Let’s be honest: The on-campus drinking options leave a lot to be desired.
There are the upscale joints that have a distinct airport bar quality, and the cheaper options that tend to attract every bro and his boots-wearing girlfriend.
Somewhere in the middle lies Rogue Hall. I guess it’s billed as a meeting hall, but let’s be honest, it’s just a pub.
For those of us who have been around Portland State for a while, we remember the weird Italian restaurant that used to be in this space. Frankly, the space itself should probably be two separate entities.
I’ve visited both Rogue Hall and the weird Italian restaurant that preceded it (not even going to bother Googling it) several times and have never witnessed it being more than half full. Let’s face it, PSU ain’t a bustling metropolis.
As it stands, Rogue Hall doesn’t do the business to staff itself to the extent that would allow for servers to not totally forget about you if you chose to sit anywhere beyond a 10-foot radius around the bar.
Rogue Hall has more than enough good qualities to place it a notch above other on-campus beer joints. If you feel like getting a beer that’s basically the caloric equivalent of drinking a roast beef sandwich, they’ve got you covered with quality high alcohol by volume percentage brews.
Every staff member I’ve seen there is genuinely warm and friendly, offering legit engagement as opposed to empty platitudes. I’m in food service myself, so I appreciate these things.
For a college eatery, Rogue Hall offers food that’s out to prove that it’s for grownups.
Enter the Kobe beef burger. First off, props to Rogue Hall for offering something with such a high level of quality (and price tag to match) for the tavern subset.
That said, this stuff is not actual Kobe beef. It’s an American facsimile: American cattle crossbred with Japanese cattle. It’s important to note because the burger itself is a facsimile of a gourmet burger and not the real deal.
To be sure, this burger has the highest quality meat available on campus. More than the beef, though, I found myself noticing the Red Robin quality bun it’s served on. What’s the deal, guys?
It’s a bit like asking for a $30 shot of whiskey in a Diet Coke. The wasabi mayo is also a major misstep, one that also distracts from the high-quality beef.
In great contrast to Rogue Hall’s Kobe Beef Burger is the best burger in Portland: the Tabor burger.
This life-affirming dish is available at the criminally underrated Tabor Tavern on East Burnside and 52nd. The patty itself isn’t billed as an exotic delicacy because it doesn’t need to be. It’s just simple, locally sourced beef.
The Tabor Burger is topped with bacon jam, blue cheese (though not billed as Rogue Creamery blue cheese in gigantic capital letters, the kind of which are splattered all over the Rogue Hall menu and finished with a sprinkling of arugula.
The Tabor Burger is served on a handcrafted brioche bun, because you don’t hand Damian Lillard a pair of shoes you bought at Target when he’s ready to go for 50.
Pro-tip: Add a fried egg if you really want burger perfection. There’s no mayo on it because why on earth would you need it?
Tabor Tavern is one of the best places to eat in Portland, and Rogue Hall just ain’t, as much as it tries to appear like it. It’s not bad, though. Far from it, in fact.
Truth be told, if you just got your financial aid refund and need to drop $50 on things to put in your face, you could do a lot worse. Plus you wouldn’t even need to leave campus.
Blake Hickman has selflessly committed himself to reviewing every food option on campus. Every week he reviews a new establishment, based on their signature dish. Follow this weekly series to experience the plethora of ways in which Blake Eats It.