Saturday, April 03, 2010

Victory Bar

3652 SE Division St
Happy Hour: 5 - 7 PM



Two things:

1. The spaetzle is AMAZING. From what I can tell looking through to the kitchen, each pan of melted Gruyere goodness is made fresh, then mixed with spaetzle and topped with crispy shallots. Perhaps I'm wrong about how it's made...but it sure does taste freshly made in all of its deliciousness. Every bite is worth the calories, the clogged arteries, and any other body-damaging character that really good cheesy pasta dishes offer. During Happy Hour, you can get a bowl for just five dollars. For two dollars more, you can get it any time the bar is open.



2. The Victory Bar fills up fast on a Friday night. So fast, that you'd better plan to be there when the place opens at five or expect to stand, hovering if you please, waiting for a table to clear. The crowd also brings out the volume of the place. It's LOUD. Like--hear every word that the people at the adjacent tables are saying because they have to shout to be heard--loud. From what I've heard (no, not through the hollers) this place is pretty quiet on a Tuesday or Wednesday...when the spaetzle is just as good.


We walked in to the Victory Bar when it was just beginning to fill up. The server was quick to stop by with water and glasses, and with the menus right there at the table, we were set. The happy hour menu only has three food options...but the regular menu has plenty of cheap eats on it, too. Rather than ordering all at once, we took it one step at a time. First hushpuppies and the spaetzle, then the salad, and finally an order of the weekly sausage special (this week's offering: boar).


The hushpuppies were hot. Luckily, I wasn't the first to bite into one. Waiting just long enough, I was able to bite through the crisp outer layer and into the soft cornbread, mixed with cheese and fresh jalapenos. They were good but a bit overshadowed by the rest of the food. In fact, I had completely forgotten we'd ordered them until I added pictures to this post.

The salad was made with fresh organic greens, sliced radishes and pickled onion and was dressed with a housemade mustard vinaigrette. The flavor, although a bit bitey on its own, went perfectly with the German fare served throughout our meal.



The sausage was served on a bed of red cabbage. If only I had known that they had red cabbage on the menu! I was able to sneak a bite that hadn't yet touched the meat. After that, though, it was pretty well tainted. Too bad! I love, love, love red cabbage.

It's the beer list that makes this place well-known throughout SE Portland (and, all of Portland, I'm sure) but--as I don't drink the stuff--I ordered a glass of the house red wine (at just five dollars) to accompany my meal. It was a Syrah this evening...but, you'll have to ask the server to find out what's on rotation when you are there.

Finding a server might prove to be a bit of a challenge, though. It seems that they are one of those establishments that believes in sharing the tables. All servers help all customers. On a busy night like tonight, the plan was failing. Big time. The food was slow to arrive (even the salad). Our drinks took longer than normal. And, we could have walked out a little sooner (opening up a table for one of the parties waiting at the door) if our check had arrived in a more timely manner. And, it wasn't just our table. I heard the table across from us ask if their order of spaetzle had been completely missed, it took that long to arrive.

In the end, the spaetzle makes up for it all. My suggestion, though, is to try it on a weeknight to avoid the crowd and the excessive noise levels.

Food: Exceeds
Drink: Meets
Service: Does Not Meet
Ambiance: Nearly Meets
Value: Meets

-b

Victory Bar

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