This week’s Portland breakfast review is a chance for me to play the Old Portland Grump, even though I’ve only been here since 1996.
Eh, but ’96 is long enough to remember when Henry’s was Henry’s, and they made beer, and the whole place smelled like beer-making, and their trucks got in the way on Burnside, and there wasn’t any such damn thing as the “Pearl District,” just the Brewery Blocks … and then stupid Stroh’s or somebody bought Henry’s and moved them off to God knows where, and now there’s some yuppie grocery store and this stupid giant “American bar and grill” with locations in Seattle and Texas, for God’s sake, and they charge $12.95 for some damn thing called a Danish Bleu Cheese Burger with Tree Hugger Porter Mustard. And arugula!
And, fun as that is (for me, anyway) it pretty much fades when I walk into Henry’s for the Sunday breakfast buffet and I’m greeted by nice young people who show me to a big, comfortable booth, then inform me that the buffet is $15 for all you can stand. Actually, they don’t say that last part, but Paul vs. Breakfast Buffet is always a daunting game of strategy, endurance, glory, and gluttony. I always lose, of course, and generally regret even playing. But it’s fun while it lasts.
The buffet at Henry’s is impressive: an omelet station where you build it and they cook it and bring it out, and then a full lineup of honey pancakes, corned beef hash, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, peppered bacon, sausage, potatoes, cinnamon rolls, pastries and fruit. All the meat is from local company Zenner’s. The buffet includes juice, coffee, tea and soft drinks, and there are also build-your-own Bloody Mary and Mimosa stations for $3 each.
The space is epic – two stories high with a big central staircase and upstairs seating and an open kitchen and what looks like seating for 200 – but they designed it with plenty of little nooks here and there, so you can feel cozy in a corner booth or private in the balcony or conspicuous with your group of 12 or 20 at a long table by a window. This place is perfect for a big group, and in fact they have spaces like The Billiards Room that seat up to 120 people. Now that would be a Breakfast Crew!
When I went with my group of eight, we made reservations and had no trouble at all. The place is big enough that I can’t imagine it ever having a wait. And speaking of big, I think I made it through three entire plates of food. It’s almost embarrassing (well, it should be) to munch a plate of biscuits and sausage gravy and bacon while you’re waiting for someone to cook your omelet and honing in on your pastry and pancake selection.
But I have no pride in such matters, and when it comes down to it, I’m not too good at being a grouch, either. I’m all for progress, and if we lose a downtown brewery, we might as well replace it with good food and a place that serves about 100 kinds of beer. All in all, Henry’s is where my gluttony overcomes my grumpiness.
Brunch buffet (Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) is $15 for adults, $9 for kids, $3 each for Bloody Mary Bar and Mimosa Bar (all major cards)
Wait: No, and they take reservations. Outdoors: No. Large groups: Oh yes. Coffee: Decent. Other drinks: Juice and tea included with buffet; beer and cocktails available. Feel-goods: Local sausage. Health options: I guess you could stick with the fruit. WiFi: No.
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