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Friday, March 06, 2009

Good Food + Good Beer

There remains one great frontier for good beer: good food. Well over a decade ago, Higgins added the most expansive beer list in Portland to their menu (even hiring a beer steward), an act I assumed would precipitate full beer integration into the city's best restaurants. But no. Go to a nice place, and you'll be offered a wine list, a cocktail list, and a slightly anxious look by the waitress if you ask about the tap list. Beer remains segregated.

A tiny bit of good news, then. In today's Oregonian, Christina Melander alerts us to Micah Camden's newest venture, Fats:
...a gastropub centered on burgers, beer and brunch at Northeast 30th and Killingsworth. Fats will be his fourth restaurant. His mini-empire stretches over a couple of blocks and includes Beast (The Oregonian's Diner Restaurant of the Year 2008, co-owned with chef Naomi Pomeroy) along with foodie spot D.O.C. and design-savvy Yakuza Lounge, co-owned with Dayna McEarlean....

Camden says he wants to attract a more everyday clientele than his other restaurants. The beer list -- some 80 brews strong -- and digestible prices (with entrees around $15, burgers $9-$10, desserts $6-$8) should help draw a wider swath of Portlanders.
Admittedly, this isn't upscale food, and Camden's other restaurants haven't exactly rolled out the welcome mat to good beer. One could argue that there's a ghettoization problem here--the downscale restaurant gets the beer, Camden's chi-chi joints get the wine and liquor. Let's take the opposite view: at least good beer will now be served alongside good food, pushing the ball down the field a bit. For someone who laments the lack of good beer places to get decent food, this is a great piece of news.


  1. Jeff,

    I think I'm missing the point. A guy is opening "DOWNHOME" "COMFORT FOOD" peoples pub and he doesn't usually concentrate on serving quality beer.... am I following you?

    So, where's the GOOD BEER/GOOD FOOD tie in?

    Are ya reaching for posting today?? ;-}

    But! Thanks! You've inspired a subject for me to write about... ;-}

  2. Not all good food is upscale, D Wort.

  3. i ate in an upscale restaurant in San Fran that had beer pairings will all of it's menu items. it was great and the chef really seemed to know beer...

    i'd like to see something like this in Portland.

  4. Your right Jeff.... Veletta and chicken strips kick ass! Oh, don't forget the local "ADULT" favorite.... Mac-n-Cheese! ;-}

    Iggir - Was the beer pairing dinner with Bruce Paton or Sean Paxton?

  5. Yes, I'm making an argument for "Veletta." And that's exactly what Camden will be serving.

    Don't be dim.

  6. I'm being sarcastic.... and you think "I'm" being dim? :-O

    More social interaction, might help!

  7. Children please!

    Re: Iggir.
    I stopped at Hair of the Dog to pick up a sixer of Matt, and ended up sharing samples with among others, a traveling brewer from San Francisco lamenting a similar dearth of good beer/good food places in that city - which I find more remarkable than the situation here.

    Re: Fats.
    I think the brief communicated a conflicting message. How down market is Fats really going to be? And this was a menu that he designed but expects a contract chef to execute? Not certain how successful I see this place becoming, altho I expect to check it out given the expected beer list.

  8. Velveeta! I can't spell! Cheez Wiz! Cheese that doesn't need to be refrigerated and is bought on a dry shelf... That scares me!

    Patrick: Yes, your SF traveling acquaintance should need very little direction to find a decent beer/Food establishment in SF.

    The Doc just did an article on quality Beer/Food establishments. Check it out!

    Sorry, Jeff..... No Cheez Wiz or Tator Tots! ;-}

    In regard to my Gastropub Posting, I received an email from a guy who said he didn't like some of my Gastropub suggestions because they didn't have French Fries... They had Pommes Frites! :-D

  9. Without attempting to offend, I'd like to suggest Henry's 12th Street & Alameda Brewing as two locales that serve both great food, and great beer here in P-Town. I'll have to give Fats a try. High-brow, or not, great burgers and great beer is not a combo to shake a stick at.

  10. Dr. Wort,

    I did see your post on this-and I probably should post there too, but I think one of two conclusions can be drawn regarding this San Francisco brewer's comments-

    a) drawing conclusions from a single point of view can be dangerous, regardless of how knowledgable or experienced;

    b) DW wrote about 3 or 4 places, but given the size and depth of the San Francisco dining scene, that is a fairly pedestrian showing.

    I can laugh about the Pomme Frites tho.

    And have either of you been to Saraveza? Very narrow menu offering, but those pasties are not your father's tater tots.

    I do think Portland needs a Brouwer's cafe type of setup more than any other.

  11. I'd rather discuss the Docs posts on the Docs web site. We should leave Jeff's comments at his site.


    A. Yes, I was being generous with Jesse's suggestion of Monk's Kettle and felt the menu fit the subject.

    B. Yes, 3-4 suggestions are barely scratching the surface, but I was trying to narrow it down. I commented on 3 Portland pubs, 5 Settle and 4 San Francisco. To tired to do Vancouver BC and LA.... ;-}

    Saravesa pasties are good, but yes, not enough variety. (I don't think they had Tator Tots in MY Fathers age...)

    Brouwers Cafe.... Yes! I've seen a few pubs try match their diversity in beers, but it just doesn't fly here. We need more of what I'm always trying to promote... More diversity in beer drinkers. If I owned a local pub, the frustration of watching kegs of (on Brouwers CAfe current list of draft) Lost Abbey Judgment Day $7.50 (12oz.) or De Proef Slaapmutske Tripel Nightcap $9.00 sit and rot, would be expensive. I can't see enough locals paying the price, nor drain the keg.

    Someday maybe?!


    I looked at Henry's and Alameda BC for the Gastropub article.

    Henry's is a part of a major local corporate chain and more of a restaurant than a pub, but might have made some kind of beer/food list. The menu is a little innovative, but still lacking. It's kind of like dressed up old Pub Standards meet PF Chang....meh!

    Alameda? First there has to be a decent beer to drink with food. ;-} Then, there's appetizer list:

    Mini Pizza

    Come on, it sounds like the appetizer menu from Chili's or Applebee's! :-O Nothing innovative here...

  12. Back to Jeff's post...

    Just read another article in WW about Micah Camden and this Fats joint.

    I read this quote from Camden... “It’s gonna be very, very, very good. Simple. I hired the strongest Mexican line cook I know in LA. His name is actually Jose,”

    I'm sorry, maybe because I grew up in a more ethnically diverse environment where you learn that no matter what your ethnicity your just a person... I found this quote to be rather demeaning for stereotyping this man for being Hispanic, a line cook and with the name Jose. Was this supposed to be funny or witty? I doubt Jose sees the humor....

  13. And he's the strongest… I imagine he bears a resemblance (in build, if not entirely in ethnicity) to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

    "I stopped at Hair of the Dog to pick up a sixer of Matt…" wait, what?!


  14. Who the hell is dwayne "the rock" Johnson?

    I know what a Rock Hard Johnson is!