There are two sides to Higgins Restaurant and Bar: the restaurant and the bar.
The former is all platinum white tablecloth and flawless service from knowledgeable servers, many of whom have been working there since the place opened during the first Clinton administration. It's very nice, but undeniably stuffy.
The latter is a wood-paneled, wood-barred old-school tavern, a place where visiting lawyers sit by punters stopping in for a beer from one of the best lists in the city.
Higgins was on the up and up when the craft movement was in its adolescence in the mid '90s. But instead of resting on its laurels, it keeps its expertly curated Belgians—dozens of bottles from Delirium, Chimay, Rodenbach and the like alongside bottles from the big dogs of Oregon craft like de Garde, Pfriem and Logsdon—and a rotating tap list that never fails to have something you've never heard of.
The bar is where you want to eat: It's dignified but fun, like the rich uncle who hopefully is paying for your meal. And eat you will. The whole-pig plate ($34.50) comes with four preparations of meat—about double your average entree size—while an albacore special would make a protein-crazed bodybuilder jealous. The charcuterie board is as titanic as it is incredible ($20.50), mounded with 13 preparations, from saucisson to rillettes to a fantastic head cheese full of vibrant parsley. If there's anything you can take away from Higgins, it's that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Eat: Don't miss the charcuterie board, and check out the Northwest-caught seafood and seasonal vegetable specials.
Drink: A bottle of de Garde or a Delirium Nocturnum.
Most popular dish: The whole-pig plate.
Noise level: 64/100. The bar gets much louder than the restaurant.
Expected wait: Reservations are highly recommended, although walk-ins usually don't wait longer than 15 minutes.
Who you'll eat with: Retired doctors, lawyers and executives who have been eating here for the past 20 years.
Year opened: 1994