Chef Richard Balajadia’s food presentation can be dazzling—in his hands, green apples become swans and ahi tuna piles atop rice and vegetables to create gravity-defying sculptures—but he relies on seasonal ingredients to ensure that the dishes taste as good as they look. If organic arugula and free-range chicken don't sound like standard sports-bar fare, that’s precisely the intention. Lifelong friends and owners Michael Hoover, Todd Bardwell, and Bill Hutchins told the Register-Guard that they hired Balajadia because they wanted a menu that would appeal to their own "foodie tastes." Accordingly, even the bar’s burgers transcend their simplistic origins with jalapeño barbecue sauce, grilled portobellos, or house teriyaki sauce.
Even the bar’s drink menu rotates seasonally, with specialty cocktails that change to incorporate fresh summer fruits or entice tipplers with autumnal spices. The mixologists create their medleys of rosemary-infused Gentleman Jack whiskey, silver-agave tequila, and guava nectar at a bar where flat-screen televisions keep the atmosphere lively by showing Ducks’ games instead of documentaries about watching paint dry. The patio's red and yellow triangular shade sails for sunny days, and outdoor heaters fire up on chilly ones. DJ Reddfox transforms the vibe by spinning live on Saturday nights.
At The Highlands Brew Pub, a glittering row of silvery beer taps and the clack of pool balls beckon to passersby to stop in for a tasty craft beer and relax with their friends and neighbors. A menu of upscale pub cuisine pairs with frosty brews, with selections such as clams sautéed in white wine, prime rib sandwiches, and buttered halibut fish and chips.
Oakshire Brewing's master libation-smiths brew small batches of high-quality malts and hops in a 15-barrel, 4,000-square-foot brewhouse. Guests can visit the main brewing facility's tasting room to admire the malt magic created by the diligent staff. Weekday visitors wet their whistles on 4-ounce samplers of three year-round and seasonal selections, and Friday swillers can enjoy plentiful pints of their favorite brews. Gargle the crisp, dry hops of a Northwest–style Watershed IPA and the dark, silky suds of the Overcast Espresso stout. Or dabble in seasonal selections, such as the malty Ill Tempered Gnome Winter ale, a distant cousin of the nonalcoholic beverage sipped by Snow White's Grumpy. The brewery peddles bottles ($4–$5) and cases ($48–$60) of its regular and seasonal beer for those wishing to partake in imbibing in the comfort of their own home, and it equips swig sessions with growlers ($5) and pint glasses ($3). Guests can also advertise ale adherence with a brewery T-shirt ($18) or hat ($12) or by shouting panegyrics about beer in a crowded mall.
Axe & Fiddle combines local and regional libations with a straightforward menu of scrumptious pub fare within the inviting and historic Burkholder Woods Building. Chow down on multifaceted spuds with crinkle-cut chips and french-onion dip ($3.50) or garlic cheesy fries ($5) with a side of hollandaise sauce. The organic green salad sends pesticides packing with an extradition notice shaped out of carrots, cabbage, and green onions ($5). Venture across meaty plains with a quarter-pound burger crafted from Knee Deep 100% free-range and grass-fed beef bedecked in condiments, and paired with homefries ($8.50). Beans and greens—slathered in queso fresco, veggies, and served with corn tortillas ($6.50)—sit side by side in a copacetic show of mutual appreciation for each other’s craft.