Jeff and Erin Smith, owners and founders of America’s first cider pub and taphouse, are opening a much more ambitious Bushwhacker Cider Woodlawn location in Northeast Portland in the next month. If you are familiar with Bushwhacker’s original flagship location that’s been on SE Powell since 2010, then the new location may take your by surprise. Bushwhacker Woodlawn is spacious, rustic, much more refined, and holds an air of classy authenticity that the original does not have.
Taking over a brand new development in a LEED-certified building kitty corner to Breakside Brewery’s pub and original location, the new Bushwhacker has an air of sophistication that is far from the colder concrete industrial space of the flagship. While husband and wife and owner team Jeff and Erin have actually strived to differentiate the new spot from the old, it’s probably unnecessary considering the geographical distance and atmosphere. While you won’t find nearly the bottle selection of ciders that you will at the SE location, you will find more taps and a real kitchen and fully realized menu and bar.
With bar seating, a few booths, roll-up windows with nice views of the neighborhood, a game room, and six outdoor picnic tables, the new Bushwhacker is fairly expansive. The problem with many of these new modern buildings with condos above is they come off as cold as a parking structure. Bushwhacker has done a great job warming up the space and using colors borrowed from neighboring anchor businesses in a method that makes the new pub feel immediately at home. Red brick colors from neighbors Firehouse Restaurant and yellows from Breakside make it both warm and deep with high ceilings. Even almost a month ahead of opening, the sparse but well chosen decor includes old cider and apple artwork and signage, rusty oak barrel hoops, well-worn old wood fixtures, and siding from an old barn and wood from apple boxes. The outdoors are beautiful with a live garden wall that is beginning to take off and south and west facing seating that gets all of the sun but also has cover that doubles as solar panels.
Jeff Smith takes his love of bar games up a notch with a shuffleboard table unlike any I have seen, as well as a dartboard and tons of board games. Bushwhacker Woodlawn is more of a pub than the original location ever was in that it will also have a full liquor license. The bar will operate with 14 tap lines–12 of them for ciders and 1 beer and 1 non-alcoholic beverage because they will be kid friendly at this spot. The liquor selection–inspired by Grain & Gristle’s, like it or not–chosen based on preference will focus on fruit brandies and Calvados, along with some cider cocktails. Don’t expect rum and Coke or a lot of whiskeys, margaritas, or any of the standards. The cider bottle selection will be limited to one 2-door cooler featuring the greatest hits from the main Bushwhacker and a shelf dedicated to their own brand.
One of the largest and most progressive advances is a full kitchen headed up by Chef Patrick Leau, who earned his bona fides at Xico and Biwa. Patrick is taking inspiration from South German cuisine, which is a bit different than the standard German food we know. The menu will have more focus on seafood and smoked and cured fish we don’t see as often in Oregon, as well as more regional specialties. The emphasis will be on making a meal from small but affordable plates with sides in the $3-$5 range, small plates $8-$12, and entrees $12-15. Cider will be incorporated in different ways, like housemade cider vinegars, and Patrick is looking forward to specialty seasonal ciders from Bushwhacker, like one with conifer tips to lend a piney and juniper notes to the food options.
Bushwhacker Cider – Woodlawn is likely to be opening around March 29th, 2015 and a Grand Opening in early April.