Bar Review: Gustav’s

While from the outside Gustav’s may look like a chain restaurant similar to the Red Lobster next door you will find a local establishment of very fine construction within.  Part of a chain of three German restaurants in the Portland area it does several things very well.

I went with a large party, the food here is somewhat expensive for everyday eating.  It’s also very filling which makes it a hard meal to throw off in an afternoon. We were celebrating a birthday and there aren’t a lot of great close in places in the suburbs where you can do family style eating before a night of good drinking.

A couple of bowls of fondue with sausage and some side plates of roast pork in apricot sauce started the night out right.

Now, I’m not an expert in table service.  I have never been a waiter or run the front of house, but it seems to me that you want to pay particular attention to groups that are having a mandatory 20% tip applied to their bill.

Drinks are usually the thing that comes first.  Regardless of what you order, how many plates, how many people or what is being bought, you get the drink orders started first so that the bartender can get stuff cracking.

Not everyone will drink. Out of a party of 15 let us assume that 7 of us are drinking and that 3 of those are beer, 1 wine and the rest are cocktails.  It should not take 15 minutes to make 2 cocktails.  On a busy Saturday with at least two bartenders working I should not get my fondue before my cocktail.

Now, the cocktail I ordered was a simple one.  A cocktail as old as time itself in some quarters.  I ordered a sidecar.  A sidecar is Brandy, Cointreau and lemon juice.  Depending on how you get your lemon juice it should come to the table relatively clear and with a sugar rim.

What I failed to see was that on their cocktail menu there was a drink called a Tuaca Sidecar.  Which is Tuaca, Orange juice and triple sec.  I’ve had a bad experience with Tuaca straight which I will relate at another time.  Now Cointreau is triple sec but triple sec is not Cointreau, and Tuaca is not a replacement for brandy.  So calling it a sidecar is doubtful when only one ingredient is the same.

The failure here was about 50/50 between myself and the server.  When she took my order she didn’t clarify that what I said sidecar meant the same as what she knew as a sidecar,  And I didn’t read every side of the cocktail menu to ensure there weren’t any landmines.

It took me a couple of sips to figure out there was a problem.  To be fair the drink was fine, but I wanted what I ordered.  They were very apologetic, and brought me an actual sidecar which was excellent and didn’t charge me for the first drink.

Other cocktails ordered off their menu were great.  The food was fantastic and everyone who ate came away stuffed.  I’ll go back, and I’ll eat, but I don’t think I will have anything but beer if I do.  Too much waiting for nothing all that fancy, and I don’t enjoy looking over the server’s shoulder to make sure I got what I asked for.

Cocktails average about $7.  Beer tasking menu if you’re curious.  Limited stock of top shelf stuff on hand but don’t try to get creative, they don’t have the stock for anything fun.

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