You’ll Want a Fork at the Hop N Cork – also a Mug!

Lake Oswego's Newest Brew Pub

Lake Oswego’s Newest Brew Pub

One lesson learned in the fifty-three months of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs is “Don’t judge a bar by its external appearance. ‘Tap’ what’s inside.”  (My high school literature teacher would have been pleased if I had alternatively used novelist George Elliot’s purported hypothesis “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”; however, she probably would not approve of the mission of this blog).

Support from the neighbors

Support from the neighbors

So it is with a new establishment in Lake Grove right off SW Boones Ferry Road on the east side of I-5 near Bridgeport Village.

Established in September of 2015 in what used to be the Franz Bakery’s store in which bread slightly over the freshness guidelines was sold to many people including my wife and me, the Hop N Cork (hereafter the “HNC”) looks a bit stark on the outside.

Cozy niches for good conversation

Cozy niches for good conversation

That was also true of the Ecliptic Brewery in North Portland reviewed on this blog in May 2015.   Unlike the Ecliptic, however, the character and warmth emanating when you enter the HNC is totally contrary to the former.

Ecliptic may have good beer and a cool name, but lacks any atmosphere (inside and outside) that would motivate Thebeerchaser to return as evidenced by the picture below.

The Ecliptic - good beer but no ambiance....

The Ecliptic – good beer but no ambiance….

The warmth of the HNC is a direct extension of co-owner, Michelle Faubion, based on my three visits to this cool neighborhood gathering place. Michelle, has a charisma and enthusiasm that once you hear her story, makes you want this endeavor to succeed and gives confidence that it will do just that.

Hop N Cork co-owner and manager, Michelle Faubion

Hop N Cork co-owner and manager, Michelle Faubion

Partnerships can often be on delicate footing, but it appears that the partnership between Sunil Kumar and Michelle in the HNC is very complementary. They met when Michelle worked at the Growlerie in Portland and started talking about a joint venture in 2014.

After a lot of planning and some real land-use issues with the City of Lake Oswego which took perseverance to resolve, the HNC became a reality in September, 2015 with the two as co-owners and leasing the building that Kumar owns adjacent to his Prestige Cleaners.

Sunil and ichelle

Sunil and Michelle

Prestige goes back to 1979 when it was founded by Sunil’s parents and he bought the business from them in 2002. He is a U of O graduate who used the time after college graduation in retail management to hone his business skills.

Sunil stated that the capital investment in HNC is not intended to be a “one time deal” and don’t be surprised if you see similar brewpubs in the future based on the early success of HNC. Michelle handles the day-to-day operations of the bar while Sunil takes care of the business end – accounting and logistics. The pair works well together as evidenced by the picture below.  IMG_4315

The HNC has an impressive rotating tap list of 27 beers – their consumption is about 10 to 12 kegs per week.  One of the beer taps is their own brew and one is a gluten-free option, a dark nitro tap.  They also have four Kombuca (fermented tea) options, two ciders an adult root beer and a non-alcoholic root beer.  They do a lively growler business.

The impressive tap list is displayed digitally

The impressive tap list is displayed digitally

 

And the tap list is displayed digitally behind the bar similar to bigger and more established bars such as Bailey’s Tap House and Apex.  You can also review and order on one of the i-Pads in the bar or on your i-Phone.

Adding to the draft beer choices are eighteen wine taps and even prosecco on tap – “It’s a big seller.”

I was accompanied by Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones.  We were each pleased with the micro-brews we downed: a Pelican Brewery’s McPelican Scottish AleSantiam Brewing’s Bramble On (honey wheat ale) and I liked Hop N Cork’s own White Belgian Ale.

But I have to tell you about the alcoholic root beer (Not Your Father’s Root Beer with an alcohol content of 5.9%).  After downing a sample, I am enthusiastically waiting for the time I can add ice cream as does the individual on this 8/2015 Beer Advocate review“It is hard to review this as a beer, since it smells, tastes, and feels just like root beer. I enjoyed it. Pours like a dark root beer, and has the carmel smell. Tastes like root beer. I might try to make a float out of it. Skol.”

Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones with Michelle and Thebeerchaser logo

Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones with Michelle and Thebeerchaser logo

 

Locally sourced and this guy is good at his craft!

Locally sourced and this guy is good at his craft!

