09 December 2007


dining date: 12.09.07
eatery: ruski's on danforth and clark
pricing category: cheap city
guest critic: captain ham-lette & hungover easy
overall grade: B

the lowdown:
- where else can you eat breakfast, play darts, and see people drinking miller high life before 11 am?

- very festive and well-decorated for this lovely holiday season.

- we were a little skeptical about eating breakfast in a dive bar, but the dim lighting, background hustle & bustle, and music made it feel very cozy.

- good, cheap beverages: $4.25 for a pint of bloody or a mimosa, and less than a buck for coffee and tea.

- the lieu was very cozy, homey, and didn't make you scared to get near the toilet seat.

the food

the benny girl
- veggie benedict with spinach & tomato, side of bacon, homies, bloody mary & tea
- grade: B

"i found out a few weeks ago that ruski's has benedicts on their menu, and i've been sort of nervous about today ever since. because obviously if there are benedicts on the menu, i need to order them…but i was definitely apprehensive to find out what kind of benedict i'd be served at a dive bar. what was placed in front of me was not as frightening as i had expected. i ordered the veggie benedict with a side of bacon, but was happy to see that their regular benny was served with "ham" – i give big props to places that don't serve canadian bacon. okay, so not that i was expecting zests and garnishes, but i have to say that the presentation of my food was really unappetizing. neither of my eggs were actually on an english muffin, there was a huge pool of hollandaise all over the plate, and large piles of soggy spinach buried my muffins. it was sort of a sloppy, thrown-together mess. fortunately, the food tasted a lot better than it looked. (and it looked infinitely better than my food at becky's did – i didn't throw up in my mouth at first glance this time.) i have to say though that i really wasn't a fan of the spinach – overcooked, frozen spinach is just not my thing for a plethora of reasons. but the tomatoes, hollandaise, and eggs made up for the wilty greens that i just ate around. the hollandaise didn't have a ton of flavor, but the consistency and was spot on and it definitely tasted good enough…sort of had an essence of gravy, for some reason, which made it quite nice for dipping the homies in. speaking of, the potatoes were okay. definitely needed salt, the texture was a little mealy, but they certainly weren't the worst in town. the bacon was very good – crispy, yet chewy with great flavah. oh, and i got quite a treat when i ordered my tea. despite the fact that captain ham-lette had her tea in a normal mug, the server brought mine in a glass one. how did the server at ruski's know that i LOVE drinking tea out of glass?! definitely the highlight of my morning. so yeah, overall a good experience and a lot better than you would expect from a dive bar. i would go back…even if just for the cheap bloodies."

the usual
- the "just enough"…a.k.a. the usual: 2 eggs, homefries & toast, coffee, and a bloody mary
- grade: B

"i have to say that i feel a little honored that ruski's decided that my favorite breakfast deserved a name of its own. 'the usual' really is 'just enough.' Anyway, having enjoyed alcoholic beverages at ruski's in the past, i couldn't pass up the chance to try the much-loved bloody marys. at $4.25 it was well worth the price and was the perfect compliment to the rest of my meal. the coffee was fine, though it took a few tries to get a refill. once my food arrived it took me a while to locate the measly pile of homefries tucked deviously underneath my toast. not a good sign for any fan of tasty taters in the morning. the homies themselves weren't good enough to warrant the minuscule portion. they weren't terrible though, which makes them pretty hard to write about as they had neither quality nor quantity on their side. my eggs were good. my toast on the other hand was not. yes, it's true that i do enjoy a little crispness in my breakfast breads. that being said, i also enjoy having plenty of butter to slather on to make up for the dryness. a situation involving burned toast and little to no butter is never satisfying. and that's exactly the situation i found myself in. despite having to power through dry, burned up toast and a couple of middle-of-the-road potato chunks, i would definitely go back. ruski's is that neighborhood bar where everyone dreams of belonging. the service is friendly and the food is decent, but the experience is perfect."

wild toast
- the "fill me up," consisting of eggs, hash, bacon, homies, rye, coffee, and blood
-grade: B/B-

"ru ru ru, shish boom bu, ish biblio-oh-en-do-en bobo-badi-adahin ruski ru! dribble on the festival of ruski's yallz, we finally did it! or should i say, benny girl finally decided we could. this fine establishment has been the bread and butter of my west end experience since my celebrity-swinger-couple had a baby named apple. so anyway, having heard tales of the miraculous bloody mary i had to try one. i must say it was a "q. bear" in the snow; a surprisingly punchy bevy. it didn't have the pizazz of a front room bloody but it grew on me. the atmosphere was surprisingly cheery for an alcohol blanched bar and the norah was as soothing as a cup of gypsy cold care. so i don't know how to go on. i'm a little blurry from the blood and a half and tired from saving a broken bird last night. my detox tea is comforting but that's not why i'm here. you, my trusty beloved fans, want to hear the facts, icy of hot. blood in coffee out friend. eggs are baller when their cooked. my huevos were all loosey-goosey on me, runny which I like but not when it's the whites that are splooging out on my homies. the toast, homies, and surprisingly hash were decent. ya know, it was basically what I expected. un-inspired but void filling. so anyway, i'd go again. not because it was a diamond in the rough, but because it was necessary. men with schlitz that put my coffee to shame, tough love."

captain ham-lette
- the "rise and shine"…two eggs, ham, homefries, toast, tea
- grade: B-

