*Shooting Portland’s newest, whiskey-centric bar, the Bit House Saloon for the @ELKcollective

BHS5-X3

There is always an emotional transition when one longstanding bar transforms into another.  The Eastbank Tavern was a stalwart on the industrial east side in Portland, at least for as long as I can remember.  One of those bars along Grand that you’d pop into after heading back across the river from a show downtown for a nightcap.  The smell of smoke and fried food, lingering in the air engrained into the DNA of the establishment, like a good, working class bar should.  Times though, they are a changing.  The neighborhood is now looking to appeal not just to the growing group of more astute imbibers, but to the younger, newer Portland crowd.  A population that values aesthetic over quirk perhaps, and sees the quality of their surroundings as important as the quality of their drinks.  A trend happening not only in that MLK/Grand corridor, but all over the city.  Evolve or get left behind as it were.  While there are many venues I’ve visited in town, I feel too many of them aim for a wine bar feel for those with a champagne budget, too easily classified as gentrificated snobbery which is totally out of place to many who have watched Portland transform over the last twenty years or so.

The beauty of this new iteration is that is still holds much of the Eastbank’s character, but has helped move this saloon into the new age of more discerning quaffers.  This newer, hipper, fancier version of Portland that has followed in the wake of the boom over the last decade has asked these venues to offer up a bit more ambiance.  What I love about the Bit House Saloon, is that it has taken the rough, grimy portland, and like many of its longstanding residents, gone from damp carpet, PBR and flannel, to wood, whiskey and leather, and well, $1 High Life Ponies for those of us looking for a back, or no frills option.  I’d always seen Portland as a working class town even if Fred and Carrie have shown us that retirement can be achieved early as long as we’re willing to not do much of anything, and it’s good to see that there can exist a bridge between this new era of craft cocktails and earlier, perhaps simpler times.  Change doesn’t have to happen entirely overnight…

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*Shooting Xico PDX, Southern Mexican cuisine and Mezcal

Xico on Division

With the aroma of freshly made corn tortillas and chile rubbed rotisserie chicken wafting through the warm and inviting space occupied at 3715 SE Division Street in Portland, you may just find yourself transported to a lighter and more festive locale.  Xico (pronounced “Chico”) is a respite from the grey winter gloom reflecting off of the wet Portland sidewalks, there to warm and whet your appetite.  For those who’ve not been fortunate enough to spend time in Mexico, you should go ahead and just take my word for it, it is the next best thing.  For those who have, this restaurant combines elements of traditional homemade southern Mexican dishes with the libations to accompany them providing a great way to relive past travel memories.  I was contacted by Liz Davis, manager of Xico, to shoot some of the authentically inspirational culinary creations that she, chef Kelly Myers, and owner Daniel Thomas have brought to life here.  I’m a self admitted non food photography professional, but with some other recent restaurant type work fit firmly under my belt of late, I was excited by the challenge and after meeting with both Liz and Dan, I knew that their vision was something I wanted to help capture for them, the fact that they fed me and gave me liquor didn’t hurt either.

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