I’ve said for a while now that Downtown is one of the most happening places on the Portland brunch scene.
We’ve got food carts, hotels, full-on breakfast places opening and closing, everything. And then an occasional existing, classy restaurant like the Raven and Rose comes along and decides to do brunch.
So the Crew showed up recently and checked it out. I am also checking out a new format for my reviews. What do you think?
I would have eaten in this place no matter what they served for brunch – or any other meal. It’s a beautiful building, and even from the outside it’s clearly a mix of old and new. In this case, “old” means 1883, when it was first built as the Ladd Family Carriage House. The Ladds were a big deal in Portland – William Ladd owned the Oregon Iron and Steel company – and their estate covered several blocks in this area.
That’s the “old” part; the “new” is that in 2007 the building was moved to make way for new construction, then brought back and renovated into a beautiful, luxurious, LEED certified place that used original interior materials and now returns kitchen scraps to local farms for livestock feed.
Inside, there’s a nice little nook by the front windows, set off from the rest of the dining room. There’s a bar with seating for 10, a big table in front of the fireplace, and seating for another 70 spread out in a spacious layout. Clearly, somebody spent a lot of money in here.
Upstairs is truly impressive; there’s another bar, and a pool table, and a soaring ceiling with exposed rafters. It’s called the Upstairs Rookery and is open 5 to midnight Monday through Saturday, with a small plates and desserts menu.
The menu starts with Spella Coffee, Jasmine Pearl Tea and a dozen brunch cocktails. At first glance you notice Irish and French southern influences, with corned beef hash, black and white puddings, croquet madame, biscuits and gravy and shrimp and grits. Then you notice the little twists, like stewed tomato and chard in the shrimp and grits, or spinach, mustard and crème fraiche on the hash.
We started with a basket of donut muffins, basically muffin batter formed into donuts and fried, then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. (I should point out we had to ask for them twice, but that’s not a huge deal.)
I decided to get something out of my ordinary, and went with the Rabbit and Biscuit, with creamed spinach and a poached egg. It was sexy looking and tasted awesome, though we did crack a few too many jokes about the cute (and tender!) little bunny who died to make it happen.
Another highlight was the asparagus hash, with mushrooms, poached egg, and the same mustard-potato-spinach-crème fraiche combo on the corned beef hash. Two people got this one and really liked it.
Then there was the Croque Madame, which is just a Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and egg sandwich) with an egg on top – and in this case, the cheese was gruyere and there was also béchamel sauce. Let’s just say it wasn’t light eating! It was damn good, though.
The Crew had a fine time with all of this, and we were totally knocked out by the setting and decorations. Really a beautiful place, inside and out, and I only recall one person not being thrilled with their meal – just sorry I don’t remember what she ordered!
I should also say that when the bill came, it seemed a little high. I am sure that restaurant owners will howl at this, and talk about fine ingredients and staff effort, and that’s all true, I’m sure. I also assume that somebody (us) has to pay for all the work done in this place. It was a good meal, perhaps really good, but I also know that I had a leg of rabbit, an egg, a biscuit, some creamed spinach and a cappuccino … and I paid $20 before the tip. Do with this as you will – but I do recommend you check out the Raven and Rose’s brunch in Downtown Portland.
1331 SW Broadway at SW Columbia, 503-222-7673
Hours: Brunch served weekends from 10 to 2.
Big Groups? Yes, but reservations preferred.
Outdoors? Some uncovered tables on the sidewalk by a fairly busy street.
WiFi? Didn’t ask
Average Price (entrée, beverage, no tip): $17