Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Journey on the Three Capes Loop

ended at Pacific City, Oregon and the site of our intended lunch destination – the Pelican Pub & Brewery.
“Whether by chance or fate, one of Oregon’s finest brewpubs inhabits one of the state’s finest backdrops. The Pelican Pub & Brewery shares an otherworldly beautiful chunk of beach with Cape Kiwanda and looks out at a larger-than-life basaltic monolith known as Haystack Rock, standing guard like a sentry in the Pacific Ocean. In this setting you could probably get away with serving cafeteria food and still do bang-up business. Instead, Pelican Pub & Brewery hand crafts award-winning beer and creates menu items inspired by, prepared with, and meant to be enjoyed along side of those same brews made on-site…” (Adam Sawyer at

We decided to forgo photographing Haystack Rock until after lunch and proceeded inside where we learned that there would be a half hour to forty-five minute wait for a table. This is a weekday! This is October!! Where did all these people come from? And, of course, the waiting area is part of the pub’s “store” where one can purchase sundry Pelican Pub related items.
“In 1995, Jeff Schons and Mary Jones purchased an old brick building on the oceanfront in Pacific City. Over Sunday morning coffee, Jeff and Mary came up with the idea of opening an oceanfront micro-brewery. As they knew almost nothing about the brewing process, they decided to attend a Craft Brewers conference in Portland.

“While at the conference it occurred to Mary that there might be a brewer there that might be interested in joining the Pelican Pub & Brewery. On a hand-written 3 x 5 note card tacked to a bulletin board, Mary scribbled the details of what they were looking for.

“It was this note card that caught Darron Welch's attention. After several eager phone calls to Jeff and Mary, Darron and his fiancé moved to Pacific City and Darron began brewing test batches of beer down the street in mini-storage units while the Pelican was under construction.
"On May 4, 1996, the Pelican opened its doors and the rest is history” (
History and a lot of awards. The hallway leading to the restrooms is lined with framed ribbons won at numerous beer competitions.
In 2013 alone, Pelican Brewery was the winner in the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer categories, won the silver medal for their Silverspot IPA, and was awarded bronze medals for their Tsunami Stout, Doryman’s Dark Ale, and Kiwanda Cream Ale.
“The Pelican serves ‘Beer Cuisine’ and has taken it to levels very few, if any, are capable of producing. By using beer-related ingredients in menu items and producing flavor notes in beer that compliment the food, the Pelican works diligently to create perfect pairings. They believe that beer is more versatile than wine as a flavor ingredient in cooking, and can pair with a much larger variety of foods…” (Adam Sawyer at And each menu item lists one or more beers that best compliment that menu item.

So each of us ordered the recommended beer for one of our dishes. My beer was one of the 2013 Bronze Medal winners—the Doryman's Dark Ale—that is described at as having “…a dark brown color, with a balanced aroma of roasted malts and Northwest-grown hops. The sweetness of the ale, crystal, and chocolate malts blend beautifully with the assertive flavors of Cascade and Mt. Hood hops.”
The Doryman's Dark Ale (left) and the Kiwanda Cream Ale

Chuck selected another of that year’s Bronze Medal recipients—the Kiwanda Cream Ale—that is described at as “…pale gold with a fruity, floral hop aroma. A sweet malty flavor and a smooth dry finish round out this tasty, refreshing brew!”

I began with a cup of the Tsunami Stout Chili which is described on the menu as being made with “tender pieces of pork and beef, ancho and pablano chilies, black and kidney beans, and is topped with Tillamook cheese and green onions.”
This was really quite good with large chunks of meat and nicely flavored with cumin.

Chuck started with a cup of the pub’s “award winning” clam chowder that was thick with clams, potatoes, onions, celery and—most important, pepper bacon—in a rich base containing heavy cream, butter, and clam base.
I’m not sure what award the chowder won, but it was quite good.

Had we stopped with the beer, chile, and chowder, we would have walked away happy. But we didn’t stop there, and this is where our meal fell into the abyss of bad bar food.

We decided to share two appetizers—the Calamari and the seafood quesadilla. Now I am always skeptical of menu descriptions but describing the calamari as: “The best calamari you'll ever have!” was an outright lie.
This was awful. The squid itself was ultra chewy, but even worse was the undercooked coating. How do you overcook and undercook at the same time? And the excess of banana peppers added nothing.

But if the calamari were bad, the quesadilla was worse. This was to be a “(s)lightly spicy mix of cod, rockfish, salmon, and Oregon pink shrimp with Tillamook Pepperjack, folded into flour and corn mix tortillas, served with pico de gallo and sour cream.”
My first reaction was: “What is that seasoning?” It totally obscured the taste of the fish and shrimp. My second, after noticing that the plate contained a small pile of shredded cabbage, “This is no quesadilla. This is a fish taco. And a bad one at that.”

Good beer. Good chile. Good chowder. Awful calamari and quesadilla. Which, incidentally, came to the table about two minutes after the chile and chowder. All of this adds up to a 2.0 Addies.

And after all of that, by the time we left the restaurant, the light had changed, and we couldn’t even get good photographs of Haystack Rock.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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