There was a time when few attractions along Southeast Foster Road would prompt anyone to slam on the brakes. The major artery and hypotenuse of the triangular Foster-Powell neighborhood is still largely lined with utilitarian businesses nobody pays attention to unless forced—radiator repair shops, plumbing suppliers and the like.
But Five & Dime, which opened along the corridor in early March, is already getting people to pull over.
"This place is a little gem," one man exclaimed as he slid onto a stool. "I was just driving by and had to check it out!"
Colin Carroll, who caused a stir with his wood-fired mixed drinks at Trifecta Tavern, along with partners Alex Gessler and Rob Slattery, christened their collaboration in honor of old-timey sundry outlets like Portland's J.J. Newberry, which closed 18 years ago. While you won't find shelves stocked with cheap talcum powder, postcards and undergarments, the bar reflects the prices and spirit of a 20th-century trinket emporium.
The room intermingles sophistication with subversion. The rounded jade shelving behind the bar is handsome enough to hold leather-bound books, as well as a collection of emerald banker's lamps, but there's also a neon ombré portrait of Rasheed Wallace in midroar. Similarly, the cocktails balance tradition and irreverence. Maybe it was the brass accents and deep, crescent banquettes, but I felt compelled to order something elegant, and instantly landed on the gin gimlet ($8). Though brilliantly simple, it's a drinking buddy with a lot to say—there's a pop of citrus, mounting sweetness, then an edge of piney juniper.
But you can't ignore the concoctions named after characters from the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods. It's Carroll's version of a seasonal menu. Rather than switching things up based on the calendar, he'll develop new items when themes come to mind. Until he finds a different muse, I'll be ordering the Wednesday ($10), who—spoiler alert—is also Odin in the book. The drink's peach Jolly Rancher hue and grapefruit tingle don't exactly say "god of war," but I'd believe it if you told me he was the deity who ruled over classy dinner parties.
While it'll take you a good 10 minutes to study the beverage options, there's a refreshingly concise list of food. Both the gulf shrimp and Wagyu flank strip were juicy bites—one with a swipe of chimichurri, the other a puree that had the pleasant sting of wasabi. At $5 to $10 apiece, you can spring for several. After all, buying something a little extra just because it's a good price is what the five-and-dime ethos is all about.
GO: Five & Dime, 6535 SE Foster Rd. 3 pm-2 am daily.