Okay, onto my recent trip to Portland!
My first night in town, Katie picked me up from the airport and the poor thing arrived half-starved and saying, "I'm glad to see you. Now I need meat." Katie is often right to the point like this when she is hungry. Once when she and I were roommates in Chicago, she and I dragged our hungover carcasses into the grocery store to find something to eat. As soon as we got inside, her eyes scanned the store and I thought I heard her mumbling, "I think I need... a chicken." I didn't think that could be what she said. She must have meant "a chicken sandwich," or something like that, right? Wrong. She arrived at the checkout, smiling, with a whole rotisserie chicken, which she happily ate in front of the TV with a can of Pepsi.
Katie took me to a place very close to where she lives in Portland. She kept saying, "Let's go to the Kennedy School." I assumed she must be talking about some culinary arts college that gave you fancy meals at a discount. Wrong again -- it is a sort of mall (I hate to use that term, but I mean the older definition meaning the type you can stroll around, not the type that has a Claire's Boutique) that used to be an elementary school (named Kennedy). McMenamin is the name of two brothers that love two things: beer, and old buildings. They have made over several historic buildings in other areas, as well, most of them now re-purposed as hotels.
The Kennedy School has a movie theatre, a soaking pool (I gotta see this next time I go), a restaurant/brewery, and regular musical events. There is artwork all over the place, but the original structure has been largely retained, so the fact that it is a school is nicely unobscured.
We went into the restaurant area, and looking out the windows, I could sense the spirits of several generations of woeful students, gazing longingly out the large windows from their desks. I couldn't help but feel a satisfaction on their behalf as I prepared to consume a beer from the very same spot. I took my first deep slug of the "Terminator Stout" thinking, Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
I really like the stout. It was pretty smooth and mild. Katie got the "Ruby" brew, and I liked hers even better than mine. I usually steer clear of anything touted as "fruity and light" (certain close friends being the exception there), because I'm usually disappointed to find that what I've received is a pale ale with fruit syrup added (I'm looking at you, Ram Brewery). That wasn't the case here, however, as the Ruby was mild and sort of vaguely tangy.
A bacon burger was what Katie needed, and a bacon burger is what she got. She got it good, too.
(I apologize for the cellphone photography -- neither McMenamins nor Katie are actually green). I got the prime rib sandwich, which came with au jus. The meat was a very high quality, and had a delicate flavor that was pretty damned perfect. Even the roll was bakery fresh. I also got a side salad that was very good, but... who cares?
I could definitely have spent a lot more time at McMenamins Kennedy School, if it hadn't already been so late, and the prime rib sandwich and beer hadn't made me even more eager to sleep after my flight. But all in all, I'd say, McMenamins is not just another brick in the wall.