Weekend! Food: Bar of Week
- Portland Tribune - Features
Moloko Plus - New name, but same stylish watering hole
People on Mississippi Avenue probably should get used to Christian Fitzpatrick and his habit of mixing things up a bit.
In July, he opened the Mississippi Avenue Social Club, an almost unnaturally stylish cocktail bar in the heart of one of Portland's fastest rising neighborhoods, and business has been good.
Thursday, he changed the name of the place. It's now called Moloko Plus, after the beverage favored by the hyperviolent thugs in 'A Clockwork Orange.'
The new name, which means 'milk' in Russian, also references the abundance of white that decorates Fitzpatrick's hipster joint: white walls, white tables, white chairs of molded plastic and leather, a poured white concrete bar top.
Between the expanse of white and the rotating art on the walls, Moloko makes a somewhat misleading first impression, coming off as a bit trendier than thou.
But it's not. For all the style consciousness, Moloko sticks to some pretty simple formulas. All the beer comes in bottles, the wine list is well-considered but mercifully compact, and all the food is generated by a tiny kitchen area behind the far end of the bar.
Happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., but the bar also pours from a premium well (i.e., Jim Beam, Monopolova, Sauza Blanca) at $4 a pop at all times.
'It could be pretentious and uppity, but it's totally not,' says the lead bartender, whose entire name is Otti. 'People come in and they realize it's a really laid-back atmosphere. Everybody's really nice here.'
Fitzpatrick is a fan of the Crow Bar across the street, but he doesn't really see himself in direct competition.
'They're like the neighborhood tavern, a little bit smoky, a little bit grungy,' he says. 'We're trying to do a slightly different thing. They have a jukebox. I play records.'
Oh right, the records. Fitzpatrick, who previously made his living selling used books and records on eBay, is a big vinyl guy. He put two turntables and a mixer where the coffee machine was supposed to go, and brings in DJs on weekends and other nights.
He'll jump in himself from time to time, spinning a bit of Blowfly or Gordon Staples and the String Thing. 'That's how I have fun when I'm here,' he says.
The cool music is part of the feel-good vibe that permeates Moloko's smoke-free interior as well as a patio that could become one of the coolest in town.
An Iowa native, Fitzpatrick plans to make the space rainproof and habitable year-round. Another novel idea.
- Eric Bartels
3967 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-6272, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily