Fine Dining, NW Style
Once you have a kid, selecting a place to eat requires factoring in considerations other than quality, cost, and distance. Locating kid-friendly restaurants becomes a constant, background, priority. For those of us who enjoy beer and brewpubs, this search demands even greater focus. One approaches a new prospect with both hope and trepidation.
Yesterday I took MBW and the HA to investigate such a place, meeting up with friends for lunch at Level. Level is a brewpub in Northeast Portland, in an industrial area near the Columbia River Slough and the airport (you know, PDX, famed for travelers taking pictures of their feet on the concourse carpet. For some unfathomable reason.)
The decor spoke to me. I’m not much of a video game player, but I do possess some of the nostalgia for retro-gaming that infects most Gen-Xers. The place doesn’t serve food, but immediately outside are a pair of food carts. This is in Portland, afterall. Food cart central. One is a hamburger joint, the other Mexican. We had Mexican. The menu is lengthy enough that it will require numerous return visits to get through it all. The hamburger cart might have to wait. (Though I suppose I might get a burger craving. Who doesn’t? I’m starting to get a hankering right now, just thinking about it. Maybe a 1/3 pounder, cooked just short of medium. With bacon and blue cheese. Some caramelized onions. A thick slice of tomato. Jalapeño mustard on the bun, maybe a few dashes of that green tabasco sauce.)
A large, heated pavilion opens off the brewhouse/taproom. It is filled with long, communal tables. It is dog-friendly, and — yes — kid-friendly. A section in the corner hosts a selection of toys. And a selection of children as well. So, relief. Another one found.
“But”, you ask (or, you ought to) “how was the beer?” Up to snuff, I’d say. In an area replete with beer riches, even average is pretty good. IPAs are what we drink here. It is hard to stand out from the crowd. Bridgeport brews probably the baseline Portland IPA. Everyone else is shooting for somewhere above that line. Breakside and Gigantic exceed the mark. Others, however, land somewhere in the vicinity, hitting below as often as above. Level’s IPAs were acceptable. I did like their Northeast style IPA, a hazy, mellow beer. The Belgian IPA was an intriguing concept. But I don’t anticipate Belgians to exhibit a pronounced hop profile and I don’t expect IPAs to offer that sweet, Belgian yeast flavor. It didn’t work for me. The “Winter Warmer” (which I guess is a Strong Ale) was good, and the Barleywine was serviceable. To answer your question, dear reader, the beer rewarded the trip and is worth return journeys.
Food, beer, and something to occupy the HA for the duration. Success.