Slow Bar Unites Sluts and
533 SE Grand
In Portland, for the most part, bars fall into two categories: dive
and swank. Club 21s and Aalto Lounges. Mouse Traps and Vault Martinis.
North Portland Paragons and Pearl District Paragons. It is a city divided
between two classes of people: People who drink shots of Rebel Yell, smoke
Parliaments, and eat onion rings, and people who sip Grey Goose martinis,
consider cigarettes "disgusting," and eat primarily sushi and Zoloft. Each
group is no doubt dedicated to their clique, but sometimes, they want a
I classify myself as a dive bar slut. I love vinyl booths and smoky air
and watching old people fall down drunk. But sometimes I want to wear one
of the new mini-skirts I ordered from the Delia's catalogue, and don't
want to look like a fucking idiot rolling into Angelo's on Hawthorne.
Sometimes I like a bar with some class, but one that isn't filled with
snobby idiots. And every once in a while, the snobby idiots want to do a
little slumming, too. So we all come together at the Slow Bar, a bar that
integrates rich and poor, Republicans and anarchists, PBR and Bombay
Sapphire, and bar food and gourmet.
For the purposes of this review, I'm going to put the booze aside. Slow
Bar has liquor, wine, beer, and champagne and their bartenders know how to
make a perfect Spanish coffee or Manhattan. Case closed. It's the food I'm
Slow Bar's chef, Amy Jermain, has been all over this town, working in
the kitchens at top tier restaurants like Higgens, Paley's Place,
Fratelli, and Tabla. At Slow Bar, she's designed a simple, affordable, and
delicious upscale bar menu, one that trumps the typical bar chicken finger
basket a thousand fold. A recent lunch special featured an heirloom tomato
salad with big crumbles of blue cheese that was hearty, flavorful, and
delicious. The regular menu offers two great salads; one a mixed green
with nuts, goat cheese, and a tangy vinaigrette, the other with bacon,
crispy onions and blue cheese. Daily, there's a new homemade ravioli that
runs you under 10 bucks, like the blissful four-cheese, ladled with a
smoky and chunky tomato and vegetable sauce.
Bar standbys like the burger and fries are infused with a gourmet
flare. The huge Painted Hills beef patty is safe to order medium-rare, and
topped with heirloom tomato, pickle, and sharp English Cheddar. The fries
(fabulous sweet potato or russet) can be ordered blanketed in a layer of
what the menu refers to as "stinky cheese." Amy also offers a crispy
vegetarian panini with pesto, tomatoes, feta, and peppers, a braised beef
or chicken sandwich, and a cheese and fruit plate drizzled with balsamic.
If you're blowing your diet, don't pass up the rich Guinness fondue served
with fruit, sausage, and bread. This bar eating may not do your
cholesterol any good, but at least your arteries (not to mention your
clothes) don't feel like they were dipped in a deep fryer.
As with their classy-clean décor, big naugahyde booths, and incredible
juke box, Slow Bar succeeds with their food because they stick to basics.
By not trying too hard, Slow Bar comes off looking pretty damn impressive.
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photo by Bryan Richardson
in Last Supper:
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