First Look at BTU Brasserie Chinese Restaurant & Brewery
Oregon’s first Chinese restaurant and brewery rolled up into one tasty roll is now open to the public. Already named one of the most anticipated local openings, we previewed BTU’s unique concept last June. Last weekend we were treated to a soft opening to work out any kinks before the team opened to the public, and although BTU does not have its own in-house beer on tap yet, there is more than enough reason to visit because of the food and a great varied guest beer list.
The 7bbl brewery is all piped and plumbed, the mill room and lager tanks shiny and waiting for use with only a paper from the feds holding up production. Brewer/Co-owner Nate Yovu tells me he is anxious to get a hoppy beer out to please the locals, and after the first requisite pale ale he already has his sights set on a fresh hop beer. I am looking forward to his take on a Pre-Prohibition-style lager with rice.
I am no Chinese food expert, but I do enjoy it quite a bit, from Kung Pao chicken and fried rice takeout on SE 82nd to spicy salty Lucky Strike on Hawthorne, I was curious where BTU Brasserie would place on the landscape of Asian-inspired treats. After sampling eight or so dishes, I would say BTU’s approach is clearly among the upscale, but without upscale prices. The cuisine is actually traditional and takes a more minimalist approach. The first thing I noticed was the attention to detail, like the fact that you were neither given nor offered western utensils, only chopsticks, and there were even chopstick hold for each plate. So then I assume that the lack of any table condiments is also premeditated (although it could be just due to the not yet fully open thing), there was no Sriracha or sweet chili sauce, not even any soy sauce. Another thing I did not notice until I was a handful of dishes into the meal was that there was no rice served with anything. I scanned the menu to see if it was offered as a side, but as far as I can tell, all plates were meant to be served as is.
The decor and atmosphere of BTU is mostly standard cafe/Asian restaurant–tables and chairs with the odd Chinese art, like a watercolor brush painting of wild horses and a giant golden waving kitty above the bar. Two cooler aspects were the huge, incredibly heavy and old-looking doorways and doors that look like they were removed from a castle. I dig the mounted horizontal collection of old butchers knives. Best of all, there’s the beer list that looks like its been designed by sixteenth century feudal Japanese woodworkers who caught a glimpse of a modern day tapboard and tried to mimic it with their tools. It’s decorated each side in detailed ornamental carved dragons painted gold, with what looks like wooden oak staves mounted in between displaying each beer.
It would be completely unfair to offer any kind of review on a soft opening preview without the house beers available, but based on the experience of our group, we are all excited to return to BTU Brasserie.
BTU is now open starting at 5pm but closed on Mondays.
5846 NE Sandy Blvd
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]