta!

This was Steve’s second Beerchasing event after hitting the Salty Rhino last December, which is a new bar in West Linn that is close to both of our homes.   He’s, a Minnesota native and Moorhead State grad, has a contagious grin and is a good drinking buddy – besides his other great traits!

Besides being a great mixologist, Ollie Gahlsdorf (right) is a very amiable person

They have robust Happy Hour options and each of us had a good Flensburger Pilsner for $4.50 – the first time I have tried this authentic German beer – a good option.   Otherwise, they have eight taps – with some excellent Northwest microbrews including Newburg’s Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery’s Helder and a cider tap.

Also ten diverse bottled beers, including Ranier and Budweiser for traditionalists and more esoteric options such as Tillamook brewery de Garde’s Framboise at $29 for a 750 ml bottle – “an average age of approximately 18 months, and refermented the blend with fresh Oregon red raspberries.”  (Untapped)  There are also eight wine options.

Ollie Gahlsdorf, who previously managed Interurban, is the bar manager and stated that he loves the neighborhood and the patrons trying out the new establishment and “business since we opened has been great.”   He garnered great reviews for his cocktails at Interurban and now has “designed the house cocktails, including the Lions,Tigers and Bears, a Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.”  (Oregon Live 10/19/18).

“Oh My!!” Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.

There are fifteen interesting options – helpfully broken into sections such as “Strong,”  “Not Too Sweet,” (includes a jell-O-shot, “Hot Drinks” and “Sweet.”  They range from $10 – $12 with steep discounts for the Happy Hour options such as an Old Fashioned.

We did not have time to eat, but the menu is typical of Dan Hart’s establishments and food presentations we saw looked really good:

“Stammtisch chef Grahman Chaney plays more towards the sensibilities at Interurban than those at his day job.

Salty drinking snacks like jerk-seasoned chicken thighs and a Dungeness crab dip with friend wonton chips (both $9 during happy hour) star alongside hearty, meal-sized sandwiches, like a prime rib dip ($15) and a tavern burger ($14) so juicy the first bites caused it to ooze like a punctured water balloon.”   Willamette Week review 11/21/18

And where can you find a bar menu that allows you to have an entrée like Steak Diane for $18 and yet try a Spam Slammer (grilled Spam with teriyaki, mustard, pineapple, hoisin aioli & shaved cabbage on a sweet Hawaiian bun) for $4.   Ollie said the slammers are “a real adventure.”

Both Steve and I are ready to try it when we return – probably in good weather so we can enjoy the nice patio and assuming our wives don’t accompany us….By the way, they also have a worthy assortment of munchies such as olives, popcorn (dressed in Parmesan & espelette pepper) and chicken legs that almost had me reaching over to the plate of the guy next to me at the bar for a sample.

The fourth of Dan Hart’s establishments I’ve visited lived up to the experiences of the others and this bright, attractive bar has everything you want for either a casual beer or a night out.  Steve’s recommendation was spot on.

Both the print and socal media reviews are virtually all positive and I was impressed that Dan Hart personally responded to the one Yelp review that was negative.  Perhaps the best summary is:

“Outstanding happy hour dinner and drinks tonight!.  Great cozy atmosphere, engaging staff, really excellent food (don’t miss the chicken confit, standout fries and a burger, a perfect Old Fashioned and well-curated draft list.  Highly recommend.”  (Yelp 11/14/18)

Bantam Tavern Logo

Bantam Tavern          922 NW 21st 

*   And by the way, Bantam chickens do crow……

The Double Barrel Tavern – Take a Shot!

Have a Shot!!

Take a Shot!!

Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby are no strangers to the Portland bar scene….or Beerchaser followers.  They are the owners of two previously reviewed watering holes – Gold Dust Meridian (GDM 10/2012) and Club 21 (9/2014)  And for that matter, the prior count should be raised to three since they are “remaking” the classic dive bar Sandy Hut – more affectionately known to regulars of this historic bar as “The Handy Slut” – reviewed by Thebeerchaser in February of 2014.

And the Double Barrel, like their other establishments, has its own character and ambiance, differentiating it and making one want to return.

The Double Barrel - has its own identity

The Double Barrel – has its own identity – and so does Dave Hicks….

Joining me for my visit was Beerchaser Regular, “West Coast” Dave Hicks, Princeton undergrad, who went on to get his law degree and is now a San Francisco-based consultant in the legal industry.

The Double Barrel opened in February of 2014 in the historic building which previously housed the Seven Corners Bar and Grill and before that K.J’s, Wynner’s  and Dilly’s.  This excerpt from Portland Bar Fly.com describes the change well:

Formerly, Seven Corners, the GDM/Club 21 boys got themselves a new toy and man, are you gonna want to play with it!  An extensive remodel of the long malingering premises reveals the hundred year-old store front’s charming old bones, and dresses them up with a clever neo-vintage take on a Wild West saloon. Horseshoe bar with whiskey kegs holding up the booze and a rustic lodge-style fireplace add to the ambience. 

Named for Whiskey Barrels not the shot gun...
Named for Whiskey Barrels not the shot gun…

 And the two entrepreneurs also take into consideration the neighborhoods of their venues when making changes:

Consideration of both the interior and exterior of the bar

A great fireplace and mantle in the remade interior

“(One neighbor) was pleased with what the two had done with the Double Barrel bar at 21st and Division, and how they reverted the property back to some of its original luster. ‘We got a lot of inspiration from the old-schoolers in that neighborhood,’ says Archambeault. ‘We wanted to pay homage to the old Division by making a place that is a local place, an old-school place.'”

This is not just rhetoric based on a telephone conversation I had with Marcus about the work on the Double Barrel.  For example, the design in the floor is a septagram (seven-pointed star – a mural of sorts with seven stars surrounded by a circle).  “We wanted to honor the tradition and history of the Seven Corners – the name of the neighborhood based on the seven streets intersecting division in that vicinity.”

Recognizing the history of Seven Corners
Recognizing the history of Seven Corners

And then there’s the menu.   Each of their venues has it own specialties.  For example, at Club 21, we feasted on their “Build-a-Burger,” and at GDM we ordered seconds on the “Classic mac.”  The review from the Neighborhood Notes publication (3/27/2014) describes what holds court at the Double Barrel:

“Expect salads, snacks (tater tots, onion rings, hush puppies and gator bites), wings six ways, and eight signature burgers and sandwiches (including one called the Triple Threat that’s made with roasted pork loin, pulled pork and—because why not?—bacon)……”

Absolutely outstanding wings when we were there

Absolutely outstanding wings

Most of the social media reviews are positive such as this one from Yelp last December:  The juiciest (real meat not processed) hamburger cooked to perfection on the softest bun. The onion rings were so tasty and crispy. A 9 out of 10 – must try place…..” 

Menu specialty items...
Menu specialty items…

Not to belabor, but the $5 Single Barrel Burger was heralded during “Portland Burger Week” by the Portland Mercury in August 2014:

“…. a charred Painted Hills ground chuck patty with proper 80/20 juiciness. They throw on tender bacon and deep-fried jalapeño rings, then douse it with their killer creative masterstroke: a house-made spicy Southern pimento cheese that gets all the other ingredients in a line and creates a marriage ceremony “in your mouth.” 

Our own experience sampling the Happy Hour (an expansive 2:00 until 7:00 every day) options was really positive except for the Hush Puppies, which were soggy and flavorless.  That said, the fried cauliflower bites with pimento dip and the “little smokies” were scarfed up immediately and the delicious wings were already addressed.

10170744_682077521837835_1545290694_n facebook barSince Thebeerchaser’s passion is investigating the history, background and context of the bars visited, it is worth spending some more time on the thought process of Archambeault and Boothby in their work on the Double Barrel the end result of which is summarized aptly below in Willamette Weeks 2014 Bar Guide:

“But a month in, Double Barrel is classic in form, dim of light and somehow already aged into its space. It feels like yours the first damn time you walk in. Order a bourbon….. and drink to dear old dad.”

 I followed up with a telephone conversation with Marcus Archambeault on some of the specifics:

P1030232Beerchaser: “How did you come up with the name?”

MA: “Our corporate name is Double Barrel Inc. (May 2011 incorporation).  We also liked the double entendre – it references both the shotgun – consistent with the western theme of the bar and the barrels in which whiskey is aged and which are a feature in the bar.”

Beerchaser: “The long horseshoe bar is amazing and the whiskey barrels are a great touch.  Where did you get them?”

MA“We let the building speak to us.  We took the original bar and all the paneling and wood when we removed the dropped ceiling and restored to the original height.  It’s largely recycled from the original building.”

P1030241The whiskey barrels were obtained from the liquor store in Sellwood and we had to open up the slats to put them around the support beam and then put them back together – a tedious process!”

The games are a nice touch (darts, Big Buck HD and old-style pinball  – and DB is probably the only bar in town in which you will see an chicken and egg vending machine.

A prize inside??

A prize inside??

And since it is a bar, we should at least briefly address the beer, described by Willamette Week – again in its 2014 bar review:

“Double Barrel’s insistence on carrying not only Pabst and Oly, but also Hamm’s, Coors, Rainier, High Life and Tecate seems like an almost ham-fisted statement (Thebeerchaser strongly disagrees with this premise!), though there are also eight taps spouting local standards like Migration and Boneyard.” 

