I love the idea of eating at a Roadhouse! This might even be a first.
Barlow Trail Roadhouse Inn - 1926
We pulled off of Highway 26, when we spotted the sign and old log building.
The original cabin (in the center) was built by Bill Lenz in 1926. It was named for the famous toll road, built by Sam Barlow. The structure served as a general store before it became an inn.
Signs and Swings
We stepped up to the porch, looking for the main entrance.
We passed the Trail Room (bar) entrance and and a few signs. We went past the porch swing and found the pale green door.
We had just come from the iconic Timberline Lodge, (used in exterior filming of The Shining) so we could have been a hard pair to impress.
But, I ignored the '80's era tables and smiled at the old stove, log beams and deer head, with antler lampshades.
Locals and Travelers
The lunch crowd seemed to be mostly local folk and people like us... on the road.
The diners in the earlier years, were mostly loggers and miners and the workers who built Timberline Lodge.
I didn't get a chance to ask what the upstairs was used for, today.
Barlow Trail was more than a restaurant back in the day. On the menu there was a mention about the inn's reputation.
"Best food on the Loop to Timberline." downstairs and "Best Girls" upstairs.
Pick of the Tables
When we arrived, we were greeted by Brittnee. She invited us to sit anywhere.
I told Brittnee that I was pretty sure we'd picked the best table in the restaurant.
She smiled and informed us that we'd picked the haunted table. That got me pretty excited. "Really! What should we expect?" Brittnee sort of shrugged. "Oh... just good vibes." I was good with that.
Little Bit of Lunch
Don and I ordered a tiny feast, since we'd pigged out on brunch at Timberline Lodge. I ordered a bowl of chili. It was thick and piping hot, with a good amount of cheddar and just enough spice!
Don's Patty Melt was served on dark rye, with a small side of creamy potato salad. Just right.
From my seat, I had a good view of the fireplace. I would have preferred logs over gas, but I was happy for any fire, on that chilly day.
The little washroom was actually pretty tidy. I was sort of amused by the combo of fishing decor and lace curtains.
We finished up and thanked Brittnee. She seemed to be the only server. She was in good spirits despite being extra busy.
We peeked into the adjoining lounge. We could see from the outside that this odd addition (with stone facade) came years later. The atmosphere seemed more biker bar than cabin cozy.
Chimney and Deck
I took a quick peek at the other end of the building. There was a covered deck with picnic tabes. I'm guessing this place might have a whole different feel, with summer crowds.
On a quiet October day, the old inn looked like a storybook house. If I were a kid, I'd have been tempted to climb that stone chimney!
As we pulled back on the road, I glanced up at the roofline and was reminded of the image on the menu. What a sweet old place. I'm glad it's still around.
Cookbook Dining Adventure!
Don and I spent one night in Bend last summer. We could have missed this wonderful little tavern, at the foot of Oregon Avenue... but our cookbook reminded us.
Traveling with Cookbooks
The old tavern was still in business after 80+ years! We pulled up and grinned to see that little had changed with the building, over the years. It was July so we saw no, icicles and snow, like this old photo. But we saw lots of pine trees.
Bend was a logging town, when the tavern opened in 1936. The tavern got its name, for the 2 gigantic Ponderosa Pines, just in back. A patio was built around the beautiful trees. In the old photo and the book illustration, it looks like one tree is growing right through the roof.
We stepped inside and felt the mix of old and new. We could see a few reminders of the past. There was a little knotty pine here and a few retro booths there.
Lots of displayed photos helped us imagine how the tavern looked over the years. In 1936, the place opened as a lunch counter, serving local timber workers and their families.
Two women, Marne Gribskov and Eleanor Bechen began the business, during a time when the country was just recovering from the Great Depression. The coffee shop/tavern/dining room, changed and grew over the years.
It wasn't yet 5, so Don and I stepped over to the bar to enjoy the end of Happy Hour. We had a good chat with a few local couples who raved about Bend and made us want to move.
I hopped up a few times to look at the old photos on the wall. There were pictures of the original lunch counter and photos of famous guests who have dined... Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, President and Jackie Kennedy. I love it when restaurants display old photos!
Just past the bar, was a spacious dining room that was added in 1957. I passed a few booths with curtains and that seemed very retro. Then I spotted the two trees, growing through the center of the room!
DJ and the Cookbook
DJ was suddenly the best guide ever. He told me that the Garden Room was added in 1957. It was built right around the two trees that had been on the patio. He took me closer, to study the tree trunks. One was about 300 years old and still thriving. The other was killed by mountain pine beetles over 30 years ago, but the trunk was preserved.
DJ said he would be happy to be our server, whenever we finished up at the bar. We were lucky to get a patio table on such a lovely evening. Once seated, I looked back and was pretty amused to see the living pine, growing right through the roof.
The red umbrellas gave us shade from the evening sun.
