Tilt in the Pearl District

A recent addition to the Portland landscape Tilt currently operates two locations.  One on Swan Island in north Portland and another in the Pearl district.  A third location on east Burnside will be opening soon.

I’ve been to the pearl location several times now and I can say that the experience loses nothing by repetition.  Squarely on the corner of 13th and Everett, Tilt is among good company with restaurants such as Hamlet, Oven and shaker and Vault Martini.

Inside the decor is spartan with chrome and black in abundance and the odd piece of industrial equipment squarely situated for flavor.   There is a seating area and a long bar with numerous stools, booths and a ping pong table.

The menu is heavy on the american standards of hamburger, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and pie.  Despite the greasy spoon similarities the menu is exquisitely prepare and each portion is of a quality that knocks you off your stool.  The burgers are huge, juicy and filling.  The sides and appetizers are equally robust.  I personally recommend the bacon tots.  The tots are made fresh and each is a tiny wad of deep fried potato that delights and stuffs you like a thanksgiving turkey.  They come in 6, 12 and 18 pieces but beware as they are each huge and stick to your ribs.

Pie is the other serious offering here.  Everything sweet from cinnamon rolls to tarts is on offer but Pie is king and like any good late night diner you can get a slice of just about anything hot, a la mode, or even done up as a milkshake.

Now, you might ask why I would bring all this to my blog.  The answer is simple, they have possibly the second deepest bar I have seen in Portland.  Many places can get by with a smaller selection of more complex items but sitting in Tilt you can start picking out great bottles for ten feet in either direction and still not see everything they’ve got.

The cocktail menu appears to be seasonal, with about 10 unique options every season.  Their winter menu was still on board when I first went and I had the opportunity to drink something made with rum, nocino and lime that gave me new ideas.   In the spring I had a little coupe called a night swim that involved a basic martini splashed with vanilla syrup and creme de violet.  Everything I have had there is complex.  Flavors from bitter to sweet play in a wonderland of presentation and selection.

More tellingly the bartenders are never coy about what they are using and when asked to make a bourbon milk punch for the Hopboxer they gamely took down the recipe and presented an excellent cocktail in reply.

I look forward to their east Burnside location finally opening as I want something closer to my work and home where I can take friends and family.  My downtown options were previously locked in but I think that given the quality of the food and the much better selection I’m moving Tilt to the top of my list when it comes time to pick a restaurant.

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