First Impression, by Well Seasoned
Everything seems to be just right in this small, welcoming pub in the heart of Sellwood. The owners (according to info I found on www.altportland.com) are Jim Parker, “former Oregon Brewers Guild director and general indicator of good beer” and Jerry Fechter “of the Lompoc empire.” They’ve taken the space occupied most recently by Jones Public House (and formerly by Tartine) and turned it into a nice example of what they describe on their menu as a “Third Place”: “A good public house should be an example of what sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls a “Third Place” – a friendly, comfortable haven where guests can leave behind the cares of the “First Place” (home) and “Second Place” (work) and enjoy the company of friends while someone else cooks the food and does the dishes.”
I’ve been only twice, once with a friend, so I’ve had a chance to try only a few things on the menu. Under the category of “What We’ve Been Smokin’,” the pulled pork sandwich is excellent (though inferior to Podnah’s): smoky, savory, fall-apart-tender pork on a hamburger bun with a nice mustard dipping sauce and righteous fries. (The establishment pushes Tater Tots with evangelical zeal; despite profound misgivings, I guess I’ll have to give them a try next time.) The P.A.B.S.T. sandwich (“the only PABST you’ll find here” says the menu description), combines Provolone, avocado, bacon, shredded lettuce, and tomato with roasted garlic mayo on sourdough toast – yum! Soup of the day one time was clam chowder, which was really good: not flour-thickened like the goop they serve at Mo’s (yuck!), just plenty of tender clam pieces, bacon, and skin-on chunks of red potatoes in a light, thyme-scented broth with just enough cream to make it rich without being cloying. The house salad is made with a good-quality mesclun mix topped with shredded carrots and thin rounds of sweet red onion, served with your choice of dressing on the side. They even do a good dessert: Stout Chocolate Brownie Sundae with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
Not being a beer expert, I can’t say a lot about the beer list, but the two beers on tap I’ve sampled have both been excellent: Lompoc’s Sockeye Stout, rich and tasty, and Lompoc’s Proletarian Red, hoppy and refreshing. The beer list changes frequently. They also serve cocktails (many of them named for neighborhood business owners who’ve become regulars) and offer a minuscule but thoughtful list of wines by the glass.
They don’t have a website, so I can’t paste in the menu, and it would take too long to type it in (the descriptions are long and overly cutesy). The choice of menu items is mostly what you’d expect, but what sets this place apart is the quality of the ingredients (like Strawberry Mountain beef for the burgers) and the skill of the cooks. The prices are very reasonable, and there’s a kids’ menu with all the items at $3 or less. Service is efficient and friendly.
The place has been packed both lunchtimes I’ve been there. It looks like a winner.
Address: 1621 SE Bybee Blvd., Portland. Or. 97202
Happy Hours: (Beer & Food): 3:00pm-6:00pm: Mon-Thu, Food: 3:00pm-6:00pm: Fri, Beer: 3:00pm-6:00pm: Sun 9:00pm-12:00am : Mon-Thu, Sun
I was a little skeptical of the Tatchos at first but I tried them once and now I’m hooked! The names says it all: Tater Tots covered with everything you’d expect on nachos. Mmm!
I go in once every two weeks or so and the service is always very friendly. Once the server (one of the owners, I think) gave me a sample of his hop-infused vodka!
Don’t fear the tots! Any trip to Oaks Bottom should really include the house special: “Tot-chos” Yes, those are nachos on a bed of tots rather than corn chips. Not to be missed…
Kim Nyland says
Nice write up. Brian & I like to go for our late lunch ritual on the weekends, enjoying a couple pints with some decent food & comfy atmosphere, Oaks bottom fits the bill perfectly. The burger is much more than I expected. I was a bit hesitant when I saw the bun was a whole wheat bun but they toast it, they care enough to toast it, so it’s gotta be good. It’s a damn fine burger, nice ratio of everything & cooked exactly how we ordered it. Brian ventured off recently & tried the Reuben. He declared it the best he’s had in town yet, the kraut was extremely tasty …. I’ll try it next week. The customer demographic is across the board, not just your beer loving fool. Maybe because it’s non smoking or because we can take our kids, I’d just like to see a few more adventurous souls tasting some beers they wouldn’t normally see, instead of drinking water having a house salad. The beers change quickly it seems…so don’t expect that pint to still be there the next day, they’re onto a new keg of something else which is totally fun!
kim @ apizza
Yes, a great comfortable third place. A vast improvement over the boring Jones that it replaced. It’s really nice to have this sort of place in the neighborhood now.
The only problem is that that it’s too small. I just returned from dinner there, and there was a 6-8 person line the entire time, with several groups leaving after seeing the wait. Service has been bad in the past, but the kinks seemed to have been worked out and we got our tot-chos (I was a skeptic, but they really are great) before our main this time, and didn’t have to wait too long for how busy it was. Well-prepared, interesting food at a moderate price. The beer list is appropriately sized and well constructed. Most of the local specialty spirits are also on the menu, like Aviation Gin. Thanks, Lompoc!
mm Food says
The Lompoc Beers are great without question, but what really makes the place a gem is the constantly changing guest tap list. The BBQ is very good for portland too.
A much welcomed addition to sellwood.
I have to add a shout-out for the Hot Damn burger, esp in veggie form. Best I’ve had so far in Portland. Sassy servers are a plus too.
Love this place! wish it were bigger..
I hear there’s a deck in back? Can’t wait to try it in the summer…
tatchos rock!!! (I, too, was skeptical, but now totally hooked) and they typically have a local cider, if you’re not up for a beer.
and yay for vegetarian burgers!! I’ve had several there and they were all fabulous.
Two thumbs up. Old Lompoc’s entire line is very good beer, in my opinon even better then Rogue, another one of my local favorites; The menu is unique and excellent for a small pub, with enough choices to satisfy a diverse group. I agree that Oaks Bottom is a “Third Place” and has become one for me and many of my friends; although it is becoming too popular, and waiting in a line is not much fun, no matter how good the beer. I also think the Tatchos are worth trying and surprisingly go very well with your favorite quaf from the tap.
I enjoy this place. Great beer selection, very tasty food, nice atmosphere, and a very efficient staff. A great “third place”.
J wills says
Oaks Bottom Pub is in Westmoreland, not Sellwood.