Sunday, January 31, 2010

Portland: Thirst Wine Bar and Bistro

Posted by Kelly

As recent college graduates who are struggling to make (and wisely spend) money, getting something for free, no matter how significant, is always exciting and we immediately jump on the opportunity. Two weeks ago Katie B and I were emailed by Portland Spa and Boutique about a "Party" at the spa with free spray tanning, free B-12 shots, and other great deals. Of course we RSVP'd ASAP with a "yes please and thank you." Since we were saving so much money we felt we had to make a night of it and try a new happy hour first.

Katie B, Sofi, Megan and I decided to try Thirst Wine Bar and Bistro (0315 SW Montgomery St), just a block down from Portland Spa and Boutique on the waterfront. We sat at a table by the window and ordered drinks while looking over the happy hour menu.

The other three ordered two house whites and a house red ($5 each), but it had been a while since I had a cocktail, and although it was not discounted, I ordered "The Daisy Duke" ($8.50). Their wine was good, but I didn't regret my cocktail splurge. I love blood orange vodka and it was served up with passion fruit puree, cranberry juice, lime juice, and a splash of sparking wine. Really great, and pretty!

The food menu was not getting us too excited, but we were hungry and had to make some choices. We decided on the mini sirloin burgers (2 for $6) and since there were 4 of us we got 2 orders. Later we realized that we could have ordered 4 for $12 off the regular menu but gotten a variety of meats (lamb, sirloin, etc) with different sauces, i.e. spent the same amount of money for something better off the regular menu. This means two things, 1.) not a great happy hour deal and 2.) that the waiter slightly failed us by not pointing this option out when we ordered. They were good, but not so good that I forgot about the lack of deal I was getting.

The happy hour cheese plate (for 2-3 people) with cheese, salami, olives, and bread should really be called the happy hour bread plate with some other stuff...the cheese and salami portions were pretty small relative to the large basket of bread and the $12 price.

Finally, off the happy hour menu we chose the spinach artichoke dip ($4) and in need of some greens ordered the house salad ($7) from the regular menu. The salad was good, with pine nuts, olives, cheese and a balsamic vinegar dressing, though slightly pricey.

Right when we were feeling gypped the waiter informed us that Thursday was wine tasting night and that there were three wines we could taste for free. The night's theme was "Blends" so all wine's were mixed/blends. One white, The Climber from Clif Bar Winery in California, and two reds, The Jack from Saviah Cellars in Washington and Red Wine from Purple Hands Winery in Oregon.

Like I said, no matter how small, something free is exciting. We had our tastes and headed over to the spa content from our meal, in awe of the view of the beautiful city we live in, but not converted to Thirst regulars. I am glad I finally checked it off my list. The menu is limited and good, but I felt the happy hour was overpriced, or at least more than I can afford, compared to some of the wonderful reasonably priced restaurants and happy hours scattered all over Portland. I do recommend keeping an eye on their head chef Leslie Palmer though, she came out from New York, teaches classes on wine and cheese pairing and I keep hearing her name...


Katie said...

That drink looks tasty Kel! And free wine is always a good thing...

ThirstBistro said...

Hi Kelly - this is Chef Leslie from Thirst. Thanks for the props! Love the photos :). I wanted to comment on your happy hour pricing comments. Yes, we are not the cheapest deal in town. But our food is all locally sourced, organic when possible, meat is house ground - food is made form scratch. We try to differentiate ourselves with quality - vs putting sub-par, processed products and running a huge burger for $1.95 (like some of our neighbors). I really appreciate the feedback and we'll consider putting more happy hour food items on and some options that can be more plentiful. For example, the salami on the combo plate is From Salumi in Seattle. Not widely available and not inexpensive - but we can source different meats for the HH version. Restaurants run with high margins - and specifically non-chain, family owned, are feeling the crunch from the economy. Hard to balance trying to make ends meet and trying to provide the best deal for customers. But we can always strive to do better and your feedback helps us do that! I hope you do come back. I was a recent college grad myself once - so know that price and quality are important! Please ask for me when you visit next :)

Kelly said...

Hi Leslie- thank you so much for reading our blog! It is always great to hear an opinion from the inside...I am glad to hear that your food is locally sourced and of great quality. I did enjoy everything we ate, just trying to stick to a budget! I would love to try Thirst again though and I will be sure to ask for you when I make it back. Katie and I like to write about our restaurant revisits!

Also, I just watched the Seattle episode of Anthony Bourdain and told my friend next time we were there we are definitely going to Salumi! I will have to give your Salami combo another go around :)