In 1963, Marvel Comics published the first issue of The X-Men. It was a series about a group of mutant outcast superheroes and their teacher, Professor X, which would later spin off into other books, TV shows, and several movies. In 1978, the company changed the name to The Uncanny X-Men; it would go on to be the longest running X-Men comic in the franchise.
While bartender Adam LeBeau was growing up, he loved comic books — in particular, The Uncanny X-Men. Years later, LeBeau is now building his own team to open the Uncanny, a cocktail bar from a group of Portland industry vets and a noteworthy pop-up chef, taking over the soon-to-close Psychic Bar space this spring.
LeBeau has always wanted to name a bar after his favorite comic, but when he found out about the Psychic space, it felt like fate. The bar’s distinctive style, all black-and-red with hand-painted wallpaper, seemed like a natural fit. “The name kind of just vibes with the whole concept of Psychic,” he says. “The definition of uncanny is supernatural, extraordinary, eerie, mysterious. That’s what Psychic provided. And it’s a nod to my nerdy little self.”
LeBeau won’t be moving into the bar alone. Liam Duffy and John Janulis, the men behind Lightning Bar Collective, are partners; LeBeau worked with them at LBC bar Victoria down the street. Nicholas Musso, co-owner of vibe-y hotel cocktail bar Hey Love, is also a part of The Uncanny. In the kitchen, Tamara Hattar of the buzzy Euzumeh pop-up will plate meze and sear lamb burgers. Together, they’ll operate a bar that LeBeau hopes will be “taking hints from a speakeasy style, and a dive, to meet in the middle.”
What that looks like to LeBeau is a “fun, eclectic, funky menu with ingredients that are interesting but not un-relatable.” The menu will offer pages of cocktails with specific themes: house staples, New Orleans classics, tropical standards. None of the “staples,” however, will be tried-and-true homages, per the bar’s concept. For example, the Uncanny’s version of a Sazerac, on the New Orleans page, will incorporate the Patagonian spirit Träkál and chanterelle syrup. The bar’s brandy milk punch will use house-made vegan strawberry-date milk. And LeBeau’s version of a martini will include miso-infused vodka and sugar snap pea-infused vermouth. “It’s sort of both a citrus martini and a dirty martini,” he says.
In the kitchen, Hattar’s menu will also take bar standards and filter them through her specific lens. Hattar grew up with a family in the restaurant industry, and worked at San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions and Portland’s Ava Gene’s before starting her pop-up, Euzumeh. For years, people have sat down to prix fixe meals of lamb kebab or intricate meze around Portland; in 2021, she moved to Joseph, Oregon to make pizza at the Gold Room, a dearly departed destination restaurant from fellow Ava Gene’s alumni. When owners JoMarie Pitino and Ross Effinger had a baby, Hattar took over the restaurant space and began a Euzumeh residency.
The menu at the Uncanny won’t exactly be Euzumeh, but rather Hattar’s take on pub food standards. The burger will use a spiced lamb mix, and she’ll season the fries with juniper. The restaurant’s chicken wings — fragrant with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin — will come with a choice of dipping sauces, including a yogurt sauce and zhoug. For dessert, visitors can order a tahini chocolate chip cookie with their nightcap. Hattar is particularly excited about the bar’s meze, which she plans to offer in a build-your-own format. “I haven’t seen that here in Portland,” she says. “I think it’ll be really fun.”
The space itself will retain much of Psychic’s vibe, though the team will make some changes. The actual bar will be new, and the patio, once home to Sunshine Noodles and Prey + Tell, will also get a revamp. The upstairs will also get a refresh, hopefully so Hattar can host Euzumeh pop-ups there. But LeBeau doesn’t want to lose the charm or energy or Psychic, even as the bar closes. “Psychic has been a big part of my story in Portland — I lived right behind it,” he says. “We want to do Psychic justice, but also become a cocktail staple in Portland.”
Psychic closes February 19. The Uncanny is set to open in early spring at 3560 N Mississippi Avenue.