Concordia Ale House

JLowe's already covered this place, just shy of a month ago, but I get a crack at it too, if only to explain new rule of sorts.

You see, tonight our wives were heading out to dinner, which meant that JLowe and I had to head out to dinner as well. I mean, really, we didn't strictly have to, but what fun is it to stay in?

We discussed our options. The first idea I had was Halibut's, over on Alberta, because I haven't had fish and chips for awhile. But, as we talked over that option, a couple of thoughts came to mind.

First, Halibut's (or any good fish and chips place) was a touch more expensive than I was down for this evening. And, second, I had my daughter and didn't remember if Halibut's had kiddie seats. So a new option needed to be found.

My next thought was Concordia. JLowe loves it. I like it a lot, too. And they have a wide selection of beer, which I like a lot. And they have kiddie seats, which I like a lot. And they serve good grilled cheese, which just made it too good to pass up.

So, off we went. As we arrived, we were both starved and, just as importantly, parched. The service was prompt, and beers were quickly ordered.

I went for the Caldera something or other, a beer from (I believe) Southern Oregon which was quite tasty. JLowe got the Nostradamus, and later opted for an ESB. Whatever. Beer is good, but it's not the point of a food blog.

We opted for an appetizer. Last time we did this, we downed some onion rings. This time we went big and ordered the Buffalo Wings.

I wasn't expecting much. Wings can be wildly inconsistent, depending on where you go. My old favorites used to be at Big Daddy's, until they started sucking. I've been at a loss for favorites since (though Fire On The Mountain, over on Interstate Avenue, is quite good, but that's for another day).

The order came out pretty quick (and, to my pleasant surprise, they brought my daughter's grilled cheese at the same time, which was great because I was dreading having to watch her sob as we ate spicy chicken and she sat, hungrily, being denied nourishment). The wings were quite good. Meaty, without an actual wing in the bunch. What was there were actually 10 smaller-size drumsticks. The sauce was nice and spicy. They came with ranch (really, I think wings should come with bleu cheese, but you can't have it all...) and an assortment of carrots and celery.

Having bitten off about as much as I could chew, I hoped that my burger would be quick so that I could down it before my body realized I was already at capacity. They obliged, which was nice, and also unexpected. I have to say this for CAH: in the past 6 months or so, since my first visit, the service has gotten much, much better.

I ordered the Firehouse, which is JLowe's favorite burger there, and mine as well. There's a picture of it on his prior post. It's a half-pound patty with a couple of onion rings, pepper jack cheese, a spicy sauce of some sort, and jalapeno slices. Very good. Very heavy. And very flavorful.

This leads me to one of my primary reasons for writing, actually. A little piece of house-keeping.

In the middle of eating, I mentioned to JLowe (who was looking on hungrily at my burger, since a recent dietary issue has him avoiding the Firehouse for a month or so) that my burger was very good tonight. He retorted by noting that he was considering in his mind whether the Firehouse was the best burger in town.

I stopped eating immediately. JLowe had blasphemed.

Though we haven't been there recently to allow a review (since all reviews must be posted within a day of eating at a place, to keep us honest and current), it is well-settled in my mind that Stanich's (and, particularly, the one in NE Portland) has the best burgers in town. Particularly the "World's Greatest Cheeseburger," an aptly-named behemoth topped with cheese, bacon, ham, an egg, and the ubiquitous special sauce (really, why does everyone think it's so special when we all know that it's thousand island dressing?). We've both acknowledged that this is the burger by which all other burgers are to be measured, and we've both universally failed to find anything even close to wresting the title away from it.

So, I was shocked at JLowe's impudence. He'd clearly lost his marbles. And, yet, I needed to really think this through because, damn it, the Firehouse is a really good burger.

A compromise was accomplished when I pointed out that we were comparing apples to oranges. Burgers have a traditional range of toppings, including (and pretty much limited to) cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickle (or relish), catsup, mustard, mayo, special sauce, and for fancy folks mushrooms, eggs, ham, and bacon.

The Firehouse, therefore, isn't strictly a burger. It has an onion ring, jalapeno's, and a spicy sauce (as opposed to the special sort).

So, we've reached a compromise, and it will frame our future burger discussions. There are burgers, and there are "boutique burgers," which are those that have special and entirely non-traditional flourishes which remove them from the typical burger discussion.

The new rule set, and with an agreement that it would be posted forthwith, I returned to mowing through my newly-dubbed boutique burger. So far, the best boutique burger I've encountered in town.

And, by the way, I think this place has the best fries in the city. Bar none. If I find better, I'll let you know. But don't hold your breath.

With 4 beers, an appetizer, two burgers and a grilled cheese sandwich, the bill came up to $49. Not too shabby. And we got a new rule, a nice buzz (at least in JLowe's case), a full toddler, and a resolution to our hunger out of the deal.

If you can, go to the Concordia Ale House. It is very, very hard to walk out disappointed...


sam said...

I agree. Concordia is a gem, and since the new owners have been in, they have made numerous changes- The most I've noticed have to do not only with the accomodations- new plasma screens, new felted tables, carpet etc. but also I think the service and food has gotten exptra attention- No doubt because the new owners come from a family restaurant background- Also Halibut's is good, but really expensive- The owner is cool to me, but I hear he isn't know for that. And more unhealthy than it needs to be- A shame for some of the best fish in town to all be drowned in trans fat. :(

Anonymous said...

I agree that the new ownership at CAH has been a plus on all fronts. I'm more of a Beer Geek myself and the taps/Bottle selection @ CAH still continues to impress 'n amaze. Food is still top quality for the price. This place is also the best kept secret PDX breakfast spot in town. (Really.) CAH serves the best Eggs Benedict and Steak & Eggs in town Sat/Sun only. Very nice that you can enjoy a pint with brekkie too. Best of luck Jerry & Jason! If you love beer and live in NE, please continue to support....