[Welcome to Snap Judgment, a regular Blogtown feature developed by my predecessor, Patrick Alan Coleman. The idea, still, is to drop by places both old and new for a one-dish fly-by, to develop an opinion based on that singular experience. Often, I'll return a few months down the line for a Last Supper column. Sometimes I won't.]
Remember when magazines were paying all those celebrities millions of dollars for first photos of their babies? (Do we still do that?) We, as a public, had an insatiable hunger to see what came of two really beautiful people having sex with each other. That's kind of how I've been waiting for the new offspring of Ben Meyer (formerly of Ned Ludd) and Upright Brewing. I'm pleased to say that Grain & Gristle is, like, Suri-Cruise cute (and way more affordable than Angelina Jolie's babies).
Located next door to Podnahs (future home of Pok Pok Noi) at 14th & Prescott, Grain & Gristle would probably fall under the category of Gastropub (if the last New Yorker food issue hadn't made me feel insecure about using that term). The space has kind of a chic cabin-in-the-forest feel—unfinished beams, lanterns hung from the ceiling, a giant, knotty, wood bar (EaterPDX has pictures). The menu seems pretty geared toward carnivores—there are some promising vegetarian appetizers, but not much dinner fare.
The beer list is excellent. I tried both Upright offerings (the Whipper Snapper #6—a tart, barrel-aged sour—and the #7, a saison), but they had a solid selection of guest taps as well (thrilled at the recent upspike of Heater Allen on draft).
I'm kind of floored that the Moules Frites is only $9. The individual mussels were on the small side, but the portion was generous. They top it with thin, crisp french fries and a rich, garlicky aioli. But an even better deal was their "two-fer," a meal-for-two that will rotate daily. Last night we had an enormous chicken pot pie, salad, and two beers...all for $20. The only hiccup was that my pot pie came out cold. I was with a big group, and two others had the same order—there's were piping hot and delicious, so I'm fine writing this off to first-week kinks to be worked out (plus our server brought us a replacement and took it off our bill—super accommodating and sweet). If they can keep putting out this quality of food at these prices, expect this place to be very, very popular.
I'm definitely looking forward to returning, and I imagine the burger and braised pork shoulder will lure me back soon.