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Peek Inside Tilt, Bringing Blue-Collar Attitude to the Pearl

[Avila, 12/7/13]

Swan Island's proudly blue-collar burger joint Tilt is just about ready to open the doors at its second location, which is set for a Wednesday debut in a long-vacant space in the Pearl District. According to owner Octavian Jurj, Tilt's new location (inside a former distribution warehouse for GE) features three concepts under the same "brand DNA," a genetic code that celebrates not only a towering hamburger, but also the roots of American heritage and the Pearl's blue-collar origins. "It's all about showcasing how things are built, all the way down to the food," Jurj says.

The 175-seat restaurant, nearly double the size of Tilt's Swan Island location, houses a front diner (with a "workbench" space for planned workshops and collaborations from artisan/handmade brands), an 85-seat bar (pictured above), and a coffee counter operated by Ristretto Roasters. All concepts seamlessly flow into each other with an aesthetic built around a staggering 4,000 pounds of steel: Booths in the bar sit on two-foot I-beams; tables are constructed from tilt-up concrete walls, a nod to co-owner Brittany Jurj, whose grandfather operated a construction business credited with bringing tilt-up construction to Portland.

Like Tilt's Swan Island location, the menu focus is on burgers and biscuits. On the burger front, Tilt serves five "classics" and 10 "signature burgers" (the double-pattied Big Tilt; the Lambtastic with Swiss, onion rings, and house slaw), best paired with beer-battered fried or cheddar tots. A section featuring "blue-collar biscuits" offers the breakfast classic all day, serving biscuits with everything from pork-and-bacon gravy to corned beef and kraut to country-fried steak. The pastry case will be filled with Tilt's familiar pies (available by the slice or whole pie), breakfast breads, and new Pearl offerings like morning cinnamon rolls. And the Pearl location offers one entirely new savory dish during dinner service: a 14-ounce cut of prime rib, available while supplies last each night, served with a baked potato.

At the bar, manager Nick Keane oversees a spirits list where "the whole point is to go back to what America is known for." The craft concept translates to 100 whiskies behind the bar, a revived focus on applejack ("I'd like to see it become more popular," Keane says), six Willamette Valley wines, and an eight-tap, rotating beer list where the farthest tap comes from Eugene. The cocktail menu offers six classics with a twist, as well as four to six signature drinks that will rotate with the season. To pair with Tilt's comfort food, "either you go whiskey, dark and spiritous," Keane says, "or you go bright to cut through it." The bar — which is family-friendly and open to minors at all hours — will also offer Portland Soda Works on-tap, starting with a sarsaparilla.

Tilt will make its debut this Wednesday, December 11. Hours of operation: Ristretto, 6a.m.-7p.m. Tilt, 7a.m.-11p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 7a.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday.
· Tilt [Official site]
· All Previous Tilt Coverage [Eater PDX]