P1030242Dave Hicks had a Heater Allen Pilsner and I enjoyed a Commons Farmhouse Ale (Willamette Week’s 2013 Beer-of-the-Year) after I first hoisted a draft Hamms – in a “hamm-fisted” and rebellious manner!  They also had a cider on tap.

The Double Barrel is a great bar and another testament to Archambeault’s and Boothby’s vision and creativity – expect to see that imagination in the revitalized Sandy Hut when it reopens in May.

Dave Hicks and friendly bartender, Jesse - worked at the DB since its opening

Dave Hicks and friendly bartender, Jesse – worked at the DB since its opening

And finally, since it has been quite awhile since you have seen a bar joke in a Beerchaser post, it is only fitting with the theme of the Double Barrel that you are offered these to old western gems (with apologies):

A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, why the long face?”

 A three-legged dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’m looking for the guy who shot my paw!”

Bars and Taverns – the center of stories and jokes for centuries

 

The Double Barrel Tavern

2002 SE Division Street    Portland

 

Club 21 – Don’t be Fooled by the Name of this Good Bar

Club 21 - Definitely not a Strip Club....

Club 21 – Definitely not a Strip Club….

Okay – admit it.  When you saw the title of this review was Club 21, you thought I had abandoned the guideline to exclude strip clubs from the venues reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  But that’s not the case.  Club 21 is a great NE neighborhood bar in an iconic 1930 building (at one time a Russian Orthodox church) co-owned by Marcus Archambeault and Warren Brophy, who also own two other Portland bars –  Gold Dust Meridian (see Thebeerchaser review in October 2012) and The Double Barrel.

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Unlike some multiple bar owners who stay with one theme, they are creative – each bar has its own marketing, menu and ambiance based on the clientele, the building design and the neighborhood  history.

Club 21 has great character and lawyers Scott Whipple and Dan Duyck and young O”Neill Electric Project Manager, Ryan Keene and I enjoyed our beer and a dinner there one late weekday afternoon.

Whipple is a Beerchaser regular having accompanied me to Ash Street Saloon and the Dixie Tavern downtown, in the early 2012 days of this “journey,” then to Slab Town and the Skyline Tavern in October 2013.

He and his law partner, Duyck, were along for Gold Dust Meridian and Bar of the Gods and Ryan and his girlfriend, Laura, Beerchased at Quimby’s, Sniff Café and most recently, Stammtisch.  (If you’re interested in seeing any of these reviews, just use the “Search” feature at the top right of Thebeerchaser logo.)   P1020507

When we arrived at 5:00, there were few in the building, but a steady stream of regulars quickly filled both the inside and an expansive patio on the sunny afternoon.  And the regulars were friendly and talkative when we asked them to tell us about the bar.

P1020518

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

According to our bartender, Leslie – who has worked there 3.5 years, Club 21 has been the name of the bar since 1958.  After its time as a place of worship, it became the eastside annex of Jake’s Crawfish.

The owner of Nick’s Coney Island bought the building and  named his bar, Shadows.  In 1958, it became Club 21 – just because it’s on 21st and NE Glisan.  Marcus and Warren purchased it in early 2011.

In the photo below, that’s Dennis in the center – he works at Franz Bakery, and first came to the bar in 1966 – where he met the woman who is still his wife in the early ‘70’s.

Jovial and Helpful Regulars - and good taste in beer!!

Jovial and Helpful Regulars – and good taste in beer!!

Dennis and his friends remember the structure when it was a church and talked about sitting on what used to be the altar when they first started patronizing.

As an undated Portland Mercury review asserted,Be sure to say hi to the regulars they’ve been drinking there before you were born. No but seriously. They have!” (Unless you are as old as Thebeerchaser….)

And the dark and cozy environment reeks with personality with accoutrements such as old Schlitz lamps and classic Blitz beer signs, three antler heads, a stuffed duck, a classic nude painting, four old-fashioned pin-ball machines, Big Buck World and a small nook in the wall with religious statuettes.

One of four trophies....

One of three trophies….

In fact, even the men’s bathroom has character – you have to open a door and walk through a small narrow hallway to get to it. (The door on the right is the entrance to the maze in the photo below.)

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character....

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character….

 

 

—–

 

The current owners remodeled the infrastructure (kitchen, plumbing and code issues) while being careful to maintain the spirit of the building.    They improved the interior and reformed the menu.  Subsequent reviews show they accomplished their goal:

“Yes, I think they’ve done a knock-out job bringing this historic building back to life. It still feels like a dive bar, but now it has some much appreciated style going for it”. (Barfly 12/13/11)

"Droolworthy" old Blitz sign.....

“Drool-worthy” old Blitz sign…..

“Club 21 is back in action, following a change in ownership (now in the same capable hands as Gold Dust Meridian), and a lovingly-rendered makeover of the old gal.