"so the last of my nine homefries wasn't exactly cooked enough and crunched a bit between my teeth. yes, i said, nine homefries. i counted. my wheat toast was burnt, and i traded one with the usual because the usual likes burnt toast. go figure. i was able to choose from a caddy of four jellies: orange marmalade, concord grape, strawberry and mixed fruit. it helped the toast go down. i ordered my eggs over medium, but i'd say they were about 30 seconds from that. still, that was fine, i like the yolk runny sometimes. the ham was a nice big slab, and i do like to slather a little maple syrup on it when the rest of my meal is finished….and the syrup, was, how shall i say, watery. glad i didn't order pancakes. i generally thought the food was good enough for a random sunday with friends. i wouldn't bring my mother here, but my sister, sure. i'd been in the joint before, for a few bud lights n such, but this was my first foray into its brekky menu. overall I'd say the experience was fine. nothing fancy. nothing was horrible. just fine. the prices made up for the mediocrity. total i owed $5.95 plus tax and tip. i left $9. lyle lovett and the old crow medicine show played in the background. the crowd was neighborhoody which i dig. it was cozy and low key – felt like a place they might have a lonely man walk by in a movie when he's feeling sad and down and looking inside at the warm and fuzzy lighting at people laughing and clinking glasses."

hungover easy
- the "hangover special": 2 eggs, hash, homies & toast, coffee, and water
- grade: B-

"slightly hungover on this sunday morning, i was really looking forward to hitting up ruski's with TBC. after moving out of the west end several years ago, being back in the hood gave me a good feeling inside. as the first one to arrive at a bar i've frequented many a times for dart playing and brewskies, i was surprised when i walked in and all the tables were taken. the clientele was mixed, young and old. i pulled up a seat at the bar and ordered a water. the dim lighting and joyous christmas decorations were comforting. after a few minutes a table opened. while waiting (nearly a half and hour! thanks to benny "princess," i'm told and believe) i took in my surroundings. loved the slew of 30 something men in the corner drinking miller high life and the man on the phone in front of me confessed his hangover this morning to the person on the other end. he was obviously feeling better since in front of him sat a half-full bud light or maybe that was his cure this morning. slowly the group began to arrive and the coffee, tea and bloody mary's began to flow. after looking over the menu, the hangover special was calling my name (for obvious reasons.) but i was feeling skeptical about the hash-never had it before "do i even like hash?" i asked myself. i went for it anyway. while waiting for the food, i drank several cups of coffee-which i deemed decent, strong enough and not watery. both the large cup of water and coffee, and of course friends and laughter were excellent hangover cures. but the hash-yes-the hash- was my cure all this morning and the best part of my meal: salty and filling. the rest of my breky, not so good. my eggs were over easy-just as i ordered them-but were lukewarm at best and by the time i got to the second one it was totally cold. i'm not really a big fan of homies so the fact that there were only 6 on my plate didn't bother me too much. but the one i did eat was undercooked and pretty flavorless. the yolk from my eggs made my toast bearable. brown on one side and burnt on the other, it was very dry and dipping (my favorite part of breakfast) really didn't help. so why a B- you ask? this is ruski's after all, an establishment that is primarily meant for drinking beer and gathering with friends-and besides the hash, that was the best part of this experience."

04 November 2007

francisco's blue house café

(no longer open)
dining date: 11.04.07
eatery: francisco's blue house café on way outer brighton avenue
pricing category: one of the more expensive restaurants we've been to, but definitely worth it
guest critic: nada…just the three of us today
overall grade: A

the lowdown:
- for you "peninsula purists," you should know that this place is WAY off the peninsula (can you say practically westbrook?)
- the small interior is quite intimate and cozy, but with only 6 tables you should get there early or prepare to wait for a bit
- the service: 37 > blue house > 6.2 (good and attentive)
- very extensive menu – including irish coffee!!
- where else in portland advertises catered pig roast parties?
- the tables are decorated with mismatched placemats and cloth napkins – a creative and eclectic (and not wasteful) touch…they could use some cooler mugs however

the food

the benny girl
- avocado, crabmeat & bacon benedict, homies, and tea
- grade: A

"i woke up with a bit of a stomach ache this morning, so the idea of dining at a greasy spoon was not all that appealing to me. so when wild toast suggested that we knock the blue house café off our list, i immediately had to look their menu up online to make sure that my stomach could take it. i am aware that "café" is not usually synonymous with "greasy spoon," but considering some portlanders think "becky's" is synonymous with "tasty" i just had to be sure and look for myself. i began salivating as soon as i saw their extensive brunch menu and knew before i even showered that i would be eating the avocado, crabmeat & bacon benedict in a mere hour's time. i have to admit, when we got there and i looked at the menu more closely, i almost wavered on my choice…but for the integrity of my namesake, i decided to stick with my gut instinct. i couldn't have been happier with my choice. okay, i could have been happier if the hollandaise had a little more flavor, but it was pretty damn close to perfect. the eggs were poached just right, and the combination of flavors was pure genius. have I mentioned that bacon is my favorite food group, with avocado and crab being a close fifth and ninth respectively? and then there were the homies…oh, the homies. homie, homie, yummy homie. seriously, these were some of the best grilled taters that i've had since the inception of the breakfast club. yes they were well-seasoned, but the best part was that they were actually cooked. do you hear that you chefs at becky's, front room, and most importantly hot suppa (i refuse to include the stupid exclamation point)? yes folks, home fries are supposed to be cooked and grilled and potentially even crispy. the blue house gets my vote for the best homies and i think other portland eateries could take a lesson from this out of the way café. so there you have it – the blue house basically kicked ass and i would recommend that anyone make the trek out there to check them out. and you can shop at marden's after! so what kept this café from getting an "A+" you ask? as you may have guessed from me, the tea presentation wasn't up to par. how many times do i need to say that the proper presentation of tea is in a pot, NOT handing a customer a mug of hot water and a tea bag? sheesh. but i was willing to overlook this faux pas because the rest of the meal was just that good."