The food is a strength of the pub and a reflection of Michelle’s standards and future goals.  The menu is slightly limited, but they have a nice selection of appetizers and nine choices of sandwiches.

We had two good appetizers (the spinach dip and the charcutrie platter – locally sourced meats and cheeses) and on my return visit, I sampled the smoked steel head which will be the first item I order on my next trip to the HNC.

Michelle talks with passion about their menu notwithstanding a very small kitchen which is planned to expand in March as will be the case with their patio.  In fact, 50% of the pub’s sales are from food  – higher than the average for similar venues.   cheese and food

 

“Our food is all ‘farm to table’ and it comes in fresh every day.”   The traeger, as evidenced in the photo, is used extensively and the food is also infused with their beers for added taste.

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Specials for the day…….

The HNC reviews on social media to this point are virtually all positive – there were two that mildly complained about confusion on how to order food.

You can see from the sign in the photo, however, that it is pretty clear – you go to the bar to order, although in my three visits, a waiter took my order twice.

Not too difficult to understand.

Not too difficult to understand.

Michelle said that as she grows, she will hire additional people so bar ordering isn’t necessary, but when things are not hopping, waiters circulate among the tables – a plan typical of most new pubs or bars.

The Hop N Cork is a family-type venue – striving for a living room environment and children are welcome.   Michelle appreciated the support of the community when she went through the ponderous zoning process with the City of Lake Oswego and a big part of her clientele is neighborhood people.

P1030990So they had a pig roast last summer and several times a month hosts a “Tap Takeover” with several breweries, with specific food pairings and swag brought in by the breweries.

In January there was a pinewood derby contest with the proceeds donated to Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon, and the Ovarian Cancer Fund.    You’ll see cornhole tournaments this summer and there is also music on many weekends by local groups.

And the environment is warm and friendly – keyed by this entrepreneurial woman’s charisma.  The vendors don’t leave before receiving a hug and she responds to people with “Certainly, honey..” without pretense.   She’s an Oregon girl, having graduated from St. Mary’s Academy and then attending University of Washington in nursing.   After graduation, she followed family tradition getting involved in the hospitality industry.

Another amazing St. Marys Academy grad besides Thebeerchasers daughter....!

Another amazing St. Marys Academy grad – besides Thebeerchaser’s daughter….!

She worked for two years at Portland Brewing until “they let everyone go.” She used her severance to travel to Mexico and worked as a diving instructor before returning to the Northwest and  pharmaceutical sales (“a tough business”).

Nifty chandelier...

Nifty chandelier…

The Hop N Cork is one establishment which will see future visits by Thebeerchaser and I expect to see Michelle Faubion’s dream continue to grow and prosper. The following excerpt from the November, 2015 Newschoolbeer.com entitled, “The Eleven Best New Oregon Tap Rooms and Beer Bars” is typical and why you should check it out.   And be sure to say “hello” to Michelle:

 

“Recently opened in a tiny unassuming business park, Hop n’ Cork is a little bit of downtown Portland’s Pearl District in quiet Lake O. One of Hop n’ Cork’s founders spent time at Portland Brewing and The Growlerie in Progress Ridge, and brings business knowledge and a craft beer acumen to the tap list and extensive bottle selection……With 75 seats and a full farm-to-table menu that keeps it simple with soups and sandwiches, live music on Saturday’s, Hop n’ Cork has already become a very popular destination. Pop in and check it out for yourself.”

The Hop N Cork

 17450 Lower Boones Ferry Rd.  Lake Oswego, OR 97035.

503-305-5903

P1030991

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps you should check the Lost and Found??

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While there are some Portland bars which have more types of draft and bottled beers and ciders than you could drink during a seven-year college education (approximately four for matriculating and the other three for drinking…) The Lost and Found Bar is not one of these.

