Jake's is the second oldest continuously operating restaurant, in Portland. Since 1892!
I've had my eye on it, since I first spotted the cool sign in 2018.
Across From Crystal Hotel
Jake's was right across the street from our hotel, in 2018. We were visiting Portland, helping our daughter and son-in-law move into their new home.
We didn't have time for a Dining Adventure at Jake's, but my eyes were drawn to the building with the green awning and flags.
Whitney & Gray Building
The 4-story building on the the corner of Stark and 12th, was built in 1910. A year later, the iconic eatery moved in. I'm guessing at the time, it was a little more of a saloon with crawfish, kind of place. Today, I think it's more about cocktails & seafood!
In 1911, the biz (under another name) had already been operating for 19 years, at another location. It became known as Jake's, when Jacob (Jake) Lewis Freiman became an owner, in 1920. Evidently Jake was quite a colorful character. After his death in 1933, the name never changed. It's actually part of the Landry's chain today, but that's not exactly spotlighted.
Jake's is in the Book!
Back in 1959, Ford Motor Company published this cookbook and shared a recipe from Jake's.
We were traveling with our cookbook... because the vintage book guides us to interesting adventures! I knew we'd have to pay the restaurant a quick visit, even if we didn't have time to dine.
Posing with the Book
We stopped in at Jake's around 10 pm, after we returned to the hotel. I had the book in my bag. We got a table in the busy bar and hoped we could impress someone with a peek at page 230.
As it turned out, the bartender had a spare moment. He seemed a bit amused when I showed him the recipe for "Crabmeat Cakes". Or maybe he was just being polite. But he was a good sport and posed with the book!
The kind bartender looked just a tiny bit like the waiter in the cookbook's fine illustration. I didn't dare tell him that.
The little write up mentioned the Gay Nineties deco... "with oil paintings and chandeliers rescued from famous old homes..." Walter Holman was the owner at that time. The business changed hands many times, before William (Bill) McCormick bought, in 1971. Yes, that would be the name associated with the well known chain, McCormick and Schmicks. Bill hired Doug Schmick as a manager!
A Quick Cookbook Adventure
Don and I only had a little wine. It was hardly a Dining Adventure. But we were still able to soak in the atmosphere.
Besides lots of framed paintings, there were walls covered in framed photos. In over a century there have been numerous famous guests... from Humphrey Bogart to Madonna.
Floors and Walls
We didn't explore the many dining rooms, but we absorbed lots of character in the lounge, from the original tile beneath the stools...
...to the artwork above the bar. I don't believe the spotlighted nude painting, was shown in the cookbook illustration.
Charlie Visits in 2022
So for years, Don and I promised ourselves we'd return for a real dining experience, when visiting our daughter and son-in-law. But the pandemic and the birth of our grand baby, (Charlie) changed the focus of our visits.
Last fall, I was pretty jealous of our little granddaughter, when she had a dining adventure before me! My daughter texted me this photo of Charlie dining at Jake's and paying the bill! Actually her visiting Uncle Chris and Aunt Karen treated. It made me crave Jake's once again.
From the Museum to Jake's
So in February 2023, we headed to Portland for Charlie's second birthday. We planned a special outing that included a visit to the Portland Art Museum, (with dear friend Milissa) and a Dining Adventure at Jake's!
Charlie had her first art museum experience and then we were off to dinner!
The Classic Bar
It was a chilly winter evening. We entered the first door, which took us into the bar. It looked like I remembered. Charlie marched up to an empty chair and slammed her beer mug... I mean sippy cup, on the table.
She then noticed her family had moved on. But she was in no hurry. She sort of strutted through like a "regular" and gave the men at the bar a good glance. I half expected her to stop and study them... like art.
Charlie stopped suddenly near the host's desk and pointed. I thought she was pointing out the artwork above the steps. She'd just come from the museum after all.
But she was mesmerized by the ceiling fan. No budging until she was ready.
So Many Tables
We'd smartly made reservations for 5:30. I had wondered what kind of table we would have. White tablecloths are sort of scary, with a 2.0 year old.
The cozy booth looked fun, with its own little lamp and table-sized oil painting. We heard later that much of the displayed artwork was found in the basement, when the restaurant last changed hands. Worth more than the building! We were told.
I kind of hoped to have a table near the old photos, so I could examine them without rudely leaning across dining strangers.
I sort of hoped for a table that was tucked away, where a 2-year old could be a 2-year old, a little more discretely.
In the Middle
But we were given a big round table in the center of the first room.
It had a plaque on it that read, "St. Patrick's Day Luncheon Table" Hmmm? I would need to look that up. I did later and I found nothing. (Next time ask!)
Well, the table was perfect. I love round tables where we can all see one another. And no tablecloth to yank or stain!
And Charlie was in heaven, because she could see all the bustling activity. She didn't want to miss a thing.
Don, the waiter was exceptional. He'd been there 17 years and he was a real pro, He did not look a bit like the waiter in the cookbook.
We ordered drinks first. Old Fashioneds for most. Martini for me. Water for the little one.
Don served our drinks and graciously took our toasting photo. When I look at the photo, I'm reminded about how much has happened between our 2 visits to Jake's.
Cheers to getting through the pandemic and cheers to a new member of the family. And cheers to our friend Milissa, moving back to Portland so we could celebrate together!
Unfortunately, I did not have the cookbook with us, this time. But we did order the Crab Cakes, which were called Crabmeat Cakes, in the recipe.
I'm sure the recipes don't match a bit. The title on the menu said, "Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Cakes".
I tried to get a photo quickly, before they were gone!
This little girl happens to adore crab cakes. So she got to them first!
Don allowed me to snap a photo of his Prawn Cocktail before it disappeared.Delish!
My House Salad with glazed walnuts and blue cheese was a good, refreshing feast in itself.
Parmesan Crusted Petrale Sole
I only managed to get a photo of my own entree. It was a heavenly serving of sole, with pan seared lemons and capers and warm Beurre Blanc sauce.
The beans and potatoes were excellent as well. I was happily stuffed!
Speaking of happy... this photo of me with Don, shows me looking a little too happy!? That martini was very strong!
But Charlie drank only water and she looks equally tipsy. I think our evening was a happy hit.
By the time we headed off it wasn't even 8:00 yet. The Happy Hour Crowd had left open seats.
Once again, we headed out the door, with no time to pause and study old photos. I didn't stop to ask any questions about Jake's 131 year old history. Next time...
Off We Go
We'll learn more stories next time. Our Dining Adventure was more about celebrating with special people.
The food and atmosphere was wonderful, but the people seated at the round table made it twice as memorable!
Good Bye Jake's
It's been over a month since our Jake's dinner. I'm feeling extra grateful that we squeezed that in!
Charlie and her parents have decided to move back to Texas! We couldn't be happier... but it looks like Jake's won't be an annual thing. Poor Charlie. I think she was getting hooked!
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.