Montavilla North, the Glisan Street business district running parallel to the much older one on Stark Street, is suddenly becoming kind of a thing. On a stretch already equipped with Vietnamese joints, storied dive bars and great Detroit pizza on Tuesdays, tiny two-month-old cocktail bar Blank Slate (7201 NE Glisan St., Ste. C, 503-206-4041, blankslatepdx.com) feels like that last piece that really ties the 'hood together—or, if you're a nearby renter, scares the shit out of you.
The Slate is the sort of lightly domestic cocktail bar Portland has come to specialize in, bedecked in the patterned wallpaper suddenly ubiquitous at such places, in this case a very pretty procession of greenery and lilies. It's the sort of spot where the Smiths plays on vinyl, there are flowers in vases and circular wall mirrors hang like doorknocker pendants from long chains.
The food is both dainty and pretty—olive, oyster and focaccia fare with personal touches like fresh Hood strawberries from the owners' garden, which add a little sweetness to their ceviche ($12). It's a charming bar for a sunny day—the sort that offers a few idiosyncratic options among a very broad palette, whether a small list of to-go wines, three $5.50 beer taps (Baerlic, Montavilla or Barley Brown's) or $9 classic cocktails. Among specialty drinks, the Last Word on the Left ($11) was a bit heavy on the lime to justify its esoteric and expensive ingredient list of mezcal, Bénédictine and Maraska.
But the real fun and value came in the bar's various liquor flights, whether $7 for local vermouths or $15 for three half-shots of 12-year Scotch. While Blank Slate remains a bit of a blank slate, there's reason to suspect it'll fill in nicely with the neighborhood.