If you ever have the misfortune to get stuck in rush hour traffic trying to cross the Willamette on I-5, and you just can’t stand the thought of crawling the rest of the way to your destination, hop off at the OMSI exit and enjoy some delicious Northwest cuisine at Clarklewis. You can hang out by the bar for happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 or go straight for one of their excellent dinner entrees. Either way, you can’t lose. The menus change, but the quality is always excellent.
We prefer to go during happy hour and sample several different dishes. We almost always each get one of their fantastic wood fire grilled burgers. It’s an excellent burger, particularly with blue cheese. We also often enjoy a plate of house-fried almonds. On our most recent visit, we also tried the Arancini, which are fried risotto balls with pork sausage and lemon aioli for dipping, and grilled apricot with gorgonzola. Both were pretty good, but far from the best food we’ve tried at Clarklewis. The apricot seemed a little under-ripe and its flavor was overwhelmed by the gorgonzola, but it was certainly worth trying.
The star of the evening was the spaghetti with Groundworks basil pesto. The spaghetti was covered with a generous amount of what may be the most delicious basil pesto I have ever had. Even after the spaghetti was gone, I found myself scraping the remains of the pesto from the plate with my fork. If that’s on the menu the next time we visit, I will definitely get it again.
It is always worth inquiring about the soup of the day. Clarklewis’s chefs make some excellent soups. One that sticks in my mind is celery root soup with truffle oil. It has a smooth, creamy texture, and the aroma of the truffle oil can’t fail to make your mouth water.
Other happy hour staples include bread from Grand Central Bakery, salads, and artisan cheese plates.
I’d love to comment on the dinner menu, but we have yet to actually order anything from it. There are always many delicious-sounding items, such as hearth roasted Carlton pork shoulder or housemade tagliatelle with braised lamb ragu. One of these days we’ll go strictly for dinner and report back on our experience, but given how much we’ve enjoyed what we’ve tasted during happy hour, I have no doubt that dinner is fantastic.
Clarklewis has a large selection of wines, a full bar, and several interesting non-alcoholic beverages, so there’s something for everyone. They also believe strongly in supporting local, organic farms, so you can pat yourself on the back and call yourself a good neighbor every time you eat there.
1001 SE Water Avenue