Higgins Restaurant and Bar
Ratings: 21 | Reviews: 19 | Display Reviews Only:
4.83/5 rDev +11.8%
The strike ended 3 days ago, seems like a lifetime. I'll say, "Yeah, we did 114 days in the sun", but really, we didn't do any time in the sun. The Teamsters did, standing out front the gate every day, walking back and forth and back again. First in great numbers, and then less and less as time went on and they lost their spirit. I was in a trailer or a truck these last 114 days; I didn't see no sun except when I came outside to fire up the grill (Somebody owes me a Summer). But now, just 3 days later, I'm at the Oregon Brewers Festival. We scored a few folding chairs beyond the far side of tent in that stretch along the fence near the Willamette River. I've got a beer and the sun on my face and it's everything's all good again. The girls showed, now we are six and Jon's got a plan for dinner...
Higgins is a very upscale restaurant; too nice a place for our drunken asses, but nobody balked at our dress or disposition. You remember Higgins from Magnum P.I., right? He was boorish and kind of an asshole, but he's got a real great place here. The lower room holds a dozen lamp lit tables of various sizes and shapes. Large paneled walls with vineyard prints, cut window archways to the middle room, and a wall of window to the front. 9 tables in the middle room, some sharing a common bench, and then 4 tables above, near the door and off the open kitchen, prints of gourds, roots and vegetables.
Down the hallway, a room to the rear. 9 booths & tables and a "C" shaped bar seating 14 with a large mirrored barback, shelves of booze and glassware over mirrors, glass front cupboards, spot lamps, a pressed tin ceiling, towers and single taps, beer signs and placards running above the bar, and the tap selections written on a blackboard.
10 taps, 5 of them regional (Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA, Laurelwood Organic Free Range Red, Bridgeport IPA, Lagunitas Sirius Ale, Rogue Juniper) and the other 5 imports (Chimay Cinq Cents, Paulaner Hefe, Lindemans Framboise, Pilsner Urquell, Guinness) and a cask offering (Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale).
Well over a hundred bottles, nearly half of them Belgians, a range of all sorts of stuff and many of them unusual to a restaurant beer list (Fonteinen Gueuze, Saison DuPont & Avec Les Bon Voeux, Petrus, Verhaeghe Vichtenaar & Duchesse De Bourgogne, DeuS, Cantillon Broucsella Grand Cru & Fou' Foune, Kerst Pater Special, DeProef Flemish Primitive & Slaapmutske Tripel Nightcap, Oud Beersel, Scaldis & Scaldis Prestige, Vapeur Cochonne, Boon, De Dolle Stille Nacht & Bos Keun, Orval, Westmalle, Rochefort, Achel, Chimay, Liefmans, Chouffe, Maredsous, Affligem, Delirium, Corsendonk, Kwak, Wittekerke, Abbaye Des Rocs, Leffe, Stella, Hoegaarden, Lindemans), plus a dozen American micros (Jolly Pumpkin, AleSmith, Full Sail, Hair of the Dog, Marin, Sierra Nevada, Boulder, Ommegang), a dozen Germans, a dozen English, and nearly 2 dozen more beers of the world. I ordered an Orval but they were out of them, so I slummed it with a DeProef Flemish Primitive (one of the types not yet available out East).
Foodwise, Higgins is all about sustainable food practices, organics & regeneratives, and foods from small local farmers. I had the red bean & pork soup (spicy, had some good heat) and the Flatiron steak with cheddar mashed potatoes, onions and greens (killer steak). Not always room for but always in want of dessert, I had the orange & lemon sorbet, accompanied by cookies (yay!!) and complimented it with a Liefmans Kriek.
Service was polite, attentive and our beerness was well received. Excellent!!
10-02-2006 01:09:24 | More by slander
4.16/5 rDev -3.7%
Through a quick review of the prices on the menu during my first visit to Higgins, I decided that I'd just dine on beer.
I wasn't really that hungry anyway; although I did take notice that several of the dishes passing before me en route looked wonderful and smelled quite good. In fact, one couple at the booth closest to me seemed enthralled with their selections. But I was here for beer...
My bartender was good, but almost too good. He was engaged in several conversations at the opposite end of the bar and just couldn't get up to me.
