Updated: December 18, 2007 – Pirate’s Tavern has closed.
March 17, 2007
Times visited: 4
It took me a few visits to figure out how to enjoy Pirates Tavern. First I went there with my
husband. It seemed empty and made us feel small and uncomfortable, even sitting close to the bar. The food was good, but not great for the long drive we took to get there or the price we paid. There were little things I would change with each dish, but I understand that the spices in their dishes are “safe” not to turn taste buds off, but I didn’t really feel like it turned my taste buds on either. I had the much requested fetichini. It tasted like a thick silken tofu sauce over noodles. It was good, but I was more interested in the amazing spiced garlic bread on my plate. My husband had the meatball sandwich – a quest he’s been on to find one that would replace the one from Herbie’s (in Eugene) he dreams about nightly. It didn’t match his dreams, but it was just good. The price on his $7 sandwich made it taste much better than the price on my $12 pasta. In the end of the first visit the fries and the Sweet Pea cake were the two things really worth going back for. I thought they needed a restaurant designer to help design their space a bit better for smaller groups.
The second time visited we went with another couple. My thoughts on the food was similar, but it was fun with more people. As an architect I just can’t help but comment on the space design. It’s a beautiful timber frame building with the main space being nice and lofty, but that loftiness doesn’t work unless the place is filled to capacity. It seems no matter how many other people were in the restaurant I felt like an ant. The restaurant is in desperate need of some more intimate spaces for couples and small groups. When I heard they would be opening the porch in the summer it seemed summer would never come. I can really imagine myself sitting on their deck drinking a large beverage and hanging out for long periods of time with some friends.
The third visit was by far the best – we went with six people, 3 vegans and 3 omnis. We were seated in the middle of the big open space and it didn’t seem awkward. Pirate’s Tavern is a party space – the more the merrier! It was great to try so many of the other items. The menu is so vast that it would take going there many times a month to sample everything in a year. It’s great to eat at a place that is sympathetic to allergies, when I ask about ingredients, they always check and don’t act like they are going out of their way. The wait staff and owners have always been friendly and helpful.
The third time around I ordered the Shepard’s Pie, which was good, but not great. I felt the same as I did about the fettuccine sauce – kind of bland. The best thing about the plate was the corn bread muffin – nice and sweet, but not too sweet for the meal. The side of veggies came with a margarine-herb dressing which was perfectly seasoned.
I sampled the Chicken Fried Steak, which I might have to order next time. It came with a side of mashed potatoes, sauteed onion and mushrooms with some tasty gravy. I was impressed that my meat-eating-Texan father was impressed with the dish. The Salisbury’s Steak looked similar to the Chicken Fried Steak with the same sides but the flavor and texture of the fake meat was different. It reminded me too much of elementary school lunches to try more than one bite.
The Fish and Chips were nothing like Vita’s version of this plate. Pirates Tavern’s version uses soy fake fish that is very fishy in taste. It’s served with chips, malt vinegar and a great tasting tartar sauce. Another one to put on my cue of things to eat next time I am there.
The Pasta with meatballs and lasagna were good, but not great. Seems like I am not into the Pirates Tavern’s version of Italian dishes – everything needs more garlic in my world.
In the end I decided that The Pirates Tavern is a big kid’s Chuck E Cheese. You wouldn’t take a date to Chuck E Cheese, you’d go with a group of people and stay awhile. It’s a fun place with good food, if only I knew what to order every time. I will keep going back with groups of friends.
The common complaint I’ve heard about Pirates Tavern is it’s location. It’s either a drive or a long, annoying bus ride away, but it’s worth it for special occasions to go to an all vegan theme-restaurant.
My fourth visit to Pirates Tavern was inspired by their new lunch menu. I ordered the Club Sandwich and couldn’t have been happier. It was greasy, and meaty (fried chicken-like nuggets and wonderfully marinated tofu) and little bit garlicky with lettuce and tomato. This sandwich made me feel like a large, white, male – top of the business food chain – eating at a fancy country club. It was great to feel powerful and have every taste bud tickled in just the right way with just one sandwich. YUM. I can’t wait to go back.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Address: 2839 NW St Helens Rd /Portland, OR 97210 / (503) 222-6600
Hours: 11:30am and closing at 10pm weekdays, 12 midnight on Friday & Saturday, closed on Sundays.
Note: To asthmatics – be careful of anything too spicy here. The capsicum in the chili spice they use has been known to trigger my asthma, even in mildly spicy dishes.