Saturday, November 02, 2013

Kells Brew Pub

210 NW 21st Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, Monday through Friday
Late Night Happy Hour: 10 PM to close, Monday through Thursday
ALL Night Happy Hour: 4 - close, Sundays (excluding game days)

Disclaimer: Our food and drinks were complimentary, but all of our opinions are our own. 

Kells opened their fourth location--second in Portland--late last summer. It's in the perfect spot--close to Jeld-Wen Field and near enough the shops of NW 23rd--and has the space necessary to house a ten-barrel stainless steel brewhouse. We were there for a dinner event with a mix of beer enthusiasts, foodies, and writers (both professional and not) hosted by Gerard and Lucille McAlees, owners of Kells, along with their son Garrett and brew master Dave Fleming. The event included a three-course meal pairing traditional Irish dishes with three of their beers, all made in-house.

The evening started with a pint of our choosing and a bit of mingling. We headed to the bar, each selecting one of the three beers to sample, and made ourselves comfortable at a table. We could tell that this was going to be a sizable function as nearly all of the tables available in the main seating area of the restaurant had been preset for the event. As we waited for all of the chairs to fill, we sampled the house made potato chips--available on their menu plain or topped with cheese and tomatoes, black olives, onions and sour cream.

Prior to the first course arriving at our table, we heard from Gerard and Garrett McAlees as well as brewmaster Dave Fleming. All three were obviously knowledgeable and could have gone on and on but instead let the flavors do all of the convincing.

The first dish of the evening was a green salad topped with seared Ahi and a variety of traditional accompaniments. There were beets and boiled eggs and kalamata olives, tomatoes and a light vinaigrette. The combination was a little off but with careful selection--mainly avoiding a mix of egg and olive--the salad became a good start to a great meal. Paired with the salad was the Irish Lager. Like the salad, the Lager was crisp and easy to drink. (Easy enough for a non beer drinker to finish more than half the glass.)

Second to the table was an offering of the house sausage roll, available on the dinner menu as an appetizer for $8.50 ($5 at happy hour). It seemed a generous portion and many commented on just how rich and satisfying the flavor was. For vegetarians (and I might have been the only one), they offered a vegetable pasty served atop a plate of creamy polenta and lined with a ring of kale coulis. I'm glad to know that this dish is available on their dinner menu and not just a one-time special-event option. I loved every bite and found the portion size to be large enough that--when served with a salad--would complete a meal. This course was paired with the Irish Pale Ale, a beer that was a little too hoppy for me but pleased my co-blogger and many of those sitting close by.

Last to the table was a small order of fish and chips, also available--of course--on their regular dinner menu. I sampled the fries AND the house made tartar sauce before (and after) tasting what they had available for me. The vegetarian option was quite seasonal with both kale and roasted squash and had great texture due to the base of toasted creamy barley. It was good, but definitely second to the veggie-filled pasty. The fries (and beer battered Alaska cod) were deliciously unhealthy and went well with the Irish Red Ale, a beer made low in alcohol intentionally so that a long night at the pub can still be recalled the next day.

The service was exceptional (something I remember well from the other Portland location) and the conversations valuable. I appreciated this opportunity not only because I was able to learn more about the history of Kells but because I became that much closer to enjoying my first full pint of beer. I will, more than likely, opt for one of their signature cocktails when I return (in the very near future) for another bite of the veggie-filled pasty, but do very much appreciate the work that goes into each barrel.

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


Kell's Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

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