Thursday, July 23, 2009


600 E.Burnside
Portland, OR 97214
Happy Hour: 3 - 6:30

For someone who has never been there before, Rontoms is not easy to find. Yes, it's on the corner of Burnside and Sixth. But, there is absolutely no signage. Even the website is a blank screen. It's as if they are going through some sort of name change and the interim period has lasted just a little longer than expected. There is a picture cutout on the side of the building and that same picture is on the happy hour menu, but...if I was looking for Rontoms, I'm not even sure that I found it.

We walked into a very dark and ridiculously empty bar that was screaming industrial site from every corner. Even the bathroom, with its sliding door and concrete floors, had the feel that seems a little too overdone in some parts of Portland. Following another customer (who looked as if she knew what she was doing) into the patio area, we were welcomed with a HUGE enclosed patio, a number of picnic tables, an outdoor bar and THE FOOD WINDOW--connecting the kitchen with the patio area.

I almost want to say that the service at this restaurant was awful (with a capital A) but I know that it is just understaffed. As the time passed, more and more waitstaff came on making the experience much more pleasant. There was just one server when we first walked in at four-thirty. Poor thing. It's obvious that she knows what she is doing but is just too busy to do it right.

The happy hour menu is quite small but with a great selection. And at four dollars each, it's a great deal. I ordered both a butter lettuce salad (served with grape tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese) and the tomato soup + grilled cheese. The tomato soup had an excellent consistency and was a common request on a hot summer day--causing me to believe that it's a favorite at this place. The grilled cheese had a little something extra as well. The green chiles were a great addition and something that I might try at home.

Missing at this restaurant (other than that oh-so-important-for-business sign out front) is a list of fancy drinks. Sure, I can drink my usual gin and tonic (with extra lime) but I would much rather try something sweet or refreshingly crisp, maybe with a sugared rim even. The well drinks are a dollar off during happy hour, bringing them from four (already a great deal) to three dollars each.

Food: Meets
Drink: Nearly Meets (boring!)
Service: Nearly Meets (perhaps they should hire a few more servers)
Ambiance: Exceeds (for outdoor seating, only)
Value: Exceeds



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