Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bar Bar (at Mississippi Studios)

3943 N. Mississippi Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 7 PM, daily

Bar Bar opened five days ago as of today and it's still a bit obvious. The guy behind the bar was fumbling with the touch screen cash register and the server who came to check on us so diligently wasn't sure about the makeup of a certain drink...but, that's all to be expected. I can only imagine that the final days were a bit chaotic as the owners and employees felt the push to be ready to open and serve the public on one of the busiest days this street sees each year. Bar Bar opened on Saturday, July 10th, during the Mississippi street fair. It's attached to Mississippi Studios, serves a limited but outstanding menu and will most likely do far (FAR) better than the bar/restaurant that was there previously. (I was actually hoping to get to that establishment before it closed its doors just to do a review after receiving horrible service and eating the most powdery tasting veggie burger--they're not supposed to taste powdery, at all--I've ever eaten. It was awful and I wanted everyone--who reads this blog--to know. Too bad. But, also good, good, good that this new place has opened.)

We went out looking for some patio happy hour action on this sunny, sunny day in Portland. We actually biked our way there (which is new for me...I'm still building my biking confidence) and could have easily found bicycle parking with the other twenty-some bikes parked on that corner (it's an INCREDIBLY bike-friendly neighborhood, if you didn't already know). The patio was pretty much empty when we first stepped into the place. We actually asked if it was open or not. There were a few tables taken up in the restaurant...I'm guessing that people were just waiting for the sun to go down a bit. The patio was fantastic (a bit windy--you might want to throw a little weight on your napkins--but super fantastic with seating in and out of the sun) and filled up as we made our way through dinner and drinks.

Bar Bar's happy hour options could use a bit of an overhaul (compared to other Portland restaurants, their offerings are a bit piddly) but in proportion to the food options available on the regular menu, it all seems quite right. They offer a dollar off draft beers and well drinks and maybe a bit off of wine, too (I can't quite remember). But, no specials on food. The food prices aren't too bad as it is, lime drop WAS more expensive than my veggie burger.

I ordered the lime drop as it was listed as being a secret recipe. I love a good secret. It wasn't especially limey, was good, but it could have easily passed as a lemon drop. Later on--after finishing my meal--I ordered an upside down margarita. We weren't quite sure why it would be called upside down, asked our server who also wasn't quite sure, and later learned that the signature name is due to the muddled limes at the bottom of the glass (as opposed to the regular lime juice used by so many other establishments). Both drinks were yummy (the margarita was a bit too salty, I suppose) and so very refreshing on this hot day.

The veggie burger was what made the trip worth it. I was a little worried that the house-made vegan patty might match that of the restaurant filling this section of the building before. I asked. It was not the same. This one was SO much better. It actually tasted so good, I've decided it was not good for me. I'm not sure if it was grilled with all sorts of fatty goodness or if they dropped it in the deep fat fryer...but, it was a perfect texture and so very good. Plus, the potato bread bun was a perfect fit. I was also a fan of the special Bar Bar sauce (similar to the Big H sauce I grew up with...which most people call special sauce, fry sauce, or maybe even 1000 island dressing) and the shredded lettuce and cabbage. The burger was wrapped in deli paper and held together with a toothpick that was perfectly garnished with a little pickle (such a good way to keep things intact...and, served as a mini appetizer).

I was completely impressed and--despite my fear that this burger isn't as healthy as I'm used to--I will so go back again and again (especially to hit up some of the free patio concerts taking place on Sundays until the end of summer).

To accompany my veggie burger (and the cheeseburger ordered by my boyfriend) we shared The American Shred Salad. It's their version of the wedge salad--but, with a mix of shredded iceberg and cabbage and covered with blue cheese, bacon (if you so desire), and grape tomatoes. The blue cheese was definitely plentiful and made this iceberg salad well worth the four dollar price tag.

I left Bar Bar totally satisfied and plan to be back for more. I might just have to give it a few weeks so that everyone working there gets settled in. I will, however, have to make sure that I'm back before the summer ends to take full advantage of the fantastically laid out patio.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Meets


Bar Bar


  1. Hi,

    My best friend and I traveled to Portland a year ago and had the veggie burger. We have been craving it ever since. Do you know what kind of veggie burger it is? It's been long enough that we can't quite remember. I would be so grateful if you could give me any thoughts.

  2. It's most definitely a house-made veggie patty. With texture like that, I'd assume that there's some quinoa in the mix...but it's hard to say. I guess I'm going to have to go have another. Maybe if I ask nicely they'll let me have a look at the recipe.