the usual
- eggs florentine with tomato and spinach, homefries and coffee
- grade: A

"ok, so i've been straying from 'the usual' a lot recently. but sometimes i get a little a LITTLE tired of it, especially when my cohorts get to basically order whatever they feel like. i can't always be constricted to a couple of eggs, some potatoes and some toast week after week. sometimes i yearn for something more. like today. the menu at the blue house is just such a glorious thing to behold, double sided, with a cleverly named "unch" section with a few selections for the losers who prefer the midde meal of the day. it won me over and i got the florentine, a decision that i certainly wouldn't regret. my coffee took a little while to arrive, but this might be due to the table switcheroo we pulled as we made room for a larger party. from our new table, i had a lovely view of the marden's renovations, (i can't believe they got rid of the castle theme) and of busy brighton ave. the coffee was tasty and included bottomless refills, a sure sign of a classy establishment. the food was a little slow to the table, but was utterly worth the wait. my eggs were poached just the way i asked (un-runny), and sat proudly atop perfectly ripe tomatoes, wilted spinach and english muffins. the hollandaise was fine, i'm no connoisseur of the stuff (like some people), but it did the trick. i wish there had been a tad bit more to slosh my english muffin tidbits around in, but that's ok. the homefries were superb. i'm fairly certain that they reign supreme in portland, at least so far. they were well-cooked, a little crispy and seasoned to perfection. there was even a little spice thrown in. my bunch had a few hardened crackles of potato bits in the mix, but that's a small price to pay for fabulous fries. the blue house really wowed my socks off. i would venture to say that i had no idea what to expect from a tiny blue ramshackle house tucked in next to one of the least scenic/grossest roads in portland. but i didn't expect perfection, and that's darn near what i got."
wild toast
-blue house scramble, marble rye, bacon, homefries, coffee, and mimosa
-grade: A

"feeling a little parched from last weeks red sox victory i decided to order a spray of bevies and upped the ante by ordering myself a mimosa, in addition to the common coffee and wawa. while i knowingly ordered a small one, i was a little disappointed when it was as meager as it was. for the same thing back at the good egg i could have had twice the amount and three times the options. anyway, i was happy in the end with my $4 mimosa as i sipped it til the end. changing seats, i was pleased to see that marden's was in my view; a constant reminder that when in doubt go to mardens. if you need expired fruit snacks or size 58 x 82 carhartt overalls you can be sure marden's is the place to go. you can find garden hoses, feminine hygiene products from the 70s, chex mix flavors never even sold to the general public, self tanning cream that i bought for my favorite, albeit pale, hungarian friend. you can even find a cute dingy elephant sponge! across the street i sipped my coffee and waited for my meal to arrive. i decided to pull out a wild card and tossed it on the cloth-clad table and ordered myself a wicked tasty scramble. with portabellas, tomatoes, onions, asiago, spinach, and pesto served on a bed of scrambled eggs, this meal started off great. quickly i found the homies to be astounding. they were better than anything becky's could come up with and probably better than anything you could find at marden's. they were everything a potato aspires to be. loved, cooked, crispy and soft, hot and starchy – everything i personally strive to be…i kid, i'd rather not be that soft, but that's a personal preference. in fact, i'd rather be like the baller pesto that topped my eggs. freshly made by an italian legion of basil choppers, garlic farmers, and pine-nut pickers, it really made the meal. i strongly urge my readers to go out of their way and tickle the tables of francisco's. four trips to the town of tasty bacon strips later, i sat eyeing the remains of my meal, admitting to myself that I really didn't need the last 2 pieces of marble rye that sat silently on my plate. this i will note was one of the only mildly disappointing factor of my meal. everything, from the chicken farm to the plate, the bubbly to the homies, was awesome, except for the toast. it was standard. that is all. while this was the case, it is not the note i'd like to end on. this ruby in the rough, is a place i will surely go again, perhaps even the next time i head out for new curtain rods at marden's…"

14 October 2007

becky's diner

dining date: 10.14.07
eatery: becky's diner on commercial street
web: becky's diner
pricing category: sort of expensive for a plate of shit
guest critic: mamamimosa
overall grade: D+

the lowdown:
- becky's seems to be the most well-known breakfast establishment in portland, attracting everyone from lobstermen, to college students, to families…so prepare to wait when you go there.
- like cilantro, people either love the food at becky's or think it tastes like dish soap.
- the recent facelift might have provided more parking spaces, but it makes this wharf-side fisherman's hangout look a bit more like an insurance agency.
- this diner is somewhat lacking in atmosphere and personality…reminiscent of a hospital cafeteria
- the menu states multiple times that you get only one free refill of coffee…err what?
- speaking of the menu…this joint has more surcharges than bank of america. for example, tack on an additional:
• 10¢ for raisin toast
• 20¢ for an english muffin
• 25¢ for homefries
• 50¢ for two packets of honey
• $1.00 for each extra egg
• 50¢ for egg beaters
• $1.75 for real maple syrup
• 15¢ if you're a sucker for hazelnut coffee instead of regular
- there is a peculiar seating system. we have a hunch that the random seeming number that they give you is actually a table number, and that you are basically waiting for that particular table to leave. what happened to just seating people in order of when they arrived?

