Sunday, August 22, 2010

H5O Bistro and Bar

50 SW Morrison Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 7 PM, 9 - close, and ALL DAY on Sunday

H5O has been on my happy hour to do list for a number of weeks, but as it's right across from the Tom McCall Waterfront Park (which houses so many of the summer events in Portland) I had to pick just the right weekend to avoid any major rushes (and parking difficulties). This past Friday was a perfect day to stop in.

They offer happy hour pretty consistently throughout the evening. Basically, if you avoid those two hours between seven and nine you'll be set for great prices. I suppose stepping foot into the regular dining area will increase the price just a bit, too. There are menu cubes scattered throughout the bar. It's a cute concept, using picture cubes that way. It's just too bad that their offerings are repeated three times to cover the entire surface area. If only they had more drink specials, they could fill every square.

The limited drink offering was really the only thing that I was disappointed with at happy hour today. I had spent a long day at school (preparing for the upcoming school year) and was a little too tired for a glass of wine. (Too bad, because it's generally a safe bet.) Since I didn't want to fall asleep at the table, I ordered a Blueberry Press. It was light and refreshing, made with blueberry vodka, sprite and club soda but it seemed a little heavy on the club soda. Perhaps I'm too sensitive to the stuff. I have been having a hard time with carbonation lately.

At the table, there were two other drinks ordered. The white wine was a chardonnay that day and just six dollars for a pretty generous pour. The Jack and the Giant Peach was also six dollars down from its usual ten dollar price tag and probably the best choice made at the table.

I was starving upon arrival and ready to eat just about every veggie option listed on the menu cube. It was difficult deciding because everything sounded SO GOOD. In the end, my selection came partially from the suggestion of the server and even more so after seeing what was delivered to the table next to us.

I started with a green bean salad. It was dressed with a whipped Dijon mustard and had a few red onions and sliced radishes mixed in as well. The interesting part (which looks a little silly from the picture) was the soy cloud. I wasn't sure what to expect hearing that there was going to be a cloud atop my dish, but I went with it. Apparently, the cloud is hiding all of the seasonings and must be mixed in before taking the first bite. I did as I was told and enjoyed every bite (even the red onions, which is a little unusual for me). My guess is that the cloud is some sort of fluffed up soy sauce concoction, as that's kinda what it tasted like.

Following the cloudy salad, I had a bowl of pasta. It was originally to come with some sort of meat, but when I asked if it would do on its own the server dais YES. She actually commented that the meat is just a teeny portion on the very top and doesn't add too much to the dish at all. I loved the flavor but found the sauce to be a bit too runny. Thankfully, the pasta shape itself made it easy to scoop up more sauce and enjoy every bite.

Also ordered at the table was a blue cheese burger. This thing was HUGE for only six dollars and full of flavors. The burger was topped with blue cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. From what I heard (NO! I didn't take a bite), the burger itself could have been better. The meat wasn't the best and it wasn't exactly cooked to order.

Another dinner option selected that evening was the PDX roll. It's always funny to see sushi mixed in with burgers--on the menu and on the table--but I suppose the variety pleases the customers and, as a restaurant, that's exactly what you've got to do. The PDX roll looked yummy and, like most sushi, was presented beautifully.

The server that night did a great job keeping up with all of our requests. She came by often before all three of us were there to make sure that everyone was happy. There were a lot of servers in the place by the time we left, getting ready for the dinner hour, I suppose. I especially loved that they were all wearing the same pin stripe shirt. So classy! I guess that's what you get at a hotel restaurant in downtown Portland.

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


H5O bistro & bar


  1. Love the honest review. This place has been on my list, but not high on my list.
    I can't wait to check back and see where else you are going. Let alone checking out all the places you have already been.
    So many places to choose in Portland. Gotta love this city!!!

  2. Thanks for the feedback! You may want to follow H5O bistro on facebook...

  3. Ditto on the green bean salad. That thing is delicious! Luckily the waiter warned me to mix in the cloud. Yeah, the burgers are huge but can be iffy. The venison burger, however, always seems to come out perfect. And the fries are hands down the best I've had just about anywhere. The pasta dish must be new. Guess I gotta go back soon.

    Wait and bar staff are a joy to encounter.

    (caveat: a family member of mine chefs there. While that was my original impetus I've gone back several times for the food itself. Friends I've brought have gone back on their own.)