Widmer Brothers' Gasthaus
In spite of being located in Industrial North Portland, Widmer is a popular joint. It's not unusual to have a half hour wait for a table at 4:20 on a Sunday, or 5:15 on a Thursday.
It's also a little tight. Claustrophobes beware. There are several steps to the entrance, a small area without any steps, and then steps to get anywhere else in the restaurant. Restrooms and the entrance are wheelchair accessible—if you don't mind going through the kitchen.
Mark and Lyn wrote this in 1997 and it still rings true:
Beneath the Fremont Bridge, along side Interstate Avenue, hunkers Widmer's Gasthouse. Featuring a variety of German themed entrees, sandwiches and appetizers, the place offers far better than average pub fare, and superb fresh beer, in a beautifully restored brick industrial building. Our party of four got out bloated and smiling, for a-bit-on-the-shy-side of $50.00, but we splurged. First, the negatives. Service was just so-so, which seemed odd on a pretty quiet night. The main courses, like sandwiches and german schnitzels, and even the vegetarian dishes are satisfying, arriving with tasty sides, like cabbage salad, and garlic mashed potatoes, which were raved about, and a quarter of a really good dill pickle.
Widmer's sensational Double Bock was a sterling compliment to the food. Beer fans will find much to love here, including an ever-changing roster of fresh seasonals and the stand-up roster of Widmer's usuals. The dining room is cozy and dim, and literally surrounds some of the brewing apparatus, reinforcing the industrial feel of the building and neighborhood. The food was very good, decent prices, just O.K. service, but best of all, you get all this while sitting in the heart of one of Portland's trademark brewery success stories.
Beerwise, there are a dozen taps. Beers that are always on include Hefeweizen, Drop Top Amber, Broken Halo IPA, their excellent Alt, and their Root Beer. Seasonals, the Collaborator tap, and one-offs make up the rest, and those are the beers you should try. If something looks interesting, ask for a taster; the staff are happy to show off the range and styles of the beers. When we were there, they had a Doppelbock, Double Alt (yum), Dortmunder Lager, Summit Hop Pale, Stout, Sterling Pilsner (fresh-hopped), and Collaborator's Sled Crasher.
They have a full lunch and dinner menu presentable for relatives and coworkers. The menu is heavily, but not exclusively Germanic—expect large portions whether schnitzel or vegetarian. Happy hours have food specials as well. Menus, nicely enough, are online for your pre-meal obsessing.
Yes, you can get a burger, a number of different salads or sandwiches, even pasta, but things really get interesting in the groaning entrees of schnitzel, sauerbraten, goulash, and sausages with mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato salad or spaetzle.
Appetizers include a german pretzel ($2), sausage sampler, and wings (most between $6-$8.50). These are fine, though if they have fondue on, get it. Dinner salads range from $6.95-$10.50, and they are dull, with too much or too little dressing; easily the worst thing on the menu. Sandwiches ($7-$9) and burgers ($8-$9) are big, served with potato salad or green salad, though the Bourbon Bock Cheese Burger is so slathered in BBQ sauce that I couldn't wait to run to the bathroom and wash my face, hands, and upperbody.
I have never tried the pasta ($10-$12.50); I never seen anyone try the pasta.
But the entrees ($12-$21). Now that's the thing. There is nothing like schnitzel and mashed potatoes to sooth the seeker of comfort food.
Sunday afternoons are an especially nice time to visit, as they have a 1-2-3-5 deal: $1 for a pretzel, a pint of Hefeweizen for $2, a pint of beer for $3 (a pint is usually $3.75), and a Bourbon Bock Cheese Burger for $5. Just ask for extra napkins... or wet naps.
Posted at November 13, 2006 * add entry to del.icio.us