Tuesday, April 28, 2009

County Cork

A visit from one of my years-ago Austin Pub Night buddies gave me an opportunity to check out an eastside pub I hadn't been to before. Brady was in town with his girlfriend Sarah, so on Saturday we dragged Dave along and met Brady's friend Brian at the County Cork Public House after he finished his kitchen shift there. In the middle of a surprisingly tavern-free stretch of Fremont, County Cork is an oasis just west of NE 15th.

It's a comfortable place, with a pubby feel but with big windows giving lots of light. Despite the Irish theme, the 22 beer taps are skewed more toward the Northwest than the Emerald Isle. Some of the standout beers when we were there were Full Sail Keelhauler, Avery Maharaja, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Mac and Jack's Amber, Elysian ESB, and Russian River Damnation and Pliny the Elder. Dave and I swore that the Pliny was actually RR's Blind Pig -- lighter in color, body, and punch than Pliny -- but we were assured that the keg said otherwise. There are also two cask engines, though both were unoccupied Saturday -- we just missed the Lagunitas Undercover Ale on cask. Another plus: they serve Honest Pints in imperial glasses.

Two dartboards are set up nicely in stalls that prevent escaping darts, but are still visible from the rest of the pub. There's also an outdoor patio in the back -- it was too cold to sit there Saturday but as I'm writing this I'm kicking myself for not at least taking a look. The food is better-than-usual pub fare, made from scratch, with British-Isle stuff like shepherd's pie and bangers and mash taking center stage.

All in all, it's a comfortable neighborhood pub. Stop in for some darts and a pint if you're in the area.


  1. I used to live just around the corner from the County Cork on 14th. It's one of my faves. Nothing about it stands out enough to write home about, but I would love to have it in my current neighborhood. Plus, they have had Elysian ESB on since they opened, and it's one of the best beers brewed in America.

    Also, when it's available, they run Beamish.

  2. That reminds me, they serve Honest Pints!

  3. I've always said it was one of the often overlooked great local beer bars along with Produce Row

  4. Jeff,

    C'mon. The place has an excellent tap selection, better than average food, cask beer engines, knowlegable and friendly servers (with good humor).

    This place has hosted on a regular basis the 'special' Deschutes offerings and at one glorious moment offered four tap handles of the Russian River beers.

    What keeps it from being a place to write home about? Is it the faux Irish-ness?

    I'm with the Samurai, this is an overlooked gem (although I disagree with him with regards to Pro Row, as any savvy Portland drinker that doesn't list Pro Row in the top 5 has a screw loose) and should be a destination pub for everyone.

    Tho, on second thought, maybe I'm glad that it isn't.

  5. Can any of you guys enlighten me about the back patio? Is it nice? Smoky? Are dogs allowed?

  6. Patrick, I don't mean to criticize. I thought the "it's one of my faves" was indicative of my opinion. It's a fantastic neighborhood pub--but it is a neighborhood pub. Great taps.

    They do serve Honest Pints!

    Back patio's great. You used to be able to smoke there, but I haven't been since the ban, so I don't know. People were smoking on the patio at a recent visit to Amnesia, which surprised me. Apparently the law allows for that. I have seen dogs there.

  7. Jeff,

    I think I reacted to the "nothing...to write home about", whereas I think the Cork and a number of other 'neighborhood pubs' represent the solid second tier supporting our beer culture. It's a place that knowledgeable Portland beer drinkers should experience at least once.

  8. Thanks to the review & comments (and a nudge from my Sister-in-Law) I'm picking CC for my birthday dinner tonight...6+ years in NE and NEVER BEEN (shame on us...)

  9. So Brian, how'd you like it? Any food recommendations or notable beers?