Restaurant: Deschutes Brewery, Portland, Oregon
What do you think of when you think of Portland, Oregon? Food trucks…yes…but a lot of people would also point to the amazing array of brew pubs that the city has to offer. Oregon is very much a foodie haven, and there is plenty of places to whet your appetite.
Research began on Find Me Gluten Free…which pulled up hundreds and hundreds of restaurants that cater to people with gluten intolerance and Celiac. I knew that my traveling partners, Cathy and Jenn, were being very good about where we ate on Hawaii (often out of Jenn’s comfort zone) due to my dietary restrictions…so…going to a brew pub in Portland wasn’t just a necessity, it was a way of thanking them for being so flexible with the food choices while island hopping in Hawaii.
That being said, we narrowed it down to two choices…and Cathy and I made Jenn pick the place. This was no biggie for me…there were options I was interested in at each place…but it was a matter of whether Cathy got Chicken and Waffles or Roasted Lamb.
Jenn didn’t really care where we went, but in the end, she chose Deschutes Brewery…and that was our Friday night dinner.
After lunch at the food pods, we continued our exploration of Portland, meaning bookstores, record stores, chocolate shops, coffee shops, and all that good stuff. But all that shopping does work up an appetite. So, after spending a long time exploring Powell’s Books, we were ready to get some dinner. And it was just a short hike to Deschutes Brewery…and I loved it from the moment we stepped inside.
Deschutes Brewery is a brew pub located in the heart of Portland and is described as a popular destination for great beer, delicious food, and a relaxed urban atmosphere. It features 26 taps that include Deschutes mainstays plus a selection of seasonal and experimental beers developed and brewed on site exclusively for the Portland pub.
In addition, no pub is worth its salt without pub grub. Executive Chef Jill Ramseier leads a talented culinary team that has put forth classic pub food, but elevated it. In fact, each item on the menu is created, from scratch, with the best possible local ingredients. SO Portland. Love it!
We arrived shortly after 5 p.m. and it was already hopping. We were seated immediately and given menus to peruse. Water was brought to our table and our waiter, Zach, came over to pour some water and ask if we wanted anything else to drink. Jenn and I were sticking with water, but Cathy had it on her to-do list to sample a local brew. She went with the Deschutes River Ale ($3.25). He went to grab her drink while we finished up decisions for dinner.
With beer delivered, it was time to place an order. Jenn went with the Dungeness Crab Roll ($17.75), which is pacific crab tossed with onion, celery, lemon and mayonnaise in a seared East coast-style bun. It came with a serving of fries on the side.
Cathy opted for the Spicy Fried Chicken and Waffle ($16.50). This dish is a Nashville-style basted chicken breast and thick sliced smoked provolone over a housemade sourdough waffle with maple dressed kale, fenel and pecan salad, served with a maple honey sauce. For an additional $2…you can add bacon. Cathy left the bacon off.
As for me…I was given a gluten-free menu. And on that menu was plenty of items to choose from. Had I not had a great sandwich for lunch from Juniper at the food pods, I would have opted for the Quinoa Burger ($13.25), which is described as a crispy quinoa cashew patty with chipotle aioli, Rock Face Creamery aged white cheddar (which I would have left off), lettuce, tomato, onion and served, I am assuming, on a gluten free bun. BUT…I DIDN’T get that. I could have…and, as I said, had I not had a sammie for lunch, this would have been my dinner.
My dinner, instead, was the half portion of their Spinach and Quinoa Salad ($7.00) with a plate of their Garlic Rosemary Fries ($6.75), which I got minus the manchego cheese that comes served with it. YES…the fries are gluten-free!!! *HAPPY DANCE!* Hey…I eat healthy most of the time, dessert and an occasional plate of fries are treats to me and ones I never turn down when they are available. A healthy life doesn’t mean there aren’t treats every now and again!
And in true brew pub (and pub) fashion, the food didn’t take too long to come out. Just long enough to know that everything was prepared fresh and made to order. Our plates came out…and they were heaped with food. Even without the plate of fries (which I did share!), my salad would have been plenty filling at the half portion on its own. So, that was actually a good call on my part.
Jenn and Cathy both loved their meals. Cathy said that while the chicken was spicy, it wasn’t overpowering. The provolone cheese helped to cool things down and the waffle was a nice hit of sweetness to mesh with the savory heat of the chicken. When paired with the maple and honey, it was a perfect bite. In fact, after years of wondering why chicken and waffles were such a thing in the south…it took a trip to Portland, Oregon for her to “get it.” Yes…she gets it now. And I think she has a new craving in life. She ate until she was full…and then had to surrender to the dish. But she made a healthy dent in it, loving and raving about every bite. So there is that.
Let’s start with the salad. The Spinach and Quinoa Salad comes with Briar Rose Creamery feta cheese (which I left on…because feta and I get along for the most part), blueberries, pickled beets, fresh spinach, and perfectly cooked quinoa. It is topped with a delicious vinaigrette, which does come on the side so it isn’t swimming in dressing. That’s something I totally appreciated. This salad was filling and provided a myriad of different flavors and textures. It was inviting with each bite. Tangy, tart, smooth and creamy. The quinoa and spinach are both nutritional powerhouses…and I devoured every last bit of this salad. Besides, you put roasted beets on anything and you have my full attention. Seriously! OH…and it came with a gluten-free breadstick laid across it. I questioned it when it arrived at the table…”This is gluten-free, right?” “OH yes,” I was reassured. Happiness comes in breadstick form sometimes. It’s the little things that aren’t so little for other people but are for people like me.
But the star…as much as I want to point to the salad…was the gluten-free Garlic Rosemary Fries. These fries are made from hand cut Kennebec potatoes and seasoned with fresh garlic (LOTS of it) and rosemary and served with a rosemary aioli. These were to DIE for. Seriously. I took one bite and I was hooked. I didn’t want to stop eating them. Even with some self-control (HA!) and a little help from my friends, this plate wasn’t emptied. It probably could have been, but we all have our limits. These were some of the best gluten-free fries I have ever been served in a restaurant. And fries are hard for me to get in a restaurant. Everything shares a fryer…so this is always a nice treat. And this is one splurge I was glad I made. Holy cow. I want to recreate these. I’m going to do the best I can. WOW!
Save for fries (from both Jenn & I) and a bit of chicken and waffle on Cathy’s plate…we ate the hell out of our meals. And for good reason…they were amazing. I was beyond impressed with the caliber of food that came to our table. Everything looked beautiful and tasted amazing. Nothing was soggy or overdressed. Nothing was burnt. It was pure dinner perfection in true brew pub form. I am a huge fan…and I wish I lived in Portland so I could continue to go back and try other options from their extensive gluten-free menu. Just…WOW!!
I have Jenn to thank for actually sending us to Deschutes Brewery in the end…and to me, it was the perfect way to round out an amazing and unforgettable trip. No better way to end a vacation then with good friends, good food, and good times. Deschutes…made that all possible…right in the heart of Portland.