Sunday, January 11, 2009

Any Weekday Afternoon in Portland: Happy Hour at the Concordia Ale House

Dolly-girl and me like to slip into the Concordia Ale House for a brew and something to hold us over. The Ale House is a local that draws our part of Stumptown. It's a joint with a few regulars shooting pool, another handful waiting for the numbers to come up, and a couple railbirds I know reading the racing form, following the action at Portland Meadows. One game or another is on, and a barfly or two are listening while playing cards or shooting 6-5-4. They don't spend much on edisons in the place, know what I mean?

We settle in at our usual table, about halfway to the door with a clear view of the front door and into the poolroom, out the back way. Force of habit I guess--never much trouble in this hop joint. But, in our game, and when you get around like me and Dolly-girl do, it's always a Betty Grable to keep an eye out. You with me on that? Not much decor to get in your way, but we didn't come for the wall hangings, if you know what I mean.

The bar girl wandered by while Dolly-girl looked at the whadda-ya-want. I already knew what I was after--something hot and spicy and cold and bitter. "It's happy hour," she chirped, and Dolly-girl's baby-blues lifted off the menu. "What's good?" "You name it--sliders, mac and cheese (we knew she wasn't talkin' street trade), ORs, bowl o' red, tacos du mer--you name it. She pronounced "taco" like something you nail down carpet with and "mer" like what the Maji left by the manger. Whatever, she was making me reconsider my usual--a firehouse and the tap jockey's favorite IPA.

Dolly-girl went for the mac and cheese with ORs in the alley while the sliders spoke to me. It takes something to get me to pass on the firehouse--bacon, cheese, hot peppers, hot BBQ sauce, and a burger on an OR--but it was afternoon, too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Just something to hold us until Dolly-girl whipped up a dinner at home that she'd been planning since The Ball dropped.

"What to drink, honey?" Missy shifted her weight from one hip to the other. She didn't write anything down, so the right hip must be food and the left one drink. Dolly-girl wasn't getting a baby in this joint, that's for sure. She started looking at the list--maybe a hundred and a half brews in the Coldspot and a couple dozen handles behind the bar. "Him first." I eyeballed the tap list and settled on the Hub IPA. "Pint?" "Is there any other way?" "Ready?" "No, yes, um, no, TG golden." Her regular. Missy headed for the kitchen, back behind the bar. "Gild one and a pint from the heart of Mumbai..." "Gotcha." Missy never had called it Bombay.

Dolly-girl was perusing the local broadsheet and I was looking at my nails, sipping at the brew, and thinking about the job I had coming up. It was a top-to-bottom on an old man--complete run-down, who, what where, when, and why. It wasn't going to be fun, and it meant I had to spend a couple days away from Dolly-girl--never like that--over in Hood River. The food arrived and I forgot what's-his-name.

The sliders were maybe half the size of a burger each, grilled just right with roses pinned on, and some wax running down the sides. All that's missing is the hot stuff, but the red and green avery islands heated them up good enough. Dolly-girl tasted the mac and cheese and got a smile on her kisser. "Hmmm, that's the ticket. Real good." She doesn't say much about food--it's all in her manner. She shook her head, ran her fingers through her lid, and took a sip of the golden. "OK, I'm good."

We finished the eats, downed the suds, thought about a refill, but passed. Missy dropped off the tab. Three Lincolns and a deuce covered the check with plenty left for Missy's apron. We headed out the front and turned west towards home on shank's mare to settle the bill-o-fare and enjoy the afternoon. When you need to hit that sorta spot, you can't beat the Alehouse.

1 comment:

Karen said...

OOoooo, another episode! And several puzzlers to boot; OR?