Before it mutated into a weaponized haze of reality shows, MTV aired a novelty known as the music video. These bite-sized works of art, which married pop songs to striking imagery, revolutionized the entertainment industry and ushered in an era of music known as “new wave.” For the task of curating and introducing these fresh sounds and flamboyant sights to audiences, MTV even created its own version of the disc jockey—the VJ.
Though MTV has sent its stable of video jockeys out to pasture, VJ Kittyrox carries the pastel, shoulder-padded torch of Adam Curry and Nina Blackwood as she masterminds the 80s Video Dance Attack. For the last seven years, this popular shindig has united generations of Portlandians with its five-hour feast of '80s-centric sensation. Across 10-foot screens, VJ Kittyrox projects classic videos from artists such as Duran Duran and Michael Jackson as audiences of Breakfast Clubbers and Pretty in Pinkers perfect their cabbage patch, running man, and Pat Benatar shimmies. A bombastic, thumping sound system and a dazzling light show accentuate the time warp as audiences deck themselves in '80s garb and shake away memories of unsolved rubik’s cubes.
The accolades accorded several of LaVelle Vineyards' wines in the pages of Wine Enthusiast magazine serves as evidence of the diligent work of founder Doug LaVelle and his son, Matthew, who tends the vines today. After taking over the winery—then one of the oldest in Southern Willamette Valley—in 1994, Doug took it upon himself to make a number of improvements to its antiquated technology and distribution network. He started the wine club in 1995, and just recently opened a brand new wine bar and tap room off of International Way in Springfield called the LaVelle Tap Room. The tap room serves as an in-town location for wine club members, but also to provide a new wine-bar-meets-tap-room experience with more than 30 wines to choose from and several local beers on tap.
Doug's investments paid off. Today, with Matthew as lead winemaker, the winery ferments grapes both from its original Willamette Valley location and another site in the Columbia Valley in eastern Washington. At the rustic Elmira winery, visitors can recline on the sunny deck, tour the winemaking facilities, or outsmart tipsy minotaurs in the garden's labyrinth.
In the mild climes of the Willamette Valley, gentle slopes and low elevation nurture the 35 acres of wine grapes that produce Ankeny Vineyard's collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, and other signature wines. Vineyard owner Joe Olexa planted his first grapes in 1982, and with the help of winemaker Andy Thomas, the varietals have stood the test of time to become perennial award-winners at the Oregon State Fair and beyond. Visitors converse on the winery's patio over glasses of pinot noir and mélange blanc, surveying the scenic Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge and its droves of migratory waterfowl. An onsite outdoor, wood-burning pizza oven allows for wines to balance with the flavors of melted cheese on weekends during the summer months, which will have to suffice until cheese agrees to be bottled.
From cracking two-row malted barley in a roller mill to carbonating at 31 degrees Fahrenheit, brewer Adam Roberts’s five-step process yields each of 4th Street Brewing Co.’s handcrafted beers. A window in the brewpub’s restaurant lets patrons take a peek at the working microbrewing equipment, which churn out the ales, porters, and IPAs that make up the five mainstay brews. Adam also crafts seasonal beer selections such as the Get Jiggy Wit It, a belgian white ale, and the czech pilsner.
In the kitchen, Chef Abe uses locally raised, organic ingredients to craft pub food that complements Adam’s beers. Those dishes include beer-battered onion rings by the pound or half-pound, charbroiled or stone-oven-baked pizzas with toppings such as IPA barbecue sauce and artichoke hearts, and a pork-fillet sandwich topped with french fries. Meals unfold in a spacious dining room where sports flicker across nine high-definition televisions and magician Brian Proctor dazzles diners every Friday night by performing card tricks and magically, with only the use of minutes, turning once hot dishes into lukewarm ones. 4th Street also accommodates private feasts in two party rooms equipped with amenities such as a 78-inch projection screen and a private bar.
Shonna’s menu of hearty pub grub and potable potions pairs perfectly with the lively environment, which include pool tables, Thursday karaoke, and high-definition televisions. Make stomachs soar with a dozen chicken wings ($8.95) before satisfying carnivorous cravings with a classic cheeseburger served with fries ($7.95). Mouths in the mood for triangular shaped cuisine can snack on Shonna’s homespun pizza, available by the slice or pie (starting at $9.95), or test the hyperbolic heroism of super nachos ($8.95). Complement nighttime noshing with a sample from Shonna’s lengthy list of libations, ideal for providing patrons with beverage-inspired boldness needed to take the karaoke stage on Thursdays' Ladies' Nights for heart-warming ventriloquist renditions of “Danny Boy.”
A historic mural spreads across a wall inside Monteaux's Public House. A visual interpretation of Oregon history from the early 1800s to the late 20th century, the hand-painted work depicts trolleys and buildings, local farm culture, and travel by railroad and balloon. The mural itself has been there for more than a decade: it marks one of the first steps the four founders took to decorate their restaurant, an ode to the centuries-old tradition of the American public house.
Monteaux's Public House also preserves culinary traditions by preparing good old-fashioned food and folding napkins into the shape of Benjamin Franklin's hungry face. The menu features meals both American and foreign, but everything's made from seasonal, local ingredients when possible. Entrees of marinated flat iron steak and wild salmon fillet join house specialties such as Cajun prawn étoufée and halibut fish and chips. The bar's taps, meanwhile, pour several rotating Oregon beers. And whether dining inside or on the dog-friendly patio, visitors can utilize the pub's WiFi.