Something that Portland does with the sort of style and panache that Boston can only hope to copy is happy hour. While we have one dollar Bud Lites and all the greasy jalapeño poppers you could ever eat, Portland’s got four dollar Black Butte Porters and three dollar croque monsieurs. Not only that, but Portland’s happy hour isn’t limited to sports bars and the tacky bar around the corner from your office. Here, it seems every venue with a liquor license participates, from restaurants and breweries to pubs and cafés.
My pal Marcella and I were meeting up with a whole group of friends at the Ace; since she and I were both early and starving — not to mention we didn’t know what name the room had been reserved was under — we headed to the adjacent restaurant, Clyde Common, to drink some beers and grab a bite. We lucked into not only getting the perfect seats that would allow us to keep an eye out for our friends, but also into happy hour.
After perusing the food choices, Marcella and I ordered both kinds of the daily panino; Clyde Common offers a vegetarian and a meat option every day. On the day of our visit, the vegetarian was a fennel and onion jam with one of my favorite cheeses: Idiazábal, a Spanish smoked sheep’s milk. The other panino was a salami and Gruyère ($6.00 each). We then swapped panino halves so we could have a bit of both. Now, my love of cheese and Gruyère is well-documented; I thought for sure that I would find the salami panino to be the better of the two, but the fact of the matter was that the Idiazábal, fennel and onion combination was far superior. It was sweet and tangy with a nice underlying smoke, and it was so nice that I wished Marcella and I hadn’t split it in half so that I could’ve hoarded it all for myself.
Happy hour simply isn’t happy hour without a drink, but since I actually don’t know much about cocktails and liquor I decided to just go with a locally-brewed witbeir from Captured by Porches. It was light and fresh, and the best thing to be drinking in the summertime.
I can’t say enough how perfectly happy hour at Clyde Common hit the spot for me on this particular day. It was hot and sunny outside, and we walked in the door starving. The panini were satisfying, with a surprising amount of heft for sandwiches so small, and I’m still thinking about that great beer. If we had time, I definitely would have dropped by for a full-fledged meal.
1014 SW Stark Street
Portland, Oregon 97205