Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tuxedo Charley's - Reopened! New Location in West Linn

Located in the Red Lion Hotel at Jantzen Beach
Happy Hour: Monday - Thursday, 4 - 7 PM and Fridays, 4 - 8 PM

The Red Lion Hotel at Jantzen Beach is a little out of the way. And, getting there on a Friday afternoon is less than ideal. Fridays on I-5 are not easy...and, Fridays on I-5 when you need to take that last exit before crossing the blue bridge into Vancouver are at least three times worse. But for one weekend out of the year, I find myself driving back and forth to that very hotel to attend the Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly. Sure, I've been there one or two other times (they have a pretty decent Sunday Brunch buffet) but with regularity, the only trips to the Jantzen Beach Red Lion hotel are for the weekend-long assembly.

Knowing that it takes place once a year in their conference area...and, that somewhere around six hundred and fifty teachers show up beforehand to eat dinner (or at least get drinks) might be enough that the restaurant, Shenanigan's, and the lounge, Tuxedo Charley's, would be appropriately staffed. No! Not even close.

In the past, we had eaten dinner in the restaurant part of the hotel. The menu has quite a lot to offer. They call it upscale and the price listings reflect that. There are special cuts of meat, plenty of seafood selections and when your food comes with a baked potato, the server will dress it for you after displaying a tray of topping offerings. Plus, they wear their aprons long. That has always been a sign to me. That, and the food is covered with a metal dish when it first arrives (holding in the heat and smells so that when it is first presented you are hit with a blast of scented steam). Sitting in the lounge, you can choose to order from the bar menu or off of the Shenanigan's menu.

The lounge, referred to as Tuxedo Charley's (not Charley's Tuxedo, silly), they also offer what they call social hours. With a beverage purchase, you can order from the menu listed a variety of (mostly meat-filled) items for $1.95, $2.95 or $3.95. For a vegetarian, like myself, there weren't many options. Onion rings or whiskey mushrooms, if I am remembering correctly. Thus, I made my diner selections from the bar menu...and the regular menu...and then by special request.

I started with a cheese plate. Listed on the bar menu, it had a fancy name and was promised to be served with fruit. What came to the table was the saddest excuse for a restaurant-quality cheese plate I have ever seen. Yes, it had a wedge or two or Brie...but, honestly, I could have put together a better cheese plate with the cheese I have in my own refrigerator. There were plenty of what looked like Swiss and yellow cheese (I can't even call it cheddar) triangles and those two pieces of Brie served with some crusty (dry, not toasted) baguette slices, a quarter of an approaching-the-end-of-the-season apple or two, and some puny grapes (that were far less appealing than those grapes I had packed in my lunch earlier in the day). I, seriously, could get up from my computer, walk to the kitchen, and make something that looks and tastes far better. And, mine wouldn't cost nine dollars.

As there weren't any suitable salads listed on the happy hour menu (and the "white" lettuce that was served to some others at the table as a side to their meal looked a little too disappointing), I ordered the spinach salad from the regular menu. It is meant to be served with prosciutto (which I requested be omitted), roasted red peppers, portobella mushrooms and goat cheese. Although the dressing was a little abundant, I was impressed with the flavor combination and will remember this as the one thing that I can order from the actual menu.

As everyone else at the table continued to dine on prime rib, crab cakes and seafood fettuccine, I was still feeling a bit hungry. (A small spinach salad, a few slices of cheese, and that handful of grapes weren't going to cut it.) I had attempted to order the beer cheese soup but learned that it was made with a pork base. Pork! Why would a beer cheese soup need to be made with a pork base? So, when the gentleman stopped by with one last plate, I made a request for mashed potatoes and asparagus (both things that I saw on the sides of the meaty dishes). This special request turned out to be the best move of the evening.

Paired with my meal (as inconsistent as it was) were two glasses of the house Merlot. Being a full bar, there was a lot I could have ordered...but, I felt that this was the best choice for me. It wasn't anything special but was quite pleasing after a long week of teaching.

Tuxedo Charley's has comfy seats, a great view of the water and live piano music during social hour on Fridays. But, they also have slow service, overpriced food items and a very limited selection for vegetarians.

Food: Nearly Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Does Not Meet
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Does Not Meet




  1. Although it might not relate to the happy hour offerings in the slightest, I would like to note that the boxed lunches available through the Red Lion Hotel catering are pretty remarkable (especially in comparison). I can't say much as to the price of each lunch, but I was impressed with its contents. The roasted vegetable and provolone sandwich was served on a soft roll. It was accompanied by a bag of Kettle chips, a piece of string cheese, a banana, and a rice krispie treat. Oh, and a can of soda.

  2. Good news! Shenanigans and Tuxedo Charley's is back after more than a year. They are now located in West Linn at 2070 8th Ave. They still have Sunday Brunch and have extended their happy hour times to include a late night happy hour.