Lunch today was a game of roulette. Maybe we would find someplace good, maybe not. We got in the car and drove. We drove until we found someplace. I miss doing that–it has been a while.
Anyway, we ended up in beautiful old-town Sherwood, Oregon. This little town falls into the “not-Portland” category. It was like Appalachia, but with antique stores. I don't know–maybe Appalachia has a high density of antique boutiques as well. I mean, really, you could almost hear the sound of dueling banjos in the wind. We found the one bar-slash-pub-slash-restaurant in town and wandered in. Had there been a record playing, there would have been a long and loud scraaaattttch. Had there been a piano playing, it would have halted. This would have been followed by the uncomfortable silence of all the locals swinging their heads around to look at the fer'ners. I could almost hear the middle-aged, bulging eyed waitress subconsciously say to us “you ain't from 'round here, is ya?” –the jovial russian guy and the guy with big boots and long, two-tone pink/black hair.
The lunchtime food was all right, if a tad expensive. The whole vibe of the place was off, though. It billed itself as an Irish pub on the outside. Inside, there were some signs with “witty” Irish sayings, a few cardboard shamrocks, a stuffed leprechaun, and no Guinness. To their credit, behind the formica bar were almost a dozen choices of whiskey, from Wild Turkey to Glenlivet. Everything inside seemed jumbled. Some bars start out well planned and just work. Some bars do not start out so great, but over the years gradually and organically morph into fun, usable spaces. Some bars just look like a bar supply catalog was hurled down a supercollider at a gimmicky alcohol marketing catalog, both of which exploded in a shower of crap. This was a vivid example of the latter. There were enough televisions tuned to variants of ESPN and Fox that it could safely be considered a sports bar. There was a video Keno setup that people were actively playing. There was a coin-op scratch-off lottery ticket dispenser. There were [square] miles and miles of Budweiser signage, including several neon signs. There were multiple scale models of the Budweiser Clydesdales. There was the aforementioned “cute Irish sayings” signs. There was a cheaply made bar with a trash bin permanently affixed to the front, but there were a dozen sturdy high-quality tables with cheap chairs. Toward the back, past the gambling apparatuses, was a nice bathroom with high-quality cabinetry. Some of the walls were painted wood, some of the walls had fake brick paneling. There was an hard to place odor hanging in the air.
All-in-all the place screamed out the fact that it had no identity of its own, or possibly worse: a schizophrenic identity, influenced throughout the years by an owner that desperately wanted it to be Irish, a clientele that cares for nothing but gambling, sports, and cheap alcohol, and Budweiser distributors and field sales agents that keep giving them tchotchkes to stick around the bar.
It was an okay place, in general. The adventure was fun. I doubt I will be going back any time soon.