The grand opening for Deschutes Brewery’s first Portland pub (210 NW 11th Avenue) is scheduled for next Friday, May 2nd. This Saturday, April 26 the pub is hosting a (sold out) pre-opening fundraising party to benefit Oregon Trout.
We’d heard rumors, however, that the pub might be open already for lunch, so Amy and I walked by today at about 11:30. What appeared to be customers were sitting at tables, and an ample supply of pub staff, decked out in brand new Deschutes Brewery polo shirts, flitted about. Upon further investigation I noticed a sign on the front door, something about Friends and family only, but before I could bring this to her attention, Amy had entered. I followed. The friendly hostess saved us the embarrassment of having to back out by informing us that though this was an exclusive event, they weren’t too busy, and she would gladly seat us, and oh yeah, we were entitled to a pint each, an appetizer, entrees, and a dessert – for FREE!
We couldn’t believe our good fortune, and hastily sat before she could change her mind.
Reminiscent of the SE Lucky Lab crossed with a McMenamins, the high ceilinged space has red walls, mismatched light fixtures, and unpainted wood rafters – some real and some for effect. There’s a long bar along the north wall, a semi-open kitchen in the northeast corner, and seating every where else. Huge windows let in lots of light.
Much like the Rogue Public House up on Flanders (i.e. decent food and selection, but overpriced), the menu is standard upscale-pub (e.g. $14.95 fish and chips, $9.50+ for a burger). I ordered the fish and chips and Amy ordered the spicy mac and cheese. Both were nothing special. Filling though.
We shared an appetizer, a huge soft-baked pretzel with white cheddar dipping sauce accented with Black Butte Porter-Honey mustard. For dessert we split a slice of fantastically rich carrot cake with vanilla cream cheese ice cream (food wise, the highlight of the visit).
But the beer is the thing.
We decided to stick to the “pub exclusive” beers.
Amy had a pint of the Kilgorian Vanilla Porter. It’s a solid English-style porter; dry, with a strong, but not overpowering, warm vanilla flavor and aroma.
I went for the St. Tanith, a strong (8.7% alcohol) Belgian style ale, aged in oak, hopped perfectly (60 IBUs) with noble hops, and spiced, like a Belgian Witbier, with coriander and orange peel.
Out of curiosity we also tried the Rootin’ Tootin’ Low Gluten Ale; a very drinkable (4.5% alcohol), beautifully clear, and surprisingly tasty sorghum ale, spiced with Cascade hops.
The beers were excellent.
We tipped well.*
The pub is much like I expected. When it really opens I might be tempted to stop by for the pub exclusive ales, and maybe the occasional lunch.
*Free food/beer = huge tips!