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.
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.
Nationally renowned tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum's silky-smooth, gospel-soaked jazz nuzzles ears in a Valentine’s Day concert. At a release show for his new album, Romance Language, Whalum commemorates the passionate holiday with saxwork that sends amorous euphonies floating over the audience and foam-tipped darts toward insufficiently lovey-dovey couples. Whalum's decades-long career has taken him to sessions with top singers—including an appearance on Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"—and collected him 11 Grammy nominations and one win. The Hilton’s full bar loosens toe-tapping muscles and lubricates tongues left dry from absentmindedly snacking on handfuls of programs, and guests can upgrade to dinner and hotel-stay packages by registering in advance.
When he's not whipping the youth league of the Portland Timbers into shape, Waterfront Fitness's owner Jason Bell heads to the city’s riverside parks to shape up everyday citizens with rigorous athletic drills. He and his team of six trainers convene beneath Portland's sky during all but the coldest months, incinerating calories during one-hour boot camps held every morning and evening. Other group sessions include Box Fit classes, featuring high-speed punching drills and cardiovascular throwdowns beneath the boughs of mighty park trees, which quickly learn to never pick on any of Jason's students. The trainers also provide general and sport-specific personal training for exercisers in search of an intense, highly personalized regimen to build muscle or burn fat.