Let me introduce you to brunch at the Ps and Qs Market, a name that implies both more and less than the place really is.
It’s a market, but it’s the kind of small, specialty independent grocer that, so far, hasn’t survived around town. (Remember when half of the New Deal Café was a grocer?) They have produce in wicker baskets, locally made chocolates, “Norwegian cow cheese” in the cooler, and fruit boxes with “Peras Argentinas” written on the side. The songs of Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Elvis, and 1950s country crooners fill the air.
I don’t know if it’s condescending to call a place “adorable,” or if using that word implies that they aren’t serious about what they’re doing. I also don’t know if I should even mention race or the shifting demographics of a neighborhood. But this place used to be a terrific black-owned soul-food place that none of my friends knew about, and now these cute young white folks have turned it into the most adorable little country-store type of place that the local foodie media is just in love with. I’m from the South; I notice these things, like when the Oregonian says Dekum started “turning over” when some (white) folks opened a pizzeria there, and when Ps and Qs replaced the (apparently inferior) restaurant, TV repair shop, and church in this space.
Enough of my soapbox, though. Let’s live in the present, in which Ps and Qs is a sweet little neighborhood market that started, in part, with the owners asking local people what they wanted to have on the shelves. They also have a long row of south-facing windows, allowing sunshine (when available) to pour through cloth curtains and onto wood tables, each adorned with fresh flowers and inviting people to hang out with a coffee or Grand Central pastry.
There are plants all over the place, and most of the hanging artwork is of vegetables and flowers. It is, in short, so damn cute that I couldn’t stop smiling or taking pictures of it.
It’s also a sweet little café with coffee and baked goods, and a small brunch menu on weekends. This is where the “more than it sounds like” comes in. For example, I got a beef tenderloin hash that was salty, sweet, and utterly delicious. At $10, it was the priciest thing on the menu. I also got a piece of toasted house-made bread and was offered two kinds of house-made jam: grape vanilla and persimmon.
Elsewhere on the menu, I saw biscuits and tomato gravy ($6.50), a frittata of the day ($5), and a sandwich of coppa ham, fried egg, arugula, paprika, and sriracha mayo on a potato bun ($7). See? It isn’t just a market. It’s a neighborhood place. The other folks dining were two women in their sixties, half a dozen twentysomethings talking about a party they attended the night before, and an old guy who didn’t say a word but seemed to be a regular.
And since I can’t think of anything else to say about the place—other than I recommend it, though it seems a little Portlandia to me—here’s a semi-interesting story that took place down the street. Remember the “Brunch Village” episode of Portlandia, the one that took place entirely in line for marionberry pancakes? Well, the place people were waiting to get into was Woodlawn Coffee, just down the street at 808 NE Dekum. But the place in line that Ed Begley Jr. was trying to get folks into was actually Pattie’s Home Plate Cafe in St. Johns, the bookstore that got annoyed at all the traffic was In Other Words on NE Killingsworth, and the chaos-ridden End of the Line was a vacant lot down by OMSI. Such is the magic of television; I did a whole blog post about this before.
I thought you might want to know this while you’re waiting for your yummy food in the sunny, adorable Ps and Qs Market.