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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 539
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Portland Burnside Mini Pub Crawl
Tuesday 12 April 2016   —   Category: Dining Out
On September 8th and 22nd in 2015, I made two trips 75 miles up the I-5 in order to fulfill my dream of walking and photographing the entire 12½-mile length of Burnside Street between the western and eastern city limits of Portland, Oregon. See Hiking Burnside Street Between Portland’s City Limits for all the nitty-gritty details. During those two days, I had plenty of opportunity to sample the offerings of a number of the city’s plentiful brew­pubs and restaurants. One group of them were in the Pearl District, which I roamed on the 8th. I’ve already shared all the delicious details in My First Portland Pub Crawl — In the Pearl.

The second batch of brewpubs and restaurants, on the 22nd, were spread out primarily along Burnside Street, al­though the first one was at the Pioneer Place mall about a third of a mile south of Burnside.

This wasn’t an official pub crawl, because my goal was to traverse Burnside Street, not visit pubs. Furthermore, I didn’t visit as many establishments as I did on the Pearl District pub crawl. Nevertheless, I made enough stops while celebrating the autumn equinox to warrant a special review of this Burnside Mini Pub Crawl.
 
The Yard House restaurant, on the ground floor of Pioneer Tower, part of the Pi­o­neer Place mall downtown, is an up-scale, spendy sports bar chain.

In my last article I talked more about wan­der­ing around this mall with my camera.
 
After considering my choices, I ordered a Boneyard Diablo Rojo, which was highly recommended on OregonLive.com. According to the brewer:

“ This deep amber ale is extremely well balanced and very drinkable. It appeals both to the hop lover and non hop lover. This beer is dual-hopped with Cascade and Delta hops.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.5% ABV • 30 IBU

It wasn’t bad, but for a beer with a low IBU of 30, it still had a pretty hoppy taste, which I don’t particularly care for. I don’t think I would try it again.
 
On the food side, I had a scrumptious grilled Korean beef short rib taco, which, considering its very small size, was way over-priced at $5. Add in the beer and a tip, and this little snack set me back $12. That’s life in the big city!

Too bad my homemade version of this taco fell so short!

Even though it was extremely dark in the restaurant, I think my camera did great at ISO 3,200.
 
 
Leaving the Yard House, I walked north to Burnside Street and took a TriMet Route 20 bus up the Burnside Gorge to the top of the West Hills. I debarked at a bus stop which is situated almost exactly on Portland’s western city limit border.

From there I took my life in my hands by walking back down through the gorge along the sidewalkless, narrow, steep, wind­ing Burnside Street until I arrived downtown once again. After that harrowing 3½-mile hike, I was more than ready for rest, re­fresh­ment and restrooms!

I stopped at McMenamins’ Zeus Café, located on the ground floor of their Crystal Hotel, in a historic building on an entire wedge-shaped block between West Burnside and SW Stark Streets, and SW 12th and 13th Avenues. But when I found that they didn’t serve soft pretzels, I backtracked a block and went to their Ringlers Pub instead.
 
Ringlers Pub — not to be confused with their Ringlers Annex next to the Zeus Café back at the Crystal Hotel — is lo­cat­ed on the ground floor of the sim­i­lar­ly-​named Crystal Ballroom. How’s that for confusing? Two Mc­Men­a­mins build­ings a block from each other called Crys­tal some­thing, and each one has a bar called Ringlers something! It didn’t really mat­ter to me what it was called, as long as I could rest my weary feet, quench my thirst, satisfy my growl­ing stomach, and empty my pressing bladder.
 
To fix the thirst problem, I had a glass of McMenamins’ very own Stephen Weizen beer, brewed right upstairs in their Crystal Brewery. According to the brewer:

“ The part that makes this ale so unique is the yeast. The strain used is called Weihenstephan (one of the oldest yeast strains in the world). It produces flavors that include spicy clove and fresh banana. This weizen has medium body but suspended yeast may increase the perception of body. The texture of wheat imparts the sensation of a fluffy, creamy fullness that may progress to a light, spritzy finish aided by high carbonation. This style is always effervescent and always satisfying.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.5% ABV • 28 IBU
 
To satisfy the munchies, I had wanted just a pretzel with mustard, but they only served their freshly-baked pretzel sticks with housemade cheddar-beer fondue. Oh well, if you gotta eat yummy melted cheese, you gotta eat it!

