Food & Drink

A different kind of neighborhood bar for a different kind of neighborhood

Published On 11/01/2011 Published On 11/01/2011

A true neighborhood bar must reflect the culture of its locale, which leads to fancy vodka martinis in the Pearl District, working-class PBRs in Southeast dives, and free hugs and Mad Dog 20/20 for 99% of Downtown's tent cities. Delivering fermented mushroom juice and banh mi to its NoPo crowd: The Old Gold.

From a gang of first-time owners/long-time imbibers, OG seeks to supply NoPo's Overlook neighborhood with subtly freaked bar food and quirky drinkage in ex-auto garage digs that retain monkey wrench memories via unfinished cinder block walls and roll-up doors, which’re offset by a brand-new "double walnuts" bar and deep booths, which is what many considered John Wilkes to be, but only because he yelled in Latin and stuff. From a white-tiled kitchen, Gold's chef is slinging the late-night bar food she always dreamed of but could never find, including snacks like popped-to-order corn with smoked paprika and sugar, and serious sammies like roasted pork seasoned with earthy achiote/ garlic/ OJ and topped with pickled onions and "kaleslaw", and an elk burger with Fontina and a dried cherry relish, not to be confused with an Eagle Eye Cherry relish, because nobody should ever do that. Drinks zero in on neighborhood weirdness not only with a rotating selection of step-up regional brews (e.g., a brand-new chocolate espresso stout from Bend's Boneyard Brewing), but also by being the only bar with Kombucha on tap (from Townsend Tea), which, when not being slurped straight up, finds its way into cocktails like the vodka/ mint/ fresh lime juice/ White Rose Kombucha Old Gold Mule, also what you call sketchy dudes who swallow doubloon-balloons when crossing the Canadian border.

While they definitely want to remain a low-key ‘hood joint, Gold has plans to add an enormous high-backed booth complete with a Champagne button -- which, when pushed, will call a bottle of bubbly over to your table, although probably only 1% of their clientele will ever use it.

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1. The Old Gold 2105 North Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97201 (Overlook)

The Old Gold in North Portland is somewhere between a neighborhood bar and a hip cocktail joint. It prides itself on having one of the largest whiskey collections in Portland, and though the stock is always changing, it's full of bourbon, rye, and whiskey from Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. Custom whiskey flights and pairings are available, as are house-made picklebacks. The bar also serves standout pub fare like smoked gouda grilled cheese, elk burgers, and caramelized onion-topped mac & cheese.

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