Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant

A month ago, I took my mother to see Billy Elliot. She returned the favor, this last weekend, by treating me to Riverdance. We’d planned to hop the MAX (Portland’s mass transit train), and head to Jin Wah for dinner after the show. Yet, after having watched two hours of Irish music and dancing, I was in the mood for a beer, which Jin Wah doesn’t offer. Thus, I talked mother into eating at Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant.

Now I have no doubt that upon reading that last sentence, the jaws of my close friends just dropped. Yes it’s true, I had a humiliating experience there about seven or eight years ago, which I won’t chronicle here. However, I figured the waitress involved was probably long gone. Plus, I wanted a beer, so I chose to put the past in the past and give it another shot.

Located on the corner of 2nd & Morrison, in the heart of downtown Portland, Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant has been a favorite among local beer drinkers for as long as I can remember. In fact, until I visited their website this morning, to check some of my spelling, I thought Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant was a place unique to Portland. I was floored to discover that the restaurant, with its pool tables, dart boards, and sports tuned TVs, is part of a national chain with a location in Washington, Illinois, Colorado, and several along the east coast.

We arrived at 5pm and were seated in about ten minutes. Five of their house beers were on the menu, Kölsch, White Ale, Red Ale, IPA, and their Specialty Dark. I chose their White Ale, which is described as, "Pale and with a touch of haze, this ale gets its unique flavor from orange peel, coriander and Belgian yeast." Served cold, in a pint sized glass, the straw colored beer delivered the flavors of coriander and orange, making it delicious and easy to drink.

I paired the beer with their Steak & Fries, "10 oz. grilled sirloin, sliced and served with our steak butter, seasonal vegetables and French fries," for $14.95 from the "Brewmaster's Selections" portion of the menu. The steak came medium rare, exactly as I’d ordered, and featured a lovely array of grill marks. Tender enough to cut easily, the steak was seasoned without masking the flavor of the grilled beef. The fries, which were cut a bit thinner than an average shoestring cut, arrived crispy salty and golden, and were scrumptious, especially when used to sop up the steak’s savory amber juices. Finally, the seasonal veggies were garlic sautéed green beans sprinkled with bread crumbs, which were quite tasty.

Mother ordered the Lobster & Shrimp Tacos, "Two house made tacos with Pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and citrus sauce in a crisp blue corn tortilla, wrapped with a soft flour tortilla. Served with black beans and Red Ale rice," for $15.95. Large pieces of lobster and shrimp were clearly visible in both tacos. Unfortunately, the pico de gallo and citrus sauce were both so powerful that the flavors of the lobster and shrimp were completely lost beneath the tastes of spice and lemon. Likewise, the black beans were flavored with a little too much jalapeno to allow for more than a few bites to be eaten.

While her meal was slightly disappointing, I was extremely pleased and satisfied with mine. As we ate, we saw several servers walk by with heaping ramekins of Lobster Mac N’ Cheese, “The twist on the classic Mac N' Cheese includes sautéed lobster and shrimp tossed in a creamy Parmesan-Havarti cheese sauce with Cavatappi pasta.” We both agreed we’ll be back to try it along with a few of the starters we hadn’t had room for including the Blue Cheese Chips, Brewery Nachos, and Southwest Egg Rolls.

All things considered, beer, food, price, atmosphere, and service, I give Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant 8 out of 10 stars. To view the Portland location’s hours and complete menu, visit


  1. James - we have a Rock Bottom here, and I thought they only served beer! Wow, thanks to your deeeelicious review, sounds like I need to go and have dinner. Sounds nothing short of amazing. :)

  2. I liked what I had. Of course, I love bar food, and this is good bar food.

  3. I had to swallow back some drool while I read this wonderful review. I used to make a lobster mac as a line cook, we added poached lobster, a blend of fontina, gruyere, white cheddar, and parmesan. We used orza pasta but not shrimp. The first few bites were great but then the heaviness hits you like a ton of bricks. I love that we both agree on our love for bar food. Ever since I watched "Portlandia" I want to check out Portland lol. Now even more =]

  4. It's just a bit of pay back for all the times your blog has made me drool with hunger. :-)

    If you ever do decide to check out Portland, I hope you'll drop me a line. I'd love to show you around. You'd love Voodoo Donuts.