The pretzel sticks were really good, but too much to eat all at once, so I wrapped up a few to enjoy at home.
 
 
Continuing eastward, I crossed the Wil­lam­ette River on the Burnside Bridge and entered the Central Eastside. Seven blocks later I found my next rest stop at the Burnside Brewing Company, seated at an umbrella-shaded picnic table.

The waitress gave me a sample of their gold-medal-winning Sweet Heat, de­scribed as “A wheat ale with an addition of 200 pounds of apricot puree, then dry-hopped with imported Jamaican Scotch bonnet peppers.” It was definitely dif­fer­ent ... and definitely not what I’m look­ing for in a beer!
 
After pondering their other offerings, I chose their Couch Select Lager. Couch (rhymes with pooch, and not the piece of fur­ni­ture in your living room!) Street is on the north side of the brewery, and was named in honor of one of the founders of Portland, John H. Couch. According to the brewer:

“ Helles-style lager, brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnang hops and fermented with the Bohemian lager yeast strain. Cold fermentation produces a nice crispy snap to a beau­ti­ful malt flavor and subtle hop presence. Unlike other Burnside beers, this one is filtered — our new high-tech filter allows us to polish up this traditional style to create a bright lager with a crisp finish.” Meas­ure­ments: 5% ABV • 18.5 IBU

It was pretty good ... I’ll have to see if I can find it in a grocery store. I didn’t have anything to eat here because I didn’t want to spoil the awesome supper I was going to be having in just a couple of hours at my final stop....
 
 
EastBurn, on the southeast corner of SE 18th Avenue, where I stopped for a well-earned supper after the last leg of my 12½-​mile walk along Burnside Street between Portland’s western and eastern city limits.
 
In the patio at EastBurn, there is an un­u­su­al water fountain made from some re­pur­posed beer taps, along with changing backlight colors. Click on the photo on the right to see a larger version, which sequences through all the colors.
 
Their Beef Wellington was the whole reason I stopped at EastBurn for supper, rather than some other restaurant on Burnside, or elsewhere. This dish is not on their menu as of this writing, more than six months after my visit, but on my lucky day in September 2015 it was de­scribed as: coulotte steak, bacon, blue cheese, broccolini, shiitake mushrooms, veal demi.
 
Because this was the fourth stop on my mini pub crawl, I was by this time kinda beered-out. So I decided to order a dis­count­ed happy-​hour cocktail instead, which is a very unusual choice for me. Named ‘Sunset Sour’, it consisted of Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Aperol, lemon (juice and slice, apparently), simple syrup, and a large ice cube.

Unfortunately, this cocktail is not on their menu anymore either. But I can still enjoy something similar because, inspired by how delicious it was, I’ve been making my own version at home every since!
 
This was the first and only time I’ve had Beef Wellington in my more than half a century on this planet. It was truly de­light­ful! I hope they have it on their menu again sometime, even though $20 seems kinda spendy for such a small portion. Seeing that I am a gourmet chef wannabe, I am planning on trying to make it at home in the not-too-distant future. You can be sure I’ll be writing an article about my success or failure!
 
 
Last month I announced — in the article Breweries and Pubs in Port­land and Beyond — that I was launching a new Oregon Pub Crawl (All Years) al­bum, which gathers into a single location all of the photos I have taken of food, drink or facilities at any brewery, pub or res­tau­rant in Oregon during any year.

Since then, I have been processing more such pictures from my huge backlog of 2015 photos, as well as taking new pub photos in 2016. There are now enough of these images to warrant their own separate annual albums.

Therefore, today I am launching the Oregon Pub Crawl 2015 and Oregon Pub Crawl 2016 albums. Of course, all of the photos in these two albums will automatically appear in Oregon Pub Crawl (All Years) as well.

Neither of these new albums is complete, because I still have un­proc­essed photos from both 2015 and 2016 which were taken in Oregon pubs and restaurants. Over the coming weeks these additional pictures will slowly but surely make their way into these two albums.
For a list of all the articles and photo albums resulting from my exploration of Burnside Street, see Portland Burnside Adventure Wrap-Up.
For more tales about other locations, see My McMenamins Passport Adventure.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 539
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 539
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