Bramhall – A New Speakeasy for Modern Times

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Bramhall, the new bar on Congress St at the former site of Bramhall Pub was the subject of my recent Saturday night investigation. With my mind on my whiskey and my whiskey on my mind, we made our way there to meet a small group of friends for some good times.  It wasn’t particularly easy to find though and we had to work from the address as there was no street level sign for the “secret” location.

Once we found the building and determined the bar was downstairs, we followed the steps down the right side and circled into the hideaway. We entered and were immediately blown away by the atmosphere. The interior was almost entirely brick and truly had the feel of a speakeasy. With only a few seats available at the bar, the place was bouncing with patrons. To the right were the tables and a slightly gothic candle set up. To the left was the bar, massive walls of booze, and a special board with a few drink suggestions.  We sat at the bar.

We were quickly approached by a bartender of the finest kind – one that was ready to provide menus and drinks lickety split. The drink menu provided beer and wine while the food menu gave a selection of imaginative snacks and sandwiches. I was set on one of my favorite libations – a bourbon Manhattan. After requesting some suggestions as to which whiskey I should consume, I chose Buffalo Trace. My wife ordered a savignon blanc. It wasn’t long before we had our sweet sippers and I was ready to enjoy every last drop.

Following a couple slurps of my cocktail, the bartender indicated that the table behind us appeared to be emptying; soon it did, and we grabbed it. Our friends arrived and sat down with us. They then ordered a selection of wine and beer and we proceeded to shoot the shit and enjoy our drinks. My Manhattan was a strong offering in more ways than one. This was definitely a whiskey night and this one hit the spot. We considered ordering some food while admiring the very well done scenery. Because Bramhall didn’t have a full dinner menu, we decided that it would be best to just order snacks.

After some contemplation and suggestions from friends and staff we all made our food decisions and soon a bartender stopped by our table to take our orders. I went with the Loaded Crisps – crisps, cheese curds, applewood smoked bacon, scallion, creme fraiche. Others ordered another two apps – Garden Grazing – housemade hummus, grilled veggies, flatbread and No Meat, Just Cheese – 3 artisanal cheeses, pickled apples, pickled red onion, marcona almonds, crostini. We were all pretty excited about our orders. The food coming out all looked great and we were prepared to try it.

In less than two shakes of a lamb’s tail, our food paid us a visit from the kitchen. Without a doubt, I was primarily interested in my crisps. They looked like a combination of nachos and potato skins. I tried one. I perked up. What in the hell was I eating? The crisps were barbeque potato chips. Hold up! If you had told me that ahead of time that I was ordering barbeque chips that were sneakily turned into barbachoskins, I wouldn’t have ordered the little buggers, but they were good. Really good. And all the toppings on them were outstanding, especially the bacon. I tossed my hands in the air. The loaded crisps had defeated my idea of good nacho-y food. I continued to shove them in my crisp hole. Everyone else clearly liked their snacks too and devoured them with intensity.

All our drinks we’re finished and I ordered another Manhattan – this time with Knob Creek. Everyone else doubled up on theirs too. We all continued to chow down, enjoying our crispy, cheesy, crunchy plates of food. When our new drinks came out, we finished our food and continued to drink until we, or rather I, became unintentionally intoxicated and served up the sort of discussions whiskey has a way of coaxing out of me. After entertaining myself and possibly offending everyone else, we were ready to make a break for it.

When all was said and done, my portion of the bill came to around $30 including tax and tip.  Bramhall was really fun, reasonably priced, and had an incredible atmosphere and decor. It would definitely qualify as an anytime hangout. The place wowed me as soon as I walked in which is also when the party started. From there it just got better. I would undoubtedly recommend this place to anyone for a great drink and some unique snacks. Next time, I’m ordering one of the drink specials – they’ve got to be good. I hope to see you there.

Stay hungry.

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or feel free to post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook.

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