Portlanders flock to Clyde Common for bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler's silky Negroni cocktail - a barrel-aged Italian classic made of gin, vermouth, and Compari.
Cascade Brewing Barrell House handcrafts at least 50 sour beers, a Northwest specialty.
Cascade's brewmaster Ron Gansberg (left), blender Preston Weesner (brown cap), and cellerman Beck Jensen.
Spella Cafe's shakerato packs a powerful sugar-caffeine punch.
The chocroute garnie at Grüner includes a sampling of bratwurst, saucisson, cider-braised pork belly, and pork tenderloin, paired with kraut, potatoes, and mustard.
Chef Chris Israel's preserved vegetables garnish many of Grüner's dishes.
Food carts on every corner, housecured bacon on the menus, bearded bartenders, baristas with attitude—a Bay Area girl can feel right at home in Portland. On a rainy afternoon (I’m assured there are other kinds here, though I really wouldn’t know), this city appears to be one big, happy kitchen—a place where everyone
makes their own pickles and the parking lots downtown are filled with more food trucks than cars. It’s easy to dismiss it all as fodder for a Portlandia sketch, but the truth is that the city has spearheaded plenty of trends that are only now making their way to San Francisco. Consider the barrel-aged negroni that Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the bar manager at Clyde Common, poured for me. these smooth, mellow cocktails, which Morgenthaler has been mixing for more than a year, are just showing up locally at places like zero zero. And the tart barrel-aged sour beers with complex fruity flavors, like the ones at Cascade Brewing Barrel House, are much more to my liking than the over-the-top hoppy style embraced by so many Bay Area brewers. I only wish that we had a restaurant with an Alsatian menu like
the one at Grüner, where I ate a tangy bratwurst with delicate ribbons of sauerkraut and chased it with a perfectly dry martini flavored with Douglas fir. I blamed that cocktail for my midafternoon stupor, but figured a shot of Portland’s famous espresso would fix it. Indeed, at Spella Caffè, a slip of a coffee bar just a block
from my hotel, the barista insisted I try a shakerato—a shot of espresso and a spoonful of sugar blended on ice in a cocktail shaker. that frothy, bracing drink snapped me back to attention. Blue Bottle, are you listening?
CLYDE COMMON: 1014 SW STARK ST., 503-228-3333, CLYDECOMMON.COM. CASCADE BREWING BARREL HOUSE: 939 SE BELMONT ST., 503-265-8603, CASCADEBREWINGBARRELHOUSE.COM. GRÜNER: 527 SW 12TH AVE., 503-241-7163, GRUNERPDX.COM. SPELLA CAffÈ: 520 SW FIFTH AVE., 503-752-0265, SPELLACAFFE.COM