I was meeting a friend for lunch. Our first choice was Tara Thai, where a magnificent heritage tree shades the large deck. As it turned out, they were closed Mondays. No problem…nearby is Meriwether’s, where you can tell from the outside somebody in charge cares about plants.
While no where near as dramatic as the heritage tree, there is no lack of leafy shelter for the large outdoor dining deck.
So in we went, asking for an outdoor table.
This is a popular fair weather destination, so I was glad we had planned on an early lunch. Best to get reservations if you plan to eat here.
There are varying levels of exposure to the sun, and the whole space is enclosed and shielded from the street.
With plantings all around the perimeter and special touches like a pair of these giant urns flanking the entry and a gurgling fountain centrally located, it feels like a garden party (with a sound level to match, making quiet conversation a challenge). Meriwether’s maintains its own farm, so the salad greens are a wonder of crisp freshness (a little underdressed for my taste). This was a favorite haunt back when it was L’Auberge and then The Woodstove. This latest incarnation is less a culinary experience and more a place to revel in one of Portland’s rare perfect days.
Each McMenamins Theater Pub has its own character, while the signature funky/artsy approach is a constant. Their domed building in St Johns was moved here after doing duty at a Worlds’ Fair. The inside of that dome is paneled in wood and is where movies are shown.
The grounds are not as meticulously kept as at, say, the Kennedy School property, but this unusual oak lording it over the parking lot lets us know there is a plantsman afoot.
The vibe here is casual/friendly. You can see that it makes Richard happy. The pub-grub is unremarkable and the spinach salad was swimming in dressing…best to ask for it on the side (am I hard to please, or what?)
Mature trees and shrubs create a nice sense of enclosure.
A variety of textures keeps it interesting.
A few outstanding specimens were unknown to me. I loved this one.
I think that is a tamarack tree in the center of the above shot: something we don’t see every day. All of the foliage keeps this space cool and pleasant. No AC in the theater, but by nightfall it was time to take what was left of our beers inside to watch Snow White and the Huntsman (pure escapism).
Portlanders flock to outdoor tables the minute the sun comes out. I don’t really see the attraction of sitting on the sidewalk with cars rushing by. We needn’t settle for that with these two oases (and many others) offering leafy alternatives. Of course, a streetside seat on any corner of 23rd Avenue is prime real estate for people watching.
Not being very good at planning ahead I’ve never seen the back garden at Meriwether’s–your post has inspired me to get going!
These look like wonderful places for outdoor dining. I’ve never been much for sitting streetside, breathing exhaust fumes either. But sitting in the middle of a garden eating luscious food sounds ideal. I’ll keep Meriwether’s in mind if I ever make it down to Portland. Of course, I’m amassing so many places to visit down there (lots of nurseries), I’m going to need to stay for a month.
What a great place. I like eating al fresco and this looks like such a nice place to be. I can’t tell what many of the plants are, but you are right, lovely colors and textures. Eye candy all over the place!! Sorry the salad was a little overdressed…. 🙁
Bria~I worked out pretty good for a second choice.
Alison~Portland awaits you.
Janet~Mystery plants always intrigue me, but sorry for the lack of proper ID’s.
And for a moment I thought we were going to be joining you on your patio!
I love eating outdoors and will even put up with a narrow sidewalk if it means good people watching!
Loree~I hope you will be…in October.
Nice! Yeah, I refuse to eat outside unless it’s sheltered away, with shade. I cannot imagine why people want to eat in the blaring sun in a parking lot…takes all kinds, I guess 🙂
What fun places. I think I would have just as much, if not more fun gawking at all the plants as eating. Great post.
Scott~My sentiments exactly.
Grace~You’re my kind of lunch date.
ugh – you’re making me so hungry. And I want to go somewhere nice!
Wendy~”nice” and “outdoor dining” used to be a contradiction, but no longer.
I love seeing the inside of Merriwethers – it’s been intriguing me for years now, but I always imagined it as rather expensive. We are more the McMenamin’s type, and the St Johns Pub is a favorite. It’s the perfect shady place on a hot Portland summer night. I usually feel about how Richard looks after a visit and meal there!
Jane~It IS expensive, and not really good enough to warrant the price, food-wise. Yes, Richard’s face in that shot just about says it all. We should meet there sometime.