When the place opened last year, it didn’t make a huge splash in the beer scene, but that’s the way owner Tom Gilles, a former Bend mail carrier, wanted it. Instead Gilles and his partners have quietly tweaked their operations, morphing their bar into a Mecca for local beer lovers who crowd the cozy basement pub in the former Ernesto’s to get a taste of a British-style bar on this side of the pond.
Platypus has the vibe of a good friend’s place with a few dart boards, a big screen TV and a comfortable couch all strategically located around the restaurant’s standard tables and chairs.
Initially, the menu was geared to accentuate that British-pub feel, but has since evolved to include a wider range of good ol’ American comfort food.
The enhanced menu includes a good-sized variety of pizza, cold sandwiches and salads, as well as nachos, a reuben and a French dip. At the same time, staples such as the fish and chips, and bangers and mash remain.
Most of it is typical pub fare, but under the direction of head chef Connor Curry, it all has an original edge.
In an attempt to attack the menu from the opposite ends of the “good for you/gut bomb” spectrum, we tried the hummus plate ($7.75), the mini corn dogs ($5), the veggie delight sandwich ($7.50) and the reuben ($9).
The hummus plate was a great deal that came with a heaping pile of veggies, kalamata olives and grilled slices of pita bread, which were so warm and fresh they almost didn’t require the hummus. Those pitas dipped in the light, airy and earthy homemade hummus combined to make it the best I’ve had in Central Oregon outside of Joolz or Kebaba.
The dozen mini corn dogs were firm, golden and very hard to share. The house-made pub mustard complimented them perfectly. The veggie sandwich arrived on the freshest Ciabatta roll I’ve had outside a bakery and smothered with a perky pesto aioli.
The reuben, like most in this town, is served on Di Lusso marbled rye. This sandwich was mostly straight-up meat—light on all the extras that often make a reuben pop. If you’re into gigantic, sloppy and juicy reubens, this sandwich might not be for you. For the lighter appetite, however, it will probably be just right.
In an effort to really inform Source readers, we also tried the tots and the homemade clam chowder. The tots were crispy, heavily salted and left another local watering hole’s version in their delicious deep-fried dust. The chowder was killer and might be in the running for best in town. It was the perfect way to end the feast.
Our service during all these courses was fast and our server made sure we always had beer in our hands, too.
Since most of the clientele tosses back two or three pints per visit, the 15 taps change quite often, and we were impressed by the variety. We tried everything from a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy—a sweet, lemony beer that could almost be mistaken for a Mike’s Hard Lemonade—to the imperial Russian stout from Stone Brewing in Escondido, Calif., which was chocolatey and warmed our bellies like a bright fire.
In between we tried a Silver Moon Hop Nob IPA, a Strongbow English Cider, Ninkasi’s Maiden the Shade, and the beer of the night, Lagunita’s Lucky 13.
With all house made sauces (including the best BBQ sauce I’ve had in some time), a new pizza menu that effortlessly rivals Deschutes’ and an eclectic and impressive tap list, they’ve upped their game considerably.
Future plans include weekly tastings in The Brew Shop, as well as a small batch, one-barrel micro-brewing project.
Platypus is impressive because it delivers what it advertises. The food was great, the beers were excellent and varied, and the staff was warm and friendly. It might not be homey in the typical sense of the word, but it’s damned comfortable and I already want to go back.
1203 NE 3rd St.