Review #15- The Cavern

Where:  4601 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland OR, 97215

When you notice a small corner bar on a normally bustling strip of the city open for a few weeks, but then closed on Friday nights and Saturdays, one of the first things you start to wonder is “…who’s idea was that place?”

The small, narrow corner space- sharing its block with Zach’s Hot Dog Shack, the locally-famous Por Que No?, and a nondescript Tibetan tchotchke shop- had for a short time been the “Hawthorne Public House.” I’d looked in a few times in passing, and that’s precisely what I did. I passed. A whistle-clean bar on the inside, with big TV screens… that was closed at 4pm every Friday.

Passing by, regardless of day or hour, the joint was always empty or closed, and nothing ever compelled me to walk in.

One day, the windows were papered, the sign was down, and another Portland bar vanished like a fart in a Jacuzzi.

A couple months later, my friend Pete caught up with me at the beer cart next to the cafe. He’s a writer for Willamette Weekly, and besides just casually talking to folks about where they like to go for the best ___, he’s one of my go-to sources for new places to try.

“Hey Matt, you like pork, right?”
“Uh, yeah?”
Ok, you need to go to this place. It’s like an old rocker, punk bar. You know where Por Que No is?”

“Oh, yeah that’s… oh wait, yeah! Someone finally did something with that space? I wondered what happened to it after the Public House went out.”

“… There was something there? Anyway, it’s called The Cavern. Go there sometime- one of the best places for meat in the city. Get the pork belly skewers, and spring for the mousse dip. It’s so raunchy and weird.”

If you want to be noticed, you’ve got to make a little noise- having a whiskey list and a knack for the carnivorous helps too.

Exterior shot of The Cavern Bar on SE Hawthorne Blvd

“Hey ho, let’s go”

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Break Time

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

It never feels like there’s enough hours in the day.

The days when I could feel content crashing out on my bed till late afternoon, gaming or watching cartoons are long over. Since getting my body into a shape that, to be blunt, I WANT to do things with, I’ve had way more energy and interest in life than I ever had before.
That can sometimes be a curse, though. When my interests are pulled between homebrewing, writing, playing guitar, gaming (still kept that up a bit), reading, and exercise, I find myself unable to be satisfied with a day where I feel I didn’t accomplish something. Simply put, I’ve lost the ability to enjoy a lazy day- much to the frustration of my wife.

 

Well, it beats just spending all day in the kitchen, right?
A cook rubbing his eyes in a kitchen stressed

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Review of the Week #4- The Liquor Store

Where: The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont Ave. Portland, OR

 

“Oh hey, Matt! You just finish? Wanna come down to the Liq for a beer?”

In this neighborhood, everyone in the industry knows everyone. Restaurant workers finish their day, they go down the to bar their buddy works at for a post-shift. After two years, I can only say I’m a “regular” at a few bars- places where they know my face, and what drink I’m about to order. It’s a good feeling, and if I’m honest I hit the bars up in a rotation just so no one feels slighted.
If you know Victor, though- you find yourself a regular EVERYWHERE.

In every restaurant, there is (or should be) “a guy.” A man of means. Possibly crazy, possibly criminal, but with a good heart who’s been known to make things “appear” from time to time. A guy who can talk his way into and out of anything- and who has been thrown out of more places than you knew existed.
Victor the barista is our “guy” at the cafe. He’s the one that just recognized me on my bike after work.

Beer o’clock, it is.

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The BHB’s Christmas Music List (UPDATED FOR 2018!)

Good evening, friends and neighbors!

I had an excellent idea for something important to write about tonight, but then this whole freaking holiday thing happened….

So as a meanwhile, I figured I’d talk about music. While I myself am not Christian, I have been subjected to enough Christmas music in my life to have a small list of favorites that managed to somehow weasel their way into my grinchy, bitter little heart.

