A Guide to Portland's Best Brunches
There are not enough meals in the day to amply showcase the collective culinary talent residing in Portland, but thanks to brunch we at least have one more reason to sample as much local chefsmanship as our bodies and wallets can stomach. There are, of course, myriad restaurants in PDX with intriguing, forward-thinking brunch menus, but these seven spots are particularly worthy of sneaking in meals between meals
Broder: Breakfast and lunch menus served all day — every day. Beautiful food and plating, starting with the square baked eggs. Witnessing the preparation of the aebleskivers, and how they make those balls of breakfast love, is music to the eyes. Repeat visits are necessary for sampling all the treats on offer: the best "breakfast sandwich" you'll ever have, the Lefse of the day, and their incredible Swedish Meatball Sandwich, served with Lingonberry jam. Oh, and let's not forget the Stockholm Hot Dog — an unusual but delicious frank, wrapped in a potato pancake, pickled relish and a flatbread, served with bay shrimp. Yes, do it.
Country Cat: No one does meat like Country Cat chef Adam Sappington, but the Steelhead Benedict will have you lining up earlier in the day. Start off with a basket of cinnamon rolls, or if you're feeling more lunchy, get a ¼ pound of his homemade beef jerky for the table (order enough to take some home to savor the memory). The fried chicken, drizzled with honey, and the chicken fried steak showcase Sappington's Ozark roots. On a busy day, sit at one of the most interesting counters in Portland. It's Food Network-like entertainment in the flesh.
Helser's: Warm and open — more modern than you might expect on Alberta — the bevy of choices at Helser's make it hard to decide. The Scotch egg with potato pancakes is a unique treat, or wait the 20 minutes for a Dutch Baby, every bit as good as the Original Pancake House's, and for a lot less. Make sure someone at the table orders the vanilla-cinnamon batter-dipped brioche French Toast so as to not upset the carb count.
Arleta Library Cafe: Go there on a Saturday for the Sicilian Hash. Behold the description: Painted Hills natural beef braised overnight then sauteed with peppers, onions, and potatoes; topped with Parmesan scrambled egg; served with choice of toast or scone. It takes hours to make and a few minutes to scarf down. Start planning your next visit to this Mt. Scott neighborhood gem, at which time you will absolutely want to order the best biscuits and gravy anywhere — with chunks of perfect breakfast sausage and thin slices of incredibly tender pork loin crowning this dish of kings. The homemade scones and treats, which come with most dishes, are hard to pass up, too.
Tasty N Sons: No secrets here. The lines are long for a reason. Many refer to Tasty N Sons as Toro Bravo with eggs, which is not technically correct, but it surely is a fantastic formula for deliciousness. Go with lots of friends or a gigantic appetite so you can sample as many things as possible without nary a thought of your next cholesterol test. Small plates vary from a sunny side-up egg over spinach to a cheddar biscuit with fried chicken, to John Gorham's ticket to heaven: The Shakshuka stew. For some Portland sunshine, get the steak and eggs with a cornmeal pancake and jalapeno butter.
Beast: Brunch is a great, relatively inexpensive way to get yourself in on one of Portland's best dining experiences with one of our nationally renowned chefs. Naomi Pomeroy and sous chef Mika Parades and their attractive, attentive staff serve you multiple courses off their pre-selected menu. The seasonal clafoutis is devine, or you might be blessed with their Beast Hash. Super fresh and delicious. Die, go to heaven, and then return in time for a beautiful dessert. Two seatings. Reserve online in advance — with a deposit. It's worth it.
Cocotte: Two doors down from Beast is one of the most intimate and beautiful dining rooms in Portland. Cocotte's ownership trio of Kat, Zoe and Levi will have you switching mailing addresses to your new home away from home. The menu, sourcing from the freshest ingredients, is seasonal. From the sweet (even the bacon is brown sugar-glazed) to the savory, your choices here range from delicious crepes and ouefs to homemade pastries or pate, to the most amazing grilled cheese with caramelized onions you can imagine. Stop imagining and just go.
By Chris Angelus, Portland Food Adventures