Then when the sun got low enough, the umbrellas came down. Our view was even better. We watched a few kayaks and envied the people who lived in the homes across Mirror Pond.
After studying the menu, we dug into some warm, sourdough bread with honey butter. The relaxed, evening atmosphere made us want to slow down and enjoy every minute.
Don ordered the house meatloaf special. It came with two slabs and a zingy, hot fanny gravy! My Chicken Marsala was smothered in a thick sauce of mushrooms and Marsala wine... which I shared with my heavenly mashed potatoes!
We were just finishing, when the manager stopped by our table and introduced herself. "Are you the ones with the cookbook?" Betsy asked with much enthusiasm. Betsy told us she was curious to see the book. I think she said had worked at the Tavern for 40 years, but that seems impossible.
Betsy studied the illustration and chuckled. She remembered specific details about how the door and entrance looked when she first started working. She kept shaking her head and smiling. "Bill will be so excited to see a picture of this book." It turns out that the owner is Bill McCormick, as in the McCormick and Schmick's restaurant chain. He sold the chain a few years ago and now his focus is on Pine Tavern, alone.
Our evening at Pine Tavern ranks pretty high. The atmosphere was comfortable with a good mix of locals and tourists. The pond setting was ideal. The food was yummy and not over priced. And our people encounters were fun... with the silly cookbook!
Nothing delights me more than a retro neon sign (including the word cocktails) and windows, painted with holiday greetings and clinking martini glasses! Usually, I just take a picture.
The sight of this neighborhood bar might scare some parents. But Don and I didn't worry. Instead, we joined the "newlyweds" and celebrated with drinks.
The front door opened to the original bar, which has been serving customers for over 80 years... first, as a lunch counter, then a bootleggers saloon during prohibition. The Holman's sold the bar to the current owners in the 1970's. Last summer the bar stools were empty.
The Game Room
The game room with its slanted linoleum floor was practically empty, too. But the walls were full of entertainment!
Last summer, it was a lovely day when we shared drinks on the patio bar. It didn't look quite as inviting, when we returned on December 26th. But even in the cold drizzle, the little area behind the bar looked a lot better than it did years ago... when it was an old used appliance graveyard. I learned that from some menu trivia.
December 26, 2018
We ended up having lunch at Holman's, on the day after Christmas. We were just finishing a festive holiday celebration with our kids and their spouses in Portland. What better place to dine, before heading to the airport!
The North Dining Room
I tried not to intrude with my camera, but there were quite a few people seated at the dark bar, at 11:30 am. We headed to the dining room, which was added in the '70's. It sort of felt like we were sitting down for a meeting at our round table, with rolling task chairs.
As it turns out, we were lucky to get this prized dining spot. Holman's opens at 8 am and Heidi said the table is usually occupied, by older gentleman, when she walks by in the morning.
I ordered a BLT with fries. That seemed like the kind of food I might have ordered years ago, at the lunch counter. They would have surely delivered my beverage with a straw, back in 1933. The sign on the table was a reminder that it was 2018 and we were in Portland. (Too bad the metal straws that Santa brought me, were packed!)
While we chatted and ate our fairly decent meals, I took in all the fun decor. The dining room had once been a Rexall Drugs and I tried to picture that. I doubt the Cigar Man was part of the drug store decor, but the lit up Rudolph and Snowman could have been.
Shoes and Socks
Before noon, the Game Room was very quiet. I checked out the slanted floor again and the pinball machines and the square windows, that let me peek in on the bar. I smiled to see the wooden shoe display, that I remembered. I was glad they had added some felt socks for the holidays!
We didn't have time to play Pacman or pinball, but our very nice server did invite us to spin the Meal Wheel, before we paid up. She watched from the bar, while we took turns, hoping to match up the arrows for a free lunch.
This photo makes the wheel look like it was spinning crazily fast! It wasn't. Luckily my wimpy attempt was strong enough to make one revolution... before finishing with the red arrows pointing at each other! Free Meal!
My BLT was free and I got to write my name on the Winner's Chalkboard! This was my first dining adventure, involving a free meal!
Now, A Chart House Restaurant
On Christmas Eve we had reservations for dinner, at one of the nearly 30 Chart House restaurants. I wish the lovely hilltop restaurant had its original name. It kind of makes me think of Hillbillies!
At around 7 pm, our Uber driver skillfully zipped up Terwilliger Boulevard, high above Portland. At the top of the hill, we hit a traffic jam of cars, waiting to valet park. Our family of 6, happily exited, before reaching the tangle of cars. The glowing restaurant was buzzing with Christmas Eve energy.
Photo From 1930
Don and I usually avoid chain restaurants, but the Chart House is always a safe choice. We didn't want to risk some lukewarm holiday buffet, when we were feeling ridiculously lucky to be spending Christmas with our kids and their new spouses. Plus this Chart House had some great history. The property, once named Hillvilla, opened in 1921. Owner, R Simmons boasted about The View of a Million Lights. Today, the building doesn't look nearly as quaint as it did 90+ years ago, but it still has the view of lights and Mount Hood!
