Hops & Barrel House: A short drive derives riches

Will become The Three Legged Dog Public House on New Year's Eve 2014

By Connor Mitchell

Just a short hop from Salem, Independence is becoming a favorite destination for my wife and me when looking for an evening out. 

And our favorite stopping point in this historic city is Hops and Barrel House. Located in an historic building, Hops and Barrel House (250 Main St. in Independence) brings to the table all the elements my wife and I look for in a bar: a relaxed atmosphere, live music (Thursday through Saturday nights), craft beers, locally produced wine and spirits, and good food.
It’s the food that often most holds our interest. Owner Johnny Whitmire, a 15-year veteran of the restaurant trade, has put together an inventive and diverse menu that includes salads, mini pizzas, sandwiches, appetizers, and superb burgers. 

Did I say superb burgers? Aged two days, never frozen, hand formed and
 seasoned, the burgers are tasty, juicy and hard to put down once you start  in on one. Among the salads is my wife’s favorite, the Caprese, which can include several variations, including, on one recent occasion, marinated cucumber topped with tomato, sweet onion, fresh basil, and a generous drizzle of thick sweet balsamic. It was, according to my wife, to die for.
The Sunday brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) features “build your own pasta”  (handmade that is) with such ingredients as sausage, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach, with your choice of sauce. We sat outside one recent sunny Sunday and had gorgonzola chicken alfredo and classic sausage marinara. Both were fantastic! We found out later that many of the ingredients were purchased from the local farmers’ market.
Hops and Barrel House, named of course for beer and wine, lives up to is name with an excellent selection of beers, usually including a hoppy IPA that meets my taste, and wines, which my wife tends to gravitate toward. The club also features excellent drink specialties for the more adventurous, including several martinis, (the garden martini is refreshing with cucumber and fresh basil); infused vodkas (including lavender, bacon, and rosemary garlic infusions to name a few); and high end scotch. By the way, Tia  makes a killer Mojito.
We’ve also found over the past few months that the club is an excellent  source of live music, including many top-notch local musicians and  songwriters.
 Johnny, who spent ten years as a chef at a prominent Portland steakhouse, is going on his second year as owner of Hops and Barrel House. We hope he has many more ahead.

250 South Main Street
Independence, OR

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