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212 Danforth Street

Four Plates  
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Rüski's Reviewed: Spring, 2000

Located on Danforth Street in the West End, Rüski's is a somewhat out-of-the-way neighborhood establishment.Last week, I thought of it as just a bar rather than a restaurant, but now I highly recommend for a great diner and the best burger in town.

My friend and I were cruising around the West End last Sunday and coincidentally, around 1:00, realized that our stomachs were painfully empty just as we happened upon Rüski's. We suspiciously walked through the door of the tavern wondering what would be waiting for us on the inside. It was a bar, just like any other, but packed for an early Sunday afternoon. There was one table available. We weren't sure whether we should sit, or wait to be seated, we only knew that we felt like we had intruded on someone's private party and all eyes were uncomfortably upon us. It was then, with perfect timing, that a patron, perhaps a regular, who obviously had been there for quite some time, tried to seat us, making us feel awfully silly. Thankfully, the waitress, although initially very cold and somewhat intimidating, saved us and seated us at the one available table. I almost wanted to leave right then, but decided to stick it out which turned out to be the right decision as we found Rüski's to be a great restaurant to which we plan to make frequent visits in the future.

Immediately, the waitress warmed up to us and we realized that she was just extremely busy. She cleaned our table top, left us the morning paper and brought us two menus which listed both breakfast and lunch options. We ordered two coffees ($0.75) which arrived promptly. I always have trouble deciding on early weekend afternoons whether I want to eat breakfast or lunch foods, but after reading the tempting list of sandwiches, including grilled cheese, BLT, clubs and the many kinds of burgers, both regular and veggie, listed on the menu, I decided that today was definitely a lunch day. My friend, however, drawn towards the Belgian waffles with or without strawberries, the pancakes, home fries, bagels, various egg plates and French toast, opted for breakfast instead.

I ordered a bacon cheeseburger ($4.95), medium-well, with cheddar and a side of fries ($1.50). All the sandwiches and burgers come with chips and a pickle, but I was craving a more substantial potato side. I could have had onion rings ($1.50) had I been in the mood for them instead or I could have had provolone, american, or mozzarella on my burger, but cheddar was definitely in order on this day. The waitress asked if I wanted to bother with all the burger fixin's, lettuce, tomato, and onion, but I opted against them. My friend ordered the pancakes ($2.95), a side of home fries ($0.75), and a mimosa ($3.95).

After settling in, I looked around the dark room which was decorated with historic Portland paraphernalia including pictures and old license plates. There were several boards with the drink and food specials listed. The place was filled with single people, groups of friends, and families eating, drinking, and just hanging out with fellow bar patrons, on this particular Sunday afternoon.

wheelchair accessible
vegetarian selections
vegan selections  
Most credit cards accepted
The service was a little slow but our waitress was very apologetic. My burger was excellent! No less than an inch thick of perfectly cooked burger with crispy bacon, cheddar, and a delicious roll. The fries were huge crispy steak fries, just what I was looking for. My friend received three large fluffy, well-cooked pancakes with which he was very satisfied along with his large plate of chunky home fries. The substantial mimosa came in a pint glass and apparently went very well with the pancakes since it was there one second, and gone then next. We were pleasantly satiated with our meals, couldn't have asked for anything else at that particular time, and it was just what we were both craving.

The total bill came to a wonderful $16 and change, before tip, leaving both our stomachs and our wallets full. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking off our delicious meals in the West End and I very much look forward to returning to Rüski's again soon.  back to the top

Tracy B. Wheeler is a classical flutist and freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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