McMenamins Wilsonville on St. Patrick’s Day
Thursday 27 April 2017 — Category: Dining Out
A month or so ago I wrote about my two 2016 visits to the McMenamins Old Church and Pub, located in the southern Portland metro area city of Wilsonville — see the articles McMenamins Wilsonville on Swiss National Day and McMenamins Wilsonville Fifth Birthday Bash for all the details.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2017 I returned to celebrate that Irish holiday with good food, good drink and good music. A number of bands were performing that day, but the only one that seemed to suit my musical tastes was a local bluegrass group called The Hillwilliams. So I timed my arrival to coincide with the start of their performance at 3:00 PM — which is also the start of McMenamins’ happy hour ... great timing!
The Hillwilliams were performing outside on the covered back patio of the main restaurant building, shown in the first photo to the right. The quite cold and rainy March day was not very conducive to outdoor seating and performing, but we all made the best of what Mother Nature dealt us that day. Even if there was only one wall instead of four, at least there was a roof over our heads!
From what I have been able to ascertain, The Hillwilliams are led and anchored by mandolin player Rich Landar. The other members of the band seem to vary according to availability or some other criteria. The impression I had that day was that some of the musicians were not regular members. Nevertheless, they played together very cohesively, which you will see for yourself shortly.
As I am sure you can imagine, the outdoor patio seating was pretty empty on a damp and frigid weekday afternoon. But this worked in my favor, as I thrive on cold weather and I was able to get a table with a great view only 12 or 15 feet from the band. I almost felt like they were performing just for me even though there were a few other patrons.
By laying my photo backpack down on the table and using it as a makeshift tripod, I was able to record shake-free videos of most of the pieces they performed — 20 videos in all! I have narrowed them down to the best seven, and made them available in a YouTube playlist for your viewing pleasure. Here is one of the best clips:
The drinking dessert was a Hot Apple Pear cocktail, which consisted of Edgefield Pear Brandy, Tuaca, and hot apple cider.
The eating dessert was a Frank’s Apple-Rum Bundt Cake, which consisted of apple bundt cake with a Frank Rum / raisin sauce and whipped cream.
The cake was awesome, while the drink was OK, but not great, and I probably would not order that again. But the cake I sure would!
In the above photo, notice my McMenamins Passport in its leather cover to the left of the cake. In it I received a special just-for-fun St. Patrick’s Day stamp on the Bragging Rights page.
The guitarist was very friendly and came to talk to me during their break. He asked if we had met before and I told him I didn’t think so. Then he told me that I looked like Dan Fogelberg. I’m not sure what he was referring to — maybe something along the line of this single cover. Still, it was an interesting and unusual encounter.
He also asked if I had any requests. I told him no, but after a few minutes I thought of one of my favorite bluegrass songs. I told him what it was, and near the end of their second set I was quite pleased when they sang I’ll Fly Away.
The leader of the group, Rich Landar, noticed that I was videoing during their concert. After they were done playing, he asked me to put some of the videos on Facebook. Since I don’t do social networking, I sent him a thumb drive of all 20 videos. As I mentioned above, I have narrowed them down to the best seven, and made them available in a YouTube playlist.
During the two hours I was there, I had three drinks, stew and dessert. I think that qualifies for a mini pub crawl — all without even leaving my seat! Before I drove back home I went into the restaurant to use the men’s room. And at that very moment, a kilted bagpiper was marching through the restaurant doing his stuff. I was able to quickly switch on my camera and capture this sort video:
There were a number of firsts for me this day. It was:
For a look at last year’s visits to this location, see the McMenamins Wilsonville 2016 album. To find out what I did last year on this day, see the article A Three-Sausage Portland St. Patrick’s Day. In closing, I will repeat what my high school biology teacher taught us students to say: Éirinn go Brách!