The attraction to Platypus Pub is the beer, of course. Does anywhere else in town serve Russian River's Pliny the Elder on tap? (Unfamiliar? It's an imperial IPA that's widely considered to be one of the best beers in the country and is one of the few to earn a perfect 100 score from beeradvocate.com.)
But beer—no matter how expansive or clever the offerings at a single venue—is no longer enough in Bend. With refined palates for beer, logically it follows that patrons' taste for food also have been maturing—and, over the past couple years, such logic has played out at breweries and taverns around town, from the sharp tooth desserts at 10 Barrel, to clever wood-fired pizzas at Worthy and the much-better-than-average sandwiches at Crux.
Over the past month, the Platypus Pub has been closed for renovations—and, last week, the editorial staff headed over to check out the newly painted space and the promise of an updated menu.
The Platypus Pub is located in a large, open basement space under The Brew Shop. With a single flight descending from the Third Avenue parking lot, it is an interesting, subterranean space that offers opportunities as a speakeasy or '70s-styled rec room. Instead, the basement lair is clean and as culturally sterile as a hospital cafeteria. Unfortunately, there is nothing to indicate that the interior decorator has any of the imagination or refinement tuned to the beer selection.
Again, yes, we understand, the attraction at Platypus Pub is the beer, but that doesn't mean that the venue and its food cannot match the well-curated tap list.
Certainly we shouldn't fault Platypus Pub for the difference between our expectations and the offerings, but all four of us were clearly disappointed by our meals.
"It wasn't bad," summarized one, "but it wasn't good either."
Expecting anything better than standard pub food offerings at Platypus Pub seems to be a wrong approach—both in terms of the bulk of the menu's offerings, and the food's bland taste. The new menu does boast, in olde English font, several higher-end entrees, like a Prime Rib Special, which included baked potato or mac and cheese, and seasonal veggies, like green beans. This classic, but uninspired, plate was offered at $24. In this higher end section, there also are offerings like cherry smoked pork ribs and honey glazed smoked chicken. We erred towards the more standard burgers and sandwiches.
The Reuben promised a half-pound of corned beef—an offering which perhaps assumes its audience is more interested in quantity than quality. The sandwich came stacked upside down, so that the sauerkraut was already soaking through the bread—a rye that didn't even have the slightest snap in flavor.
Fish and chips is a tricky dish to do spectacularly, and there wasn't much exciting here: the fish was light, the breading was a bit undersalted; but the fries—plump, with crisped skins—were remarkable, and we devoured every last one.
The Platypus burger, said one of our staffers, was "tasty enough, but the white bread bun was nothing to write home about."
As for other the menu upgrades, the Platypus Pub cook is now smoking more meats in-house and creating his own versions of traditional meat-and-potato type American dishes.
Also new is the Platypus beer, made in-house, that's on tap alongside the pub's other meticulously curated brews.
Unfortunately, the pub was freshly out of its latest beer, Arch Rival IPA, when we stopped in. Platypus co-owner Jeff Hawes expects to have a Scotch ale on tap within a few weeks. Still, there were plenty of enticing brews on the tap list (and, as always, patrons can walk upstairs to The Brew shop and choose from among the hundreds of available beers). Aside from the glorious 8% Pliny the Elder, staff favorites included Ninkasi's Total Crsytalation Fresh Hop (6.7%), Double Mountain's Killer Red (6.5%) and Boneyard's Notorious Triple IPA (12%).
Also, the pub should have its liquor license within two weeks time and will use the same discerning tastes when selecting booze.