Scott Dolich on “Bent Brick”

From Scott Dolich:

“Scott Dolich remembers the moment he realized the charming little brick building at 1639 NW Marshall Street would be an ideal place for a tavern.

“I passed by the building every night on my way home.  It was a shoe store.  Every Friday in the summertime, the owners would open the garage doors and throw a party.  You could see they had a keg or two. It was very inviting.  The building was meant to be a Tavern.”

The building, half of which dates back to 1918, has been many things over the last century – a residence, a high-end garage, and most recently the home for Oddball Shoes, to name a few. Now one of Slabtown’s most unique and iconic buildings will be home to The Bent Brick Tavern.

Stripped Down, Bare Brick

The Bent Brick promises to be a neighborhood meeting place, a daily stop off, and a destination for anyone who, in the words of Anna Josephson, The Bent Brick’s general manager, “wants a good drink, a good bite to eat, and good conversation without going broke.” As Josephson adds, “The Bent Brick will be extremely approachable. The price point, the atmosphere, the drinks…everything will reflect that. After all, we’re talking about a tavern.”

Beyond the building’s iconic look and feel, Dolich was drawn to the history of the neighborhood.  “In many ways, the Slabtown neighborhood is a place in time. It’s always been an industrial area. When the industry was lumber, people came here for the huge slabs of wood that were left behind when large timber was milled.  People used them to heat their homes. It was a resourceful way of being, and The Bent Brick is operating from a similar place.”

“I like the utilitarian history of the area. Within that, there’s also a strong sense of community and connection. A good local tavern aligns with this same ideal. It should be a familiar place where people can gather, have a good time and feel at home.”

From Neighborhood to Table

The Bent Brick intends to honor this creative pragmatism in a number of ways, beginning with a concise menu that follows our seasons and focuses on local suppliers.

While Dolich’s first restaurant, Park Kitchen, remains on the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, The Bent Brick will extend the philosophy of buying local to the entire restaurant. This includes everything from the protein and vegetable selections to what’s in dry storage and even behind the bar. “Of course we’re thinking about sustainability.  More importantly, we’re thinking about our community.  Our suppliers are an integral part of our community and who we are.  The more we’re able to support them, the more they can support us.  We’re not just talking about tomatoes and pigs.  I want every product in the restaurant to be sourced as close to our back door as possible.  It will mean that we won’t have capers, balsamic vinegar, cognac or great wines from Burgundy.  But we can make our own version of capers and our own vinegars.  We can stock a huge selection of whiskey and Rye and we’ll pour only the local wines that best reflect our place.  I’m proud of that.”

“You will see more house-made ingredients on the bar list than you will in other places,” says Adam Robinson, who will be heading up the Bent Brick’s liquor and spirits program. “With so many local boutique and artisan spirits available in the region, we want to source our spirits, liquors and wines as close to home as possible. In practical terms, this means that brand loyalists looking for an Absolute martini or a Grey Goose and cranberry may need a helpful suggestion from the Bent Brick’s bar and wait staff  the first time they pore over the drink menu. We’ll be happy to point them to a different bend on their favorite drink.”

We’ll get our inspiration from classic cocktails but we will execute them using what we can source locally.” Robinson says. “You may not be able to get a Negroni – and Negroni drinkers like their Negronis – but we’ll have a fantastic house drink made with local, regional and domestic spirits that will fit the flavor profile. We’re looking forward to this challenge.”

To support their efforts, The Bent Brick’s management staff will continue to build relationships with local and regional vendors in their ongoing attempt to source products within the closest reach possible. Still, as Chef William Preisch points out, the primary focus will point back to the quality of the experience for their guests.

“The food will simply and directly reflect where we are now,” says Preisch.   “Sure, we need to take pride in our products and everything we do with them but we’re not trying to make a big deal about how we’re doing anything. The preparation and technique should be an afterthought for our guests. We want people to come in, have a great time, and come back with their friends. Our process may attract some interest, but that’s not the point. What happens behind the scenes is our way of challenging ourselves. Bottom line…we want to make something delicious that people will enjoy.”

