In August, Portland got a leather-daddy sex club behind a FoPo cafe. Now it has a Playboy bachelor pad in the back of a leather store. The Wayback (4719 N Albina Ave., 503-222-2774, tannergoods.com)—a fussily midcentury lounge tucked behind the new Albina Avenue flagship of Tanner Goods—feels a bit like drinking at Mrs. Robinson's house while she's away.
The whole place looks less like a bar than a furniture store's take on domesticity—with globe lamps and minimalist couches arranged with Danish austerity around a TV screen playing anti-conformist cartoons from the 1950s. Old design magazines lie scattered across coffee tables, while outside on the spacious patio a lonely DJ swaps records under an adjustable cabana umbrella. All that's missing to make the place into a page of Dwell magazine is a lone middle-aged man in silhouette, contemplating the existential tragedy of having such fine taste.
The bar's drink menu is as minimalist as the decor: The rotating saison, cider, IPA and Pilsner ($5)—which arrive on lovely leather coasters—go unnamed on both menu and tap, so you have to ask their producers' identities. The IPA turned out to be malty Uinta, while the saison was the Commons' Farmhouse ale. The rotating cocktail, meanwhile, was a very sweet $8 Negroni.
The Wayback looks like the kind of place where you might eat focaccia ($10), and it is. It also serves $4 cat dishes of spiced pumpkin seeds, and a nearby fridge is packed with "to-go bottles" of Yoo-hoo and Original New York Seltzer. Is the Yoo-hoo a joke? Sincere nostalgia? It's hard to say. It's hard to feel anything in here.
Nearby, a four-top of young professionals in knitwear are coolly discussing their next real estate purchases. Almost precisely one month before the Wayback opened in North Portland, our new mayor-elect spoke after a North Portland bike ride called "Gentrification Is Weird." I didn't really know what it meant until visiting this place.