the food

the benny girl
- commercial street sandwich: egg, cheese, bacon, and tomato on an english muffin, homies, ½ a blueberry pancake, and tea
- grade: D

"let me start this review by saying that i effin hate becky's. but in the interest of unbiased journalism, we had to review it at some point. the experience actually turned out to be quite perfect – i was given plenty of material to write about, without having to actually eat the disgusting slop on my plate or pay for my meal. that's right folks – add another tally to the "free meals that benny girl's been given because of inferior quality" list! clearly, becky's is not the kind of establishment that would be classy enough to have eggs benedict (and actually, they state quite clearly on the menu that they won't poach eggs), so i had to go with the closest thing on the menu – an egg sandwich on an english muffin. as soon as it arrived in front of me, i threw up in my mouth a little at the mere sight of it. the homefries were a mushy pile of boiled and unseasoned potatoes. the yellow cheese was solidified on the egg under strips of greasy bacon. but it was the english muffin that really turned my stomach…it was an odd shade of gray and was literally spongy with grease from the grill (just ask the usual because i made her touch both halves). i love this column, but even juicy writing material wasn't enough of a motivator to actually put that muffin in my mouth. so i asked our server for a new one and she offered to give me one that's toasted instead of grilled. from my spot in the booth, i could see the toaster perfectly as i forced down homies drowned in ketchup. thousands of pieces of bread went through the toaster…but no english muffin. about 15 minutes later, my egg, bacon, and cheese had all turned hard and cold, and the server brought the check – NOT the muffin! about 2 minutes later she realized that she had forgotten it and brought it over, but i told her that the sandwich innards were way too cold to eat at that point. she took the item off the bill (BOOYAH!) and let me keep the new english muffin. so i left becky's with only tea, potatoes, and half a pancake in my belly. but that's okay, because if i'd eaten the sandwich, i'd probably have left with nothing in my belly because i'd have puked in the parking lot. i would have aimed my vomit at the annoying PDA couple in the parking lot, who "middle school slow-danced" for about 40 minutes, unable to let go of each other. i will say, however, that the tea and the pancake were both good. that's what kept becky's from getting an F from me. so there you have it. i am so glad that that review is behind us so i never have to set foot in that overly-hyped diner ever again."

the usual
- 2 eggs, toast, add homefries for extra, coffee and ½ a blueberry pancake
- grade: C

"okay, so i didn't go into this place with an open mind. well, i did the first 2-3 times i went in, but by this time, my mind was fairly well made up that becky's is the most overrated breakfast spot in portland. reading that statement will probably promote one of two reactions: a) elation: you are pumped because someone has finally given becky's the smackdown it deserves or b) rage: you are boiling mad at the very thought of someone disparaging the diner of your dreams. if you fall into the "b" category, you are wrong. after 40 minutes of waiting around outside, (becky's is awfully popular) we made our way through the blindingly white room to our table. the walls glistened beneath the florescent lights, and a lone flat screen tv served as the only decoration. i perused the menu, only to find myself instantly distracted by the first paragraph listing becky's rules and regulations regarding substitutions (see "the lowdown" section). i felt the net of conformity tighten as i realized that becky's is not about what you CAN do, it's all about what you CAN'T. i placed my order with our friendly server, but my mind continued to wander. would she wait until i reached to bottom of my mug to give me my one and only free refill? would a top-off/warm-up go down in my chart as a full refill? only time would tell. despite the busy-ness of becky's, i will say that the food arrived very quickly. i dug in, not expecting greatness, but hoping (uselessly) that the food would be decently good, on par with portland's other diners. as you can probably imagine at this point it was not…my eggs were pretty mediocre and definitely cold by the time they reached the table. The toast was dry, probably grilled and dashed with a tiny bit of butter or grease, but certainly not enough to make it delectable as toast should be. it didn't come with any extra butter and there was none on the table. i would guess that there is at least a 50 cent surcharge on any butter beyond the initial skimpy amount, so i made due with what i was given. the potatoes were a sorry excuse for homefries in a country with decent stockpiles of salt, pepper, and most other spices. i've heard rumors that they come from a can, and though i find that hard to believe, i think potatoes from a can would probably taste an awful lot like them. these homies taste like boiled starch blobs that crumble away tastelessly in your mouth leaving you alone with the ketchup and the taste of your own bitterness. none of it was very good. i couldn't finish it. i will say the pancake was tasty, it had plenty of butter and was a nice consistency. yippee. so to those of you who love to hit up becky's for those lazy sunday mornings, climb out of your rut. reward yourself with a new experience at one of portland's many superior breakfast spots. you won't be disappointed.

wild toast
-spinach omelet with cheese, rye toast, homefries, coffee
-grade: D+ (there's nothing plus about this)

