What the hell do pirates have to do with veganism? Alas, my recent visit to the new, all-vegan, buccaneer-themed Pirates Tavern—landlocked in the middle-of-nowhere that is outer industrial Northwest Portland—led me to stick with my original "little to nothing" conclusion.
The bar's decor kept the pirate faith, with tacky chests o' plastic gold and pirate-ship models adorning the kitchen entrance. And, the servers had the pirate wench thing down, wearing short, billowy, cleavage-friendly dresses. Then again, they were much too friendly and apologetic to be real sea hags.
You can drink hardily here. Although the beer is limited to four varieties, it comes in the biggest mugs I've ever been served a beverage in—ever. By my untrained eye, about two pints could fit in there. And at $4.75 each, they were a bargain. Liquor's limited to rum—of course.
Really, I have no idea what pirates eat. (Do you?) I'd imagine it would be a lot of seafood. Unfortunately, not all vegans have mastered synthesizing seafood, and Pirates' hard-line vegan ownership isn't about to compromise. The menu's compass-based; our "Eastern" selection was a simple hummus plate that consisted of stale pita and a garbanzo spread that made me think of cold grits with a slight kick of garlic. Our "Southern" selection, chili, was likewise unremarkable.
Curiously, much of the "North" menu involved faux hot dogs, which were unavailable on our visit. Our "Western" dining experience consisted of an Italian-style "Wheatball" Sandwich. The marinara lacked kick from any direction, but the "wheatballs" were seasoned perfectly, slightly crispy on the outside and absolutely without any hint of the fake taste that sometimes haunts vegan food. The sammy could've used a slice of almond cheese, though. Sadly, our "Salisbury Stack" ($11.95) was a big pile of bland white gravy disguising (what I assume was) sliced faux sausage and a mix of rubbery onions and mushrooms. Let's call it "truck-stop vegan."
Maybe by the time Pirates Tavern hosts its post-Halloween grand-opening party next Wednesday, Nov. 1 (featuring gypsy dancing and cast members of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III!), they'll have sailed past the faux hot dog boat and hijacked one containing spices.
Pirates Tavern, 2839 NW St. Helens Road, 222-6600. Open 5-11:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-1:30 am Friday-Saturday. $ Inexpensive.