It has become increasingly difficult for me to find a regular pub/bar, that has both good food and drinks (or at least moderately priced beer), with music that doesn’t drown out conversation, and is casual enough to wear t-shirts and jeans but not look out of place if I came after work. Do you guys have a pub/bar that you frequent? I could really use some suggestions.
Portland Craft is a runner up for me. The space feels big, with incredibly high ceilings and resembles very much of a loft – the blue-grey walls probably add to it. There’s a mezzanine for larger groups and the kitchen, which kind of sucks for the servers having to balance plates and bowls and teeter down the stairs. They have multiple burlap bags hanging from the ceiling, I don’t know what’s inside of them. Their big chalkboard of beers is mounted on what looks like re-purposed wood flooring in a variety of stains.
Although located on Main Street, this place is open for all – as in it is not limited to hipsters only. The staff are friendly, the music can be a little loud sometimes, and they have limited but an array of different dishes on their menu. The place is best known for their wide selection of beer, which changes quite often.
During that particular visit, I ordered their Hefeweizen Beer Battered Rainbow Trout and the bf ordered the Portland Craft Burger. Let’s start off with my dish first.
Funny that it says it’s lightly fried, because my fish was covered in 50% breading. Let me tell you, this is no ordinary breading with Panko or regular breadcrumbs – this had the appearance and texture of bread. It wasn’t very appetizing. My small side of green beans were drenched in lemon juice, to the point where it was like eating Warhead candies. Sadly, the best thing on the dish was the roasted potatoes, which were lightly salted, simple, and just plain delicious.
The Portland Craft Burger was nothing amazing. It tasted like a regular burger, and wasn’t quite juicy enough and lacked that oomph, but I did like the use of pickled beets. Interesting taste and colour with the burger. The fries were done well – almost as thick as steak cut fries, crispy, and lightly seasoned.
It’s hard for me to make this my go-to pub/bar because it’s been a hit or miss with a lot of things (this was my third visit). The first time I was here, I fell in love. I had their clams (which are no longer on the menu), which had sausages, almonds, and I think fennel. The broth for it was absolutely amazing, I could have it forever. And my beer story…I found the most perfect beer ever that night. It was called American Brewing Caboose Oatmeal Stout, and it was on tap. It was so rich, so chocolate-y, with the perfect amount of carbonation, and ended with a slight espresso note. The bf had ordered Put A Bird On It (which is a quirky way to say chicken and waffles) which was pretty good but not quite perfect. We chatted about it afterwards and agreed it was because they were trying too hard to cater to a more refined palette, instead of just sticking to the basics. We also tried the Sugar Dusted Doughnut Bites – trying way too hard to make something fancy. The rose whipped cream filling was way too delicate (in my opinion) to go into something as dense as fried dough.
My second visit was for a class reunion, in which we booked the mezzanine. I tried their pizza and ordered the same beer and clams. The pizza had all the wrong ratios of cheese to crust – it was all droopy and difficult to even lift up. And after three weeks of anticipation for that beer again…it wasn’t the same. It came from a bottle, tasted sour, and the carbonation was all wrong. I thought maybe they gave me bad beer, but I purchased it again at another store and it still tasted all wrong.
And so, I conclude here. I have mixed feelings about this place. There are some dishes worth trying and some you should just avoid. If you’re big on beer, by all means, yes! It’s a good place to just unwind after a long week.
And if you guys have tried the beer I mentioned here and tasted what I tasted (the good one), please, for the love of beer, tell me where you bought it!
3835 Main Street, Vancouver