My Travels: Thatch in Portland

I’ve got a backlog of Tiki Travels to tell you about! Remind me to tell you about New Year’s Eve at Tiki-Ti, and the swell Sippin’ Safari event in Boston. But to get started, I went to Portland a bit more than a week ago…

It’s really quite silly it’s taken this long, but I finally made it to Thatch in Portland. Of course, the Portland tiki crowd can make any ol’ hole a blast, but Thatch is hardly any ol’ hole… I love this place. First off, it’s dark, and I’m a sucker for a nice, dark tiki bar. It’s not as dark as The Alibi, of course, but I think there are sensory deprivation chambers that are brighter than The Alibi. I digress…

Thatch in Portland
Thatch in Portland

What light there is at Thatch is provided by a lineup (literally — I’d actually love to see the lamps scattered a bit more) of really beautiful lamps by Kahaka, and a mess o’ pufferfish. Appropriate for the home town of the Velveteria, the place is lined with velvet paintings of varying quality. There’s a reclining wahine behind the bar who looks lumpy in good ways (boobies!) and in bad ways (I couldn’t shake the notion that her cheeks looked disturbingly like some paintings of Santa Claus). But much of the velvet there is really quite good, even great.

Also: there’s a black velvet clown. At least the clown is obvious in its wrongness, and Portland is a place that prides itself on obvious wrongness, so it sort of works in that regard, but really it’d be happier in a new home.

Clam shell originally from Portland's Kon-Tiki
Clam shell originally from Portland’s Kon-Tiki

As reported earlier on Critiki News, there are pieces from the Portland Kon-Tiki (via the recently closed Jasmine Tree) throughout Thatch — the famous three cannibal tikis of course, but also scads of other, smaller pieces that are probably better showcased here than they ever were at the Jasmine Tree.

The sunken bar is rather cool. I chatted to one of the bartenders about what it’s like to work at a sunken bar — I thought it might make the bartenders feel at a disadvantage, but he told me he actually really enjoys the intimate feeling he gets when he’s chatting with customers seated at the bar. The seating throughout much of Thatch came from an old Armet & Davis Denny’s, and it fits quite nicely. I didn’t get to spend time in the raised hut at the back of Thatch, as it was taken over by a large group by the time we arrived, but it looks like someplace I could loseWeight Exercise many a happy evening.

The bridge entryway over a water pool works fantastically as a transition from the outside world. The bridge amazingly has no railings, but there haven’t been any drunken spills into the pool yet. Owner Robert Volz says that the absence of a rail forces even drunk people to pay a bit more attention to what they’re doing.

London Sour
London Sour

I had a London Sour, which was quite tasty. Overall, the selection of drinks looked pretty good (though I wouldn’t miss the “Donkey Punch” if it left the menu… ugh). We didn’t try the food, since we’d just come from dinner (meatloaf & potatoes au gratin at the Doug Fir — yum!).

The music! The music was all spot on — lovely Exotica. I don’t know exactly what the music mix was, as I was paying attention more to the conversation of my companions… but I take that as a good sign, that the music didn’t jar me with its inappropriateness. Thank goodness.

Huge mahalos to Thatch owner Robert Volz for showing us a grand time, and to Melintur, Tiki Mama, Kim, Trader Tiki, Trott, Erik & Michele for sharing yet another memorable tiki-scented evening with me. I’m already looking forward to my return in late July!

View of Thatch from behind a tiki's bum
View of Thatch from behind a tiki’s bum

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