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Portland, OR – Lotus Card Room & Cafe


Cooling my heels waiting for Mrs. BDB to finish a courtroom date in downtown Portland, 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 two or  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.

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Lotus Cardroom and Cafe


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lotus card room portland


Portland, OR – Lotus Card Room


Lotus Card Room and Cafe, Portland

Lotus Card Room and Cafe, Portland

I have written a more extensive review of the Lotus Card Room previously,  this post is just an update on a couple more items from their happy hour menu.  Mrs. BDB and I were in Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland’s Living Room!) for the 26th annual giant Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, on black Friday.

Generally, the fete went off without a hitch, and a totally packed square and the surrounding streets enjoyed Christmas music from a variety of acts, including Portland’s own “Pink Martini,” (their first Christmas album available online and everywhere now) and brief addresses from politicians and local hoo-haws in general.

After the event, we walked the streets for a bit, decided to have a drink or something, and walked into the Lotus Card Room on 3rd.  While joints nearer the Square were backed, the Lotus was just far enough away as to not get the crowd.  As is her habit, Mrs. BDB ordered a gin martini with vermouth and olives, and I splurged for a Stella on tap.   (In case you are  a new reader, ‘splurge’ doesn’t mean $ for me, but rather food and caloric choices.

From the appetizer menu, we went with coconut shrimp atop Asian slaw, and a basket of bar fries.    Our server was very genial, and we enjoyed the efforts of her labor.

The four large shrimp in the appy came in a bath of sweetened Thai Chili sauce, with a small portion of the slaw beneath a similarly-sized small portion of onion strings.   The fries, rather pedestrian,  hot and salty (I would have preferred them at a more mature ‘done’ stage, came with a ramekin of ranch, and I enjoyed them despite their ‘immaturity.’

Lotus is part of a local ‘entertainment’ group, and you can enjoy the same fare at any of their locations, including their newest “Thirsty Lion,” which recently opened at the out lot at Washington Square (across Greenburg from Gustav’s).

Lotus Card Room & Cafe, Portland

Lotus Card Room & Cafe, Portland

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