Jeremy Lewis now owns a piece of his childhood.
Growing up in Northeast Portland, Lewis remembers family dinners at the Lung Fung Chinese restaurant on North Lombard Street. Now, the place is his.
His new bar, Tiny Bubble Room, is named for Lung Fung's adjoining old-school lounge. It is something like a NoPo version of Roscoe's, the Montavilla craft beer bar Lewis and co-owner Quyen Ly opened in 2006.
"I have a cousin that lives like three or four blocks away who's been saying repeatedly, 'We need a Roscoe's in that neighborhood,'" says Lewis. "And I agreed. It's a great neighborhood already, with a lot of amazing spots. Our goal is to give it our own twist."
Originally slated to open in March 2020, the bar made its COVID-delayed debut in October. Like Roscoe's, Tiny Bubble Room has a Cajun-Creole-leaning menu, and 30 taps of mostly Northwest beer, as well as more in bottles. But the new spot has a cocktail, wine and whiskey focus, giving Arbor Lodge and Kenton something in that same don't-call-it-a-dive bar category as the Fixin' To, the Old Gold or Tulip Shop.
Lung Fung and Tiny Bubble Room, which closed in March 2019 after more than 50 years, were two distinct businesses: a Chinese restaurant you could take the family to, the other a bar you definitely wouldn't.
The new place flips the script. What used to be Lung Fung is Tiny Bubble Room, with painstakingly restored red banquette booths, a black-cushioned bar and new wood floors, while the lounge, which still has its original gold booths, is slated to become a separate sushi restaurant. (Lewis and Ly also operate Miyamoto next to Roscoe's.)
The formerly white exterior is now dramatic black decorative cinder block. The original vintage rooftop clock sign has been updated with the new name, which Lewis also hopes to get the clock spinning again. Saving the building itself was a big part of the appeal.
"I really like the old-school Chinese restaurants," Lewis says, "and hate seeing that a lot of them are just getting torn down."
Of course, neither indoor room is being used right now. But Tiny Bubble Room is weathering the winter with an elaborate outdoor setup, including a big tent with picnic tables and three shipping containers with roll-up doors and individual dining pods.
With former Tasty n Alder chef de cuisine Jacob Mitchell in the kitchen, the menu shares such items as jambalaya, gumbo, po'boys, mac and cheese, and "wonut" waffles (donut batter in waffle iron) with Roscoe's. Another Tasty veteran, Jeremy Mielen, runs the front of the house—you might recognize the Improved Whiskey Cocktail ($7), a concoction of bourbon, maraschino, absinthe, Boker's bitters, which is currently on tap. The bar also inherited an extensive stock of whiskey from another ex-John Gorham property, Tasty n Daughters.
Current beers include Wayfinder Hidden Hand, Breakside Strata Strata Strata, and StormBreaker Pecan Pie (all $6), with cellared or barrel-aged options from such breweries as Breakside, Alesong, Midnight Sun (Alaska) and Dogfish Head. When the weather warms up, expect beer and cocktail slushies too—and, soon, cocktails to go.
"The goal is to make it somewhere that everyone feels comfortable," says Lewis. "A place that people can come and hang out where nothing is out of reach financially, and you don't mind coming back a couple of times a week."
Number of tables: Eight to 10 picnic tables under a 20-by-50-foot tent, each with their own tabletop heaters. Three black shipping containers with roll-up doors provide an additional six dining pods.
Space between tables: Six feet or more between the picnic tables, with walls between each shipping container pod.
Additional safety measures: QR menu; new HEPA filtration system inside; sanitizer dispensers both inside and out; masks required when ordering and any time customers are standing or not at a table.
Peak hours: Early evenings and weekend afternoons.
DRINK: Tiny Bubble Room, 2025 N Lombard St., 503-208-2660, tinybubbleroom.com. 3-10 pm daily.