Lucky Labrador Brewpub With My Husky-Mix-Dog-Thing

20 03 2012

Ah yes, there’s nothing like buying a home and renovating it to make you stop blogging.  But, a renovated home is well worth not sharing your thoughts for many months.  So then, what monumental post would bring me back?…  Well, nothing monumental, just the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub on Hawthorne.

Lucky Lab has good beer but nothing too challenging (which i prefer), the food is simple, and most importantly, you can bring your dog.  That last one is huge.  This isn’t on the same level as a Deschutes, and they don’t try to be, I go here when I want cheap fresh food, good beer, and…. OK when I want to drink beer with dogs!

"I wish I had a beer!"

Here’s my Husky mix dog thing, so cute.  You should know you can’t take your dogs inside, but every location has an outside area for eating drinking and dogging (many covered).  I prefer the Hawthorne location because of the amount of dogs I’ve encountered and the menu, because each location’s menu differs.  I went to the location in the SW and it was mainly pizza, OK but I prefer sandwiches.  Plus, in addition to sandwiches Hawthorne has bento boxes, salads, soups (and a great veggie chili) and a lot of appetizers.  You order your food and drink inside and they bring it out to you.  The outside consists of picnic tables, a few heaters, and a water station for your pup’s needs.  They also have board games inside that you can bring out to play, which I do.

To sum up, fresh and simple food, good beer, nice people behind the counter, AND YOU CAN DRINK WITH YOUR DOG 🙂

FANTASTIC salsa, and chips. You can also get an idea of the outside dog/people area in this pic.

I got the Rose Garden above which was tasty and fresh (Hummus, Cucumber, Tomato, Lettuce, Feta Cheese & Guacamole on a Ciabatta Bun), but someone in my party also got the Three Cheese Meltdown (Melted Swiss, Cheddar, Pepper Jack,chopped Pepperoncini, Mushrooms & Salsa on Italian White) which was even better.

Here's where you get the goods inside. Always a good selection of beers, and even a cider.

As I mentioned, there are board games to play, here's my ass being handed to me in chess by um, someone quite a bit younger than me, heh.

Tasting Full Sail

13 11 2011

Autumn Ale, so yummy I couldn't get a picture before sneaking a sip

I’ve been quite busy the past few months working on my house, and well, not posting anything because of that.  So this weekend I decided that I needed to get out, and not just out of my house but Portland too.  After a brief thought of visiting Astoria, I remembered that Full Sail was in Hood River and, I’ve not been there, it’s closer than Astoria, and the leaves were changing in the Gorge.  So after a quick hike on the Washington side (see bottom picture), I crossed the Bridge of the Gods and rolled down to Hood River.

I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve had a few different beers from Full Sail, and they were pretty good but I always ended up walking out of the store with a Deschutes or Widmer brew.  Well, I can happily say that I really enjoyed the place, for the 3 reasons you would expect.

1) The Pub

Great views of the Columbia Gorge, all while nice people bring you food and beer.

I loved the views, wasn’t expecting them as I walked down the hall to the Pub.  You can’t see from the photo but the trees were all sorts of yellows and browns, November is a really good time to go.  And as far as the staff goes, very attentive and friendly.

2) The Beer
Like I mentioned, I like the beer, but had previously not gotten overly excited by it.  However, I got their Autumn Ale (a Pub exclusive, pictured above) and loved it.  It’s “a strong English-style bitter to help warm the changing of the season.”  It did help that “changing of the season” thingy.  I also tried their Amber Ale, quite good too.

3) The Food

Cheesy (3 kinds) goodness.

Started with the artichoke dip, which admittedly has been done to death, but most don’t usually contain Rogue Creamery bleu cheese.  That combined with the pepperjack and sharp cheddar with panko on top really made this stand out from all others I’ve had.

For my main course I ordered the Tempeh Veggie Burger.  I like tempeh when I don’t try and make it, because I’m terrible at it.  This tempeh is made right next to Full Sail at Turtle Island Foods… who also make Tofurky… which I’ve decided that after eating them for 7 straight Thanksgivings are actually quite unappetizing.  But I went for it anyway, and it was great!… it was topped with Full Sail’s edamame pesto and Asian slaw which made it even better.  To be sure, that’s a lot of different flavors and textures, but they all work together to make it fresh, flavorful and fulfilling.

There's a lot going on here, but it all combined for some tasty tempeh.

The others in my party ordered the buffalo hot wings which were spicy, juicy and delicious – and the turkey & brie sandwich which was good, but nothing too special.  We spent the last 15 minutes in the dark because the power went out due to the high winds that were in the area, which was fun, but a bit of a bummer because I wanted to take the brewery tour.  Oh well, next time.  Another bummer is the fact that I wanted to explore more shops and such in Hood River, however all of downtown was also without power.  But I’ll go back again soon, and I’ll go to Full Sail again because of the combination of good views, beer and food.  I’ll also hike again 1st, because the views from the Washington side are quite purdy…

The pre-Full Sail hike.

