Two Nights Out. Rum Club and Fireside

She said

The Weekend Agenda:  Rum Club on Friday night 


It’s about time someone dedicates a bar to rum!  Portland so many beer havens, so I’m glad somebody remembered the other alcohol.  Any place located on a triangular street has got to be cool.  The Rum Club’s quieter patio entrance belies the boisterous indoor bar.  It’s loud here.  Really loud.  The place filled up in a hurry, but we managed to snag a seat.

The ambience is cool.  I kind of feel like I’m in a bar on a beach in Cuba and Ernest Hemingway is going to walk in any minute and ask to join us at our table in the corner.   I ordered the Hula Baby for my cocktail and Mac and Cheese for dinner.  The cocktail was yummy with light rum, pineapple and lime. Even with the large crowd,  our service was very good.  Food was moderately priced.


Here’s the thing.  Even if Hemingway did walk in, I wouldn’t be able to hear a damn charming thing that he had to say because it’s just too @#$%ing loud in here!  Really.  This is the kind of place you take someone who is really dull because you don’t have to worry at all about making any kind of conversation here. The stereo is ridiculously loud.  Even if I was 30 years younger, I’d have a hard time hearing anybody here.

Hear no evil. Or anything else.

Hear no evil. Or anything else.

The Mac and Cheese was a little dry and the portion was too small.  On the other hand, is there ever enough Mac and Cheese?  Parking is a pain here. One is likely to walk a few blocks before finding a spot.

Overall, I probably would not return to the Rum Club.    Despite the wonderful cocktail menu, cool ambiance, and good service,  it’s just not worth it if you desire any verbal interaction with your date or accompanying friends.

The Weekend Agenda:  Movie, “Phoenix” and Dinner at “Fireplace” on Saturday Night


Movies have always been a difficult topic in my marriage, from selecting  films  to reaching any kind of consensus on our evaluation of  films.  Tonight was no exception.  We finally agreed to see “Phoenix” at Cinema 21, but our consensus ended there.

The setting of “Phoenix” is immediate post-World War II as a young Jewish woman returns home after her release from a concentration camp.  Her non-Jewish husband does not realize she has survived.  The betrayal of her husband, which landed her at the concentration camp in the first place, and his ongoing betrayal after the war, is gradually revealed to her.  It is a melancholy story that exposes the “human aftershocks” of the post-war period.  I love that someone is telling a woman’s story and the dignity and courage that arose out of her lost dreams and hopelessness.  

I’m not sure that my husband and I saw the same film.  His take was quite different than mine.  We discussed our diverse perceptions of the film as we walked to “Fireplace,” a restaurant on NW 21st. 

fireside ourside

Based upon our heated discussion about the movie, I decided to eat/drink smokey that night.  I started out with a cocktail called “Summer Barbeque.”  It was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had, with a grilled orange fruity flavor.  It’s a good thing I never had a drink this tasty in college or I never would have graduated. I continued the smokey theme that night with the Burrata Salad of grilled peaches and arugula.  This is my kind of food.  Even though I don’t eat much meat, I love the flavor of grilled food and it’s really hard to find vegetarian options with a barbecue flavor that can be eaten as a main dish.  

The ambiance of Fireplace could be described as chic.  We snagged seats in front of the fireplace. By the time we finished the meal, our somewhat fiery film discussion had smoldered.  


Parking is always a bear in this part of town.

He said

Rum Club

Fridays nights are usually lounge night. After work we like to try a new drinks and bar food, although almost always on the East side.

I grew up on the East side, in Henry Huggins neighborhood. I went to Alameda and Grant (go Generals) and would never consider living on the West side. Well, maybe the NW, but I am East side through and through.

Growing up the area around Burnside and 10th was perhaps scummy-est part of East Portland. No longer. Like all the sketchy parts of East side, they are slowly being assimilated into the Portlandia collective.

We decided on the Rum Club. I will spare you the Chuck Palahniuk reference. See. I have some self-control.

It is a nice lounge. The outside is cool,

Rum Club all lit up.

Rum Club all lit up.

and the inside has a pretty back bar

rum club back bar

We sat inside rather than the patio. The problem with sitting outside is always cigarette smoke. Not my favorite air freshener.

The drinks were delicious. I had a Rum Club Old Fashioned (Bacardi 8 Aged Rum & Funky Jamaican Rums, Bitters, Demerara Syrup, Orange Peel, Big Cube) followed by a Sandman Slim (Bourbon, Jamaican Rum, Bonal Apéritif,Lemon, Passion Fruit, Orgeat, Crushed Ice). 10 and 12 dollars respectively.

