At Cheryl Wakerhauser’s new Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant, napkins litter the floor, scarlet damask lines the walls, and champagne enthusiasts play a game of pétanque in the courtyard. Portland seems miles away in this world of wacky European vitality and sparkling wine obsession. In its newest iteration on East Burnside, Pix brings savory Spanish tapas, an expanded cocktail menu and a beautiful space to Wakerhauser’s sweet equation.
One side of the U-shaped bar is Paris: a sit-down patisserie lined with 350 curated wines, 150 champagnes, and Pix’s usual battery of desserts, from colorful macarons to brûléed cakes and chocolate shells. On the other, St. Sebastian: a giddy-making display of tiny bites like Marcona almonds and tortilla Española, with dangerously drinkable $5 pours of Txakoli, the ubiquitous sparkling white from Spain.
Order at the tapas bar, where Wakerhauser’s quaint creativity crosses over into $3 drinking snacks like montaditos (open-faced sandwiches) layered with duck breast and roasted Viridian pequillo peppers, Tillamook Sweet oysters from EaT Oyster Bar, and miniature half-domes of pear jelly, goat cheese, and puff pastry. The standout is the tortilla Española (the litmus test for any tapas bar): a fluffy wedge of potato and eggs sauced heavily in a paprika-spiced tomato sauce and milk-mayonnaise.
With help from Beaker & Flask bar talent Kevin Ludwig, the creative cocktail menu re-invigorates a dozen classics with Pix’s selection of aperitifs, sherries and brandy. A French 75 subs out gin for cognac (“It’s a French 75” Wakerhauser reminds us), and Amontillado sherry, vermouth rojo, and ginger beer fizz together in a tart, summertime concoction.
With almost 40 different tapas to contend with, a few fall through the cracks: dry, old chorizo reheats poorly, boquerones (cured white anchovies) spend a little too much time in vinegar, and twee puff pastries are stuffed without purpose. But Bar Vivant isn’t a place for tasting menus or foodie obsession; it’s a space to drink and snack cheaply, enjoy a unique cocktail and spend Portland’s Indian summer watching movies projected out in the courtyard.
2225 East Burnside
Mon-Fri: 2pm-2am, Sat-Sun: 10am-2pm