Last night marked the dawn of a new era in urban dining, as Coopers Hall officially opened doors in Southeast Portland- bringing with it what is sure to be the next major trend for restaurants and dining enthusiasts everywhere: wine on tap.
Eater PDX has the lowdown:
The hybrid wine taproom/urban winery transforms a former auto repair shop in the industrial east side into a sleek industrial seemingly made for events: Guests can park themselves at the long bar or at a banquette that separates the bar/restaurant space from the barrel-stacked production area, and at the bar proper, 44 taps sit ready to pour three dozen wines including several by Coopers partner AlexEli Vineyard.
As previously reported, AlexEli Vineyard teams with St. Jack sommelier Joel Gunderson to curate the taplist, while chef Roscoe Roberson serves a rotisserie-heavy menu.
Gunderson 1 first developed his kegged wine concept as Sommelier at Restaurant St. Jack, and promptly rolled it out to several of the Chefstable winelists that he curates. With the arrival of Coopers, he has now created what The Oregonian calls "the most extensive on-tap wine program in the country". Wines on tap keeps the emphasis on the wine itself, removing the leather-bound-winelist elitist vibe that fine wines have long been associated with, and replacing it with a socially vibrant atmosphere that is more akin to the lively beer halls of Munich or Prague.
Another aspect to draft wines that will win over hearts from Portland to Brooklyn is the relatively palatable price of a glass of kegged wine, compared to the pricetag of bottles or even standard glass pours one commonly encounters when dining out. Because there is no concern over an opened bottle going bad after selling only a glass or two, restaurants taking advantage of wine on tap will not need to price glass pours in a way that protects them from loss related to waste. In fact, every wine on the Coopers Hall taplist is offered in a 2oz pour for a fraction of the glass price. Bottom line at Coopers Hall: wine should be enjoyed by all, and a patron's income should not preclude them from properly exploring the menu.
With the nation's eyes on the thriving Portland food scene in recent years, we're predicting that wine on tap- and Coopers Hall- will be a very big deal, indeed. ◉
Full disclosure: Gunderson has been a close friend of mine for 15 years. Which should really only give you another good reason to like him. ↩