Pause Kitchen and Bar

May 05, 2007

Pause Kitchen and Bar

5101 N Interstate Ave.
(971) 230-0705
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Pause's dining room
crab-cheese dip
I shudder to get too excited about this, this little place on Interstate. They have a lot of beer, and hard liquor, and usually that means the food is inconsistent at best. I go to these places soon after they open, and the food is good, and I get my hopes up. Then I go back a couple months later, and while they have the same menu, the food is lackluster or bad.

But this place has a chef, according to the Oregonian. It's a lovely, wide open space, with tables and booths, and a full wall of windows onto Interstate. And, it's owned by the Low Brow guy.

Anyways, we went in for lunch and really liked it. We had great but relaxed service (though admittedly, the restaurant only had a couple tables going). Water and cokes were refilled frequently. The menu is just one page but stocked with comfort food in the cheapish range ($7-$11). And, there is a full bar, and about ten taps (Bud, Bud Lite, Lagunitas IPA, Lagunitas Maximas, Terminal Gravity Fest, Guinness, a Dick's, Boont Amber, a Flying Dog, and Black Butte Porter). In chatting with the staff, they are planning on rotating at least part of the taps, with Hales Wee Heavy next in line for the cask.

We had the crab/cheese dip, meatloaf, and mac-n-cheese. It was quite impressive when the crab and cheese dip came to the table, in its own boat, covered with breadcrumbs, and quite molten. The dip came with grilled pita bread. It was delicious, and we made short work of it.

Next came the entrees. So, the meatloaf is not what you'd eat at home unless perhaps your mom was a Food TV addict; in fact, I'm not sure how to deconstruct it from the one bite I had. But I'm generally not a meatball fan, and this was quite tasty, like a meatball loaf. It came served on mashed taters, covered in a pancetta gravy. Health food, in other words. It was a substantial portion.

The mac n cheese came in a large, round, low baking dish, perfect for a high molten mac-n-cheese to toasty bread crumb ration. I couldn't even make it through half before getting it boxed up. It was quite delish, a nice classic mac with a smidge of heat.

So, all in all, it was great. Good food, good beer selection. Can it last? Gosh, I hope so.

UPDATE 5/5/2007
Sadly, it appears Pause has settled into mediocrity. The last 4 or 5 visits have been underwhelming at best. But they do have an outdoor setting area, fenced off from Interstate, surrounded by lawn which is great for little kids and smokers.

food in North Portland, Taverns in Portland

Posted at May 05, 2007 * add entry to


Thx for the checking it out VJ. I read about this place in Portland Tribune (?) and it piqued my interest. I hope it sticks around too - we need more places to eat in this neighborhood. The full bar, too!

Is it more of a bar feel? Would I feel weird taking my 2-year old daughter there?

Posted by: The Guilty Carnivore at December 18, 2006 10:11 AM

will check it out! thanks for the tip. EAST SIDE RULES!!!

Posted by: JJM at December 18, 2006 10:47 AM

Hey GC -
There is a bar area, but the most of it feels like a restaurant, I guess. We were there for lunch, and by the windows it was bright and gorgeous (and we got to watch a stray dog elude the cops). I don't really know what it's like at night, but I have a hard time imagining that it would be darker than, say, Dots. I'm certain we'll be back this week for dinner, so I'll let you know.

And JJM -
damn straight!

Posted by: vj at December 18, 2006 11:17 AM

I've been here twice for dinner and the food was great both times. Try the mac and cheese with mushrooms and broccolini. It is fabulous and the portion is big enough to feed two people. The atmosphere is nice, it's not dark and in fact the lighting is more on the bright side, but not in a bad way. The place feels like an upscale modern pub. You could go in there to eat a meal or to just have some drinks. They allow kids until 10:00 p.m. and I think they may even have a kid's menu.

Posted by: lericks at December 20, 2006 04:20 PM

Hey GC -
we went there last night. It's darkish, but I think it might be okay for a 2 year, because the front half of the room doesn't feel bar-ish. We had the $10 steakfrites which my partner loved, and the burger, which was way damn too big (but good). Fries are hand-sliced, and steak fry-ish, but surprisingly good. It's really a nice addition to the neighborhood.

Posted by: vj at December 22, 2006 11:24 AM

Thx! I think I'm going to check it out for lunch with my stepdad tomorrow.

