Sometimes a press release stands out from the crowd. This is one of those:
Bar owner Kelly Stewart and publican Jim Parker are teaming to bring Portland its first “all Belgian, all the time” bistro and bar.
The Belgian Embassy is slated to open in mid-November at 938 N. Cook Ave., in the big pink house that now houses Stewart’s PurpleTooth Lounge.
“I love PurpleTooth,” Stewart says, “But this location, this house, really cries out for something unique. The Belgian Embassy will be like nothing Portland has never seen.”
All beers at the Belgian Embassy will be Belgian-brewed or Belgian inspired and the food will come from classic Belgian recipes such as mussels, beef carbonnade and Belgium’s famed pomme frites. “We’re going to go all out, cutting our own frites and doing the traditional two-stage frying,” says Parker. “We’re making every effort to make this as authentic a Belgian experience as we can.”
Parker has been serving Belgian beers since 1992 when he opened the Mountain Tap Tavern in Fort Collins, Colo. He was also one of the founders of Portland’s Oaks Bottom Public House and the recently opened Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub, where three of the pub’s 18 tap handles are devoted to Belgian styles.
“I’ve always said Portland has some of the most sophisticated and adventurous beer drinkers in the country and we are one of the top markets for Belgian-style beers,” says Parker, who will split his time between the Green Dragon and the Belgian Embassy. “Lots of places dabble in Belgians, but up til now, no one has gone all Belgian, all the time.”
Parker and Stewart met when Stewart was scouting locations for PurpleTooth. When she first showed him the 1910 house on the corner of Mississippi and Cook, “my first thought was, ‘This would make a killer Belgian bar.’” Parker says. He inspired Stewart to feature shareable large-format Belgian beers in the upstairs bar of PurpleTooth. That touch was one of the lounge’s biggest hits and when Stewart and local beer writer Lisa Morrison hosted a women’s-only Belgian beer tasting in late September, she developed a deeper respect for Belgian beers and their compatibility with food.
“I’ve always been more of a wine person,” says Stewart, who named PurpleTooth for the effect red wine has on a drinker’s teeth. “But I realized that beers, especially Belgians, complement food rather than competing with it.”
The Belgian Embassy will feature nightly prix fixe multi-course meals, pairing each curse with a different Belgian beer. Or, patrons can order from an ala carte menu and choose their own pairings. The bistro/bar will start with four beers on tap and those selections will always be rotating, taking advantage of the growing number of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers available in the market. The upstairs bar will also feature daily flights of up to four beers, each paired with an appropriate cheese or chocolate and daily happy hours featuring Belgian beer and food specials. There will also be a full bar.
The Belgian Embassy will be open Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight and Sundays 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. A Sunday brunch is in the works. The phone number is 503-517-9931.