David Padberg will continue as acting sous of Park Kitchen. To those who are asking the question, no burgers.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. glainie says

    Leave it to Portland to take a simple concept like a neighborhood tavern, and over-complicate it with locavore dogma. I’ve always loved that little building, and I agree, it would make a great watering hole, but Jeeeez, does it also have to be a shrine to sustainability?? I’m craving a Negroni and a burger as we speak!

  2. pastamaven says

    No kidding. Here’s a new concept for Portland. Someone should re-open The Lutz Tavern as….The Lutz Tavern!

  3. Kevin says

    “The Bent Brick will be extremely approachable. The price point, the atmosphere, the drinks…everything will reflect that.”

    ““With so many local boutique and artisan spirits available in the region, we want to source our spirits, liquors and wines as close to home as possible. In practical terms, this means that brand loyalists looking for an Absolute martini or a Grey Goose and cranberry may need a helpful suggestion from the Bent Brick’s bar and wait staff the first time they pore over the drink menu. We’ll be happy to point them to a different bend on their favorite drink.”

    Well, there goes the price point, the atmosphere AND the drinks. And maybe I’m the only one, but if I want a “helpful suggestion” from a bartender, I’ll ask for it.

    How far is this going to go? No screwdrivers because they don’t grow their own heritage oranges under the sustainable freeway overpass? No rum-and-Cokes because kola nuts aren’t forageable in Forest Park?

  4. DinahDavis says

    A tavern without a burger? Seriously?

    Tsk. Sounds like a typical Park Kitchen attitude. Sorry, I never liked Park Kitchen. We were treated with such disdain when we went there, and the food wasn’t even particularly good. What is it with restaurants that emphatically cultivate snottiness?

  5. JandJ says

    Umm, no thanks. Another locavore-ism concept gone nutso. Plenty enough of that around this town as it is, but this one seems particularly over the top — right out of the TV series Portlandia.

  6. hans brix says

    wow, for once i agree with the comments here. This sounds like a poor rehash of a Portlandia skit — a sustainable tavern? Please. i’ll go around the corner to Yur’s.

  7. culinarykitten says

    i say give them a shot. complaints about local food and spirits? really? my hope is that eating and drinking locally sourced things is not a fleeting trend, as some have implied, but rather represents a shift in the choices we make regarding how we nourish ourselves..and yes, portland is a carcicature of itself for many reasons (and so annoying, i know!), but that doesn’t mean there is anything intrinsically wrong with being locally focused – duh. my only real hesitancy is around the fact that park kitchen has been nothing to write home about for quite awhile now. i also can’t help thinking that this is a ‘there goes the neighborhood’ moment of sorts.

    • Pam says

      I agree with you, C.K. It’s a noble aspiration – let’s wait and see if it actually works, or comes off as pretentious.

    • JandJ says

      This is in danger of getting into a debate over “eating local”, however, I for one would always prefer local if one can get equal or better quality by doing so. However, limiting yourself to eating/drinking local only for the sake of doing so means making major compromises in quality (start with spirits for example) and then it just gets ridiculous. I’d prefer consuming the best of everything… usually a mix of local and non-local products. Nothing wrong with enjoying the bounty the Northwest offers, but there’s so much more available out there that you simply can’t find here. I choose not to limit myself to that extent, and prefer to get my single malts from Scotland, for example, if that’s OK. This bar concept just sounds over the top IMHO.

    • Katrus says

      Ha! The morning staples in our house are bananas for the kids and coffee for the adults. We would not last long under this level of scrutiny.

  8. buck says

    Wow, really? What’s wrong with a guy who has been a long-time advocate of the local farmers markets trying to do a sustainable, locally-based tavern? There’s still beer, booze and (hopefully) good food to be had at the establishment. These guys have all been around successful places, and know a thing or two about how to run a good bar. If it isn’t any good, it isn’t any good, but I really don’t get the negativity because they are going to focus on locally produced beer, wine and spirits. Might be taking it a little far if there isn’t any lemon or lime to garnish a drink with, but we don’t know that yet. Seems to me there may be plenty of time to bitch after we see the execution.

