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Our Review Breakdown:
If you are just walking down 21st, you won’t even notice it’s there; quietly hiding behind unmarked, heavy, antique wood doors, Portland’s popular Irish pub, is trying its hand at brewing their own beer with the opening of Kells Brew Pub. Unfortunately, installing their eight barrel system just yesterday, they will not have their own house brews for at least two more months.
A soft opening is just that…Kell's is still painting, putting things together, unpacking glasses and hanging trim on the bar, but for the most part, they are open and ready to go. There are plenty of table tops and some bar seating. You can reserve one of the three traditional Irish pub private booths (with door) for small dinner parties. The banquet room with private bar in the back is perfect for private parties, rehearsal dinners, and such. High open ceilings, large framed mirrors on the walls, original cement floors, and our favorite feature, a cozy stone fireplace will quickly make this a Timbers fan hot spot for beers before the game. The menu is the same at this location – all the time-honored favorites are there. Good news, the bathroom is bigger and cleaner than the 1st Ave location (always hated the bathrooms at Kell's, especially on St. Paddy’s day…or any Saturday night for that matter…).
Since Kell's Brew Pub is located near Cha Taqueria, Blitz, North 45, Muu Muu, etc, Kells will need a competitive happy hour, which we discussed with the bartender. In fact, we left Kells tonight, crossing the street for pork tacos and chicken nachos at Cha because Kells was not offering any specials (Cha serves happy hour from 3-close in the bar everyday). The bartender mentioned that once they have their own brews on tap, they will have $3 pints for happy hour and some small pub fare specials…but, as with other things, they are still trying to work that out. They will also serve brunch on Sunday, however, he could not show us the menu because they don’t have one yet…
Overall, this is a great location for Kell's, and with two weeks until their official opening, they plenty of foot traffic, bar hoppers and soccer fans to keep them busy. They are adding a small patio – eventually – “by summer.” The downfall to this area is the parking, but they do have a small, free 10 spot lot – we were lucky enough to find a spot, making it the first time we didn’t have to drive around the block 5 times to park in that neighborhood. We are big fans of Kell's and we’ll be back to try their beer. They don’t seem to technically have a brewmaster, instead a couple of college students from the brewers program, and the artist who painted their signs…? Should be interesting….can’t wait to try it!
Review Date: 2012/03
Price range: $$$
Reviewed By: Kevin, Kim