"becky's, becky's, becky's… so here we go, let us all hold hands, toss salt over our shoulders, and throw caution to the wind. we arrived with one thing on our minds. is this "new and improved" becky's (who is becky?) going to be better than the poor excuse for the eggs and toast of yesteryear? or is it going to live up to the sub-par, inexcusable existence of its last carnation. friends, let me be the first to say, tie your laces together and hopscotch away, and by that i mean spend your hard earned moola somewhere else. i am begging, pleading, exfoliating my triumphant and eclectic regards, i implore you, as you are self-respecting, conscientious, able minded/bodied souls, DO NOT GO TO BECKY'S. it's not worth the crappy food, it is not worth the free bumper sticker, or the 40 minute wait you are destined to suffer in the purgatory of the line. anyway, our waitress, let's call her candace for the moment, was nice. candy didn't charge us for the refills of joe, which i believe is the new standard (ridiculous) and she also brought a local hot sauce when asked, and overall, (aside from benny girl's fiasco) was quite pleasant. my terrible cup of coffee arrived and a short time later our meals appeared. this, i am willing to admit, is one good thing, the food arrives very quickly. however, this doesn't mean much. if when you receive your food you expect some marvelous, seasoned, inspired morsels of food-bits, then you should jog down to the local save-a-lot, and peruse the shelves of canned beans, cajun fungal creams, red hot whisker wads, and swiss-made-ham-jellies. my spinach and cheese (whiz) omelet was truly a depressing meal. watery, yellow, and bland, the powdery pepper couldn't punch up the ego of this eggy mire. the homefries were not really even worth mentioning, but for my fans i'll note that they were bad. if you'll go for a walk down memory lane with me, let us arrive at 3rd grade when we all got to try dehydrated ice-cream sandwiches. do you recall the excitement, the caged and hyper stomach pangs of yearning? then you sink your teeth into the styrofoam card of disappointment and cringe back as you feel ashamed and deformed and realize that you are actually sitting in becky's paying for a pile of dismay. so…my toast wasn't very good either. i would urge my dear friends (that's you) not to go becky's.

-3 eggs over medium, homies with chedda, tomato and broccoli, wheat toast, coffee & H2O
-grade: D+

"first off, mimosas were not on the menu. ugh. but I WANT ONE! i could have had a bud, miller, or even a shipyard, but no mimosa. so i opted for a water and coffee. the water came large and cold but the coffee left me slightly on the sleepy side. however, i was pleasantly surprised when the waitress provided no hesitation as i ordered my homies with chedda, tomato and broccoli. "that sounds good!" she chirped. my hopes were dashed when the meal arrived a little too quickly. if they had left my eggs on the griddle just a dite longer, they would have shown up over-medium as opposed to barely over easy…..the yoke broke on the way to the table spilling onto my toast……i want to apply the yoke to the toast…...gag me with a boiled potato covered spoon! about those potatoes. the formerly beautiful little irish bundles of starchy goodness were boiled giving them a slimy texture. bad news. the broccoli was cooked well but the tomato was diced so small it may as well not have been there at all. if i ever am looking for a breakfast monkeys could cook, i will head back to this fine establishment. no offense to the monkeys."

22 April 2007

bayou kitchen

dining date: 04.22.07
bayou kitchen in woodfords corner
web: bayou kitchen
pricing category:
very reasonably priced -- especially for the quality of food
guest critic:
overall grade:
the lowdown:
- tucked away in it's own little spot, this place is a diamond in the rough.
- warm, diner-but-classy atmosphere.
- service was superb.
- bathroom was excellent, good lock, very clean and fun cause you get to go downstairs.
- seating is a tough commodity at bayou, with 6 tables, a counter and no place to wait, be prepared to amuse yourself for a bit if you go on a busy sunday.
- the stools at the counter could have used some sort of foot bar or step for those of us who are shorter and don't have legs that easily reach the floor.
- good, classic music playing.

the food
the benny girl
- the "mudbug something or other" omelette (but a scramble instead), homies, blueberry cornbread, and 1/3 of a ginger chocolate chip pancake, and tea.
- grade: A+
"i really love the bayou kitchen. this portland legend is tucked into woodfords corner, and is well worth the trip to the deering highlands of portland. plus, it's just a really unique place-- i wouldn't go so far as to say that you feel like you've been transported to louisiana when you walk in, but it's definitely unlike any other place in portland. when i first looked at the menu, i was feeling pretty unadventurous and was just going to get the usual. but then i decided that if i'm going to eat a cajun breakfast, then i need to be a little crazy. so i ordered a scramble with crayfish, cheddar, and salsa. instead of toast i opted for the blueberry cornbread based on our server's recommendation. all i have to say is that everything i ate was amazing. i wish i had a rumen like a cow so i could've eaten everything on my plate. there were a TON of little crayfish tails in my scramble. the homemade salsa was delicious and added the perfect flavor to the eggs-- slightly spicy with a ton of garlic. the homies were made with all red potatoes (a huge plus) and were seasoned with cajun goodness-- they had some spice, but not too much. i know this contradicts my review of local 188, but the spiciness just worked better at bayou. i can't really explain it. it was just the right flavor, without overpowering the food. the blueberry cornbread was delicious-- buttered and grilled. m'm, m'm! although i was too full to eat a lot of it, the ginger chocolate chip pancake was great and the perfect way to end the meal. when i ordered tea, the server brought me a mug, a pot of hot water, and a basket of tea to choose from. LOVE IT! speaking of our server, the service was great overall. we sat at the counter, so we had a front row seat for 'behind the scenes at the bayou kitchen' and got to watch the laid-back, down-to-earth staff. they had great 'diner attitudes' and enjoyed bantering with us. in fact, they said 'fuck' twice in conversation with us. they were friendly, funny and real. i.e. they were totally themselves-- not kissing our asses just to get the 20%. in fact, we all liked them so much, we gave 30%. so, moral of the story: next sunday, venture off the peninsula, sit at the counter at the bayou, and be daring when you order. i guarantee you won't regret it."