Full Sail Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Tasting Laurelwood Public House – A Mini Review

18 06 2011

Good beer makes the rain go away.

Wow, it’s still cold and rainy in Portland, and it’s almost July.  After a taste of sunshine yesterday it started raining again this morning, and that made me want to grab a beer pre-5 o’clock.  But, I craved a new beer… so I headed to Laurelwood Public House at 51st and Sandy.

The 1st thing I noticed when I entered, is that it reminded me of Columbia River Brewing, which, from what I understand was Laurelwood’s old location before Columbia moved in.  It’s open and airy, simple, with lots of light wood throughout.  Now, the reason I call this a “mini review” is because even though I hadn’t eaten all day I just wasn’t that hungry, so myself and my dining partners didn’t order that much.  However, it should be telling that I want to rave about the few things we had, because although their menu is fairly straight-forward pub fare, they do with tasty expertise.

Organic Free Range Red & Sun Daze.

Let’s start with beer, I had their Organic Free Range Red and in the background is their seasonal Sun Daze, which had “hints of mint and mango”, sounds weird, wasn’t, it was subtle, and great.  A fantastic summer beer actually.  The red was quite delicious too.

The nachos that never got soggy!

OK, veggie nachos, hard to screw up right?  No, they are often soggy, are plastered together with cheap cheese and have their ingredient ratios all wrong.  Laurelwood’s nachos were great, simple, and for some reason, regardless of what was on them they never became soggy!?  The salsa was surprisingly good, super fresh and had a hidden heat that made everyone’s face sweat after 5 minutes.  Goodness.

Those fries look crispy and comforting don't they?

For the main course it was burgers all around.  Boring perhaps, but what is more comforting on a rainy day (when it should be sunny!) than a burger with your beer?  I ordered their veggie burger with “pearl barley, roasted garlic, onions, mushrooms, celery & garbanzo beans, topped with roasted red pepper & basil-pesto spread” and the beer-battered fries.  Excellent texture and not dry at all, one of the better veggie burgers I’ve had in the area, and the pesto spread really gave it a unique character (perfect bun too).  And oh those fries…

So yes, I believe that even though my ordering was boring on this visit, Laurelwood deserved a quick (mini) write up, because it was the perfect place for a sun-missing Portlander on a chilly June Saturday afternoon to grab a quality burger and beer.

Tasting Hopworks Urban Brewery

28 03 2011

I have MANY more local breweries/brewpubs to try in Portland, I guess I just got lazy after Deschutes, Bridgeport, Widmer, Rogue and the 9,000 McMenamins everywhere.  They just started to rotate, and then one day a few weeks back  I’d had enough, I had to find a new one!  Which obviously, is quite easy to do in Portland.  I spoke to my friend about trying someplace new, we researched and both said “Hopworks!” at the same time, creepy.  So off we went on a random Wednesday night…

1st off, this place is popular, very, popular.   We went early and had a 45 minute wait.  The place is quite large so I thought it would go faster, but it didn’t.  That’s fine, we just, well… drank beer.  And if you have kids don’t worry about the wait because HUB is very kid friendly, they even have a play area with chalkboards, trains, toys, etc.  Very cool.   So, your kids will be fine during the wait (or dinner) whilst you drink beer.  The space is open, airy, modern and inviting with a bike theme throughout (they also boast of 60 bicycle parking spots).

I’m not a beer snob or anything, I like it or I don’t, and I don’t like to be too challenged.  So that being said, I love their beer.  Don’t really know what else to say beyond that, I was just very impressed with the quality and flavors.

Don't know which one this was, but it was great.

We had a ton of appetizers that we couldn’t finish, but we just wanted to try a lot of things.  You can see from front to back, “Pint o Pretzels” (very moist and yummy), “Nachofied Organic French Fries” (freaking genius, so tasty and simple), and finally “Batter Fried Chicken Tenders” (I didn’t eat them, but I’m told they were great).

Appetizers 3 deep.

I ordered their homemade black bean burger.  I have low expectations for these things, I’ve had so many average and dry examples over the years (“Then why do you get them?” I’m boring.), but this wasn’t one of them.  Flavorful, not dry, savory, and the fries were perfectly done.  Hell, I even liked the pickle.  There are many other non-meat items to choose from as well.

Hopyard Black Bean Burger.

A dining friend also had the black pepper & garlic beer sausage, and I don’t know if they make it themselves, but it’s juicy, flavorful and yes, peppery.  I don’t eat meat, but it looked so good I had to try a little, it was worth it.  And as you can tell, the portions are gargantuan.  Another person I was with ordered a calzone, and it was seriously the largest calzone I’ve ever seen, literally larger than a football.

