Phil’s in the news
by Katherine Cole, Special to The Oregonian
Published: June 7, 2011
For denizens of the West Hills, Phil’s Uptown Meat Market is a godsend. And not just for its gleaming butcher case, stocked with roasting chickens, steaks, glistening sausages and fresh slabs of ahi tuna.
There’s the deli counter in back, where you can pick up sandwiches and hot dishes to go. And who can resist the gleaming copper espresso machine by the front entrance (coffee and meat — why not)? Or the barbecue outside, where the aromatics will make you salivate even if you’ve just eaten? (Established in 1979, Phil’s was Portland’s first purveyor of the sizzling-kebab lunch we call bento.)
But what many shoppers — even regulars — don’t realize about this butcher is that it is also a well-stocked bottle shop. It’s possible to browse here without even noticing the stairwell that descends into a dramatically lit cellar boasting cool slate floors, warm wood shelving and an eye-opening selection of wines.
A wall of six-liter “imperial”-sized bottles of Silver Oak Cellars cult cabs lines the stairway; a stash of Sauternes dating to 1934 nestles in a back corner. There is a 1995 Château Mouton-Rothschild for $525, and there are multiple vintages of Leonetti Cellar. This is the stash of a serious wine collector.
When founder Phil Mosley died last July, he left his wife, Becky, in charge of the market, which included his fabulous wine cellar. He also left her with a basement full of wine at home. Longtime friend George Hessong — a former wine wholesaler who was the first wine buyer for the now-defunct Portland grocery chain Nature’s — stepped in to help Becky Mosley sort through the inventory and sell some of it off. One thing led to another, and today you can frequently find Hessong at Phil’s Uptown Meat Market, pricing and organizing wines for sale. He does it just for fun and friendship, not recompense.
Back upstairs, on racks near the butcher case, is a selection of take-home-tonight wines to complement the meat, the fish, the deli fare and the famous bento. “People don’t bat an eye at $50 wines here,” remarks Hessong — we’re in the West Hills, after all. But he has an eye for value and stocks the shelves with plenty of options in the $20-or-less range for grab-and-go convenience.