I am about to start the third book in the Sandman Slim series. The drink was not a bitter, angry killer from hell, unlike the protagonist of the books, who is a “monster who kills monsters.” The drink only made me happy, so perhaps it killed the monster of urban angst. I could not tell if the waiter knew who Sandman Slim was due to sound.

The food was also tasty. I went for the Cuban Braised Pork Sandwich with
Jarlsberg, Housemade Pickles, Mustard, Potato Salad for 9 bucks. I have avoided pickles most of my adult life, associating them with what is found on a McDonalds cheeseburger. My bad.  This year, thanks to the lets pickle everything trend, I have discovered that all that is pickled is not dreck. I would have had a third drink with desert, but they were out of the coconut rice pudding. Such a shame.

The only downside for a geezer was the sound. When we sat down the music was loud, but at least it was clear and undistorted and we could talk. But once the bar filled up the sound level becomes overwhelming. We could not carry on a conversation among the three of us. It would be an excellent bar to practice sign language, but I only know a few rude gestures and they did not seem germane to the conversation, only useful for driving. As I grow more hard of hearing loud venues have less appeal since I have always been a terrible lip reader.

Go when the bar opens in the middle of the week or if you have no interest in conversations and just want good food and drink.


The next day we went to a movie, Phoenix, at the Cinema 21. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie 99%, and calls it

A spellbinding mystery of identity, illusion, and deception unfolds against the turmoil of post-World War II Germany in the stunning new film from acclaimed director Christian Petzold.

Boy did I miss something. Totally unbelievable. The main plot device revolves around a woman who has plastic surgery after being shot in the head in 1945 and as a result not only does her husband not recognize her, there are no scars. The problem with being a doctor was I could not get past how ridiculous this premise was. It didn’t help that the sound editing was over the top. Every foot fall and creak was played louder than the dialog. All the critics loved it but I thought it was a cinematic Oakland, no there there.

The only part of the movie I enjoyed was listening to the German. I enjoy hearing other languages and English often sounds so much better when others speak it. If I could I would mandate that news anchors would be either Indian or German, the sportscaster would be Scottish and the weatherman Jamaican.  The next snowmegeddon would be so much better if covered with a Jamaican accent.

After wasting 90 minutes on tectonic blandness I needed a drink. Or two.

As long as we were on the wrong side of the river, we decided on Fireside in the old Music Millennium building. Those of you from the vinyl era will remember the Music Millennium as THE place to buy records and drug paraphernalia.

Fireside, oddly, has two fireplaces

A fireplace

A fireplace

We sat far right to watch the passersby.

We sat far right to watch the passersby.

and a lovely back bar that, unfortunately, we could not see from our seat next to the fire.

Perfect for Halloween.

Perfect for Halloween.

Be careful of the flames however. Judging from the bench in the restroom, there is a risk of igniting flatulence.

Beware the combination of flame and gas.

Bathroom bench. Beware the combination of flame and gas.

After a Summer’s Nectar (Whippersnapper whiskey, nectarine shrub,ginger liqueur, gentian liqueur, IPA, $9) the movie faded from memory. Ahhhh. Alcohol.

For dinner I had the blackberry BBQ chicken that was good, but too much catsup and not enough blackberry. I compared it to my own blackberry BBQ sauce recipe and found it somewhat less tasty, although the spoon bread, a form of corn bread, was yummy. Adding a pint of IPA and movie? What movie?

Chicken and Spoonbread.

Chicken and spoon bread.


Staring out the window at the passerby’s reminds me that NW Portland is certainly different on a Saturday evening than during  the weekday when I am work in the neighborhood. Doesn’t seem like Portland, more like LA or LO. But I am grunge at heart.

When I was a kid NW 23rd had nothing of interest and the Cinema 21 was the theater where we saw double feature kung-fu and samurai movies, not art movies. PDX has changed, mostly for the better, in the last 50 years.

For dessert I had their version of s’mores: house made graham cracker & marshmallow with dark chocolate ganache. 4 pieces on the plate.  It always bugs me when a desert has 3 portions.  Too hard to share between two people and it is hard to precisely split most deserts in half.  Yes, I am that petty. Delicious but I needed a tall glass of skim milk instead of the (rotating) IPA. Cake, s’mores, and chocolate chip cookies almost mandate a glass of milk. Beer just doesn’t go with some food.

There were 4 on the plate.

There were 4 on the plate.

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