Don’t worry – she looks like the best Club 21, ever. And, no more of that embarrassing body odor. These are all good changes – enlarged patio, enclosed and ventilated kitchen, new paneling, everywhere, annoying mini-flat screens, nowhere, a drool-worthy collection of beer signs and booze memorabilia.”

And this from Willamette Week (10/12/11):

Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz __ is even better than Pabst stuff
Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz signs are even better than Pabst stuff

“(Club 21) still looks like a little fish tank castle on the outside and feels like a ski lodge on the inside. But the former dive bar, which took only a slight hit in patronage while closed for upgrades this summer, has stepped up its style game considerably.

Its former duct-taped booths have been replaced by new upholstery; dingy old beer mirrors replaced by…well, even older Pabst paraphernalia; two pinball machines have turned into four; the patio now seats dozens of young blue-collar regulars…”

Double the fun.....
Double the fun…..

 

And everybody raves about the food, which once was described as, “….burgers that (came) from a stack in a frozen bag from Sysco.”

Willamette Week continues:

“The obscenely cheap food specials are out, but replaced by still-cheap and altogether more satisfying options, including an epic build-a-burger menu with endless variations (how about a housemade veggie patty on Texas toast with smoked Gouda.” 

 And we leaped at the chance to try their menu specialty, “Build-a-Burger (BaB)”.   (My selections are in bold) and as one City Search reviewer labeled it – “A fat kid’s dream.”

"Build a Burger" and add tater tots or onion rings

“Build a Burger” and add tater tots or onion rings

BaB is seven-step process commencing with picking your “foundation” – one of five options ranging from Oregon beef or prime rib, to fried or grilled chicken to a veggie burger and then your bread from  one five (whole wheat)  and selecting one of eight types of cheeses (pepper-jack).  Keep going with the sauces (sea and salt peppercorn, smoky pepper, 12 spice BBQ, Cajun, habanaro, Jamaican jerk) and condiments (A-1 sauce, sweet & saucy relish).

Check out the menu below which further illustrates the process.

Build-a-Burger - A construction project....

Build-a-Burger – A construction project….

If you want one of the eight extras for just a buck, add an eighth step (bacon, ham, fried egg, avacodo, caramelized onion, onion straws, sautéed mushrooms, anaheim peppers, pickled habanero, tomato bacon jam and grilled pineapple) – the works for only $8!

however

since it was Happy Hour – every day  from 3:00 until 7:00, we got a buck off on the food and $.50 off on our beer.  Side orders included fries tater tots, onion rings, green salads or Caesar salad).

A good menu - remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

A good menu – remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

————

All of us chowed down, supplemented by one of only four beers on tap (Rainier, Vaorizer, Boneyard or Kolisch).   We were so stuffed, we couldn’t even take advantage of the all-day breakfast special consisting of two eggs, hashbrowns, and toast for $5.

And Club 21 has a great juke box and live music periodically (“We’re not a rock show venue, but feature a few bands a several times each month.”)   Also check out some specials such as “Bottomless Mimosas” and “Comedy Brunches.”

They do not have a website but rely on minimal marketing through Facebook.

Don - the cook who is good at his job.

Don – the cook who is good at his job.

So if you are looking for info on the web about Club 21, be careful to be specific about the name and location. Otherwise, you will end up at the websites of venues with the same name in:

Oakland: Club 21 is the San Francisco Bay Area’s Hottest Gay & Lesbian Latin and Hip Hop Party Destination, the number #1 Gay Latin and Hip Hop Night Club.”

Galveston Island,Texas: (in the Historical District. Rated #2 out of 13 on Trip Advisor for nightlife) “Island Chic. Sophisticated. Relaxed. That’s the low-down on 21, Galveston Island’s premier spot for great times, great atmosphere, and great friends.”

Pueblo Colorado:  (The only strip club in Pueblo – rated at 2.5 stars out of 5  – mostly because “The dancers were burned out.”)

Or you could end up at the websites for the nightclub on West 52nd Street in New York City or a luxury retail story in Singapore.  Nevertheless, it appears that Marcus and Warren are going to stick with the name Club 21 and the history it embodies.

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets - tacky but quant.....

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets – tacky but quant…..

But if you want a no frills, old school environment with  exceptional burgers, a charming atmosphere with friendly regulars and helpful staff, no mixed drinks, a diverse juke-box and a good, albeit limited, selection of cheap draft beers, head to Portland’s Club 21.

And Marcus, why not hitchhike on Build-a-Burger (BaB) with BaBS (Build-a-Banana Split).  First you  select the ice cream flavor, then topping…….then……!

An inanimate regular at the bar

 

 

 

Club 21     2035 NE Glisan

 

 

 

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(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

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?

???????

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.”

———————–

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:

————————

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.”

————–

The Mac ‘n Cheese Candidate?

————————-

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