Black pepper & garlic beer sausage. I ate some!

So the food, beer, service, building and vibe were all fantastic.  It’s my new favorite, Deschutes moves to #2 (sorry D).  I also need to mention its green side, it’s an all organic brewery… but much more.  Take a look at their green facts, they walk the walk, kudos.

And one last pic.  I told you they had a bike theme…

MUCH better than looking at advertising while urinating.

Hopworks Urban Brewery on Urbanspoon

The Widmer Brothers Brewery Tour

16 03 2011

The Widmer Brothers Brewery

Well, things are starting to warm up, the rains have returned, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming… and people are getting back out and doing things.  Like me!

Well when I went to the Gasthaus Pub recently, I was walking down the block to it and saw a bunch of commoners walking around inside the brewery… they were on a tour!  So I decided I needed to do that, soon.  So I made a reservation for a Saturday and spent a little over an hour seeing and tasting the sights.  It was fun and the tour guy was full of knowledge.

You get to hear the story of the brewery and the brothers, taste 5 of their beers, and learn about their brewing process.  Then you head out and see where it’s made.  It’s actually surprisingly small for the amount of beer that they put out, but the size of the vessels are quite impressive (see below).  And at the end of the tour you get, or at least we got, a logo pint glass and a key chain.  Very cool and quick tour, definitely something everyone in Portland should do.

Where all the mixing and cooking and stuff is done (I paid attention eh?)

3-story tall beer holder fermentation thingys.

And finally, all the beers 🙂

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Tasting Widmer Brothers: The Gasthaus Pub

5 02 2011

Who knew Widmer had a restaurant? Well, probably everyone but me.

I happened to be driving on the Northeast side of Portland a few weeks back, and noticed that I was driving by the Widmer Brother Brewery.  But what really surprised me is that they have a restaurant across the street!  I had no idea, I thought they only made beer.  So, I decided to return and check out The Gasthaus Pub.

It’s in an awesome old brick building, as you can see by the picture.  I’d call their food American pub food with a German twist.  For example, the appetizers contain staples like quesadillas and pretzels, but also feature bratwursts,  kielbasas and weisswursts.  Entrees include sandwiches, burgers and pastas, but also include schnitzels and goulasch.

Yay, free small beer too!

I usually don’t order Pale Ales because I don’t enjoy too much bitterness and challenge in my beer, but I can honestly say that their Drifter Pale Ale was one of the best Pale Ales I’ve ever had, it wasn’t bitter at all and was full of flavor.  The sampler next to it was a seasonal beer… the uhh… I forgot, but it was pretty good.  Not sure I could have had a full pint of it though.

My delicious fake reuben.

Food-wise I ordered the pretzel with fondue for an appetizer that you see in the rear of the picture (I always have to order them, I mean… what goes better with beer?).  The fondue was one of the best cheese dips I’ve had with pretzels.  For my entree I consumed a surprisingly good vegetarian reuben.  So what was substituted for the corned beef/pastrami?… tomatoes!  And you know what, it was genius.  I almost didn’t notice, except that the slices were slightly too thick, a little thinner would have worked a bit better.  It also came with some excellent (and quite “dilly”) German potato salad.  It was a great meal and I very much look forward to returning to try some more dishes.

So, now that I’ve been to all of the major breweries’ brewpubs in the area (Widmer, Deschutes, Bridgeport & Rogue), I guess it’s time to explore the smaller players.  Stay tuned…


Widmer Gasthaus on Urbanspoon

Portland’s 2nd Annual Chefs Challenge

18 12 2010

The menu.

Recently I attended the 2nd annual Chefs Challenge at Deschutes Brewery, a competition between 6 famous Portland chefs.  It was an evening of really interesting dishes, paired with very special beers.  A really fun event that I hope to attend every year.

Here are the chefs:

Kurt SpakAlba Osteria

Ben DyerLaurelhurst Market / Ate-Oh-Ate

Adam Higgs, Acadia

Jeff Usinowicz, Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub

Scott Shampine, Davis Street Tavern

Dave Anderson, Genoa

So here is my evening in pictures…

This was the beer maker guy for Deschutes, he detailed each beer for each course. Can't remember his name :/

The beers were so special they came in special glasses.

Look at 'em all!

This is Chef Jeff Usinowicz from Deschutes, he makes consistently great food, I'm a big fan.

It's the wining dish... Cotechino sausage with braised lentils and blood orange zabaione from David Anderson of Genoa. I didn't eat it, but it looked quite good.

The end of the event, the winner David Anderson in the middle and the owner of Deschutes on the right. Great event, great night.