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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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T

Got back on Monday from a 4-day visit to Portland, OR. I was sorry to have missed the bay area home bar tour but I had a blast in Portland.

On Thursday we had dinner at Jake's Famous Crawfish, that was a short walk from our hotel. Amazing fresh seafood at lower prices than here in the bay area. The menu lists about 20 fresh fish and shellfish catches of the day mostly from nearby areas. Had great crab louie and crawfish etoufee. Mmm. Excellent service and the atmosphere is very historic with lot's of wood and old pictures of Portland and Portlanders.

On Friday after hitting the thrift stores (not much luck) and vintage clothing and nicknack stores (great luck!) we stopped at the Driftwood Lounge in the Mallory Hotel for cocktails. It's a great 40s bar with biomorphic curved walls, bar, and ceiling with plants and driftwood placed in wood planters. Hard to describe but one of the most beautiful old bars that I've seen that hasn't been ruined by sports advertisements.

Later we met up with TikiMaxton (Mark) and Maggie and the Jasmine Tree for more drinks. The drinks were nothing special but I loved the decor. It was nicely done without newer cheesy tropical additions that some older places (and most new ones) add on. Mark and Maggie took us on a tour of the place and it was very enjoyable. After that we parted with Mark and Maggie as they had to get up early for a garage sale they were having and we headed over to the Ringside (a 50s steakhouse) for steaks and onion rings. The atmosphere was a winner, especially the huge rock fireplace with lots of crannies to hold various nick nacks.

On Saturday we did more shopping. We stopped at a store called Home Ec that had great 50s home accessories and a few tiki mugs. All the mugs were pricey to me so I didn't buy any. Then I spotted 2 of those real blatant Shag copies that were on Ebay recently for sale on the wall! I was somewhat surprised that they would sell such rip offs so I left without buying anything. Oh well, there were many other great stores in Portland.

Later we drove up to the Alibi for cocktail hour. It was nice to see it again and I enjoyed checking out all the gorgeous hanging lamps in the back room and the Witco decor. As I remember from my last visit the drinks I had were way too sweet (I don't think they use fresh lime anymore) so I ordered a whiskey and soda for my next round. Then we paid a quick visit to a tiny old bar in Chinatown called Hung Far Low for some stiff ones (drinks that is)!

For dinner we headed south of town to Henry Ford's. I loved it! It's another classic Portland restuarant with a great cocktail lounge that has a large plate glass window at one end overlooking a large fountain of bubbles. You heard me right - bubbles. You have to see it in person but you can see a blurry picture of it on their web site in the photo album, as well as their marvelous sign.
http://www.henryfords.com/
There is a piano bar with a marvelous singer/piano player and a dance floor, where all the older youngsters of Portland love to cut a rug. I had a marvelous dinner of huge local oysters and their signature 30 oz. Porterhouse steak and a good bottle of wine. We had Spanish coffees in large brandy snifters after dinner in the lounge, while listening to regulars singing classic songs at the piano bar. A night to remember!

But Saturday was topped by Sunday. After a drive out the old Columbia River highway to do a bit of sightseeing we had lunch at Tad's Chicken and Dumplings, a great old roadhouse diner with excellent dumplings the size of a softball.

Then what we had all been waiting for: our visit to Castaway Cove! Mark and Maggie welcomed us like royalty into their private oasis. I was overwhelmed by the size of it and the detail. The longer you looked the more there was too see (like mrsmiley's tiki bar) so I slowly sipped my excellent Mai Tai that Mark made with a float of Demarara 151 and walked around taking it all in. I especially loved the fountain, the custom bar, the lighting, and the "beach" with firepit just outside the door. Being so big a room I can see how a big party would work marvelously in such a place. We got to meet some of Mark and Maggie's friends and neighbors (all splendid people) and listened to Mark tell his tales of when various people visited the Cove like Sven, Kailuageoff, and woofmutt (who brought a mysterious bottle that was merely labeled "RUM" that is displayed on a shelf above the bar).

Mahalo to Mark and Maggie for making our last night in Portland our best one.

W

Wow, I was just in Portland a couple weekends ago and now I wanna go back. I'd been meaning to write up a review of Portland in general, but thejab topped me here. Nonetheless I'll ramble on and add that Portland is an ideal weekend destination for any West Coasties. It is absolutely completely unlike Seattle so if you've been to the Jet City don't even think you've been to the City of Roses. One big difference is that Portland has obviously had foresight and vision for over a hundred years. The downtown area is one of the most walkable American cities I've been in. Historic buildings have been preserved, mass transit has been installed and continues to be improved on. Seattle should hang its head in shame.