  9. Andrea says

    I think that he could have this whole concept, have a great bar, and just not talk about it so much and have people be surprised by how sustainable and local and whatnot it is once they’re in there. It’s being oversold a bit with all the talking about it.
    But, c’mon, have a burger on the menu. Why not? There’s plenty of local cows and buns and lettuce, and you can even make your own condiments. Nothing says faux-tavern instead of tavern like refusing to have a burger on the menu. Maybe after a few months of lackluster sales it will show up on the menu. As someone in the neighborhood, I’ll be checking and hoping for that!

    • CO says

      jesus jumped up christ….NOT EVERY DAMN PLACE HAS TO HAVE A BURGER!! It would be great if PDX could stop being a parody of itself.

      fwiw, this comment thread is eerily similar to the Lucier comments back before it opened. obviously no one put their pitchforks and torches away….

      • glainie says

        “It would be great if PDX could stop being a parody of itself”

        Ahem…Call me crazy, but that would seem to be the consensus of this thread. Someone on here eluded to Portlandia; spot on if you ask me.

        • themick says

          “pitchfork and torch”, now there’s a great name for a local! Lucier’s downfall was that they never had a burger on their menu. Be warned bent brick! (and the fact that there’s no local farmer raising foam).

          I fear that after years and years of “local and sustainable” being shouted from the rooftops, it’s ubiquity now leads to ridicule and disdain. Even I have relaxed my own rules these days…..when I go out he food doesn’t have to be local, just the restaurant…..unless of course, if I am away!

          • elwood says

            Following the usual semantic pattern of pubs it’d have to be “The Torch and Pitchfork.” But, yes, a great pub name. Imagine the T-shirts!

      • Andrea says

        This is why:“The Bent Brick will be extremely approachable. The price point, the atmosphere, the drinks…everything will reflect that. After all, we’re talking about a tavern.”

        One sentence about how approachable it will be, and how it’s a tavern, and then a bunch of ballyhoo about how there won’t be a bunch of things that people love, like capers or Negroni or whatnot. That’s fine with me, I’ve never had much of a hankering for capers when at my local tavern, but by saying you won’t have a burger you’re making a statement about what type of establishment you are going to open – and that statement is pretty opposite from the opening sentence of just being a neighborhood tavern. People like burgers. I like burgers. I might not want one every time I go to a place, but I like to know it’s a possibility. It’s a comforting option. No, not every place has to have a burger. But usually it’s not considered crazy to think that a tavern would have a burger.

  10. PDX2CDG says

    Park Kitchen has been off the radar for awhile…….would like to see them get back to where they were 5-6 years ago before they start another venture. The interview in The O with Gabrielle Hamilton echos some of the sentiments posted. Yawn………..

  11. michelle says

    The amount of vitriol spewed towards a place that hasn’t even opened towards a talented chef and an all around nice guy(not to mention his staff) blows my freaking mind.

    As for the anti-buying delicious product that happens to be available locally, I wonder, is the preference getting everything dropped off by a sysco/fsa truck?

    To all you experts, here’s the definition of a tavern ” an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold to be drunk on the premises”. Hmmm….seems like Bent Brick is going to fit that definition.

    • glainie says

      Chef Dolich’s talent and/or the niceness of his staff have not been questioned by anyone on this thread. The “vitriol” of which you speak has in fact been a series of comments directed at the “philosophy” being applied to the tavern. When a business opts to share anything regarding it’s upcoming venture with the public, there is a trade-off; the business gets to promote itself, and the public gets to exress it’s opinion on what is being proposed. Personally, I think Scott’s plans may ultimately benefit from any number of comments on this thread. Although I find the proposed “philosophy” bordering on the ridiculous, I’m sure there are many others that will embrace it. I give kudos to Scott for attempting anything outside the box, and will gladly eat locally grown crow when the tavern knocks it out of the park.

  12. abefroman says

    Has anybody ever seen a feeding frenzy involving a school of sharks? This is what this is turning into. Fresh blood in the water, move along from the last frenzy (Fenouil). Wow, for what ever reason Scott Dolich has decided to do with his business plans is pretty much up to him unless any of the folks participating in the frenzy have a financial interest in said new business interest. If he wants to open a tavern and not serve a burger, let him. It’s his business. If he wants to only source local products, let him. His business. Like most business’ though, the market will probably dictate what he does in the end, so who knows, maybe after he has been open for awhile he might put a burger on the menu. But since there is fresh blood in the water expect more frenzy until something new comes along for everyone to bitch about. Bon Appetite!