Similarly, there are many taverns and pubs with expansive seating, game rooms, big-screen television viewing areas and lavish furnishings.  The picture above and immediately below are evidence that the intent of owners Amai Hart and Leah Erickson is not to dazzle you with extravagant and opulent surroundings when you patronize their establishment.  But stay tuned as to why you should check out the Lost and Found!         P1020395

One might suggest that Portland’s version of this bar be considered “The Little Engine that Could,” compared to its counterparts of the same name in cities such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Oakland and even Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

It is a small and recent addition (May 2013) to the Portland bar scene and is attracting a loyal following – it’s is a charming neighborhood bistro in the Overlook Neighborhood in North Portland just off Killingsworth.  There’s a great list of original specialty cocktails – all with fresh ingredients and served in Mason jars.  Four of the ten reasonably priced between $7 to $8 are:

  • The Ron Burgundy Buffalo – Trace bourbon, mint, lemon, orange, and bitters

  • The Sweet Dee – Monopolowa vodka, blueberries, lemon, and iced tea
  • The Bill Murricane Myers and Bacardi rum, pineapple, cranberry, and orange
  •  The Bernie Lomax – Bacardi rum, blueberries, lime, and mint

The menu is pretty limited, but adequate for pub faire with a Mexican focus – i.e. tacos, several types of quesadillas, frito pie and nachos.   There are only four draft beers, but their rotating taps of Northwest beers were great.  P1010918

During my three visits, we had

Ft. George Quick Wit *     

Double Mountain Vaporizer    

Good Life Descender IPA    

  Hub Lager

*  My favorite    —  And, since one of my visits was on a Tall Boy Tuesday, I had a Miller High Life TB for $1.  (The same price as the daily Oregonian and a lot more substance…….)

Not available from The Good Humor Man....

Not available from The Good Humor Man….

And for a change of pace, why not try a Boozicle – something the Good Humor Man from your childhood wouldn’t carry.  As one patron stated:  “It was a delicate mixture of vodka and juice.  Well made.  Some sort of Guava concoction.” 

And while the retractable garage doors as the entrance are a bit austere, the interior has some nice custom art work and two old-fashioned pin ball machines which enhance the ambiance.

Interesting "suit case" art from _______

Interesting “suit case” art from Upper Case Studios adorns the walls.

 

For example, there are a number of small suitcase lamps with various designs hung on the wall from Upper Case Studios..

As described in one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite references, The Willamette Week Bar Guide (2014):

The bunker-brick walls are painted the colors of ocean and sky, and sport cheery lamps made of suitcases, with shapes cut out for deer, bears and inadvisable airplane procedures. Other lampshades are made of cymbals.

P1020387 A brightly painted, 3-foot-wide cross section of a tree stump—hanging precariously over the broad selection of booze—turns out to be Styrofoam. The bar’s lovely art is made by UpperCase Studios’ Mich Conklin, who started her business shortly after making the art for her daughter’s bar.”

Todd Walberg photos

Todd Walberg photos

——————–

Also photos of rock bands from Todd Walberg – ” (he) will go to shows, take electric, high energy photos of bands and give the music world free range of them. He’s taken photos for practically every up-and-coming musical act in the area.”) Rip City Review“The Ten Coolest People in Portland Music.” (8/10/13)

 

So while the Lost and Found is not a unique venue from the standpoint of drink or food menu, furnishings or otherwise, why is it recommended?  Very simple:

P1020390

Classic pinball machines

It is another example of one of the many establishments founded by young, eager entrepreneurs who invest their capital for a labor of love – also having no experience in the restaurant or bar industry. In this case, Amai Hart and Lea Erickson who bought the establishment which was previously  the Palace of Industry – a vintage store that served wine and beer.

They completely remodeled the interior and immersed themselves in developing a neighborhood gathering place with a caring and friendly staff – we can attest to that.

Amai’s background was of interest to me since she is also a full-time legal assistant  – still working at a Portland employment law firm for about seven years  – after graduating from St. Mary’s Academy and the U of O – the wonderful female-only high school in downtown Portland with a sterling academic program.

Julia the bartender with Sharon ___ Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

Julia the bartender with Sharon Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

I was pleased to be joined by a good friend, Sharon VanSickle-Robbins, herself a successful entrepreneur in multiple endeavors and one of Portland’s most dedicated civic/charitable activists including past President of the City Club of Portland.

She also accompanied me to the Twilight Room –  in 2011 on only the fifth of what is now 66 taverns reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland bars, taverns and pubs.

So visit the Lost and Found – the expansive patio as described by one neighborhood regular on Yelp offers all the motivation needed:

“An inviting space with friendly service and great drinks is very refreshing. I plan to spend a good portion of my summer out on that patio.”           P1020394

 

The Lost and Found Bar                5426 N. Gay Avenue

(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)