Well, it’s been a while since I did this! I’ve been way too busy working for the NW Association of Book Publishers and Embark Adventures, and working on a book called Peaceful Places in Portland. And going to New Orleans to write for the Memphis Flyer. And trying to go hiking on occasion. Somebody needs to teach me to cut back.
Anyway, I did hit a nice new brunch, so here’s a little description.
One of my favorite myths about weekend brunches in Portland is that “there’s no good place that doesn’t have outrageous lines.” It is just a long, long way from being true. It might as well be true, though, if all you know about are the Cadillac, Screen Door, Tin Shed and Gravy.
Consider Downtown. Quick: where are the brunch places? I bet you thought, “Bijou and Mother’s.” Both fine places. And both will have at least a 45-minute wait all weekend. And maybe you know about some places in the Pearl, but maybe that’s just Byways and Fuller’s.
So here’s a downtown brunch myth-buster for you: Southpark has started weekend brunch service. Yes, Southpark, the slightly upscale place with the salmon on the wall, the place that many of you have hit up for a drink and snack before a show at the Schnitz, the place with the Portland version of a fancy vibe and with seafood all over the menu.
I honestly don’t know what their ranking in the Portland Dinner Pantheon might be – I am really just a breakfast guy and defer to wiser folks on such things – but I know that my friend and I walked in there on a Sunday morning at 11 and sat right down at a big, spacious booth, then almost immediately had a big, warm, tasty cinnamon roll in front of us ($4, selection varies), along with a Caffe Umbria cappuccino. Think about that when you’re in line at Mother’s sometime.
It’s a real brunch menu, full of breakfast and lunch items as well as salads, soups, and plenty of cocktails. So there aren’t five scrambles to choose from, but there are seven appetizers and eight breakfast entrees to choose from, including a Breakfast Pizza with bacon, potatoes, eggs and mozzarella ($13). We split crab cakes with herb aioli ($13.5), then she had the biscuits and gravy, and I got the Butcher’s Breakfast, which on this day was pork confit over grits. (Preparation varies, $15).
On the lunch side, half the six choices are seafood based, including Smoked Salmon on Organic Greens ($14), Boulliabase ($10 or $15) and a Fisherman’s Connection special with local veggies ($17.50).
We’re not drinkers, but there are five champagne cocktails ($7) and three variations on Bloody ($8), as well as aperitifs, juice, and organic tea.
Let’s be clear: Southpark isn’t cheap. A typical couple of entrees and two cups of coffee will set you back about $35 pre-tip. But it’s really good food, they have options to suit whatever mood you’re in, and maybe best of all, you can just walk right in and sit down. In the middle of downtown Portland! Isn’t that worth a little something extra?
Full disclosure: This meal was paid for by the restaurant (it’s good to be the Breakfast Guy) but I really did enjoy it. And I will make fun of a place that pays for my meals.