As I race to the finish line on the revision of my breakfast book, these new places just insist on opening up! When does the Portland brunch scene have enough places!?!??
Well, I guess we needed another southeast brunch place, so I gathered up the Crew, and we checked out Trinket, on 39th/Chavez just south of Hawthorne. And as soon as I walked in, I liked the place. It’s small, with dark wood and comfort-inducing touches like half-curtains in the windows, an antler chandelier, and what look like old-fashioned plates from an estate sale or something.
My friend Jen Stevenson, of 100 Best Places to Stuff Your Faces – new edition coming soon, by the way! — had told me I had to get a pistachio roll. I always do what Jen says, and I always get whatever a place offers in the realm of baked + sweetness + nuts. Here is the little $2 sweetheart, waiting for me on its old-timey plate.
I munched that while waiting for my friends. This was on a Thursday, and only three tables were occupied at 9:30. They are brunch-only, with breakfast and lunch items on a small menu, available 9 to 4 every day but Tuesday. The staff was lovely, and with their own little parking lot, all in all getting there and getting settled is easy and pleasant.
There were only three pure-breakfast options on the menu, plus a couple of waffles; the rest was lunch items. And, being a good Breakfast Crew, we got all three breakfasts! We do what it takes to report on Portland brunch.
The hash came with parsnip, carrots, sausage, potatoes, onions and two sunny-side-up eggs ($10). I had a taste and thought it was good, but not as good as my Benedict. Jenny, who ordered it, said later it was “Not overly remarkable, but tasty.”
Here’s the Benedict, with poached duck eggs, Canadian bacon, hollandaise, and English muffin.
This is the priciest item on the menu, at $13, and it was good. I’ll go with “not overly remarkable,” in fact. It was all well cooked, and I do like duck eggs, but it seemed to lack “pop,” which I look for in a hollandaise. You might get it and think it’s awesome; this kind of thing is down to taste. The hashbrowns were fantastic, though — or, should I say, just the way I like ‘em, which is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
The other thing we got to see, briefly before it was consumed, was the polenta with steamed eggs and kale ($9).
There’s a layer of creamy polenta under there, and mixed in are onions, garlic, mushrooms and chili. I got exactly one bite of this one, and then Jeanette got busy knocking it back. Here’s her take on it:
Tasted better than it looked. In general, I prefer kale with more green, i.e. not overcooked, but it did have a soft texture which was similar to the polenta. The polenta was not as firm as in some restaurants, but soft and creamy on the tongue, more along the lines of grits. Happy for any veggies to be offered with breakfast.
On the menu when we visited, there were also a granola with fruit and two waffle options: sweet (apples, honey, cinnamon and whipped cream) and savory (onion, bacon, thyme and goat’s cheese).
If you read my latest brunch review, on Ataula, you’ll notice a different tone here. Some of that is down to cuisine: Tapas is newer and more exciting to me. But part of it, as well, is that we all liked, not loved, the food at Trinket. The people, the setting, the location, the presentation … all solid. I wonder if the food will get more exciting as they go, but for right now, if somebody said “Let’s go to Trinket,” I’d say heck yeah, and I’d try that savory waffle!
So the Portland brunch scene may seem over-filled, but Trinket is a nice, cozy new addition that’s worth checking out.
Trinket (trinketpdx.com) is at 2035 SE 39th/Cesar Chavez, where Kingdom of Roosevelt used to be. They serve brunch from 9 to 4 daily, except Tuesday. They also have a spirits menu with cocktails, beer, wine, sparkling wine, and sours. Average price of a meal with coffee and tip is around $14.