Monday, June 30, 2014

McMenamins - Portland, OR

Behind the International Test Rose Garden and Powell's Bookstore, the third most popular place I was told to visit was the Kennedy School. I get that I work in a school, but, still a school?

Thanks to our niece, Mary, we actually made it there when she suggested going there for dinner (dinner?) and a light bulb went off in my head. We took the craziest combination of mass transit but found the place.

The Kennedy School is an old school that has been converted into a hotel / restaurant / night club / reception hall / public pool / movie theater / etc. The Kennedy School was a school from 1915-1975. In 1974-75 the PTA struggled to find someone to take it over. The McMenamis brothers presented one of several proposals. There is a 22-year gap in their history. In 1997 it reopened as one of the McMenamis restaurants.

The inside is charming. McMenamis is a chain. We went to four of them during our brief visit to Portland. They are located throughout Oregon and Washington. Each one is in a historic building and is decorated differently. This one just happened to be in a former school. They have rooms such as the Boiler Room Bar, Detention Bar and Honors Bar. We dined in the Courtyard Bar, which is located in the former cafeteria. Trust me, you have never dined in a school cafeteria like this one.

The next night Ashley and I dined at the Ram's Head, which has more of a Colonial feel to it. It also had a more limited menu.

The next day we went to the Crystal Ballroom. It has quite a history for starting off as a fancy ballroom, and transforming itself with the times. Their website says "still grooving after all these years." 

Our last stop on the McMenamins tour was at the McMenamins Tavern and Pool, or as their website says "our name says it all." 

Though a chain, each restaurant has its own feel, its own flavor, its own menu. It was the last one that bothered me. Don had a hemp burger the first night (as I had one in Montreal last summer, I was more interested in a different menu item). The next night I thought I would get one. However, it was not on the menu at the Ram's Head. Instead I had a garden burger. Lesson learned -- next time I saw something I liked on one of their menus, I jumped on it instead of waiting for another opportunity. Fortunately I had the hemp burger a different night. Guess now I'll never be allowed to run for President. ;) 

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