On my occasional forays to the Sellwood neighborhood, I'd come across the bridge and there, on my right, would be a building under what seemed to be perpetual construction. What had been a little decaying rental had been pushed out and up and seemed to be preparing for a second life as some sort of storefront. But that second life had to wait a couple of years while owner Jim Sheehan, a custom woodworker and motorcycle fanatic, toiled away reworking the cabinetry, floors and woodwork. In the end he's fashioned what looks for all the world like a turn-of-the-century storefront that houses the Muddy Rudder Public House, a neighborhood pub and café.
The gorgeous wood of the handmade bar with its custom funnels for overflowing beer handles the many taps of mostly Northwest microbrews from Laurelwood, Lagunitas, Pelican and Roots, among others. The day we were there he also had Old Speckled Hen, an English bitter with a rich, dry taste, on nitro. It's currently rotating with Boddington's and is the subject of a lively debate about which one is the pub favorite. Sheehan also keeps a list of customers' suggestions for future brews and tries to get in as many as he can.
The food is excellent considering what passes for grub in most Portland pubs, with a nice range of sandwiches and salads. Their burgers are far above par, with hearty, fresh buns, seasonal tomatoes, nice greens, meat that is grilled on the barbecue on the porch (even medium rare!) and a surprising diversity of cheeses. These are served with Kettle Salt & Pepper chips (to die for) and an obligatory cherry pepper, fine but unnecessary.
The pub itself is three rooms on two levels, furnished with antique mismatched furniture and is decorated with odds and ends of collectibles and memorabilia and looks anything but new. It's a place where you feel instantly at home and where you could find yourself coming back to again and again. We definitely will!
Details: Muddy Rudder Public House, 8105 SE 7th Ave. Phone 503-233-4410.