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November 27th, 2013 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Bar Reviews
 

The Richmond Bar: A Well-Cut Cookie

music_clublist_4004THE RICHMOND BAR - IMAGE: Mattie Krall
The Matchbox Lounge was once an improvised haunt for off-shift bar staff, with stiff drinks, friends’ art on the walls and surprisingly good late-night food. Wholly by accident—before upwardly mobile rents tipped things—it became a storm drain for busy Pok Pok across the street. The Richmond Bar (3203 SE Division St., 208-3075, therichmondbar.com), which took Matchbox’s place last month, opens as a fully formed object. The back wall’s pressed-metal letter “R” with little light bulbs inside is a stamped trademark of both co-owner Nate Tilden and his favored build-out firm, OMFG Co. The neutral-and-red-hued bar has honed the refined, unshowy comforts now expected of a Portland bar—a model Tilden himself helped create at Clyde Common. The Richmond’s drinks skew to the sweetly medicinal, especially in the herbal Sassafras ($10), named after the dominant note in the Root spirit mixed with tequila, mezcal and Cynar; it’s like sarsaparilla with some heat in the nose. The cocktail menu rarely repeats an ingredient, whether Cherry Heering or the grapefruit shrub and jalapeño syrup of the crisp, lovely Paloma ($7). The beer list is deep with offerings from Oregon and Europe, with a $2 Old German tall boy to round things out. The wine is refreshingly far flung, and the crowd is a dead-even mix of creative class and service industry. The food, meanwhile, is upscale-casual, from beef tongue pasty ($7) to the obligatory double-digit burger. The cozy, tasteful little bar does absolutely nothing wrong—except, perhaps, do nothing wrong. 
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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