210 NW 11th Ave
Visited on May 23, 2009
Amidst the mind-boggling number of brewpubs in greater and downtown Portland, Oregon, one stands out in my mind. Even though it’s not even their best location, Deschutes Brewpub really puts on a show. The location is big and beautiful with giant ceilings and a warm, though classy environment. The beers on tap include not just their standard bottled beers – which are amongst the Pacific Northwest’s best and most consistent – but also a long line of brewpub only specials. And they’re all superb. Add to all of that an awesome menu of inventive, locally sourced dishes, and you have one of my favorite locations of all-time. The only reason it doesn’t crack the top 10 list is because I think it’s original Bend location is even cooler.
In stark contrast to the Bend location, this brewpub is in the middle of a bustling metropolis and lets you know it. The place is cavernous with gorgeous tables, woodwork, bar, decorations and etc. etc. The plasma televisions are set inside intricate golden frames. There’s a quarter catcher above the taps that bartenders were attempting to throw quarters into. Successful attempts ran down a gutter and into a pale. Not sure what that was about, but it was fun.
Also, this place is always busy. I dropped in at 3:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and there was a three-hour wait for a table. When I came back six hours later, it was even worse. The bar was packed too, but luckily after waiting for five minutes I grabbed a stool.
The place is decked out the nines. I usually don’t like that in a brewpub, but this place does it so well and without pretention that I can’t fault them for it. I love the atmosphere. It is the high-class-people-with-money-crowd-brewpub of downtown Portland.
The food is more than solid. It’s absolutely fantastic. Everything is sourced locally and organically. It is all prepared with the utmost care and presented beautifully on spotless porcelain plates. The menu is large and everyone can find something they have to have, including vegans. I enjoyed a portabella sandwich, perfectly prepared between two delicious slices of focaccia bread. With it I got a bowl of black bean soup, which was dark, roasty, slightly salty, and probably the best soup I’ve ever had. It has stiff competition from the seafood bisque at Athena’s in Pike’s Place Market, but it’s up there.
The beer on tap is absolutely hands-down amazeballs. The typical selections like Buzzsaw Brown, porter, Mirror Pond Pale, and the rest of the stuff you find in stores is, as always, extremely good. But they draw you to the brewpub by the extensive list that includes many, many experimental beers not found outside of the brewpub. This includes two on cask, which I appreciated. Everything was wonderful. Each beer I could easily drink all day and be happy. Top quality through and through.
The whole wait staff was busy, flying around, pouring beer, answering questions, taking orders: it was quite a show. Yet they never forgot about you and always got you your order right away. Knowledgeable, hard-working, efficient staff. What a way to run a place.