When he finally did arrive, I was ready. I'd made my selection and I was ready to go but no, no, no - that was too easy for him! He had to make some small talk and then make suggestions for beer. ... ... ... Well, I don't really need small talk - that's just to help bolster his tip - and I don't really need suggestions (I've been brewing professionally for close to two decades and I'd already made up my mind about my selection) but he started into it. So, OK, you know about beer! Great! So do I. I'll still take the same beer I ordered the first time, thanks. He wasn't snooty, but he seemed like a salesman. I politely declined food as well, although he did put a good sell/spin on that.
Otherwise, it's a nice looking place. It's kind of old school looking out onto the street. It's got a tin ceiling, a wood floor, wood paneled walls, and a wood topped bar (it's a very nice big block with cubes of darker wood cut-in).
And getting back to the beer, there are ten taps (a hand pump for cask?) and about a hundred beers in bottles.
It's a decent place, but not one that I would frequent much if I lived there as it's kind of expensive.
08-02-2009 03:18:27 | More by NeroFiddled
4.88/5 rDev +13%
My wife and I stopped in for a late dinner after arriving in Portland. Short walk from the downtown hotel we were staying at. The front of the restaurant was an upscale dining area and all table were full. We were told about 1/2 hour wait for the front of the restaurant, or a booth was available in the pub section. So we walked to the more casual, heavy wood looking bar area. Luckily we could order of the regular dinner menu here. The bar had about 12 stools and most were empty. A chalkboard listed beers on tap. Loads of bottled beers available too.
The tap list was varied - Laurelwood Red, Chimay, Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Paulaner Hefe, Bridgeport IPA, Dupont Les Bons, Pilsner Urquell, Lagunitas, Lindenmanns Framboise, and a cask conditioned Mirror Pond. Beer quality was fresh.
The food is phenominal, as the razor clams I had were top notch, along with the wild salmon the wife enjoyed. I also saw some eating burgers that looked outstanding, and I later found out from some locals they thought Higgin's burgers were the best in town.
Service was slow, but it was crowded. The waitress did take some time to discuss other good places to hit in Portland during our stay. She was also pretty knowledgable about the beers offered.
This is a must stop for anyone visiting downtown Portland for great food and nice beer selection.
07-12-2006 11:18:35 | More by Gavage
4.55/5 rDev +5.3%
This place could only exist in Portland.
Before I review this place, let me say that I think it a bit unfair that this place gets reviewed here. I certainly don't think it one of the better beer bars in town, yet given the rating criteria it's unavoidable that it would score high. As I recall, the Celebrator rated this place the best spot for food and beer in the country. While that may be true (I certainly can't argue against it), I think it's more about the food here then the beer selection.
As others have noted, this an upscale restaurant, along with places like Paley's Place and The Heathman, one of the highest rated restaurants in the city (according to the Oregonian and Portland weeklies - The Mercury, etc.). It's reputation is clearly deserved; the times I've eaten here the food was terrific. That being said, let me also say that I almost NEVER order beer here. The wine list is outstanding at Higgins, and in my humble opinion, most of the food here goes better with wine. However, over on the bistro/bar side of the restaurant (the jefferson st. entrance), there is a very nice bar area with something like 10 taps. There is no "crap on tap" at Higgins, and what they have available is well thought out. As others have noted, the bottle selection (quite a few Belgiums) is also excellent.
The service at this fine restaurant is professional and knowledgable, exactly what you would expect at a fine dining establishment. Ditto with the atmosphere. There is a lot of wood and the dining room is very well appointed.
I'll finish by pointing out what should be obvious. For a fine dining establishment, I don't think the food prices are particularly out of line. They're about what you would expect. Last time I was there, I think dinner for 2 was around $150. However, for a beer bar, pub or tavern, the prices would be considered outrageous. At least I feel like I can ding them for that! Cheers!
1/5/09 update. Went here recently for New Year's eve dinner. If anything, the food was even better then I remembered (had the best cassoulet I can ever recall having), and the service and atmosphere superb.... and you know, there's just something profoundly gratfiying about a place where the girl friend can get a pre dinner glass of piper heidsick champagne, while yours truly can order a glass of Pliny. This place is just excellent.
03-13-2007 16:44:45 | More by John_M
4.05/5 rDev -6.3%
A fine dining experience with a good beer list.
