attention portlanders: the gotham tavern on interstate ave. and albina is back open, and let me be the first to tell you it's terrific. same hip space, but new management, new menu and a new attitude makes it about a thousand times better than its original incantation. that first time around, mickey and i visited the restaurant not long after it opened. we like NW cuisine, but this was a bit too much: every dish had 20 adjectives to describe it, the experience was pretentious, and when we left that evening, we were wholly unimpressed, so much so that i vowed never to go back, even after semaphoria worked hard to convince me that their breakfast donuts were delish.
fast forward to now. mickey remembered seeing lights on in the joint earlier this week, so we decided to give it a whirl last night. when walked in, the bartender waved and said, "anywhere you'd like to sit is fine!" what? no more $50 down payment to sit in the beehive booth? we chose a seat and were greeted by the very nice waitress. i asked for a wine list. they had three options, all very good. the waitress apologized that they were still finishing their selection, would i be OK with a glass of the kason vineyard willamette valley pinot noir ($24/bottle)? funny lady. when am i not ok with a pinot?
the menus was one page, featuring simple yet delicious pub fare options. few adjectives. mickey ordered the prime rib sandwich and a salad, and i ordered the pasta special of the day (fettuccini with sausage, roasted red peppers and zucchini). we settled in with our wine, and when the food came, we were very impressed. the plating of mickey's sandwich was beautiful, and it was a huge portion, too, all for $7.50. my pasta ($10) was really tasty.
jordan, the manager/owner, wandered over, sat down and chatted for a few. he and his partner have worked at other neighborhood bars in portland. when the opportunity came to pick up the lease at gotham, they jumped on it. jordan said he's trying to make the restaurant fit better with the neighborhood than it was before. in other words, he wants people to stop in for a beer, have happy hour, and have good tasting, inexpensive food. he mentioned considering doing a discount for people who take alternative transportation, since they're on the max and bus line. they are also going to change the name (we got the preview, but i won't mention it here because it's still a secret), to get away from the brand image that gotham had before. good move, sayeth me. we finished our meal, paid our bill ($34 with tip), waved goodbye to fawn, our waitress, and to jordan and his crowd at the bar, and headed home with our to-go boxes full with a second portion for lunch.
all in all, it was a great experience, and i'm so glad we tried it again. i want to encourage all portlanders to check the place out. the food is super and at really reasonable prices, and the staff is fantastic. the grand opening will be later this month, but even now during their soft opening, it's well worth the visit. go say hello to jordan, have a beer and grab a bite!