​Liquid Riot – Beer, spirits, and food all made right there

The wife was away again and it was time to venture out for some food. Wanting to check out a place I’d never been, I imagined Liquid Riot on Commercial St. would be a decent choice. The distillery and brewery makes a pretty large selection of their own beverages – some of which I’ve tried – and serves a full menu of bar food. I headed over to the resto-bar which is an easy find since it’s one of the first few drinking and dining options available to those coming to the waterfront area of Portland.

I quickly pulled up a seat at the bar of the busy restaurant. It was close to the entrance and one of only a few available. I was given drink and food menus and took note that it was still happy hour which meant that beers were $2 off. They also had some $5 snack options, but a cross-check of the menus seemed to indicate that those snacks were always $5, so they didn’t feel like a bargain. I figured I’d grab a beer and then work on food next.

After contemplating which of the numerous brews would be right for me, I decided on the Raspy Trouble – Sour Trouble, their sour brown ale aged on 110 lbs. of raspberries. It was a bit of a difficult choice. I’m not a huge fan of sours, but I do love a fruity beer on occasion and tend to enjoy raspberries. A quick 12 oz. pour made its way to my corner and I tried it immediately. Ooooohhhh…nice! The sour was moderate to heavy, but balanced nicely with the sweeter fruit flavors. It was the best of it’s type I’d had for sure – easy drinking and pleasant.

With a couple sips of suds under my belt, I made a concerted effort to pick something to eat. I figured I’d order a couple items and then take some home if it was necessary. I started with the Duck “Nachos” – house potato chips, duck confit, apple butter, blue cheese fondue. Then, I went for the House Burger, well done – house blend half-pound patty, stout bacon jam, aged cheddar, pickled red onion – with fries or cole slaw. I chose fries because they came with a house made sauce for which I chose hop mustard.

As I sat waiting for my grub, I was sandwiched between visitors from out of state who were enjoying beer on the left of me and spirits on the right. Everyone seemed to be quite happy with what they were drinking. I sipped a bit more and then my nachos came out looking exactly as the description stated. They were a solid layer of chips with all the other ingredients distributed in relatively equal drops.

A chip along the side of the plate with all the main ingredients on top was my first foray into the nachos. I chewed the first one and found out I everything I needed to know. The chips were gloriously crispy and salty, the perfect delivery system. The duck was tender and flavorful and the fondue was cool and not particularly pungent. The apple butter, which I thought to be an odd topping when I ordered, was a delicately sweet finish without taking away from any of the other flavors. These were much, much better than I expected.

Because I was eating at a furious pace, the nachos didn’t last very long. They were just so good. I finished those off and waited patiently for the rest of my food which came out after a few short moments. The burger and fries looked unspectacular, but I didn’t expect much artistic value from such a meal anyway. The only notable was the pickled red onion which seemed to glow on top. The food on the plate looked me in the eye and said “eat me”, so I followed its command.

First placing the upper portion of the burger bun directly on top of the sandwich, I grabbed it and sunk my teeth in. It was pretty tasty and reminded me of a burger typical of the area. It was cooked perfectly well and the jam on the bottom was particularly tasty. Next, I was up to trying a fry. It’s pretty rare that I choose to eat fries with mustard, but hop mustard sounded interesting to me. It looked like a common yellow mustard, but taste was what would truly matter.

Grabbing a few taters in my fingers, I took them to mustardville and threw them down. Hot damn! The mustard was spectacular. It was ultra flavorful and hoppy with some pretty significant nose-burning heat. I would say it was probably a top five of all time, something I could eat on pretty much anything and no doubt the star of the plate. I worked on my food until it was all done and didn’t need to take any home as I thought I might, but was quite full.

Liquid Riot was really good. The only concern I had was that the burger was 16 bucks and I think for that price, it has to be a little more spectacular. It was a solid offering, but even with the fries and awesome mustard, I didn’t quite have the feeling I got what I paid for. Either way, I’ll be back to try some of their other food. It was excellent overall and I found it a fun place to hang for a while. The total bill came to $44 after tip, mostly reasonable and worthy of a return visit, maybe just not for a burger.

Stay hungry.

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