My band had a show last night at a North Portland venue that I was unfamiliar with called Ducketts Public House. Believe it or not, their Happy Hour lasts from 4 till 9 pm Monday-Friday so I was able to get in on the tail end of it. This report has less to do with the specific deals ($2 well drinks, 50¢ off drafts—pretty standard really, as Dr Evil would say) and more to do with the place itself, a clubby little punk-rock sports bar that hasn’t found a regular crowd yet. IMHO, this works to its advantage; a bar should be a place where everyone feels welcome and as I kept an eye on the broad cross-section of humanity ambling in and out the front door my heart warmed to this little neighborhood dive. Either that, or I forgot my Prilosec when I ordered the chili cheese fries ($5.95).
Ducketts, situated within spitting distance of PCC on N Killingsworth, is a snug and clamorous hive (three TVs, pinball, video crack, live music starting at 9:30), that fortunately empties out into an equally cozy patio that feels like one of those postage stamp-sized parcels affixed to a condominium for your (minimalist) barbecue and entertaining needs. Rather than feeling uncomfortably close to that table full of baseball capped college students simultaneously yammering away about how much LeBron sucks, you feel inclined toward good will and bonhomie. After all, this is somebody’s party, you’re all invited, so belly up and relax. Clustered in various convo pods nearby were boisterous Latinos, a black dude on his cell, peroxide punks, skaters, a few nervous squares, and one old hippie with an open shirt who seemed incredulous and offended that my band wasn’t going to be playing anything by the Doors.
Oh, and there’s a ping pong table if you feel up to it. Had to conserve my energy for playing the bass last night, otherwise I would have happily thrashed the house.
At the moment, owner Dustin Berkholtz is the only staff in sight, and he’s remarkably efficient. Bartender, server, cook, busboy, and restroom supply guy all rolled into one, he still manages to perform all these duties in a timely manner, never leaving a customer hanging at any of his stations. I appreciate hustle, and Berkholtz seems to be a relentless dervish of task handiness. Gotta hand it to him.
There are craft beers on tap (Ninkasi, Rogue, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas), but they feel out of place here. Instead, $5 pitchers of PBR and Rainier (one of my favorite blue-collar brews; sturdy and reliable) flow like Type O from a freshly nipped jugular on True Blood. Eeew! Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night.
There are menu curiosities I didn’t get a chance to sample (steak and baked potato, $9; mac ‘n’ cheese bites $4; bowl o’ chili $3.50; jello shots $1) but I can report that the quesadilla ($5; $6 for chicken), the service, and the prices were all a-ok. Tall boys of Tecate for $2? Here’s a twenty. Keep ’em coming.
Ducketts is still a nebulous entity, a nascent hangout waiting for that one clique to claim it and plant their flag. Frankly, I hope none of them does. You’ll never learn anything drinking with the same ol’ slobs. No offense, drinking buddies.