Portland Cider Company Offers an Elevated Cidery Brewpub Menu

Standout dishes include Chef Vinnie Manna’s Neapolitan-style pizzas, and the Signature Cider Fondue.

Portland Cider Company (Chris Nesseth)

Portland Cider Company has already conquered supermarket shelves; from the city to the suburbs the colorful branded cans are everywhere. Now, it’s trying to crush the market on elevated cidery brewpub dining as well, not that it has any competition.

Portland Cider Company is headquartered in Clackamas near the mall and water park, though you may be more familiar with the Cider House on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, or the newer westside pub in Cedar Hills. Finding the Clackamas production facility and cider pub in the back of an industrial park is like searching for a ripe fruit in a bin of rotting wormy apples. But once you bite through the thick skin, it is a crisp honey snack that is worth the squeeze.

Portland Cider Company products are crowd pleasers, with flavors inspired by popular cocktails, tropic fruit, champagne, and donuts. Their food menu is similar. At first glance, the bushel of dishes on the menu may give the false impression of an unfocused scattershot of options, with everything from burgers and barbecue to Thai, Italian and Mediterranean dishes. But once you sit down with a glass of the 8.4% ABV Imperial Abbey Apple cider and let each dish open up, the care put into even the tiniest details is evident.

Chef Vinnie Manna is as passionate about scratch-made everything as Portland Cider is about a good apple. He will gush to you about each of the more than a dozen house-made dipping sauces on the menu as enthusiastically as his 65-plus-year-old yeast starter passed down generations. The Neapolitan-style 13-inch pizzas ($17-$21) made with his family sourdough yeast are as perfect as any pies found around Portland, with no frills. The crust is the standout, with a slightly chewy, bubbly skin that begs to be ripped between your teeth. The delicate layer of pungent cheese and light sauce bubbles up into pools of fatty oils captured in curling pepperoni cups—one of the few ingredients Manna can’t replicate in house.

Fried-fish fans will love beer-battered salmon in the Baja fish tacos, paired with rice, black beans, salsa, shredded cabbage, lime crema and cilantro ($17).

Menu items that are often tossed off as an afterthought with all the care of a reheated pub snack are highlighted here, proving once again that Chef Manna has never tossed off anything. For instance, the Signature Cider Fondue ($12) is clearly inspired by classic German gasthaus fare, but refreshed for a European cider pub. Instead of a doughy pretzel, it’s a fluffy salty roll for ripping and dipping in a creamy fondue integrated with English-style scrumpy cider that adds an apple-cider vinegar funky twang and tannic acidity that both adds to and cuts the buttery and sharp cheese blend. A housemade apple-rhubarb whole-grain mustard and a pickle on the side makes this a strong starter base for an evening of ciders and grub. You can add on the housemade smoked banger sausage for $5 if you are in the mood to get frisky.

EAT: 8925 SE Jannsen Road, Clackamas, 503-744-4213, portlandcider.com. 11 am–9 pm Wednesday–Thursday, 11 am--–10 pm Friday-Saturday, 10 am–8 pm Sunday.

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