Downtown Portland, Oregon’s iconic Heathman Hotel’s Restaurant & Bar has come up with a $5 happy hour bar menu that raises the standard for cocktail food. In fact, this menu is so good—and affordable—we think you should make a meal of it.
Regular readers of realfoodtraveler.com, know well that we love the Heathman Hotel’s fabulous Restaurant, headed by talented Executive Chef Michael Stanton. We’ve had the pleasure of sampling and reviewing some of their farm-to-table offerings (see “Heathman Restaurant Celebrates Farm-to-Table”) and a couple of Chef Michael’s regional French menus (see “Heathman Restaurant: Creative French Pre-Fixe Menus” and “Heathman Celebrates Lyon: Richly Delicious”). Our cocktail expert, Jeff Thomas took a taste this past fall of their seasonal cocktail menu (see “Heathman’s Spot-On Seasonal Cocktails.”) So when the restaurant asked RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I to check out their new $5 bar food menu, we were eager to give it a try.
Ever since Michael Stanton, winner of the four-star Forbes Travel Guide award (2014), took over the culinary reins of this venerable hotel restaurant from French Master Chef Philippe Boulot (who headed the restaurant for two decades), Chef Michael has been making is mark in delicious ways. His newest is this $5 happy hour menu where diners can indulge every day from 4-6 pm in a half dozen lovely snacks– without breaking the budget.
We started our tour of Stanton’s $5 menu with a couple of salads—a Caesar and a house salad. The Caesar, which came with generous shavings of aged Parmesan
and quarter-sized crispy croutons, came with four good-sized Romaine leaves, perfectly dressed with a creamy, garlicky Caesar dressing. The salad left Editor Anne Weaver, who’s a major Caesar salad fan, happily satisfied.
The house salad, an even bigger portion than the Caesar and one of the best values on the menu, included a pile of mixed greens, thinly shaved red onion, dried huckleberry and cherry, toasted hazelnuts, and parmigiano. The salad was lightly dressed with apple cider vinegar that gave the whole dish a soft tartness while keeping the greens nicely crisp.
Next came the Petite Croque Monsieur, the French ham and cheese sandwich. I’m not sure where the “petite” part of the name comes from because this was a full-sized sandwich on crisp toasted white bread with thin layers of ham, melty guyere, mornay, and Dijon mustard accompanied by a simple salad of mixed greens. It was satisfyingly tasty and a real bargain for $5.
Next came the cheese plate: a mellow, slightly bacony cow’s milk Chimay washed with chimay beer; a slice of Abbaye Ste. Mère, a raw cow’s milk cheese that was smooth, fruity, and a bit salty with a strong finish; and a Spanish Cañade Cabra, a sweet, soft milky goat cheese. The cheeses were served with thinly sliced green apple, baguette, orange marmalade and a handful of walnuts. While each of us had favorites (I loved the Cabra, while Anne was partial to the Chimay), we didn’t leave a smidgeon of these fine cheese on the plate.
The meat plate came with three house-cured meats—finocchiona salami, sopressata, and Coppa–served with little briny cornichons and house pickled red onions, celery root remoulade, spicy whole grain Dijon and grilled baguette. The Chef cures all his own meats and its shows. Each meat, not overly greasy and offering distinctive flavors, was an adventure. The finocchiona salami, my favorite, had deep, rich salami flavor with a little kick of heat at the end. The sopressata, Anne’s culinary star, had a lovely peppery taste. The thinly sliced Coppa offered a nice meaty flavor, but came on strong with heat that lingered on the tongue. The cornichons and onions were a nice compliment, but the Dijon was too strong and overwhelmed the other flavors. The celery root remoulade, though creamy, was largely lost in this plate of intense flavors.
Our final plate (and our overall favorite) was a ramekin of roasted Brussels sprouts, maple glazed pancetta, and local apples all infused with citrusy notes. While this dish was relatively small, it’s big on flavor. The thick slices of pancetta offered a nice chewy sweet- saltiness and the apples, little orbs of juicy, citrusy goodness, provided a sweet contrast to the perfectly cooked Brussels. This is comfort food at its best.
We accompanied our $5 bar menu selections with two drinks: one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic. The Northwest Grapefruit Negroni ($14), which had bright red grapefruit color and aroma, was made with Aviation Gin, Carpano Antica, Campari and Combier Panelmouse.
I ordered a cool, refreshing Cucumber Lime Cooler ($5). It was made with muddled cucumber, fresh lime, a touch of simple syrup and soda and offered just the right cuke-lime flavors. This drink went well with all the happy hour dishes and its thrifty price fit right into our budget-minded evening.
Real Bottom Line: The Heathman Restaurant & Bar’s new happy hour menu packs in variety, value and big flavors. We shared the Heathman Restaurant & Bar’s six happy hour bar menu dishes, each at $5. Add one of their signature cocktails and a signature non-alcoholic drink and our bill came to $49. Our wallets were happy and we were contentedly full. –by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, photos RFT Editor Anne Weaver
Check out the Heathman’s recipe for Cucumber Lime Cooler.