As I finish up the new edition of my Portland breakfast guidebook, I found myself reflecting on all the research I’ve done. I think the best plate of food I had in 2013 was the Kielbasa Hash at Olympic Provisions’ brunch. So here’s the chapter I just wrote about it for Breakfast in Bridgetown‘s third edition:
I have this Italian friend, Silvio. He’s my guide for the Italian hiking tours I lead, and he’s a total snob about food. Or, at least, he insists that it be good and serious; otherwise he dismisses it completely. I saw him once, at a café in Greve, Chianti, almost break his plate by throwing down a spoon in disgust … after tasting the olive oil.
When I visited him once and brought along a gift of Finocchiona salami from Olympic Provisions (with garlic, black pepper and fennel) he nodded his approval, and then ate more than usual.
Point is, Olympic does some very serious things with meat. You’ll be greeted by this display when you enter their Northwest location, in particular. It is a bank of yumminess. Over at the southeast location, you’ll likely notice first the wall of wine, even more than the flashing “Meat” sign, the hams hanging behind the window, the high ceilings, the east-facing sun-filled windows, or the impossibly cute staff.
Both locations are a little generic looking on the outside, and really out of the way. You’re unlikely to just drive by either of them, and in fact I rarely meet somebody who has eaten there. But when I think back on all the meals I ate for this edition of the book – and the number is embarrassing – the plate of food that springs to mind first, and makes me feel all warm and happy, is the Kielbasa Hash from Olympic Provisions. I’ll be my best here, but really, just go get one.
Start with perfectly sized and roasted Yukon gold potatoes. Add oyster mushrooms, also perfect. Then kielbasa. Then bacon lardons. And what’s a lardon? I asked the chef, Colin Stafford, the same thing:
It’s the probably the absolutely, most quintessential French ingredient. It is bacon that is cut substantially thicker than you would if you were going to crisp it up for a slice of bacon—so probably a quarter-inch thick at least. You cut it into long slabs, and you cut those slabs into perfect squares. Then you put those into the oven or sauté them in a pan until they are slightly rendered and still tender.
You want one now, don’t you? But wait, there’s more! We haven’t even added the onion confit (cooked in butter, that is), frisee (slightly bitter lettuce that doesn’t wilt), and a poached egg. It is … well, it was my favorite breakfast dish in 2013, for whatever that’s worth. And when the woman at the next table bit into hers, she said “Oh my God” loud enough for about 10 people to hear it.
And it’s far from the only good thing on their menu. They do a Benedict with their own Sweetheart Ham, and also do them with spinach, biscuit-bacon-sausage gravy, and steak and arugula. And there’s a Ploughman’s Platter with two salami, pork terrine, cheese, pickled egg, bread and a glass of draught beer! There’s also a “classic breakfast” with, that’s right, two meats, as well as a brioche French toast with orange butter. You can add spiced apples and whipped cream to that, if you want.
In fact, you can do whatever you want. I’m leaving right now to get something to eat at Olympic Provisions.
Online: Olympic Provisions is online at olympicprovisions.com, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When and Where: They serve brunch weekend from 10 to 3 at both locations: 107 SE Washington (503-954-3663) and 1632 NW Thurman (503-894-8136). Wait: A little. Outdoors: No. Large groups: No. Coffee: Stumptown. Other drinks: Juice, tea, cocktails. Feel-goods: All meats sourced locally. Health options: Eh. WiFi: No.