Cooling my heels waiting for Mrs. BDB to finish an appointment downtown, wandered around a little before perching myself at an outdoor table at the Lotus Card Room & Cafe. According to their website, they have been around since prohibition, when they opened as a “soda bar.” (Why don’t we have soda bars today?).
Lotus is part of Portland’s Concept Entertainment Group, which operates 8 unique, local restaurant/bar concepts.
The menu offers the standard variety of bar fare, appys, burgers, sandwiches, and a few larger entrees. Lotus’ menu claims there are committed to using local and Northwest ingredients; for instance, it’s the second time in a week I have seen a restaurant promote local sausage manufacturer, Zenner’s.
Service was good for a bar; sitting where I was, I had one server and one server-in-training wait on me, so the duty was performed cheerfully by rote.
I ordered the trio of beef sliders, which come dressed with chipotle aioli, shredded lettuce, (and you know how I feel about shredded lettuce on a burger!) and a pickle slice. The server said that fries (or tots) were extra, even tho the sliders are in the same price as the regular burgers, which come w/ fries. She asked if I would like anything else with the fries, like ketchup or hot sauce, and I replied “just salt and pepper.”
After a short wait, the burgers and tots arrived, and the waitress said, “I couldn’t remember what condiment you said you wanted, so I brought ranch dressing for the tater tots.” Ambitious, but off the mark, and I repeated my request for salt and pepper, which she fetched promptly.
The burgers were pretty tasty, the chipotle aioli not so much, and one thing I liked about the burgers is they were hand-formed patties, with buns sized to fit the burgers. Often restaurants idea of a slider is to take one of their standard-sized burgers, cook it, and tear or cut it into three pieces. Unacceptable!
The soft buns were bakery fresh, and the tots, evenly deep-fried to the crispness factor I prefer.
I finished my plate, and the waitress brought the check, stating she was going off duty, and could I take care of it, which I did. With a Diet coke, the burgers and tots came to about $12, avec gratuity. The waitress said she would tell her shift replacement I was outside, so if I wanted anything else, the next server would take care of me, but I was there another hour, and didn’t see hide nor hair of another server.
I’m not sure if Lotus has a happy hour menu, these sliders would be great at about $4, but were a little spendy at $7.95.
I have had a couple of good burgers at another Concept Entertainment bar, but haven’t scratched the list of all their offerings around town, and the menus seem fairly similar.
But the Lotus is a nice oasis for that part of the city, with the notable exception being the parking ramp across the street is $5 per hour, so look to park on the street near by if you are driving.