Last Friday I had that end of week feeling. You know the one that starts about an hour before you’re off work on Friday. It happens whether your Friday is actually Friday or another day. At the time my mind was wandering, thinking about sitting outside drinking a nice cold beer. Once I got home my wife and I decided to walk over to Alu for some wine, beer and great food.
Alu Wine Bar and Lounge opened it’s door for business this spring. With one of the more unusual doors around don’t be alarmed as you approach. The large center-swiveling door looks like it should be an overhead garage door. Just use the handle to the right and the door will open up to a wonderful lounge.
Once inside, just beyond the well stocked wine cellar, the bottom floor has plenty of seating and a restroom but it is missing something so it would seem…the bar. Don’t fear, the bar can be found upstairs. In the summer the lower level may be closed off in favor of the patio so meander up the stairs to find more seating and access to the patio.
Even though the inside was comfortably air conditioned, we decided to sit on the back patio. The enclosed patio, planted with shrubs, plants and bambo, has 6 – 7 tables of various sizes. The canopy overhead is supplied by beautiful old cherry trees.
When we arrived a musician was playing off to the side providing soothing live music. As evening switched to night, the patio lights, which include bulbs on a string as well as oil burning lamps and landscaping lights were lit. There is something special about sitting outside on a perfect summer evening in Portland.
For those who prefer sitting indoors, or as summer fades into winter, both the upstairs and downstairs are nicely decorated with classically styled furniture. It’s the kind of furniture that was probably in many upscale homes in this neighborhood during the late 19th and early 20th century. The rest of the interior from the paint to the window coverings to the wall décor, fits together perfectly. The bathroom even has a toilet with a wall-mounted tank and a pull chain flush.
In addition to the thorough wine and beer selection the menu includes complimenting foods such as the bread with olive oil and aceto balsamic, the cheese plate or the cold cuts. For those with a bigger appetite the German inspired menu will please. Try the bratwurst with sauerkraut or käsespätzle – a German style mac ‘n cheese.
The menu does vary some from week to week. While at Alu in June we ordered a fabulous plate of asparagus. I have to admit I was a little disappointed to see it absent from the menu. Instead, however, we got a little adventurous and tried beets with apple, flavored with wine, and a sprinkle of onion and caraway – outstanding!