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Dissecting the Menu at McMenamins' Zeus Cafe, Opening Tomorrow

Image of Zeus Cafe courtesy official site

After a week of press junkets and soft openings, the McMenamins chain of brewpubs and historical hotels is set to debut its newest project, downtown's shiny new Crystal Hotel, tomorrow. And as previously reported, its Zeus Cafe is offering an more upscale take on McMenamins' usual approach to beer-and-pub grub — starting with the bar. Under the guidance of bar manager Mike Lorberbaum, former Beaker & Flask bartender Dave Shenaut will be mixing up cocktails like Sazeracs, pisco sours, and specialty creations like the Brideshead Revisited, which combines plymouth gin, aperol, dry vermouth, green chartreuse, lime, orange, and aromatic bitters. According to Shenaut, the Zeus bar is one of three in the city that boasts a Kold Draft ice machine, a sign of Zeus' commitment to creating quality drinks: "There are only six or seven bartenders in Portland that really know how to work with the ice that it produces," Shenaut says. "I hope I can impact the technique and the mechanics of the bartenders at the Zeus so that they produce great and consistent cocktails."

And about the food menu: Forget the burgers and tater tots. Executive chef Paul Rumsay and chef de cuisine Paul Arnold (the latter recently served as executive chef at nearby Pinot American Brasserie) will serve up a surprisingly seafood-heavy menu, with first-course options like smoked salmon collar and citrus halibut carpaccio; and entrees including ruby trout served with escargot butter; a 10-hour lamb neck with lavender spaetzle and fried squash blossom; and flatbreads with lamb sausage and manila clams.

The Zeus is scheduled to serve brunch daily beginning at 7am (among the more intriguing options are a halibut benedict and baked eggs dish with parmesan crème fraiche and truffle oil), and a small-plates "Interlude" menu is available at all hours, offering snack items like crispy anchovies and baby eel; Edwardian shooter pie; and house-made churros with honey. And in a nice departure from other McMenamins locations, a more expansive bottled beer and wine list offers tastes of non-Edgefield pours.

Zeus Cafe swings open its doors beginning tomorrow at 7am. And as part of an opening-week special, the spot will offer its Zeus Cafe Sidecar for $5 from May 3-5.
· Zeus Cafe [Official site]
· All Previous McMenamins Coverage [Eater PDX]

Zeus Cafe

303 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR