A mid-size, comfortable and reverent music and event venue. The hardwood floors, chandeliers and spacious elegance evoke the lobby of a Western hotel, reborn as a music hall and art nouveau lounge. The atmosphere is part club-house, part secret society. Karaoke, comedy and dancing round out the schedule.
This season, a brand-new bar has materialized alongside the established music venue for a true multisensory evening out. Recently released into the wild on July 10 of this year, Bar Bar's grand opening springboards an outdoor-patio concert series, smoking and non-smoking patios, and a creative cocktail menu. A succinct lineup will be available, with more options added with each massing moonset. Hang a fang on a 3/8 lb. classic burger ($5.50, $6 with cheese) before cooling off with a refreshing cocktail at the new space fashioned by renowned Portland entrepreneurs Alicia J. Rose, Jim Brunberg, Peter Bro (Aalto Lounge, Broder Cafe, Savoy Bistro), Tali Ovadia (The Whole Bowl), and Kevin Cradock.
Judd Rench's Bula Kava House transports diners to the calming South Pacific with a menu of exotic kava and Hawaiian cuisine. Kava, an ancient beverage originating from Oceania, is concocted by mixing water with a ground root similar to the black-pepper plant and straining out the liquid, producing calming effects on the imbiber. Slurp down a lulling libation such as the powerful Hawaiian Isa, which emanates a mild gingery flavor ($4), or the Melo Melo from Vanuatu, a sweet serum so relaxing it could get a grizzly bear to hibernate in a crowded hotel lobby ($3.50). Pair a stress-subduer with a Hawaiian nosh such as the Pele sandwich with pan roasted turkey, Tillamook cheddar, and avocado surfing atop a ciabatta bun ($7). Or, sample the Chocolate Haupia pie, which couples sacchariferous dark chocolate and coconut custard with a nutty, macadamia-shortbread crust ($5).
It's a timeless scene: a man in a suit masterfully navigates the ivory keys of a Mason & Hamlin grand piano on a small stage, its Plexiglas lid illuminating the hammers as they delicately pad along the strings. On stools gathered around the instrument, a couple dines on braised filet mignon, and a bit farther back in the softly lit, intimate venue, a waiter carries a tray of gourmet cocktails. Every night, Ivories Jazz Lounge & Restaurant sets the stage for world-class jazz players and the culinary stylings of chef and occasional ice sculptor Art Trafton. The menu is loaded with supper-club classics such as beef au poivre, peppercorn bleu cheese NY steak, and a diverse selection of pastas. The bar stirs up similarly comforting signature drinks, among them the alpine with peppermint schnapps, whipped cream, and hot cocoa.
Around dusk, ensembles that often include founder and master pianist Jim Templeton take to the stage with a blend of improvisation and standards. Nightly events range from jazz collectives to blues players, and occasionally depart from the jazz-club template to feature standup, poetry, and workshops on topics ranging from music to jazz-style stage-diving etiquette.