Monday, April 27, 2015
Happy Hour with Sophistication at Clarklewis
On a constant journey to explore the best happy hours in this city, Dan and I headed over to Clarklewis this week, which boasted a plentiful happy hour menu. I've heard great things about this restaurant from several people (from both locals and transplants) and couldn't wait to check it out.
I'd call Clarklewis the anti-Portland establishment, as it much more reminds me of a sleek, industrial restaurant I'd see in NYC. Located on Water Avenue not far from the Hawthorne Bridge, Clarklewis is set on the ground floor of an industrial building overlooking the water and is now surrounded by other such establishments too, the gentrification phenomenon in full effect.
The inside is stunning - simple, modern and not overdone, I like how they've kept some of their original touches such as the industrial concrete floor. The kitchen is open so you can see exactly what's cooking, and the most impressive part is the wood fired pit that's used to produce their most notable specialties. Although we were there for happy hour, we were lucky to snag a real table close to the bar, which allowed for just the right amount of privacy.
Food and Drink:
Impressed with the generous happy hour menu, there was lots of food and beverages to choose from, which peaked at just $6.
Spring Greens Salad - Choosing a simple salad to start off with was a good idea, as it got us exposed to the fresh, delicious produce Clarklewis has on hand. The mixed greens had a beautiful coloring and I especially liked the peppery arugula, which woke the tastebuds. Carrots and radishes were added for a pop of color, all working well together to produce a yummy spring medley.
Arancini - In the mood for something fried and comforting (because when am I not?), the arancini were a tasty choice. Essentially fried rice balls with tangy cheese, these made for a savory and very poppable appetizer. A surprising element was the truffled aioli added to the bottom of each piece, adding a bit of sophistication.
Oak Grilled Hamburger - Serving as our main dish during happy hour, we marveled at this meaty beauty, which was simple but perfectly executed. The meat patty was slightly charred on the outside yet remained juicy on the inside - the fluffy brioche bun successfully soaking up all those juices. A few simple accouterments such as pickled onions, baby greens and mustard aoili elevated this all American treat to the next level.
Mocktail - I asked for a mocktail as my drink and wasn't disappointed with the Timber Tantrum. Consisting of all sorts of fancy ingredients such as smoked tea vanilla syrup, bordeaux cherry syrup, lemonade and soda, it was everything that I wanted from a drink including fizzy, refreshing and a little fruity. My favorite part was the sour cherry on top, which was literally just that. Perfection!
Service and Cost:
Matching its high quality surroundings and food, the service was just as professional. The waitstaff was courteous and knowledgeable and took great care of us. They were thoughtful in their pacing and food delivery, stretching out happy hour way past the usual quick in-and-out experience.
Costs are excellent for the caliber of food and drink you're getting, setting us back just under $40 for 4 appetizers, 2 burgers and 2 drinks. It goes without saying that we'll surely be back.
Clarklewis - 1001 SE Water Street, Portland OR 97214