the usual

- "the swamp" omelette (broc, peppers, onions, toms, mushrooms, ched) homies, blueberry cornbread, coffee, ginger chocolate chip pancake
- grade: A
"the bayou is tiny and therefore difficult to get a table without the exact right timing. with all of the 6 tables filled when we arrived, we decided the counter would be fine. and although my butt was killing me from the stool that was too tall for me, it was totally worth it. after perusing the menu for quite some time, we ordered, though not without the help of our wonderful server. she recommended the blueberry cornbread (the plain was a little dry that day) and helped us choose from the wide variety of pancake options. as we waited, our coffee was refilled almost as fast as we could drink it and we were entertained by the staff behind the counter as we watched them seasoning homefries and cutting cornbread. our food arrived in lightning speed. my swamp omelette was one of the most gigantic i've had, more like a burrito, with no skimping on fillings. perfect ratios of egg, cheese and veggies pleased my tastebuds awake as i chowed down on the swamp. add a little homemade salsa for spice and i was pleased as a pickle. the cornbread was phenomenal, with or without butter. the homefries were dare-i-say perfect. they use red potatoes which hold their form better and look pretty on the plate, a rare but delicious change. they didn't even need salt or pepper. wow. impressive. this is one of the few breakfasts that i couldn't finish due to its humongous size. the small amount of pancake i had was fantastic-- full of ginger and amply sprinkled with chocolate chips. and really there isn't much more to say-- the bayou doesn't skimp on anything: flavor, portion, or service, making it a front-runner in the race for the best of the best in portland. and did i mention that it was delicious?"

wild toast
-huevos rancheros, homies, coffee, communal pancake
-grade: A
"arriving on time, two of us waited at the bar for benny girl to show. offered coffee for the wait, a friendly waitress brought a couple mugs on over. hoping to get a true table we kept our eyes peeled for one of the three tables large enough for 3 dining adults to empty. it didn't happen but we found it quite entertaining to chat with the stellar wait staff and cook as they enjoyed their busy mornings. continued top-offs of our coffee set the stilt-village reminiscent fare in a good light. our friendly benny girl showed up and we looked over the menus. with options ranging from granola pancakes to crawfish and kielbasa i asked our very attentive waitress for a recommendation. the jovial cook leaned over and requested at least a little bit of a challenge, so i tried. the best i could do was the huevos rancheros. our meals arrived and i was quickly satisfied as i dove into my black bean-filled quesadilla with sour cream and salsa and two over-easy eggs perched on top. mmm...very tasty bites for sure. as it was a huge meal and we had ordered a chocolate chip and ginger pancake for dessert, there was no chance of me taking the whole meal down. ice water and coffee remained a constant and once finished i felt very full and good. i would definitely like try some of the more 'bayou' type selections, that is why we have a next time. i thought for the bang of one's buck this great little joint was awesome. the service was fun and the whole experience a treat!"

15 April 2007

local 188

dining date: 04.15.07
eatery: local 188 in longfellow square
web: local 188
pricing category: not cheap but not expensive either.
guest critic: annanna pants
overall grade: B

the lowdown:
- good location, which doesn't really matter anymore because they're in the process of moving
- funky, eclectic atmosphere
- note that this restaurant has a "spanish flare"…keep that in mind when you're deciding whether or not to give this place a shot
- local 188 also serves dinner

the food

the benny girl

- huevos rancheros, homies, and tea
- grade: B
"when we first arrived at this funky little restaurant, there were signs everywhere saying that the restaurant was closing for business that day. we were very grateful that we chose that day to go – imagine if we'd missed our chance to review it! but then we kept reading the sign, and it said that the restaurant was only closing for a month because it was moving locations. suddenly the day didn't feel quite as special anymore. so there's nothing on the 188 menu that resembles a benedict. in fact, the menu is pretty limited. so i decided to be adventurous and order the huevos rancheros. beans, cheese, fried eggs, and salsa on top of corn tortillas, with a side of homies. they were pretty good, although i remembered after the first bite that i don't love corn tortillas…so that tainted my meal a bit. not that it's 188's fault that i don't like corn tortillas, but i definitely enjoyed my meal less because of it. anyway…so the meal was really good – a little too spicy for my liking, but good. i'm sort of a "delicate little flower" when it comes to my tummy, and the spiciness was a little much for my first meal of the day. the homies were well-cooked, but again a little too spicy. if they toned the spice down a bit, the meal would have been great. but i'm sure those of you less wussy people with iron stomachs will really enjoy it. so the food was really good, but the service was not. i mean, it wasn't awful by any means – she was just really unattentive. the other server working there that day did more for us than our server did. and the one cool thing about local 188 is that they bring you a little plate of fruit and muffin pieces before your meal…our server forgot to do this, and actually, this was my second time going to 188 in a week, and the service was pretty bad both times. (take note: if you ever decide to order one pancake to accompany your meal, make sure you specify that you want it with your other food. otherwise, you might get it as an appetizer while you wait 25 minutes for the rest of your meal. don't ask.) here are a couple of other things to note about 188: great atmosphere, cool art, and an open kitchen you can sit in front of. a plus. no bacon or sides of any kind on the menu. a minus. great location on longfellow square. neither plus nor minus because they're moving. thus, a moot point. the food was all really salty. another minus. they make creative "pancakes of the day" the size of your head. another plus. so if you like food with "kick," you don't care about good service, and you enjoy eclectic décor, then check out local 188 when it reopens. otherwise, stick to longfellow square and just go to uffa! – guaranteed to be great! oh, and the tea experience was mediocre."
the usual- two eggs over-hard, homies, english muffin, and coffee
- grade: B

