Sunday, July 3, 2016

River Pig Saloon - A Gem in the Pearl

Cue porcine colloquialisms in 1, 2, 3...
Some folks might find this a little hard to believe, but I'm a bit picky about where I drink my beer. I know! It's true! Sure, I have been known to fish that last brewski out of the lukewarm water from the bottom of an Igloo cooler at a 4th of July picnic, but I do have my particulars when it comes to bars.

First, the place actually has to have some decent beer on tap. I don't need a tap list as long as my arm, but there should something pouring that makes my taste buds take notice. Mix it up a little: something new, something standard, something I won't find on tap at every other bar down the street. An expertly curated tap list always impresses me, and yes, bar managers, I notice.

Second, there has to be an appropriate, comfortable, beer-drinking atmosphere. I don't want to park my ample behind on a cold, metal drafting stool and drink my beer under the crackle of an industrial lamp as bright as the sun! No way! Give me a wooden stool at a long, old-fashioned bar in a place that requires my eyes to adjust to the dim lights after I walk through the door.

Third, there should be plenty of tasty pub grub. Surprise me with a plate full of awesomeness! If your food can draw my attention away from the beer, your kitchen is a success!

Finally, a friendly service staff helps. Trust me, I worked in a pizza joint to put myself through college so I understand how hard it is for a server to put on a smile and put up with a parade of inconsiderate customers during an endless shift. I don't expect to be greeted like Norm on Cheers but I do appreciate some professional, courteous service.

Hey! This sure was a long introduction to a bar review! But, I'm happy to report that River Pig Saloon in Portland's ever more upscale Pearl District fills every single requirement listed above. 

Decent beer. Check. A short but expertly rotated tap list awaits at River Pig Saloon. At my recent visit, I found several brews to my liking, including the much sought after Spring Saison from Astoria's Buoy Beer Co. There's also a very nice whiskey selection. I had a Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whisky, which was new to me and quite excellent!

Atmosphere. Check. No butt-bruising metal stools. No vampire-preventing, supernova lights. Lots of old-timey, traditional bar decor: taxidermy, warm wood, exposed brick, vintage cash register and light fixtures. There are also several big screens for watching sports and such. I would call the decor "upscale, faux-dive". All they need is an old geezer sippin' suds at the bar...hey, wait a minute...

Food. Check. I only ate the jalapeno poppers due to some recent dental work, but the food I saw delivered to the folks around me looked fantastic! They certainly looked happy as they wolfed that grub down. I can't wait to go back and have a real meal at River Pig Saloon.

Friendly, efficient staff. Check. I sure didn't have to wait long for a second beer. As soon as my glass was empty, the bartender tended ASAP. My food came quickly and was piping hot when delivered. I was very impressed that River Pig Saloon clearly considers responsible hydration to be important. Bottles of water were at every table and in front of every barstool customer. A big tank of ice water was placed by the front door. Hey, on a hot day, folks don't drink enough water, especially when imbibing. Good job, River Pig!

All in all, I've found a great new bar to frequent when I'm on that side of the river. I was informed that they will be having a special Buoy Beer takeover event during OBF. I will certainly make if over there for that! I'm giving River Pig Saloon a BeerGuyPDX rating of 4 crushed cans out of 4.

River Pig Saloon is located at 529 NW 13th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.

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