      • nathaniel says

        I still read and for the most part enjoy this site, but I think abefroman has it pretty well down on the mark. A lot of what constitutes as commenting on this site is little more than many commenters being a sort of food version of westbro baptist church. Routinely there are comments from folks that clown, dismiss, rake trough the coals an establishment with language and tone that I highly doubt these people would use in a face to face with target establishment. And then of course when the commenters turn on each other… the intent to insult, embarrass, and discourage really shines through. Hell, we’ve even seen guest authors of this site get the treatment recently. Not to go from observations to soapbox, but perhaps a little online communication etiquette could make this site and the discussion here, a bit for the better.

        • Food Dude says

          I encourage anyone who wants to comment. Restaurants and the people who run them are public figures, and must expect negative comments, just like I do. However, I don’t allow commenters to personally attack other. If someone gets out of hand, the comments either get edited or deleted. Reading everything above, while I may not agree with some, I don’t think anyone was out of line.

          I have to say, that people love the comments. Traffic goes way up on a post like this. I think Scott Dolich is probably pleased about this whole thread, as it is bringing lots of attention to his new venture.

  13. JDG says

    I have only one problem with this whole piece: it reads like a press release pretending to be a news story, carefully crafted by a PR firm. This is not an accusation towards you, FD, but I wonder if that (inferred) subtext is what has elicited some of the criticism above, as people are responding to a feeling of being sold something that does not yet exist, in contrast to the honest descriptions of experiences at an operating restaurant that constitutes most of your writing.

    • Food Dude says

      This was sent to me by Scott, and may have been done by a PR firm – I don’t know. I thought that was clear, but added a line at the top so people won’t be confused.

      The line about the hamburger was all mine, because that is what he said in an accompanying email.

  14. A-sky says

    I serve a burger on my menu now, I feel like I sold part of my soul doing so. It feels like having a poke tuna salad in San Diego, if you don’t then you might as well sell your place before you open. EAT OTHER THINGS! People like Scott Dolich are more than qualified in surprising the Portland community with something that is approachable, sustainable and not a hamburger, and he’s not trying to be a jerk, he is supporting the people who work here. And if you don’t like it, move to Detroit and see how it feels.

  15. JP says

    Portland is full of taverns offering varying degrees of quality when it comes to their food options. If you prefer tater tots…go get some tater tots…or go to McDonald’s before your night out….if you’re not down, then don’t go. What bother’s me most about this all, is people getting together on a FOOD AND DRINK website and complaining about a chef opening a tavern and serving high quality, local food. “How DARE HE!!”If what you want is lowest common denominator…there are still plenty of places to get it….quit complaining….. and try not to choke on your jalapeno popper.

  16. farmer's daughter says

    I think this is cool. I get way too stuck into my certain types of alcohol brands and having been to a place like this before in other regions, I loved learning that there is life beyond my russian vodka, british gin or belgian beer of choice.

    And how can supporting local farmers ever be a bad thing? Of course…. my dad’s a farmer (unfortunately not in Oregon) so I firmly support this type of thinking.

    I wish I lived in Portland. Place sounds great.

  17. Tass says

    Just had a great dinner there tonight. Amnesia IPA and J Christopher Pinot – yum and yum. Starters were the mussels and spring peas – really good. Peas were whole and charred on their BBQ, then tossed in their version of a pesto. Had the asparagus, beets, pork and beef dishes as our mains. All super. Service was excellent. So there’s my two cents. Worth a visit. Interior of restaurant is hip, but warm and inviting. Well done.

  18. happy camper says

    I had dinner here on Friday night with a friend of mine. Scott greeted us at the door, we sat at the bar and had a wonderful dining experience. The food was fantastic (I thought the price point was great for what we were enjoying), they had an awesome selection of wine on keg, and the service was attentive.

    I did not read any of the comments on this thread until just now and am quite shocked about how agro people are about this press release. But I’m not one to get too political, I just like to eat good food. Bent Brick gets two thumbs up from me.

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