Portland also has quite a bit (again, compared to Seattle) of large old neon signage fully intact which makes drives along the city's strips a must if you visit. A particularly excellent neon sign is in front of the Palms motel which is just a block from the Alibi. It's a huge sign consisting of two neon plams and a neon monkey climbing one of the palms...A neon monkey!!! Do you need any other reason to visit Portland?

Portland has a fully mature, very large Japanese garden and a classical walled Chinese garden which takes up a full city block. The Chinese garden is only a couple years old but you'd never know it. Portland's Chinatown, somewhat rundown and slightly vacant, has many excellent storefronts which have been largely unmolested since they were first built.

And there's no sales tax!

woofmutt (who brought a mysterious bottle that was merely labeled "RUM" that is displayed on a shelf above the bar).

Was that a home-made label or do they sell generic 'Rum' over in the US? We can get 'Rum' here which has a nice black on white label. I think it might be some sort of leftover distillite from the agro-chemical industry.

Great Portland report, by the way. I've yet to hear a bad word about the place.

Trader Woody

T

Not to mention the traffic in Portland is a breeze compared to California.

Houses are cheap. We went to an estate sale and the house was also for sale. 3 bedroom, 2 bath (beautiful 50s turqoise and pink tile with pink fixtures), fireplace in living room, kitchen with pink stove and booth-type breakfast nook, all immaculate. The best part was the large basement w/ cedar paneled walls, brick fireplace, large wood bar, and a separate kitchen and bath! It looked like new but was done in the 50s. And it was $185,000!! In a good neighborhood to boot.

I think they keep all the neon in good shape and on all day and night because they have quite a few gray days so it helps attract customers.

Clean air, lots of mountains, the beach an hour away.

Plenty of strip clubs for those so inclined.

More vintage clothing stores than in the bay area and much cheaper prices. Strange how I didn't see anyone wearing vintage except us though. I guess they cater a lot to out-of-towners.

Jab, we had a great time with you and your entourage on your visit. Thanks for the kudos, but you forgot to mention that YOU were the one kind enough to bring the Lemon Hart that graced the drinks!

Portland is indeed a great town, and we would be glad to meet and greet any TikiCentralites who drift through town. Woofmutt, I'm really bummed we weren't able to hook up while you were in town. I called the Alibi but they said there was nobody there that mathced your description. Next time we'll plan it better.

I'd like to endorse TheJab as a super gracious guest and recommend to anyone on the list that they have him over for a drink when he's in town.

Now I gotta scrape up the bills to get down to Henry Ford's, 'cause everybody tells me I'm gonna LOVE it...

Jab, we had a great time with you and your entourage on your visit. Thanks for the kudos, but you forgot to mention that YOU were the one kind enough to bring the Lemon Hart that graced the drinks!

Portland is indeed a great town, and we would be glad to meet and greet any TikiCentralites who drift through town. Woofmutt, I'm really bummed we weren't able to hook up while you were in town. I called the Alibi but they said there was nobody there that mathced your description. Next time we'll plan it better.

I'd like to endorse TheJab as a super gracious guest and recommend to anyone on the list that they have him over for a drink when he's in town.

Now I gotta scrape up the bills to get down to Henry Ford's, 'cause everybody tells me I'm gonna LOVE it...

W

Maxton wrote "I called the Alibi but they said there was nobody there that matched your description."

Well, when you got 3 ex-wives you always tip the bartender so if someone calls you never match the description.

M

The Oregonian ran a piece on The Alibi and Home Ec. last Friday. Unfortunately, the online version does not include the photo of the hula mural which was in the newspaper. Here is the link:
http://www.oregonlive.com/pdxlife/oregonian/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/entertainment/1033041319286140.xml

M

Someone ought to let the author know that Trader Vic's is not extinct.

-martin

Jab, don't know if I mentioned this before, but Henry Ford's is no more. The building needed more repairs and upkeep than they could afford, so they're moving to the 'burbs somewhere (Lake Beaverdale or whatever) and you know that it will take 30 years for the decor to become that cool again. I got to see it just before they closed but it was packed so I couldn't get a drink. Sad...

T

On 2003-05-18 12:05, TikiMaxton wrote:
Jab, don't know if I mentioned this before, but Henry Ford's is no more. The building needed more repairs and upkeep than they could afford, so they're moving to the 'burbs somewhere (Lake Beaverdale or whatever) and you know that it will take 30 years for the decor to become that cool again. I got to see it just before they closed but it was packed so I couldn't get a drink. Sad...

That's terrible news. I'm glad you got to see it. And I'm so glad I was able to dine there last year.

Last week our favorite Wurlitzer pizza parlor in Hayward (that has been unchanged since the 50s) had a fire and was severly damaged.

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