The Agenda feels almost like one of those places that could only exist in Portland and still be criminally under attended. They have a beer list that is way beyond what it ought to be for a bar on 82nd, including a dominant local selection with a wide variety of styles, including Deschute’s Miss Spelt and sour ale from Bear Republic.
Seriously. Who does that but dedicated sour beer spots or serious beer bars?
Plus, they have a giant Jenga game that people are playing. That is practically an autowin right there. I know at least one friend that when she finds out about this, will make the Agenda a must go destination, just to play giant Jenga.
It’s unfortunately almost deserted and there isn’t anyone who I feel I could approach without being rude. So I explain my dilemma to the bartender who suggests Stone’s Pale Ale to me and we go from there.
A man comes in from the street, complaining about another place he was at where happy couples surrounded him. He finds shelter here and is clearly a regular as he gets a drink and I never hear him order it. He mentions prostitutes as a better option than this lousy holiday and my feeling is; whatever it takes to get you through the day, just don’t hurt anyone.
He’s observing the Jenga game, quietly coaching from the bar, the drama of a ready to topple tower quietly gripping, more interesting than the basketball game on the three televisions despite it’s lack of running and beer ads. There’s an interesting strand of hip-hop on the speakers which gives the joint an undercurrent of pleasantry that I can’t quite capture. You know it when you hear it and I like that.
It’s weird; 82nd roars not but 15 feet from me, the rain and the wind batter about outside but none of those things seem to make it in. The Agenda has, at least for this evening, managed a neighborhood bar feel despite not having a neighborhood. Again; only in Portland would this be ignored.
I almost feel bad about being here, telling people about this place. Everybody needs a bar to go hide out in, friendly enough that you can hang out but anonymous enough that you can become camouflage if you want and I wouldn’t mind having an escape hatch like this place. The beer is good, the price is fair, the happy hour goes until 8, it’s friendly enough that I could be known but on the days when I don’t want to be known, nobody would know me here.
Not that they do but that, of course, is the point.