By Nancy Tannler
3308 SE Belmont St.
Open Tues – Thur 4-10pm
Friday 4-12 pm
Sunday 2-9 pm
The adage “necessity is the mother of invention” proved to be a great motivator for Mitch Gillan. Raised in Laguna Beach by a single parent, he wasn’t spoon fed everything he wanted. In order to buy those cool tennis shoes, or more Star Wars themed toys and comic books, he would have to pay for them himself. He started dishwashing at fifteen and immediately fell in love with kitchen work.
After the devastating Laguna Beach fire in 1993, Mitch said the once arty town was never the same, so he left for San Francisco. By this time he was well-versed in the fine dining scene and worked at some of the best places in the city. He went to New Orleans from there and enjoyed the food, music and southern charm, just a little too much for a twenty-one year old.
“I wish I had been a little older and wiser when I was living there. There was a lot of temptation.” He survived his youth and eventually made his way here to our fair city.
Even though fine dining had been Mitch’s forté, when he decided to open a restaurant of his own, he wanted to do something less stressful and more fun with a community vibe to it. “One day I was sitting in a pub reading my comic books and I noticed people noticing what I was reading,” he said. It was like they were giving him two thumbs up or something. What he read into it is that people in Portland like comics and food, so why not combine the two as a centralizing theme for what became The Nerd Out.
“I have always loved comic books and the accompanying action figures and have collected them over the years,” Mitch said. The decor of The Nerd Out are wallpapered with comic book pages and there are shelves, nooks and crannies filled with figurines. Just sitting around can be interesting thanks to the graphic walls and tables. Fortunately he didn’t have to use his own collection for the wallpaper but happened upon the sale of a collection and bought lots from the dollar bins. But, he has read every one of the stories represented there.
“There is a rich cultural appreciation here in Portland for comic art,” Mitch said. Plus there are several comic book stores like; Books With Pictures, Dark Horse, Excalibur Comics, Comic Adventures and Cosmic Monkey to name a few. There are some famous writers and artists who live here as well – Brian Michael Bendis, Ibirham Moustafa, Cat Farris, Jeff Parker, Terry Blas, Robbi Rodriguez, Ron Chan, Steve Lieber – quite a line up.
The food menu is simple with a little something for everyone – the carnivore, vegetarian, vegan and kids. “We want everything we serve to be fresh and taste great, so we planned a menu where we could consistently do that,” Mitch says.
They make seasonal changes and the choices sound appetizing – beef stroganoff, fried pork belly, blackened tofu, vegan paella, to name a few. Many of the entreés that aren’t specifically vegetarian or vegan can be made so. The selection of side dishes include the popular gooey spinach dip, warm brussel sprouts, German potato salad, seasonal créme brulée – in other words, lots of comfortable delectable choices.
There is a full bar with crafty cocktails made by bartender Josh Hackney: the Spider Manhattan, Bumble Bees Knees, Adam West, Invader Zim, The Dude Abides, Sailor Moon, Gwentini and Benedict Cucumberbach. There are four taps with rotating draft beers and wine.
“Since many of our customers are young or non-alcoholic, The Nerd Out makes sure to have good beverages for them too.”
Along with food, drinks and atmosphere, there are pages of comics to read, board games and action figures to play with and a kids area. Happy Hour is everyday from 4 – 6 pm, a pop-culture trivia night twice a month, drink and draw, costume parties, movies and other events. The current calendar can be found at facebook.com/thenerdoutpdx.
The Nerd Out is a place that welcomes everyone from the community – square pegs and all.