So here we go, in no particular order, with

The BHB’s Favorite Christmas Tunes

1. Bruce Springsteen- Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town
Now that I live out here in Portland, OR, I find myself enjoying stuff that reminds me of home a lot more often- and you can’t get much more Jersey than the Boss. All I need to hear is those opening notes and Bruce talking about snow on the beach and wind on the boardwalk, and I’ve gotta smile.“It’s all cold down on the beach… wind whipping down the boardwalk… Hey Dan! You know what time a’year it is?!”
2. Barenaked Ladies w/ Sarah McLaughlin- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/ We Three KingsI’ve been a big fan of BNL for quite a while, and the jazzy thumping upright bass is exactly what these old standards need.“Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain/ Gold I bring to crown him again…”

3. Dan Fogelberg- Same Old Lang Syne
This one is one of my sappy favorites. This is the time of year for looking back and reflecting on everything we were and everything we want to be. Old loves, old lives, old haunts… this is a song that brings it all up.”Met my old lover in a grocery store/ the snow was falling Christmas Eve….”
4. The Royal Guardsmen- Snoopy vs. The Red Baron (Snoopy’s Christmas)
Not only a great song about everyone’s famous World War I Flying Ace, but a splendid reminder of the very real story of the Christmas Ceasefires, and that despite how bleak and dark things can seem, there’s always a light of hope.”Christmas bells, those Christmas bells, ring out through the land/ bringing peace to all the world and goodwill to man!”
5. The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl- Fairytale of New York
A bit of an odd choice after the last song, but a good one. My love of Celtic rock/punk aside, this song is excellent as a reminder that Christmas isn’t always a good time everywhere, and not everyone has good memories about it. This song is a beautiful and sad bit of sobriety among all the saccharin sweetness of Christmas music.“An the boys of the NYPD choir was all signin’ “Galway Bay,” and the bells were ringin’ out fer Christmas Day…”
6. The Goo Goo Dolls- Better Days
Another lovely hopeful song, reminding us that whatever last year held, we have a chance at midnight on January 1rst to make things better.“So take these words/ and sing out loud/ because everyone/ is forgiven now/ cause tonight’s the night the world begins again.”
7. Wendy & Lisa- The Closing of the Year
Besides being an awesome part of the Robin Williams movie “Toys”, it’s another lovely bouncy song to round out the year with a lift.”If I cannot bring you comfort, then at least I bring you hope…”
8. Guster- Carol of the Meows
Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.“Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow…”
9. Jimmy Buffett- Boat Drinks
Not STRICTLY a Christmas song, but when bitter winter weather has you under house arrest and you get to the point where you’d gladly kill to see some sun and sea, here’s Jimmy’s solution:“20 Degrees and a hockey games on!/ Nobody cares, they are way too far gone/ Screamin’ “Boat Drinks! Something to keep us all warm!”
10. Gregorian- O Come All Ye Faithful
I may be Jewish, but this is one of my favorite hymns, especially when sung in Latin (Adeste Fideles.) Sung by the German group Gregorian in the form of a Gregorian chant, it’s absolutely exquisite.”Adeste fideles, laeti triumphantes…”Edit 2018!Since it’s been a while, and I’ve found some more Christmas songs that don’t make me ill, I figured I’d give them their proper credit.
NOT “Christmas Shoes” though. Seriously, screw that song.
11. Little Drummer Boy, by For KING and COUNTRY
One of my ongoing gripes about praise music is how so much feels like it should be sung with joy and energy, but comes out sounding like a dirge. Growing up in the synagogue, it always felt weird to me that the happiest, most inspiring prayers were sung like we were doing chores.
So hearing a song like Little Drummer Boy getting belted out with some friggin rapid-fire percussion? Sign me the hell up.
12. Mary, Did You Know?, as sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd
Religions and faith don’t spring up from nowhere. Neither do the stories around them.
Obviously, it’s a bit harder to see stories as… well, stories, when believing in them is a matter of faith and doctrine. I guess the reason this song really gets me is that it seems to talk to Mary as what she was at the time of Jesus’s birth, rather than what she became. Not as mother of a messiah… but a scared, poor, teenage mother far from home wrapped up in things she might not have understood, but accepted.
That’s about all for tonight folks. Merry Christmas, or whatever you might happen to celebrate, have a good one and I’ll see you next week. Till then…Stay Classy,