A week or so out from Christmas, I needed to get some work done on my car. I had been told a month prior that I needed a massive amount of repair to pass my annual inspection. After a bunch of stress and a second opinion on the matter, I actually didn’t need any work at all to get my sticker. I had been lied to, and other than the suggestion that I get a couple new tires “soon”, my car had all it needed to run safely and soundly for a while. That was great news, of course, but even better was that those tires I needed were under warranty which was going to save me a significant amount of scratch once again.
After assuming the worst for weeks – that I would be broke due to excessive car repair costs – and then having the good fortune of not needing them at all, I was ready for a small celebration with the extra money I had in my pocket. When it came time to decide where that celebration would take place, I had a few ideas in mind, but went with The Great Lost Bear. I had been to the Portland off-peninsula staple many times in the past and it’s a place I tend to enjoy, but it had been a minute since I was last there, so I thought it a good choice. Plus it held a special place in my heart due to being the first place I ever blogged about.
The GLB is a large restaurant and tends to stay quite busy. This time was no different as there were only a few tables empty and the staff was clearly working hard to make customers happy. We were taken to seats not far from the entrance and left with some menus. I was reminded of one of the aspects I particularly enjoy about the atmosphere there. Even though it’s a sizable place, it never feels that way. Rather, because of the way it’s divided and the lighting, it feels much more quiet and private than one might expect. That always adds a little something to my experience.
Once the waiter showed up, we put in some orders for delicious water and sorted through their menu to figure out what to eat. The list of food was grand as ever. I saw my old favorites, but decided to go through it thoroughly as though I was a newbie. There were some interesting categories and their names were fun to read. The starters were “Bear Beginnings”, salads “Ruffage” and there were entire categories of cheese fries, nachos, and wings. Add in seafood, chicken – “The Brid is the Word”, burgers, cheesesteaks, veggie – “Carnivores Beware”, healthier items, roll ups, burritos, fajitas, and a few other stragglers, and menu was fit for pretty much anyone of any taste.
When I’m there, I often go straight for the nachos because they’ve got some great chip concoctions like the Spiro T. Nachos which are laden with chicken, tomatoes, feta, and other cheeses. However, this time I told myself I needed to stay away from those and get at least a little more adventurous. After seeing on the menu that their seafood comes from Harbor Fish Market, I decided something from there would work and went with the Slab and Crab and Another Slab – Swiss and American cheese grilled with crab salad on white bread. That came with fries, cole slaw, mini salad, or dirty rice and beans. I took the cole slaw. Mrs. Portlandeater went with the Dinner Salad with fat free honey mustard dressing on the side – and a cup of the The Bear’s Vegan Chili.
We put in our orders and I looked through the three additional menus at our table. One was for beer, one wine, and one had drinks and desserts. I took an extra long look at the beer list as they are recognized as having one of the best in all of Portland. With lots of local and non-local brews and even a handful of classic cans, their beers are another area where everyone can find something they like. Once I was done with that, I took a look at the specials board across the aisle from us, which I had ignored when making my initial food decision. Soon our order was delivered to the table.
My sandwich looked about as good as a crab melt could and had a bowl of the slaw tucked neatly next to it. Her salad was standard-issue and the chili came with some corn chips. I was ready to go for the gold and quickly placed the sandwich between my upper and lower sets of teeth, biting down with enough force to slice a piece from the rest of what was in my hands. The crispy bread was magnificently grilled. It was a perfect start, but what came next was even better. The cheese was plentiful and the crab salad was fresh and well-mixed with plenty of mayo, veggies, and possibly some fairy dust to create a beautiful sea dweller sandwich. I was really happy with it and my wife agreed after taking a bite that it was spot on. The cole slaw was good too with just the right amount of vinegar and mayo, but I also got a hint of horseradish which was different from any other slaw I’d had previously.
We both worked on the food and I tried a bite of her chili which I though quite tasty for the vegan stuff. My sandwich was much more full of crab salad than I would have expected, with some even falling out as I squeezed the bread to put it in my mouth. As I finished, I had the added bonus of going back over my plate with a fork and eating the remaining crab that couldn’t stay between the doughy sheets. Once we were all done, I got to order an item which my wife had pointed out to me on the specials board – Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle in a Jar. In my world, peanut butter improves chocolate tenfold, so it had to be good.
Dessert was delivered with two spoons which seemed pointless since I was certainly not going to allow anyone to eat my trifle but me. I quickly realized that I couldn’t tell exactly what was in the jar and could only make out that the top was whipped cream which covered everything else. A bite of that revealed vanilla ice cream. A bite of ice cream gave way to some chocolate sauce – think Death by Chocolate. And a bite of that allowed me to taste some peanut butter chocolate cake on the bottom. After I got to the bottom, I sat motionless for a moment, allowing my brain to process what was happening. “Wow, this is amazing!” I thought to myself. It was insanely delicious with all the layers in a single bite. And while I usually don’t like vanilla ice cream, it was necessary to cut the ridiculously rich chocolate sauce.
I did graciously allow my wife to take a bite of the trifle, but other than that, ate every last morsel of it myself. Once I finished, it was time to go home and we got the bill which was only a bit over $30 before tip. That was quite a bargain. I had eaten more than enough, our food was excellent, and we were giddy with delight. My crab sandwich was really good and the trifle was out of this world. I just couldn’t get out of my head how over-the-top outstanding it was. Nor could I understand why it was a special; it should most certainly be put on the regular menu. Either way, The Great Lost Bear did it again. Their food was inexpensive and tasty, the atmosphere ultra comfortable, and the service was solid as always. I’m not sure if there are people who haven’t been to GLB, but if you haven’t and are looking for a fairly priced meal in a chill atmosphere and maybe some good beers, they are a great option and they’re large enough that you probably won’t have to wait for a table. But even if you do, it’s worth it.
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