We made our way to the bar to start. The bar has an old timey fell to it, with a straight long bar with taps in front and mirrors behind. A few standing areas and tables fill the reasonably large area. The tap list was disappointing in that there were three open taps out of the ten or so taps there. Bottle list was nice but, as visitors, we wanted to do as much fresh, local draft as possible. Settled on Terminal Gravity IPA, which was a nice consolation.
We were seated on time in the moderately cramped but well appointed dining room. Service was prompt and attentive despite the quirkiness of the server. Dinner was very good. We had a nice salad, a blue cheese "flan" appetizer, halibut and the "whole pig" plate.
Prices were, I thought, a bit on the high side with our entrees at $29 and $30, and the duck entree topping the menu at $37.
10-22-2008 20:00:54 | More by sholland119
4/5 rDev -7.4%
I was excited to be able to stop by here during my latest visit to Portland. Higgins is located on the busy corner of Broadway and Jefferson. There are two dinning rooms on the Broadway side and a bar room in back.
White tablecloths, hardwood floors, tasteful artwork, two tone cream and green paint scheme and tin ceilings set the tone.
11 draft choices and a great bottle list with a heavy emphasis on Belgium choices. I didn't count, but I would guess they offer in excess of 100 bottles. Believe me, you will find something you like. Drafts come in glasses and pints.
Service was very informed and friendly. It was a trifle slow, but I was in no hurry. Also, their cuisine seems well suited for a more leisurely pace.
The menu contains lots of salads and starters. Two soup choices and a small but varied selection of main courses. There is lots of emphasis on PNW ingredients. They offer very nice homemade pastrami.
All-in-all, a great spot for good food and good beers.
03-15-2010 16:47:53 | More by Redrover
3.6/5 rDev -16.7%
Wow this place was even fancier than I thought it was going to be, definitely underdressed and immediately felt uncomfortable when I walked into the restaraunt area, quickly bolted for the bar and grabbed a table near some snobby people complaining about their steak they ordered, that was a treat, we ordered a bottle of Liefmans Goudenband to share and were told they just ran out, okay so we ordered something else and they were out of that as well, settled for an Oud Beersel Gueuze, a 375 ml bottle was ten dollars, not bad considering where we were, had it a few days earlier at home and really enjoyed it as well, proper glassware was brought to the table, we were a little hungry but did not really want to order any food because it looked like it would cost an arm and a leg, the fact that would be got charged three dollars for bread after we were told it was free was a joke, do not really care in the long run but still pretty lame, our waiter was not enjoyable by any means, thought he was a real know it all and talked to us like we had not had any of the beers on their bottle list before when really I have had all but about five of the hundred on there, nice bottle list but mostly all the stuff would be available in any good beer store for a much lesser price, would have been more happy if Greg was on tap but that was not there either, luckily we got to try it at Hair of the Dog a few days earlier, had around ten taps and none of them were impressive by any means, even their local brews were very widely available, I would skip this place in the future, I mean it is cool if you want to go to a real nice dinner and have a good beer with it, otherwise not impressive, still worth checking out
06-09-2009 02:00:32 | More by Floydster
4.33/5 rDev +0.2%
Ah, my bi-annual (give or take) visit to Higgins...as is often the case, these trips coincide with a rainy/sunny spring day and are unplanned. No exception here, an ambling stroll from work in a steady drizzle. A happy early birthday present to me...
Higgins, as mentioned a time or ten in prior reviews, is as classy a 'beer bar' as you'll find. It's not necessarily glitzy or glamourous, just comfortably elegant. In a dozen or so visits over the years, only once did we enjoy dinner in one of two small dining rooms that face SW Broadway; every other visit has been for a lunch, taken in the cozier bar around the corner on SW Jefferson.
The bar's space is dominated by a shelved backdrop, laden with glassware and booze bottles, garnished with faux-vintage(?) beer/wine placards and posters. South-facing windows ensure plenty of natural light, although the looming Ladd Tower condos across the street keep things much more shady than they once were. In front of the shelving is a thick slab of a bar, functional if not really ornate, and a gathering of 10-12 sturdy stools. Floors are of warm, but well- worn wood, walls are paneled in light tones and the ceiling has a vintage feel, adorned with pressed tin.
