Review: Cheers Whiskey Bar & Grill

If you want one of those “secret places” that only the locals know about, check this one out at SE 122nd Ave. and Holgate St.

Chef and kitchen manager Nick Olson, our friendly barkeeper, Danielle and CHEER’S general manager, Dale Lewis welcome outer East Portland patrons to the home of good food and good times. David F. Ashton photo

By F. Graham Ryan

It’s hard to find food that is good, and hot, yet reasonably priced! Want a real good meal done right? Want a bargain where you get two-for-one and it isn’t yesterday’s hash?  If you want one of those secret places that only the locals know about, try Cheers.

That’s Cheers, Whiskey Bar & Grill. It is easy to find at SE 122nd Ave. and Holgate St.

In past lives, this location was a strip joint, and had a bad reputation. But now, it hosts a great menu, excellent kitchen, a great bar, and first-rate wait help! And the food is excellent. The service is steady and only slows when the crowd gets bigger.

Cheers is clean, and has nice, comfortable d?©cor.  A person can feel at home in blue jeans or business dress. Contractors and business folk mingle on a daily basis.  Danielle, the daytime bartender, says, “The customers here are great.  I also have a great group to work with here! It is fun! We try our best to get food & drink to customers as quick as possible! And, most folks are patient when we get slammed with customers. We appreciate that.”

Dale Lewis, General Manager says, “We serve folks from 21 to 80 years old, and have established a top-notch neighborhood restaurant and bar where anyone can feel welcome.  It is also a great gaming and entertainment venue. We work very hard to give high quality food at a great price.” He adds, “People come from the West Side to eat lunch and play video poker. We have regulars from most every culture and neighborhood in the Portland ‚ÄìVancouver area.”

Dale Lewis has worked with SKC Investments, the company that owns Cheers and several others in the area, for over 10 years.  In recent years the company has improved the image of the company and its properties by remodeling interior and exterior seating, signing, diligently removing graffiti, and by upgrading the quality of all offerings.

Texas Hold-em, too
“Not only do we offer great hospitality and food, but we have a great entertainment venue with Texas Hold-em on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sundays. We have karaoke on Monday nights at 8 p.m. The establishment has poker and game machines, and two up-to-date pool tables,” Lewis says.

Nick Olson is Kitchen Manager. He is from a family of restaurant owners and operators and, though self-taught, has a real grasp on fine quality dining and how to please customers with great food and quality at a fair price. Nick says, “It has been fun to work with Dale, the wait staff and vendors to get some really great food choices for our customers.   We recently introduced the Chibatta Burger — an all beef steer burger with Chibatta bread and great flavor.  Folks are going after this one!  We also have added the Italian night. It is growing every week and is also a big hit! We hope to add lower carb and healthy items as we go along, for our lunch and dinner crowd.

“Fresh is the main word here.  We buy only fresh meat, veggies, and ingredients.  Our soups are made daily and are low salt compared with any around. We don’t use a base but make our own just like old-fashioned soup grandma used to make! We know you will love our food!”

Prime rib: $9
If you are a visitor in the evenings on any night or weekend, you will enjoy the juicy prime rib that sells for fewer than 9 bucks, and is the absolute best for quality and tenderness.  It is not the usual bargain prime; this one is a great cut and grade, done just right, with great seasoning. It’s slow cooked, juicy and tender! The order comes with giant baker, and great saut?©ed vegetables. It also has fresh grilled French garlic toast slices.  Be sure to ask to have the foil removed from the baked potato if you are a tender fingered soul like the author.

“Two-fer” lunches, too
If that is not enough to convince you then try the “two-for” lunches. Imagine getting two giant beef steer burgers with mushrooms and cheese and big fries for $6.95 for both!  Or choose a gourmet deli sandwich on deli choice bread and get two sandwiches, and or Sandwiches, or Giant wraps for lunch for $6.95. Wow!  And if you want take out it is only 50 cents per item to take it home or to work!

The great news continues with a Saturday night Pasta night with choice of Marinara and Italian sausage, or Penne pasta or get Beef Ravioli and Marinara choices each for around six dollars and they are to die for at the price. Normally you would pay a minimum of $12 to $15 for the same portion and it may not be as well prepared.

Not fast food
One caution is that the Cheers establishment is not a “fast food place”, and you should allow 45 minutes to an hour for lunch especially on busy days.  If you need to be in a hurry order for take out or wait until you have a little extra time for lunch. It is worth the possible wait. It can take a while on busy Friday nights as well, so be patient. It is worth the wait!

Hear the music you choose
Most of the crowd age 40 plus dine between 6 and 9 p.m. On Friday night, Saturday or Sunday ‚Äì if you don’t adore head-banger rock or heavy metal ‚Äì you should plan on an investment in the jukebox of from three to five bucks. Pick from easy listening artists, country, standards, jazz, blues, or even some Sinatra is available. Be sure to hit the “play now” option and you will have music that is in your genre. If you don’t hit play now and spend the extra your songs will come after what is already ordered and at times that can be hard to talk over.

The reason, sometimes the young folks are playing pool during happy hour and they are big into metal, rap and top 40 music. It’s the kind that most mature folk don’t always appreciate. Be nice and order some Joplin, or Ray Charles, or Credence.  That should make everyone happy!

After 8:30 to nine p.m. Cheers Whiskey Bar emerges. It starts hoppin’ with the younger crowd playing the video music box or playing games and visiting friends at the bar.  It is a hometown feel with lots of variety for people watchers. The drinks are excellent ‚Äì not under-poured ‚Äì but right on!

It definitely is a great place to make new friends.  The bartender will accommodate your special request with a strong selection of brews, and cocktail choices also at reasonable prices.  Happy hour is festive with great bargains every evening starting at 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday nights.

¬© 2006 East PDX News


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