Remember Jo Fed's? If you've been in Eugene for only a few years (like me), you'll remember it as a "hey, is that place open?" joint downtown that's been up and down, closed, under new management, and then closed again. In its old site, there's now a new contender: The Granary Pizza Co., which serves pizzas and pastas on both the upper and lower level, and still features local and touring bands.
The Granary has four parts: The wine bar, which is upstairs at the front and has first-come, first-serve seating at the bar or at any of a half-dozen very small tables overlooking 5th street; the restaurant, which takes up the back, upper level; and the bar areas that are open to the stage, both on the upper level (with the same bench-seating and small, set-back u-shaped booths in their own little no-door rooms) and on the lower level, which is slightly more nightclubbish and even with the stage and the downstairs bar. The full menu is served on all levels, though a late-night menu goes into effect at 9.
We ate in the wine bar, which also includes a few tables on the street. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m. every day, including (holy of holies) Sunday, and it's generous: $2.50 for fantastic, tempura-like onion rings or eggplant strips, slightly more for hot wings or a house salad; $1 PBRs or $2.50 drafts (Ninkasi IPA); $5 martinis. I had a $4 house wine (Willamette Valley Riesling, not bad) that wasn't much of a bargain because of a short pour, but the beer is a good value. Their pizza is also available by the slice during happy hour: spicy pepperoni, margherita, or plain cheese at $3 a slice or $5 with a beer. We didn't end up trying the pizza, but -- with a set menu of pies or a list of choose-your-own toppings -- I can imagine we soon will. It looks fantastic.
C and I went with pasta to share, and that was a good choice: I tried the macaroni(actually: orecchiette) and cheese, with broccoli (you could also add chicken). It came with a thick, salty (in a good way) sauce of Tillamook cheddar and parmesan, and a small but pleasant salad with balsamic-and-oil dressing. C ordered the pesto cream penne, and that was a lovely find: the basil pesto was clearly fresh, with an almost lemony bite, and included a generous pile of un-crushed pine nuts and soft, bitable sundried tomatoes, with enough cream added just to hold the green stuff together and coat the penne. Delicious. I was afraid I wouldn't get my half.
These seem to explain the essence of The Granary's menu: standard dishes done well, for a reasonable amount of money, with great service. With happy hour drinks and an appetizer, two full pasta dishes (we had leftovers), and a tiramisu for dessert, the meal came in right at $35. You could easily drink and dine here for less than $10 a person and come away full and happy, which -- for Fifth Street -- is an accomplishment that shouldn't be ignored.
By eight, the downstairs was starting to fill with fans of the night's entertainer -- a guitarist -- while the upstairs remained almost eerily quiet and uncrowded. I'd like to see this place succeed and survive -- and I'll do my part to help it out by showing up for Wednesday night's all-you-can-eat pasta night, with my best Carbohydrate Champion in tow to try out the marinara, Bolognese, and white clam sauces.
I'll report back as soon as I recover.
Location: 259 E. 5th Ave
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for food -- later for drinks downstairs