"a parade of ecstatic reviews flew through my head as i trudged through the rain to this well-beloved eatery: "ooh, 188 is the best…it's so delicious…blah blah, etc…." so i was excited, despite the weather. after grabbing a nice large table, we noticed the signs proclaiming their last day in this location. they're moving from their cozy spot, nestled between uffa! and cunningham books – interesting. anyway…i wasn't in the mood for anything wild and crazy this morning, so the usual it was – with english muffin instead of toast. our food arrived fairly quickly, but in the meantime we were left hanging as we stared into the deep abyss of our empty coffee cups. our server hung back in a corner as I glowered into the caffeine-free existence of my mug. long minutes passed before our cups were refilled – not by our waitress, mind you – but by another who happened to notice our predicament. also, i'd like to note that the coffee itself wasn't even really worth the wait. at one time, it may have been a decent cup – but by the time it hit my tongue, it was pretty sub-par for an establishment like this. so the food arrived and looked tasty. i bit into my english muffin with high hopes – only to be brought back to earth as the lovely flavor of bready nooks and crannies was over-powered by salt. closer examination confirmed my fears – large crystals of salt topped both halves. who does that? if someone really wants an extremely salty english muffin for breakfast, i think they would ask for one. intense. i turned my attention to my eggs, only to find the same situation repeating itself. after bite #2, it was difficult to continue as my mouth was filled with salt, salt, salt. had something gone tragically wrong in the kitchen? did the top fall off the shaker? did the cook have a strange immunity to extreme salting? i guess we will never know. i'd like to think it was a fluke, as i'd never heard of this problem before. i attempted to alter the salty powers by adding pepper, only to find my efforts thwarted by a clogged shaker. huff. oh well. the homefries were the shining stars of the meal, as they were not exceedingly salted. They were well-seasoned and thoroughly cooked without being mushy. so good job on that one 188. overall, i wouldn't be adverse to trying this place again in their new set-up. Perhaps there was just something in the air on this particular day. maybe salt."

wild toast
- 2 eggs over easy, homies, toast and coffee
- grade: B-

"i ran naked through the rain in hopes of rehydrating my parched bodice. let me explain. i went into this meal with high expectations. was i satisfied? was i enthralled? these are just two of the myriad of questions my lovely fans must be asking themselves. would local 188 with its charm and chivalry live up to its neighbor uffa! or would it crumble by the wayside, or should i mumble err...bintliff's. seated at a retro, chrysler of a table, i squeezed my knees into the awkward-legged giant table. with coffee that was maybe a little burned we ordered our meals. my eggs and friends arrived while my neglected mug of coffee sat empty and sad. oh what a mournful state for a mug, its aspirations so high, then to fall to such lows as the depth of emptiness. burn. infrequent refills. not cool. my homemade english muffin was probably the best part of the meal. with sprinkled salt of the sea glimmering back at me, this bready circle was toast-tasty. moving on to the eggs, i could have sworn i entered the morton's salt factory storeroom feeling as though i had willingly opened my mouth to the depths of the saltlake. i was a slug in salt, a plant shrivelled by an overdose of sodium. white sodium mountains raged my mind. a cold sweat broke out and death was at my door. holy crap guys, seriously contain your salt-spewing hankerings. tramatized, the 70% water of my body soon became parched and a cracked earth took over my soul. did i mention my eggs were salty? my homies were a little better, but i think i blacked out from my sodium overdose or something. the service wasn't very good either. overall i was really not impressed. what are you gonna do?

ananna pants
- scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese
- grade: A-
"after a failed attempt at another restaurant on a rainy sunday morning, it was wonderful to walk into local 188 and sit down right away. i was surprised to find that it was the last breakfast that they were serving in that location (the restaurant will be reopening at a congress street location in the summer). i am so glad that i had a chance to go one more time before they close. i love the atmosphere, or perhaps decor, of the place. it doesn't feel really breakfast-y but i really like the brick walls and the somewhat intense artwork. they have mis-matched chairs and tables and various dishes that seem like they came from a flea market. i guess none of this matters because the restaurant is no longer there, but if it were i would highly recommend it. i must admit that, although i can be picky about certain things, i am not usually a harsh food critic. i don't go out to breakfast very frequently so it is a delightful treat when i do. and this one definitely was. i admit that coincidentally i had been to local 188 the week before and had one of those meals that was unexpectedly perfect. because it was so good last time, i ordered the same thing --scrambled eggs with spinach mushrooms and goat cheese. this came with home fries and toast. it was just as good the second time. so delicious. the toast seemed to have been salted, which was a bit strange, but like i said in this case i'm not too critical and i can over look the saltiness ( i usually don't like really salty things) because over all the meal was just about perfect, again. aside from the ever troublesome dividing of the bill the only other thing that was disappointing was that when i went the week before the server brought a small dish of fruit and pieces of muffin and i really loved having a breakfast appetizer. for some reason they didn't do that this week. alas. and alas, what could have been my new favorite breakfast place (as long as they had my scramble and the mystery of finding out what the pancake of the day was) will never be, at least until they open again."

