Deschutes in the Pearl

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock (or not in Portland, I guess), you know that Deschutes opened their highly anticipated brewery and pub in the Pearl last week. Not wanting to go right on opening weekend, the boyfriend and I headed over on Tuesday evening after some shopping downtown and were greeted with a thriving crowd. We enjoyed some (now even more) locally brewed libations while waiting for our Olive Garden-esque pager to go off, signaling a vacated table, just for us. The place is HUGE, and by HUGE I mean really, really, really big. The indoor décor feels very Scottish with tartan carpets and lots of wood, and though the area is very open and tall, it doesn’t overwhelm due to the placement of separators (wainscoting, really) cordoning off sections of the floor. We were signaled after 25 of our expected 45-minute wait and were ushered to a table near the middle of the restaurant. We made sure the beer kept coming (enjoying new Portland-only brews as well as some old favorites) and ordered some food.

This is where the story gets interesting, kids – I had been reading all these reviews that there is some really good food at Deschutes – if so, I didn’t get much of it. I wanted to try the Elk Burger (being a game and a burger fan – not much there to go wrong), but instead went with the Cuban sandwich with a salad. The boyfriend ordered the fish and chips. The food was out incredibly quickly (though brought out by a different server, a pet peeve of mine, and without our requested sides), but when I bit into my Cuban, I was left wanting. It was okay, but it wasn’t really that good – the different meat tastes got lost in the saltiness of the corned beef, and the pepper tasted, well, from a tin. The bottom bread was soaked through with the moisture from the pepper, whereas the top slice was nicely browned and crispy. The salad was okay – just standard spring mix with a side of bleu cheese dressing (large hunks of actual bleu cheese were appreciated).

As we often do, the boyfriend and I stopped at our halfway points and swapped plates. Biting into the fish was a lovely crispy experience, but it seemed like the coating wasn’t “traditional” fish and chip coating and something more like Japanese panko. While it does provide a good crust, it just isn’t “fish and chips” to me without a proper wet coat before frying. It also seemed like maybe both the fries and the fish were fried at a slightly lower than standard tempurature, as the fries had taken on a lot of oil, and the fish was slightly flatish on one side and greasy on the bottom. The tartar sauce served was tasty, but there was no vinegar brought out (and we forgot to ask). The fries were the one saving grace – even though they were on the greasy side, they must fry them in something other than the standard cheapo soybean oil, because the flavor was fantastic. We eat our fries with mayonnaise, and these went perfectly together. They tasted like real potatoes (not re-formed starch), and we ate every single one of them.

All in all, go to Deschutes for the beer, and continue testing the food. It could have been an off night, but I checked with 3 others who visited the new pub within the last week who had the same experience. I’ll go back, of course, and try the elk burger (especially if the fries are that good consistently), and beer beer beer, the fantastic beer. Lovely glorious beer.


Atmosphere: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 5/10 (the fries upped the average a good 1.5 points)
Did I mention the beer?: 10/10

Deschutes Portland Pub and Brewery

210 NW 11th Avenue
(503) 296-4906

7 Comments so far

  1. zcline on May 9th, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

    I echo a lot of your sentiments. I tried to go two weeks ago, opening weekend I suppose, and it was entirely too mobbed. Went to Rogue, who’s beers I prefer anyway, and it also has less of a fancy Pearl district attitude anyway. Ended up going this past sunday and there was STILL a wait, although it was only a few minutes. Sat next to a couple with a screaming baby, not Deschutes fault certainly, but why are you taking your kid to a pub? Oh wait, everyplace in Portland is a pub. At any rate, I did enjoy the Belgian style ale, and the Bitter Bachelor was really very tasty. I had the braised beef, and found it rather dry and boring. Again, I prefer Rogue. That said, this place is gonna make a shitton of money.

  2. biscottie on May 10th, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    I’ve walked by a few times in the last week and it was packed, but last nite, my girlfriend and I decided to check it out – hey, I love their beer!! We waited for about 20 min and then got a menu while we waited. Now, I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks on a meal, but $11 for a pub cheeseburger seemed significantly overpriced. Anyways, with that and the wait being longer than we thought, we got sushi instead. If we find out they have the “Best Burger in Portland”, we may consider giving it a try. Until then, I’ll drink my Deschutes somewhere else and go to Stanich’s for a good burger at half the price.

  3. chris on May 10th, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

    @zcline: If you went 2 weeks ago then you went on April 25, which was the soft opening. A full week before the official opening. Did you goto Rogue on opening weekend? Oh wait… thats right, it used to be PortlandBrewing and they just changed the beers out. So by your statement of "Pearl district attitude" are you saying the Deschutes brewpub exudes this as well?

    @biscottie: Is $11 really alot for a cheeseburger? Some seem to think it is acceptable

    Thanks for the review clevergirl, I haven’t been to the Deschutes brewpub in Portland yet, only to the Bend location. I like to give these places at least a month after opening before visiting them. Gives them a little more breathing room to figure things out and to determine my long term relationship with the establishment.

    As mentioned, the close location to the theater is sure to make the brewpub a success.

  4. bubbie9 on May 10th, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

    um..hello? $11 for a burger at a "brew pub"??? wildwood charges the same, but they’re upscale. i think the fact that it’s in the pearl makes them think it’s "okay" to charge that much for a burger. i’d rather get a nob hill burger instead.

  5. chris on May 11th, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    @bubbie9: Your logic might work, except that they charge the same prices in Bend as well. So, no pearlie gouging going on.

    I’m not defending an $11 burger from Deschutes btw. I’ve been to Bond St in Bend and it was average food.

    It’s all about the beer.

  6. mizj on May 15th, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Yeah, but What About The Beer?

  7. like2bike on May 21st, 2008 @ 9:41 pm

    Don’t get the cuban!! Hopefully this was the worst item on the menu. The beer however made up for it.

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