Corvallis, Oregon’s Mazama Brewing has been on a growth spurt, purchasing the classic Big River Restaurant in downtown Corvallis and now opening a Portland-area location at Orenco Station. The new Hillsboro, OR taproom opened just a few weeks ago but is already serving up a full brunch menu in a comfortably modern, bright and clean space right next to the Orenco Station MAX line stop.
Orenco Station pub is certainly a huge step away from Mazama Brewing’s first taproom at the brewery that’s been open for six years. While that space is tiny and bare bones, more of a small tasting room, this is a full service New American-style restaurant. It’s very white, clean and elegant with table service, multiple seating areas and a small bar with twenty taps.
Walking in the glass doorway, a host stand greets you with a more kid-friendly dining area off to the left, with tall tables and window seating, and the bar off to the right. Mazama owners have talked about putting in a brewery here, but it’s unclear where that would be placed as this space seems filled.
The drinks list offers both Mazama beers on draft and by the bottle and can, with a selection of guest wines, cider, and coffee. You’d almost expect some spirits on this menu, but they don’t offer liquor, tea, or many soft drinks. However, they have crafted some beertails and mixers without hard liquor; we tried their Beer Bloody Mary made with a bottled bloody mary mix poured over your choice of beer. It was tasty with Mazama’s Deadline Pilsner, but expensive at $8; a pint of the Pilsner is just $5 for 16oz on its own. The beer list prices are strange and need some dialing in. Actually, the entire beer list is a bit pricey, perhaps a factor from the rents and leases in this part of town. $5 pints of Pilsner and Porter are fine, but why is a Blonde Ale $5.50 and a Juicy IPA $6.25? Though it is barrel-aged, the Abbots Gone Wild Tripel with brett is up there too at $9 for 12oz. It will be interesting to see if the Beaverton transit station crowd at Orenco embraces what seems like a downtown Portland type of place.
I did enjoy the elevated brunch menu with a mix of hip, healthy, vegetarian and vegan options alongside sweet, fancier takes on American breakfast classics. Everything is a little different than standard; rather than regular pancakes they do a Dutch Baby pancake with their own doppelbock syrup. They have French Toast but it’s stuffed with either bacon jam, peanut pesto, or cream cheese and fruit compote (all which sound a bit strange.) The Shrimp & Grits gives a little southern flavor; the Mushroom & Polenta is safe for vegetarians and the gluten-free. The Brunch Bowl full of farro, butternut squash, ricotta, pickled veggies, romesco and a fried egg should satisfy the health conscious. Meanwhile the Squash & Duck Hash with duck chorizo, peppers, cotija, fried egg, arugula and romesco sounds a bit decadent. I didn’t get to try it, but on a second brunch trip I’d like to try the flatiron steak with fried bread, pickled onions, arugula, green goddess dressing, and whatever a “jammy egg” is.
We did try the warm doughnut holes that come with three dipping sauces of dulce de leche, chocolate porter sauce and a raspberry orange glaze. They weren’t too sweet, and were crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, and you got a whole bowl, enough for three or four people, or to take some home for later as we did.
I was in the mood for something filling and savory so the Red Eye Biscuits seemed like just the ticket. The menu promises housemade biscuits, housemade sausage, cocoa-infused gravy, garlic honey and herb oil. This wasn’t bad but it was not to my liking either. I was expecting something creamy, salty and savory, but instead it was small, sweet and sticky. Perhaps it’s my fault for not reading into the “cocoa-infused” part of the gravy and the honey addition because it made the gravy very thick and syrupy, cloying and best only in small portions. Unlike the typical biscuits and gravy with a creamy sauce drowning the biscuits, this was like a thin base layer of syrupy thick sauce for gravy. The single biscuit was good and I think some people might love this dish if they know what to expect.
We also got an “All American” from the small plates category on the brunch menu. This was a bit confusing because it was a sandwich and there is a sandwich category called “Between Bread,” and this also definitely wasn’t a small plate. The All American was, however, quite good, still not sure what make the egg on this sourdough bread sandwich “jammy” but it was quite good between buttery grilled toast with pickled onions and bacon jam. It’s a savory, toasty sandwich with a nice balance of crispy and melty, savory and salty but with a little bit of sweetness to cut the flavors and provide some balance. And we absolutely loved the “Thrice Cooked Potatoes,” Yukon Golds that were perhaps boiled, baked and deep fried (?) for a crispy, salty crunch on the outside, soft, sweet and savory insides. For being cooked three times, they were not overdone but done just right.
Mazama Brewing at Orenco Station has been open for at most a couple weeks and hasn’t even posted a menu or hours. Though the space looks finished, there are signs things are still coming together, like a clearly still-in-the-works tap board and a missing TV that looks to be mounted at the bar. It should be interesting to come back after the new taproom is dialed in and they have a good read on the local customers’ desires. It’s still a solid choice now if you are out in Hillsboro, and one of the few taprooms where you can find brunch service.
Mazama Brewing – Orenco Station 955 NE Orenco Station Loop, Hillsboro, OR 97124
Hours: Monday through Friday 11am – 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 10pm.
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.
This place is horrible. Food is not that great,and the beer is just ok. We had broken glass on one of our plates,and when we informed the server, she just shrugged and took our plates. No apology, no manager spoke to us or anything.
We might have given them a second chance since they were new in the area,but the response to the glass issue sealed the deal for the four of us to never go back.