A barman (often Charles - I've seen him most every time the last 6-8 visits) offers a friendly greeting and seamlessly recites the day's specials. The cheapskate in me knows I can rely on the daily sandwich/salad special; a paltry $9 (compared with other lunch entrees in the $12-18 range) buys an exemplary portion of Higgins fare. On this latest visit it was a duck/pork terrine, garnished with quince chutney, spiced mustard, dried cherries, greens and hazelnuts layered between slabs of pumpernickel aside a heap of chunky potato salad and varied pickles...pair that with a 0.5l Hacker-Pschorr Weisse (my choice, but affirmed by the bartender as the best option) and you have something approaching the Divine. I could try to list other dishes I've had from memory, but would fail...suffice to say the food here will range from the 'merely' very good to the outstanding. As cliche as it sounds, I've not had a bad dish yet.
I've made it this far and have barely mentioned beer! Yesterday, I counted 11 taps & a cask handpump - two were out, though (Affligem Blond and HotD Greg ~ damn!). The others were: Chimay Tripel, Lindemans Framboise, Reissdorf Kolsch, the H-P Weisse (see above), Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Hopworks DOA, Double Mountain Hop Lava, and Guinness (nitro, of course); the cask was Beer Valley's Pigskin Pale. As I recall some of these are mainstays on the menu (the imports mostly) while the locals tend to rotate more (though Greg - named for restaurant owner/chef Greg Higgins - is one they keep on hand as often as possible).
A perusing of the bottled beer list (2 sides of a printed card) once seemed jaw-dropping; now only the prices seem so. It's not that the list is bad whatsoever; there's an excellent range of styles from Belgium, Germany, the UK and other points abroad. Belgians dominate the list, with about 50 bottles ranging from wits to lambics to quadrupels; the other categories have maybe 12-15 bottles each. The US collection of 20-25 is mostly comprised of Oregon locals (Rogue, Deschutes, HUB, Hair of the Dog) with a scattering of others (of note: Russian River, Jolly Pumpkin, Ommegang, Stone). Expect prices to be about double what could be found at a bottle shop and expect pints to run at least $6. A couple interesting notes: I saw Hair of the Dog's Michael and Cherry Adam from the Wood (both 12 oz. bottles) listed for $20 each; I also spotted PBR tallboys (Portland's ubiquitous hipster fave) for $4...had to laugh at that one.
With all the great new beer bars popping up throughout the metro area, it's easy to forget about Higgins. It was, is, and will remain more of an upscale restaurant than a bar...but it's still a place I enjoy on occasion and is certainly still at the top of it's game food+drink-wise. A (splurge)worthy destination - though follow my lead and try the lunch special, neither your belly or wallet will be disappointed.
Disclaimer: To review this place for food and beer in 2010, one must set aside some of what he/she knows of the craft beer 'explosion' in recent years. When Higgins first arrived on the dining scene, well over a decade ago, it was revolutionary. Fresh, local ingredients were the standard there well before the idea caught on elsewhere; local wineries were featured, too, and the beer list was among the widest ranging to be found anywhere. A 'beer steward' (the equivalent of a sommelier for the wine drinkers) is on staff now, acting to guide diners toward ideal pairings with their meals; for the educated beer drinker, the service may seem unnecessary and the tone may even be condescending - still it's an admirable gesture toward elevating beer to a much higher status at the dinner table, something this restaurant should be proud of. Kudos.
05-20-2010 13:53:09 | More by msubulldog25
4.04/5 rDev -6.5%
We walked into this place on a weekday evening after walking down from the Pioneer Courthouse Square area. At first we were a bit confused, because it appeared to be a quite fancy restaurant. We asked for the bar, and a helpful employee directed us. The bar is in a completely separated room, and has almost a ship-like feel. It's dark with lots of wood and yellow lighting. They were playing some pretty bad music. Mostly 70's easy listening type stuff.
We grabbed a spot at the small bar and perused the selection. It's actually a relatively small draught selection. About 9 on tap, and nothing crazy-good. But the Belgian bottle selection was amazing. The selection merits a 4.0 on the strength of the Belgian bottle list alone. Of course, it doesn't come cheap. This is probably the most expensive beer in Oregon. Even the stuff on tap was at least double the price it should have been. Everything appeared to be really high quality though, and served in appropriate glassware. Our server was very friendly and nice.
Overall it gets high marks, but the cost can be prohibitive. This is an excellent stop for those who live in the area and are looking for Belgians, but tourists are better off somewhere else to try Oregon microbrews at lower prices.
06-13-2010 21:44:49 | More by shivtim
Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland, OR
94 out of 100 based on 21 ratings.