In one sense, the Rivertap Hood River experience will be the same as found in The Dalles Rivertap — on tap, an eclectic row of microbrews from the Gorge and western Oregon — but very different in another way.
The light-filled, inside-outside connection provides an airy feeling in the original location in The Dalles, where the busy sidewalk and the bar and seating area feel almost joined.
Rivertap in Hood River, the newest beer-centric locale, opened this week, and has a very different feel. There is no view outside. You enter off Oak Street via a long hallway that takes you into the center of the building.
There, at the pub entrance, a back-lit sign reads, “Go with the flow” in bright to orange letters.
“We will showcase handcrafted beers, wines and spirits from the Columbia basin and the Gorge, and from Astoria up to Canada, and wine from all Columbia Gorge appellations, along with our own house cocktails and a broad line of single malt scotches,” said Tom, co-owner with his wife, Holly. The Woods created Rivertap on West Second in The Dalles three years ago.
The first beers on tap in Hood River include Full Sail LTD, something from Double Mountain, Guinness, Widmer Hefeweizen, Three Creeks Blond, Sinister Black Ale and selections from Rogue and Boneyard.
The Hood River version is now open daily at 4 p.m. on Oak Street just south of Second Street. The schedule will be expanded to lunchtime later this summer.
Next to the entry is Taco Del Mar, also owned by the Woods.
Inside Hood River Rivertap, 112 Oak St., is a dramatic bar and seating area for 106. It is a dark space, but livened by vivid yet muted fused glass displays and a giant bright blue peacock mural on the west wall, and accent lighting over the long bar and along the mezzanine.
Upstairs and down there is ample seating; much of it either private or designed to accommodate groups of six or eight around a set of curved sofas. Downstairs is a brick-lined basement pool room with more seating.
Friends and family of the Woods arrived at the Hood River outlet for a soft-soft opening Thursday, but the Hood River pub’s official opening was Friday the 13th.
“We thought we’d go toe-to-toe with the odds,” joked Tom.
“Actually, it’s pretty exciting; we got occupancy (July 6) and we had training with staff starting on Sunday, and there are last touches in the decor still to come, but it is looking really neat,” he said.
Tom said Rivertap of Hood River will be “a classy place to get a house-infused cocktail, favorite local brew or a delicious meal.
“The true mixology here is the blend of fast casual with a little bit of glamour. It’s the perfect mix of lounge and pub. Rivertap will feature an affordable small plate menu as well as ridiculously fast take away meals.”
The menu will feature “amazing burgers,” courtesy of Chef Aaron Pray, with “hints of around the world, little influences and specials that support it; a little Thai, a little India,” Holly said. They will serve daily specials, using local and seasonal ingredients.
Tom refers to the Hood River interior as “beautiful,” at which Holly gently admonishes him “We shouldn’t say that … we should let people decide. I just want people to come and experience it.”
Tom refers to the décor as “western Oregon,” and Holly counters, “Well, it’s ‘moody.’”
Tom replies, “Call it ‘Pacific Rim,” to which Holly replies, “Moody with hints of around the world.”
Holly laughs, “Can up you tell we work really well together?
“It really has been a fun project,” Holly said, “working with the bones of the building, because they have a lot of character, and trying to bring out the flavor of the neat architecture in the building.”