Brian's Photo Blog — Article 709
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A McMenamins St. Francis Mini Pub Crawl
Tuesday 17 April 2018   —   Category: Dining Out
As I recounted in my last article, in May 2017 I continued my McMenamins Pass­port adventure by driving 125 miles over the Cascades from Albany to Bend so I could explore their two acre Old St. Francis School property inside and out, and collect the four stamps I needed to complete that page in my McMenamins Passport.

After arriving at 9:30 and taking pictures around the property for more than half an hour, I decided that my first stop for food and drink should be the Broom Closet Bar, which closed at 11:00, and didn’t open again until 3:00 in the af­ter­noon. By that time I hoped to already be on my way back home.

The only problem was actually getting there. The Broom Closet Bar is located on the top floor of the Art House, one of the four hotel room buildings. To my dismay I discovered that the doors were locked and I needed a guest key to enter. Fortunately, after I hung around one of the doors for a little while, I was able to get in as a housekeeper was coming out.

The previous month I had been delighted by hidden rooms in the new Grand Lodge attic addition. So I was happy to discover that the two new hotel buildings together have five hidden rooms, one of which is the Broom Closet.

When I arrived on the third floor, the hidden Broom Closet Bar was not very hidden. The regular-​looking door from the hallway into the broom closet was open, and the hidden panel door from the broom closet to the Broom Closet was open as well. So much for mystery and adventure!
I was surprised to find that I was the only customer — it was just me and the bartender.

I had had an early breakfast at home before leaving and lunch time was ap­proach­ing, so for Elevenses I decided to try my first-​ever Bloody Mary.
This was a strange choice because I’m more of a beer drinker than a cocktail drinker. In addition, I don’t particularly like tomato juice. But I was hoping that the vodka and other in­gre­di­ents would mask that flavor.

No such luck ... it tasted strongly of tomato juice. Also, I didn’t care for the salt on the glass rim. Once in a lifetime is enough for me, so I won’t be having a Bloody Mary again.

Along with the drink I got the Bar’s stamp in my Passport. It was not re­quired but just for fun, because the Broom Closet was still fairly new. In subsequent Passports this stamp is nec­es­sary in order to finish the Old St. Francis page.
My Bloody Mary was pretty modest compared to the one that McMenamins Zeus Café was offering on the same day:

“ Large Marge’s Bloody Mary — there is nothing ‘pee wee’ about this Bloody Mary ... pickled egg, Nashville Hot Chicken and waffle break­fast slider, house red hot, breakfast sausage, celery, pickled veggies, and bacon piled atop a mason jar sized double Bloody Mary, $25. ”

Neither this cocktail nor its price have anything to do with modesty!
The Broom Closet Bar is basically ‘L’ shaped. This is the view I had down the long side of the ‘L’ from the table next to the only window in the bar (besides the skylights).

It was only after I left the Broom Closet that I realized it is open only for hotel guests in the morning, and for the public in the afternoon and evening. I wasnt’t even supposed to be there!
Because I had “found” this bar and the other two hidden rooms in the building (one of which is pictured to the right), I received a just for fun Explore Secret Rooms & Hallways stamp on the Bragging Rights page of my Passport.

I was supposed to have found the two secret rooms in the Education Building as well, but I could not access them due to my lack of a hotel guest key.
For lunch I headed to the Old St. Francis Pub, the main restaurant on the property. As you can see from the photo to the right, the main dining room consists of a large raised section (where I was seated), surrounded on three sides by floor-​level tables and booths.

In addition, there is a much smaller din­ing room called the “Smoke Room,” a separate bar, and outdoor patio seating at the front of the building and on both sides.

Because it was Oregon Wine Month I decided to have a glass of their Edgefield Chardonnay (sorry, I don’t know which one) with my lunch in­stead of a beer as I normally do.

You probably will not be suprised to find out that there’s a stamp for that! Oh, and the wine was good too.

In addition, I got the Passport stamp for the restaurant, which, when com­bined with the stamp I got for the hotel, gave me two of the four re­quired stamps for the Old St. Francis School Passport page.
Because I was going to be eating and drinking at other venues on the property as the afternoon progressed, I did not want a huge meal. So from the Starters section of the menu I chose grilled po­len­ta, covered with a sauce that featured Edgefield White Rabbit herb butter, Par­me­san cheese and sautéed mushrooms.

It was not very photogenic but it sure was delicious! My notes from that day read: “This dish was killer! The awe­some mushroom sauce seemed similar to an Alfredo. I must make this at home!”
The next stop on my Old St. Francis School mini pub crawl was the Fireside Bar. Even though it is not overly big, it does have two sections. On one side is the tiny bar and huge fireplace that gives the venue its name.

