I love telling people I live in the Pearl. I’m not snobby about it; quite the opposite, I only live in the Pearl because I make so little money that I qualify for low-income housing. Or is it rent-controlled? Affordable? I don’t know, I just know that my dad, who paid for my college education, must be damn proud.
When I tell people I live in the Pearl, of course, they don’t know all this. They either wag their head and give me the “la-tee-da” look, or they kind of look me over and try to match what they just heard with, oh, what I’m wearing, or basically everything else they know or see about me. I’m not a Pearl Guy, is what I’m saying.
But I do live there, and this means I am surrounded by hotness and style which, under almost all circumstances, I cannot approach. For example, MetroVino. It’s expensive, I drive a ’92 Sentra. It’s good-looking, I have the body of a breakfast author. It’s stylish, I own three pairs of pants. It’s classy, I sit in the Timbers Army section. It’s famous for wine storage, I don’t drink.
But it does have Happy Hour, which I can afford. And now it has brunch. Last week, when I had the rare treat of attractive female company, I decided it was time to dress up and walk over to MetroVino. She wore a black skirt, I put on my khakis. I even shaved.
We settled in and ordered coffee, which was Stumptown done right. It was borderline severe, which is how I like it. The menu wasn’t as large as I had expected, but it does pay to focus. As for the style of food, I would call it “fancy,” but I have no class. (“Fancy” is one of my 7-year-old nephew’s classifications of cars, along with “fast” and “famous.”)
I should make it very clear that nobody at the restaurant had any attitude at all. I’m the only one making fun of myself! And here is what they say about their food:
We offer an inspired menu featuring refined yet rustic cuisine. Executive Chef Dustin See uses time-honored techniques and flavor combinations to prepare fresh, local ingredients simply and in season.
I do know that I had to ask about a couple of ingredients on the menu: “duck rillette” was pronounced the French way and described as “a slightly thicker version of duck pate” by our charming waiter, who apologized for being simplistic and “gauche.” I love that he assumed I know what the hell duck pate is like. He also let us know that “sauce maltaise” is basically hollandaise with the zest and juice of oranges added to it.
Those two are on the same Benedict, by the way, the other option being the standard Benny with smoked Canadian bacon and plain hollandaise. The waiter said the chef was “playing around with the Duck L’orange vibe”; I said that duck and orange “get along well,” and I felt .01% cooler for knowing such a thing.
We weren’t up for Benedicts, so we split the Sicilian Sausage with creamy polenta and wild mushrooms plus the baked eggs with arugula, leek, spinach, pimenton-dusted feta, and grilled bread.
How good was this? When she took a bite of the sausage, she kind of giggled and looked away, like she didn’t want to embarrass herself. I had less control: when I bit the eggs with some of the bed it was on, I blurted out, “Holy shit!” That’s the best thing I’ve eaten at brunch in a long time. And those two entrees cost a very approachable $14 and $11. There’s never a wait.
We actually marveled at the texture of the eggs, the yolks soft but not runny, the whites just on the edge of liquid, and all the other ingredients perfectly cooked and mixed. I felt silly for poking at the eggs and asking the waiter what kind of magic they’re working back in the kitchen.
So now I have a whole new reason to love living in the Pearl: Not only do I get to confuse the hell out of people and make them wonder how many breakfast books I must sell, but now I get to appear in public eating a fancy brunch in a classy joint, burnishing my Pearl Cred. Hopefully the company will always be as nice as the food.
And hopefully somebody I know will see me eating at MetroVino.
MetroVino is at 1139 NW 11th Avenue, on the corner of Northrup, and serves Brunch Sundays from 10 to 2. MetroVinoPDX.com.