Busy and Festive
We were told our table wasn't quite ready and that was sort of a relief. We were in no mood to rush. We were in a festive, happy place with our kids. No one had to cook!
When we found 6 open barstools in the downstairs lounge, we were extra ready to relax.
Behind us there was a wall of windows, looking over the twinkling lights of Oregon's biggest city.
In front of us, we watched numerous bartenders (some in Santa hats) dashing, dodging, splashing, shaking and pouring! I kind of liked the cheery, rushed vibe... at least for a while. We had a nice toast, with our French 75 cocktails.
Up We Go
We were called to our table shortly after getting drinks. As we headed up the stairs I glanced over at the cozy fireplace. I wonder if that was added in 1954, when Ed Palaske bought and modernized Hillvilla.
I wonder what Mr. Palakse would think of the modern decor today. He would probably like the circular art on the wall. I'm guessing that was added when in recent years when the Chart House bought the property.
Table at the Window
When the hostess seated us at a window-side table, I wanted to cheer. We couldn't exactly see Mount Hood and the sun had set hours before, but the city lights below were mighty festive.
The whole day had been cold and cloudy, so I hadn't hoped for any stargazing. We did however get a good glimpse of the moon, now and then!
Our server introduced himself as Cole. If he was feeling a little overwhelmed with the holiday crowds, he hid it fairly well. We ordered wine and asked a few menu questions.
The Fine Cookbook
At one point I did share my silly traveling book with others at the table and I managed to get a smile from Cole, who said he had actually seen that illustration before. I asked if they stilled served "Spareribs A La Hillvilla. He said they did serve spareribs, up until a year ago. I was relieved it was no longer on the menu, since I usually feel forced to at least try whatever the cookbook has featured.
Maybe it was the wine, or the anticipation of Santa, but our gang could not have been happier. There was something so comfy-cozy about our table, as we settled in with wine and a couple baskets of warm bread.
Dining on a holiday meant we shared a little something in common with all the other diners. We were all celebrating. But even the staff seemed to add to the fun mix of energy in the place!
So Many Helpers
On a journey to the restroom, I squeezed past a few large tray-servers and I paused to look at all the foods sizzling on the grill. There were so many people giving up their own family time, to make our night special. I have to stop and appreciate that sometimes.
I tried not to laugh when I ordered Mac Nut Mahi. I felt a little like I was ordering at the drive-thru. But thoughts of McDonald's disappeared when I tasted my fish with warm peanut sauce, mango relish, soy glaze, mango sticky rice and Asian green beans!
My chopped salad with hearts of palm, cucumber, red onion... balsamic vinaigrette was a meal in itself, so I'm glad I saved room. No room for dessert, though. We were all happy and full by the time our empty plates were taken away.
While waiting on our Uber, I took advantage of a brief moment when the area near the tree was empty. A very cheery hostess offered to take our pic. This turned out to be the only photo of the 6 of us during our holidays together. Yay for family photos!
Before our ride arrived, I rushed out to get one more peek of the exterior. The 2 valet guys had a brief lull in activity, so I shared the cookbook with them. They seemed amused by the old watercolor image... or they pretended well. I dashed off to the side, to see if the shape of the of the building matched the illustration. It was too dark to tell, but I did see a 50-foot totem pole. If there had been a spotlight, I could have snapped a photo of the dramatic carving, that Palaske added in 1959!
We may have dined at a chain restaurant, but the yummy food and curious history, made for a dining adventure. Maybe next time we'll catch a sunset!
Christmas Eve Brunch
Warming Up Inside
They don't take reservations, so we waited for a table, along with lots of other people. We were outside for a while and then found space inside, under paper snowflakes!
There was a festive bar, serving at least 7 kinds of Bloody Mary cocktails and at least 12 flavors of Mimosa. I was happy with the free coffee, set up on the sidewalk.
White Tree and Snowflakes!
A Place to Play
The white Christmas tree wasn't the only special thing nearby. There was an elevated stage, with lots of toys and a play kitchen. Heidi and Chali could have leaned over and grabbed something to play with while we waited for food. Restaurants never had fun play areas when I was a kid... or a young parent!
The menu was colorful on the outside, with creative selections on the inside. Maybe that's why they call it a cafe and arthouse. Actually the art part was all over the walls. If it had been less crowded, I would have roamed and enjoyed.
A lot of amazing foods came to our table. For sweet stuff, we had Maddie Cakes (lemon-ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote) and Grand Marnier French Toast. I was tempted to get the Maple Cashew Granola, but the spinach and mushrooms in Ed's Scramble won out. At least mine came with toast, so I got to sample Jam's homemade jam! I also snuck a bite of some amazing biscuits and gravy!
Good Food Good Service
Heidi and Jamie picked well. The food was worth waiting for. Once seated, the service was speedy, without feeling rushed.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.