On the other side of the room are two shuffleboard tables that occupy nearly the entire length of the room, along with additional seating. As is often the case, I chose a table by a window so I could have better light for my photography.
Another venue, another Passport stamp. Three down and only one to go!
To help me decide which beer I should order a whole pint of, I tried samples of a few beers, one of which was Red Riser IRA. According to the brewer:

“To celebrate the changing of seasons, McMenamins brewers have handcrafted a delightful India Red Ale. At the time of year when sun and rain are in the forecast in equal quantity, Red Riser IRA peeks over the mountaintops to bring warmth and remind us that summer is just around the corner. Made from the finest Pilsner and Crystal malts, this red giant is generously hopped late in the boil with a heavenly blend of aromatic varieties. The glorious garnet hue illuminates the way to a won­der­ful­ly complex beer. The tropical, juicy hop notes hit the nose in a prophetic burst of awareness that something wonderful is to follow. And it does in fruity, citrusy hop flavor. Enjoy this sea­son­al while you wait for the summer sun to rise again.” Meas­ure­ments: 6.5% ABV • 45 IBU

My notes from that day read: “It was OK, not too hoppy, but it was the least favorite of the three samples I tried, so I decided not to order a pint. For a red ale, I don’t think you can do better than Laurelwood Free Range Red or Lompoc Proletariat Red.”
Once I finished the samples and evaluated my options, I ended up with a pint of Wildflower Wheat. According to the brewer:

“This American Wheat ale has all the basics for a great tasting wheat beer. Clean crisp body and a mellow hop flavor with a touch of malt chewiness. To put a unique twist on this beer we added wild chamomile flowers to enhance the flowery ar­o­mat­ics and herbal flavor. This enhances the overall mellow sen­sa­tion that a wheat beer can be about. A wonderful combination to a sipping wheat beer!” Meas­ure­ments: 5.0% ABV • 23 IBU

My notes from that day read: “This was pretty good, with a nice floral flavor, as the description said. It was definitely my first chamomile beer! I would get it again.”

Because there was nothing that interested me on the tap list at my next stop, I ordered a pint of the third sample to take with me, which I will tell you about shortly.

O’Kanes is a fairly small bar in a ren­o­vat­ed garage that boasts antique wooden door and stained glass. It has way more seating on its extensive patio than it does inside.

I made sure to get the O’Kanes Passport stamp, which was the last one I needed to complete the Old St. Francis School page. After my meal I would return to the hotel front desk to claim my prize.
If you have been to McMenamins very much at all, you know that they love various types of wood burning con­trap­tions, both inside and outside, which are quite popular with the customers.
It wasn’t very crowded so I was able to snag a table near a fire pit, at which I sat down with the beer I had brought with me from the Fireside Bar: a pint of Scot’s Harp Scottish Export 80. According to the brewer:

“This Scottish-style session ale maintains a malt complex all its own. Semi-sweet tones meld with notes of baked bread. The hops add just the right balance to the overall performance. A dry finish and a low hop bitterness come through at the end of this melodious quaff. This is definitely an easy-drinking beer for 80 shillings!”Meas­ure­ments: 5.2% ABV • 19 IBU

My notes from that day read: “This was pretty good, I suppose I would get it again. This beer went great with the food!” Speak­ing of food ...
To accompany the beer I ordered stuffed bacon wrapped jalapeños from the Start­ers section of the menu. I had never eat­en these popular poppers, nor even heard of them before. According to the menu, the dish consisted of “three jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.”

My notes from that day read: “pretty darn killer ... might be even better with goat cheese. I need to try making this at home!”
I popped into the Old St. Francis School Theater Bar just to get a picture of the last of the five venues for eating and drinking on the property, although I did neither there.
At the McMenamins locations where they let you choose a prize there is very often not much choice ... and it gets har­der the more prizes you have already collected on your Passport adventure. Even though I generally do not wear t-shirts without a pocket, the best choice seemed to be this shirt.
Before I left I bought a can of Alienator IPA to try at home. According to the brewer: “This beer is sure to make a believer out of any skeptic! Orbiting above the Alienator IPA are trop­i­cal, fruity aromas provided by a thorough dry-hopping using Mosaic and Citra hops. This tasty recipe yielded a fascinating orange hue complete with luminous hop flavor. Alienator’s lush aroma and distinct hop character is perfect for those who prefer their ales strong, hoppy and a little out-​of-​this-​world. As the second in our Limited-​Edition IPA Series — and to com­mem­o­rate the upcoming UFO Festival in McMinnville in May — we’re releasing cans of our Alienator IPA. Look for this alien-labeled 2017 version in 16-ounce cans to go. Each is $3.75, or get a four-pack for $14 — before they’re abducted.” Meas­ure­ments: 6.5% ABV • 45 IBU

My notes from that day read: “It was OK ... I’ve had IPAs that were hoppier, so this wasn’t too bad. But I definitely like their Sunflower IPA better, if I’m going to go the IPA direction. In the end, I bought it for the can and not the beer, so I’m content!”
That brings us to the end of my five-hour mini pub crawl at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. At the four venues I visited I took a total of 93 pictures. The best 56 can be viewed in the new McMenamins St. Francis Pub Crawl 2017 album.

For the rest of the photos I took at Old St. Francis School, see the McMenamins St. Francis Exteriors 2017 and McMenamins St. Francis Interiors 2017 albums.
For more tales about other locations, see My McMenamins Passport Adventure.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 709
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