[Welcome to Snap Judgment, a new regular Blogtown feature wherein I'll be dropping by places both old and just opened for a one-dish fly-by, and developing an opinion based on that singular experience. Basically, it's the complete opposite of what I do each week for Last Supper. I don't expect to get it right all the time. I do expect you to correct me.- PAC]
Man. Sometimes I can be a REAL asshole.
Here are the important parts: I’ll just quote Ned Lannamann who said it so well in his Bar Bar preview post: “A gorgeous mirrored bar, marble countertop, stained glass fixtures on the ceiling, cocktail menu, eight beers on tap, a spaciously pleasant and unfussy vibe with a menu that focuses on fast-food-style hamburgers.” That’s about it.
Here are the less important but still important parts: The patio is absolutely kick-ass, and the fireplace in the back is a good indication that its usefulness will extend into the fall and winter. Concerts there will be a comfortable affair if last Saturday’s opening day extravaganza is any indication, which I feel it is.
Some concerns: Bar Bar has a super-focused small menu. They better be preparing it well and bringing the goods consistently if it’s going to catch on. It’d be nice if the space were known as an eatery as much as a place to get liquored up before, during, and after a show at Mississippi Studios. Also, considering the recent explosion of burger joints in PDX, they really need to make their mark between the buns. (That sounds worse than I meant it to.)
The food situation: The good news is that based on my single cheeseburger and basket of fries, Bar Bar is doing pretty well right out of the gate (though I’ve heard complaints of a sloppy, unappetizing veggie burger). If you are familiar with the burger at the popular Helvatia Tavern, then you have a pretty good fix on what the Bar Bar burger is all about. There are a couple differences: The patty at Bar Bar is a thin-pressed, grilled on a flat top similar to Helvatia’s offering, and is complete with American cheese, but the bun is a bit more fancy and robust and the shredded lettuce is combined with a bit of shredded cabbage. I enjoyed this burger, but I felt the bun was a bit upscale for what was inside. I would have liked a sesame bun similar to the An Xuyen buns they use over at Foster Burger. Other than that, I dug the super crisp and perky little sweet pickle that topped the comestible.
The absolute best thing I had on Saturday, however, was the order of fries. These things are crazy fucking good—battered, fried, shoe string taters, insanely crisp and super flavorful. I dispatched the lot very quickly and immediately wanted more. They are sold separately from the $6 burger for $2. Not too bad.
Snap Judgment: I think Bar Bar has a bit of tweaking to do with their burger before it’s truly awesome, but given being slammed on their first day, it was prepared well and hit my table promptly. I suspect as their flat top is seasoned heavy use over the years, the burgers should develop a bit more depth of flavor. The fries are stunning and I’d make it a habit to munch an order with a beer or two before hitting a show at Mississippi studios. I do believe they’ll do well, and I look forward to returning.
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