Lunch at a McMenamins Tavern
Don and I came upon the Rock Creek Tavern in Hillsboro, over the Christmas holidays. The old barn west of Portland, looked quaint and cozy.
Out of a Book
As we approached, I felt like I was a character in a fairytale. Weathered boards, red & green painted windows, rock chimney and moss covered roof! It looked like something the 3 Pigs might have constructed, together! There was even a curious mushroom decoration, posing like an umbrella near the porch.
When we stepped inside, my eyes went straight up from the bar, to the fine deer head, with antlers and no fur. Then my eyes settled on twin, glowing mushrooms. Oh how the place would have tickled me 50 years ago, when I was 11, doodling polka-dotted mushrooms on every piece of paper I could find.
I was so excited to learn the history of the tavern, when I noticed a framed picture from the 1940's.
I read later the tavern had opened as a store in the 1920's. The building was later replaced with an old blacksmith shop and became a popular store and tavern, adored by the locals. Much later in the 1990's, the tavern was bought by the McMenamin brothers, who have always known how how to bring fun and celebration to their properties!
Fireplace... and Fire
Luckily the McMenamin spirit was positive, even after the barn burned to the ground in 2002. I'm not sure where the fire began, but only the fireplace was left when they began to rebuild, with repurposed materials and old boards from local barns.
So when Don and I sat in our cozy corner on our church pew seats, we didn't know the tavern was a rebuild. We thought we were in the historic barn, where locals gathered to shoot pool and drink beer and listen to local musicians, for 80+ years. Actually, only the walls just changed. I guess we were still sitting in the space where folks celebrated for decades!
We studied the menu, while the fire crackled nearby. It was fun to see our server stop by to throw on a few extra logs before taking our order. Later I spotted a wood burning stove in the back of the barn. The tavern was toasty cozy!
In the Loft
I heard laughter and the crack of pool balls from above. I took a quick trip upstairs while waiting on food.
It was fun looking down on the diners from above. I could spy on Don. He appeared to be praying... or glancing at his phone.
One More Mushroom
I was right. There was a pool game in progress. There was also an incredibly long shuffleboard. Best of all there was a mushroom lamp that seemed to grow up from the floorboards. The mushroom's light was glowing down on a yummy looking order that was ready to be served. I hurried back down.
I dashed down the stairs, absorbing the fun atmosphere with carpets and white lights.
There were at least 10 McMenamin beers on tap, so we got one to share. The menu looked pretty familiar, since we've dined at a lot of McMenamin properties. But that can be a good thing if you love their Cajun Tots and Caesar Salad and Dilly Tuna sandwich.
A lit torch seemed to invite guests to the patio, but it was too chilly. I can only imagine how fun this space is on a summer's evening. But where was the floating dance floor? I heard there was one somewhere!
We don't have much moss in Texas, so I had to take this fine pic from the parking lot. What a lucky find this was, for a quick lunch on the road! Next time we visit Portland, we'll have to make this a destination. At night, with live music and a floating dance floor...next time!
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.