Interview with the Slide Inn
Eugen Bingham Opens European-Inspired Bistro On SE Ankeny
Euge 2000 n Bingham, owner of the Jade lounge, recently opened a new restaurant next door to his bar called the Slide Inn, named after a spot his parents owned when he was a child. . As Bingham explains, the Slide Inn serves a mix of European and American foods, “It’s kind of a fusion of me living in Europe, and me living here. I’ll take like a little idea or concept and give it a little twist.”
Bingham’s new spot is a tribute to his parents’ business back in Tahoe. “When I was a kid, my parents owned the inn in South Tahoe. Back then it was kind of a thriving community. It was a logging area. But now the area has been vacant for about 15 years. It’s really really sad actually.”
Bingham eventually moved from Tahoe to Germany, where his mom was originally from. “My parents divorced when I was a little kid,” recalls Bingham. “Germany is a really rule-oriented place. It’s just kind of a stark reality of how to do things right and wrong. The irony is that my mom moved there even though she’s a bit more liberal than the Germans.” Bingham said eventually he tired of his lifestyle there and moved on when he was older. “I spent a year traveling through India. Then I decided to keep traveling -- to Burma, Thailand, Sumatra. I did quite a bit of trekking.”
In addition to traveling, Bingham has been cooking almost his entire life. “I cooked pretty much from age 15 on,” he says. “I went to school in Germany when I was young and once I finished, I started an apprenticeship at a really nice hotel, learning all I could about food.”
Bingham worked at many high-end hotels in Germany and Switzerland before he eventually decided to go back to his home country. “When I lived in Germany, a lot of my friends were really politically progressive,” he explains. “I found myself critiquing them all the time. So I moved back to San Francisco, because it’s I missed living in a progressive city and the German life was getting to me.”
After awhile in San Francisco, working at various restaurants, Portland seemed to be calling Bingham from afar. “The reason we moved up here was mainly because we started having kids, and there’s no way you could buy a house in San Francisco at the time,” he recalls. “I took a job at a place called Pearlina, it’s now called Touché. At one point they decided that they wanted to trim their budget, which meant my job. They asked me at my exit interview, ‘So what are you going to do?’ And I said ‘I’m going to open a restaurant.’ So they said, ‘No really, what are you going to do?’ But the Slide Inn has been open for about several months now and we’re getting busier all the time.”
Bingham’s original idea was for The Slide Inn to be exclusively German food, but the idea was changed to fit the progressive Portland scene. “As I was growing up, I didn’t really like German food,” admits Bingham. “It’s just pig, and fat. The whole thing was never really appealing to me. My wife is vegan so I kind of wanted to broaden the base so it wouldn’t be perceived as a German restaurant.” But that's not to say there isn't any German-style food, including some amazing home-made sausage and red cabbage and some savory spätzle.
From a fantastic brunch menu that includes Austrian pancakes and waffles, to schnitzel and delicious Bavarian-style pretzels for dinner, there’s plenty to love about the Slide Inn. Eugen Bingham achieved his goal of starting a restaurant with good tasting, and recognizable food. “I really want the food to be accessible to everyone, like vegetarian, and vegan, and gluten free. But of course we’ve got plenty of German beer.”
The Slide Inn is located on 2348 SE Ankeny.