What do you do if you're from Central Oregon and make lots of something alcoholic and carbonated? You open a pub in the Pearl District.
At least, that's what you do if you're Deschutes, 10 Barrel or, now, Avid Cider—the brand formerly known as Atlas—which recently launched its first Portland location (121 NW 9th Ave., avidcider.com) in a posh corner space on the ground floor of the newly constructed Couch 9 building.
Oregon's second-largest cider label now pours inside a substantial, concrete-floored pub with a massive U-shaped bar in the middle, like a giant horseshoe to be tossed at the Pearl's Patagucci crowd. Sleek, black walls are juxtaposed with mirrored finishes, and a big projector plays high-definition videos of people doing outdoorsy things in slow motion.
All but one of the six housemade ciders on my visit featured added flavors, designed for overt quaffability more than elegant nuance. Everything was dry and drinkable, but the one-note fruit additions can get a bit tiresome. Still, the silky, vanilla-kissed taste of Avid's apricot remains one of the guiltiest pleasures in cider, and it also offers cider-infused cocktails like the NWsour ($10)—a whiskey sour with Avid's cherry flavor added—plus 10 beer taps.
For a company that might resonate most with the gluten-averse, it's a bit odd that Avid picked the food of an upscale pizza parlor, filling out its one-page menu with various pies, salads and chicken drumsticks. Chef Joshua Anderson uses a blend of cider and sourdough yeast in the crust (made gluten-free upon request), and it's perfectly pillowy, with a nice crackery shell. But stick with toppings you know. The house special Seven Devils pie ($23), with cider-infused pork and chipotle tomato sauce, was an odd pizza-taco blend that needed a clearer purpose for being.
Slight misses aside, there's a lot to like about the new dine-in billboard for one of Oregon's most prominent cider brands. After all, a decent slice and some fruity booze is the key to most people's hearts, well-heeled or otherwise.