81st & Stark
If you love cheese then you have got to try The Observatory. It’s a small bar/diner in SE Portland off Stark. At night the lights are turned down low and glow with candle light until midnight. Very intimate location perfect for happy hour with a date. They do open at lunch time so if you are feeling a late afternoon lunch I know it is just as good in the day time, but it was a great spot at night with the cool lighting and vintage inspired decor.
Down the hallway from The Observatory is “Over and Out”, it’s another bar attached which has the same owners, kitchen and staff.The vibe is as comfortable and friendly as the restaurant up front, but Over and Out has a more laid back, sporty feel. With 5 pinball machines, TVs and 2 pool tables, it’s a great neighborhood spot.
The boyfriend and I went for late night happy hour to enjoy some small bites and cocktails.
When we arrived nothing on the happy hour menu caught our eye so we ended up ordering off their regular dinner menu.
Here is what we ordered:
Cheese Platter ($12)
Pulled Pork Sandwich ($9)
Hibiscus-Acai Margarita ($7) – hibiscus and acai berry infused tequila shaken with sour mix and house made grenadine
They had a fancy specialty cocktail list. I love handcrafted cocktails that have some flair to them not just a screwdriver or vodka cran and this place had some unique drinks to try. Well looking at the menu they all looked good to me, especially the Rosemary Pear Martini, Blood Orange Negron, and the Lavender Gin Lemon Drop but I tried the Hibiscus-Acai Margarita. It was very sweet with the berry and a little added kick with the tequila and notes of lime. Very refreshing, only with it were in a jumbo size I would be in heaven.
The star of the night was defiantly the Cheese Platter. This is the largest and prettiest cheese platter I have ever seen. Have you ever thought cheese could be pretty? Yes it can because this had lots of color and flavor and was arranged with different heights and dimension I didn’t know where to start.
There were four different cheeses on the platter: Rogue valley blue cheese, Tillamook vintage white cheddar, brie, and chevre (also known as goat cheese). All arrayed on the platter next to the cheese were fresh grapes, apple and pear slices, crusty bread, a full bulb of roasted garlic, cubes of house cured bacon, and drizzled with a red wine caramel. Each cheese was rich and flavorful in its own way, and combined with the rest of the flavors on the plate you couldn’t ask for anything more delish and gourmet.
The pulled pork sandwich was huge, lots of meat and piled onto a toasted pub bun. The meat is braised cascade natural pork shoulder topped with creamy coleslaw on a Grand Central Ciabatta (local bakery in Portland), served with fresh sweet potato fries. Between the cheese plate and the pork sandwich we were stuffed and could not finish our food. We were very impressed with the amount of food we got, very pleased.