The West Coast Grocery Company (1403 SE Stark St.) isn't a market.
It's a sleek new corner brewpub, located just across the street from Revolution Hall in the Buckman neighborhood. It was originally going to be called Bodega Beer—a tongue-in-cheek homage to the four-generation family grocery business that owner Charlie Hyde's ancestors began in Tacoma in 1891 and sold in 1985. Then a group of ex-Google employees named their corner store-disrupting startup Bodega to much public outcry. In its wake, Hyde tossed the homage and decided to go with the actual name of the historic family business.
And so the fifth generation's West Coast Grocery Co. sells no produce. But it remains family-oriented. Inside the gorgeous two-level space, a stern portrait of Hyde's great-great-grandfather greets patrons as they walk through the front door, along with shimmering stainless tanks and a black chandelier made of grocery carts.
In the upstairs bar, 14 taps offer four housemade beers from ex-Deschutes brewer Owen Woods. An extra-doughy Czech Pilsner and slightly sweet IPA still needed subtle refinement, but the Wedding Season cream ale, a straw-colored beer with subtle Crunch Berry overtones, was so quaffable and inviting it may as well have come from the breakfast aisle. The Colonel Summer pale ale was also superb, bursting with tropical hop aroma but balanced on the finish by crackery malt.
The food includes such Portland pub staples as Asian-inspired wings with pickled radishes ($12), a pork gyro ($12) and a fried chicken ($11) sandwich. The latter two are perfectly executed, the gyro featuring delicately seasoned pork topped by house-pickled veggies, and the sandwich offering a juicy hunk of breaded chicken lying underneath a bed of slaw on an easily deflated—but still delightfully structural—bun.
And as far as branding goes, the company's confusing name does have its benefits. In need of a pint and some solitude? Just tell people you're headed to the grocery.