Posted by: The Guilty Carnivore at December 23, 2006 10:11 PM

Out and about today, I was on my way to the Malay Satay Hut when the urge to spend micro-local hit me. I was the only lunch diner at the time, and after each bite I wanted to run out to Interstate and flag people down. The Cuban sammy is wonderful, and anything they pickle is yummy. Solid beer selection too. The service is great - and trust me, many places have crappy service even if you are the only diner. Oh Lord, please let the winds of consistency linger around this place . . .

Posted by: tomas at December 29, 2006 05:19 PM

Had dinner and drinks there last night. All of the previous comments are true. Nice place...good vibe...NON SMOKING (YEAH!)...decent prices...double-plus-good for the kid-friendliness. Keeping fingers crossed that it continues so I can enjoy it again and again...

Posted by: JJM at December 30, 2006 02:37 PM

My prayers to the Gods of Consistency went unheeded. Second visit could not have been more different from the first. Lukewarm crab dip and a room temperature hot link as appetizers did not bode well, especially since there was only one other table. The bartender - server was quite defensive and swore she had seen both being cooked. She reluctantly took back the dip but not the pita, and ignored my comments about the hot link. Main courses were the chicken "cordon blue" and a burger. The chicken was terrific. My burger, requested medium rare, was charred and well, well done. When brought to the server's attention, she said she would talk to the kitchen about it. (?) She then said she isn't management so she can't comp the burger, but she did comp the hot link and my iced tea. This is a favor? We didn't ask for anything to be comped, but how about an alternative? I'm a husky fella, and you know something is wrong in the world if I leave a burger half-eaten. We were treated as pariahs when we left, and I wonder if eating there Fridays at noon is my only safe bet.

Posted by: tomas at December 30, 2006 04:05 PM

We went last week, and found the food to be hit-and-miss. The salad of spinach, beets, and bleu cheese was great, the only potential flaw being too much cheese (I know, I know). The flatbread pizza with gorgonzola, mushrooms and balsamic glaze was okay, but the crust was like a premade matzo. Not to my liking.

I ordered the cassoulet (which was misspelled on the menu, I was too embarassed to say anything at the time but should really email them about it), which was BLAND. No flavor of garlic or thyme, the traditional seasonings in the dish. The white beans tasted like they were straight out of the can, with no flavoring at all. It did have a nice crispy broiled topping and the sausage was good, but overall needs work.

The menu is lacking in chicken dishes, IMO. My husband doesn't eat red meat, and there were no chicken entrees, just apps (wings) and something on the kid's menu. We mentioned it to our server, who seemed receptive, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

LOVE the fact that it's non-smoking, and the atmosphere isn't too bad. In short, I'll go back for drinks and a few apps, but not for dinner.

Posted by: lexuh at January 8, 2007 11:00 AM

I'm going to go back in the next week or so, but gosh, I am so not looking forward to it. Sheesh. Would consistency be so hard?

Posted by: vj at January 8, 2007 11:43 AM

Visited Pause this past Saturday and truly had the most amazing meal. I had the special of duck 2 ways. This really was not only visually stunning but also tasted like no duck l have had before. I had also heard some amazing things about the pickles their so l requested to have some. Wow pickled butter nut squash. Surprisingly amazing. I actually heard about this place in the San Fransisco Chronicle as one of their chefs is actually a prodigy of Douglas Keene of Cyrus. I shall be returning here very soon and will be recommend it to my friends. Pause keep up the good work.

Posted by: Bob at January 10, 2007 01:12 PM

Great food, great beer, great service. Enough said.

Posted by: Sammy at January 30, 2007 03:01 PM

I have to disagree that Pause has "settled into mediocrity".

I've found on several widely-spaced visits that the quality of the food has remained consistently high. In fact, I'm constantly recommending it to friends I'm planning on dining with so I can work my way through the entire menu.

As for kids, the place is not kid-friendly the way the Laurelwood is, but that's better for adults who don't bring offspring. They do, however, welcome kids (until 9 or 10pm?) without letting them run roughshod over the place. They've found a happy medium.

The patio closes a bit early (10?), due to noise concerns from neighbors, but smokers are still welcome to go out for a light throughout the night.

I've had good service at every visit, by fairly mature servers who've been around and know what they're doing--no dingbat 20-somethings who'd rather be riding fixies around Mississippi. It's refreshing. I've also found the servers not defensive, open to suggestions, and genuinely caring about the success of the restaurant.

Posted by: Aitch at May 16, 2007 05:18 PM

I'm surprised at the various comments about consistency---I've dined at Pause three times and each was excellent. I had a different meal each time, but the steak sandwich (w/ chipotle cream cheese and carmelized onions) will get a repeat the next time I'm there. Good prices, great food.

Posted by: William at July 10, 2007 01:03 PM

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