Buckman Public House Opens in Washington High School Building

For years, the Washington School stood derelict, a mostly empty building serving as the occasional lot for Gus Van Sant film auditions, with a decent dog park outside. In the past few years it’s been beautifully renovated, with Portland's newest music venue, Revolution Hall, moving in along with a bar for concert-goers. Now, Buckman Public House, a full service restaurant and bar, has moved in to complete the rehabilitation.

The Buckman Public House is not the only bar in the Washington School, as concert-goers and guests of the dog park have been able to grab a drink and a sandwich from Martha’s Cafe & Bar for a while now. But The Buckman, as it’s known, seeks to bring in not only guests for a pre-concert drink, but for sunny happy hours, full service dinners, and late night revelry.

 
Beau Raymond and Pete Maben, both bartenders with prestigious experience, are behind the cocktail program. The menu is helpfully broken up into categories like low-proof sippers, mid-proof drinks, and stronger “heavy hearted” cocktails, with the price range going from $7 to $12. Some standouts on the opening menu include a fun summer mojito called Fridays with Shea ($10), a reference to Mike Shea, local celebrity bartender and owner of the popular Rum Club; The Grand Riviere ($12) a dark, bitter, and lush rum variation on a Manhattan; and the Mr Blue Sky ($10) a rye and pisco julep spritzed with blue curaçao. Due to the expected pre-show rush from Revolution Hall, the team developed a cutting-edge tap system to keep draught cocktails at the correct temperature. Also for the summer is a selection of boozy slushies and even alcoholic soft-serve, perfect for an after-dinner treat.
 
Andrew Young of St. Reginald Parish winery will consult on a wine list that will prominently feature small, independent producers from around the globe, available both by the glass and bottle. And, being a Portland bar, there is a respectable draught beer list of local and guest breweries.
 
Executive Chef Jeff Emerson has considerable experience, having worked at lauded restaurants such as Castagna and Ava Gene’s, while Chef de Cuisine Ian Wilson was the owner and chef at the Scandinavian restaurant Fenrir. The food at Buckman Public House, which includes lunch, happy hour, dinner, and a late night menu, is rustic, homey, and contemporary.
 
 
For smaller snacks, sample the deviled eggs ($5) or the outstanding lamb tartare ($16), as well as the chicharones ($6), which comes as the usual pork fat or as a shockingly good vegan option. If you’re looking for a full meal, The Buckman continues Portland’s recent trend of excellent fried chicken with a half fried chicken ($23) that comes with a choice of a side. For something a little healthier, the griddled McFarland trout ($22) is served with a fennel radish salad and a bed of black barley.
 
The expansive and elegant interior allows for 180 guests, with two full kitchens and a long, J-shaped bar wrapping around the inside wall, meaning The Buckman can serve as an event space for private parties. Much of the Washington School’s original interior remains, including the exposed brick back-bar, and teachers’ cabinets refitted to serve as bar shelves. However, newer qualities such as the shell-patterned backsplash and stylish tufted leather banquets give the space a classy modernist aesthetic. In the front near the park is a patio, perfect for summertime imbibing. Buckman Public House got here just in time.

Photos via
Lisa Boomer & Alexander Frane
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