08 April 2007

the good egg

dining date: 04.08.07
eatery: the good [easter] egg on middle street
web: the good egg
pricing category: very reasonably priced -- especially for the quality of food
guest critic: mamamosa
overall grade: A

the lowdown:
- the best two-for-one deal in portland: the good egg by day, pepperclub by night.
- warm, sunday morning atmosphere -- it's always very "brunchy" in there. very roomy with lots of seating, so you don't feel like you're on top of each other.
- service was superb.
- bathroom was nice and not at all gross -- although a little too dim and you don't always feel like you can trust the lock.
- they had a bowl of free dove chocolate eggs for the taking -- love it! and they always sell packages of pancake mix and cinnamon roll kits. in fact, they do fundraisers for nonprofits with those kits...very cool.
- although the hand-made menus are a nice and creative touch, we artists in TBC might recommend opting for lamination over mod podge. just a thought...
the food
the benny girl
- vegetarian eggs benedict, homies, bacon, peach mimosa, and tea.
- grade: A (service: A++)
"first of all, happy easter to all of our adoring fans. thank you for taking the time out of your holiday to read our review. since it's a special occasion, we all decided to have a little bubbly with our breaky. i chose the peach mimosa, which was great! the good egg already has a very extensive menu [note: the menu is two-sided...don't make the same mistake that wild toast did!], but this morning they also had a separate list of specials. i went with the veggie benedict and was very happy that it came with asparagus -- an unusual, but welcome touch. one thing that did not make me very happy was that the benedict did not come with homies -- a sneaky ploy by "the man" to squeeze more money from ya. everyone knows that homies and eggs go together like burt & ernie, peanut butter & jelly, and jack & coke, so obviously people will pay the extra $2 for said combination...i was one such sucker this morning. i also paid an additional $2 for bacon. the benedict was great -- very good hollandaise and the homemade english muffin was more like toast, which i really liked. the eggs were a little undercooked though. the chef probably got too confused by the "poached HARD" request by my compadre the usual. the bacon was nice and thick and tasty and the homies were quite good -- a little soft, but bursting with seasoned, peppery goodness. overall, the food at the good egg was really great and i definitely enjoy eating there. the best part of the experience this morning was by far the service. little scooter (or cricket?) was very nice and accommodating -- let us move to the back booth and got our extensive drink order all straight. at the tender age of 15, he has yet to learn the correct ratio of champagne to juice, but our server caite remedied that problem immediately. she was fabulous -- friendly, personable, adorable, and great at her job. and i liked her earrings a lot. we already liked her a lot, but the deal was totally sealed when she brought us 2 free cinnamon buns. oh DING, DING, DING!!! in all honesty, there's nothing bad that i can really say about breakfast this morning -- sorry folks. i would highly recommend this restaurant...especially if you can get caite, since i haven't always had the greatest service there in the past. definitely give this place a shot. oh, and p.s. -- the tea was perfect. (betcha thought i'd forget to mention the tea, eh?)"

the usual

- vegetarian benedict, homefries, mango mimosa, and coffee.
- grade: A
"although we thought that getting in on easter sunday was going to be a crapshoot, we waited only 5 minutes for a lovely corner booth at the good egg. the young (and i mean young) guy who seated us quickly took our drink requests and set off to make them. we all decided on mimosas -- it IS easter after all. i chose mango for a zippy new flavor not frequently offered. the drinks arrived after a few shananigans with the booze / juice ratios (our young lad was learning and was helped out by our friendly server). meanwhile, we ordered our meals and straying from my flock of usual breakfasts, i went with the benedict. i know -- i was just asking to be hit with runny yolks exploding all over everything. however -- my astute colleagues informed me of the possibility of eggs poached hard, and after confirming this rumor with our server, my decision was made. benedict it was, without all the benedict mess. benny girl and i split an order of homies, as they unfortunately don't come with the benedicts. i'm generally of the belief that homefries should come with all egg meals in the morning -- so i was a little bummed that the good egg partitioned them off into the realm of sides. anyway, as we waited for our food and giggled about how wonderful our server was, she showed up with a couple of cinnamon rolls for the table. this lovely gesture caused quite the stir at our table, as we discussed whether or not she knew of our famed reviewer status. we decided that she probably did not -- she was probably just being nice and sweet. our food arrived quickly and we dug in. my eggs were hard and perfect, mounted atop the toast, alongside asparagus bits and spinach. it was a fabulous choice -- filling and extremely well-balanced in terms of flavor. i was not disappointed. the homies, although i couldn't finish my half, were pretty decent. not the best, but certainly ranked higher than many places we've been [ahem, hot suppa!]. they were a little mushy for my taste, the flavor was right on point as my tongue exploded with light peppery fireworks. a wonderful change of pace. i left the good egg feeling extremely full and happy. the service was spectacular -- i would go as far as to say that it was the best to date. our server was phenomenal to the point of perfection, but without hovering or any misunderstandings. it was a lovely experience. very impressive."

wild toast
- traditional benedict, orange mimosa, and coffee
-grade: A
"the holiday of easter is steeped in the mysteries of fertility, so what better place to ponder these musings than the good egg? expecting a wait, we arrived ready to slip a five spot into the nearest old man's pocket as we contemplated bribing a table our way. to our surprise, we waited only long enough to snack on two dark chocolate easter eggs before we were seated in a corner booth. we were immediately offered beverages by a guy who had the aura of missing the 80s. he was all class, actually he was kinda quiet and awkward and made off-kilter "i'm only 15 and never had a drink" mimosas. having said that, he was very friendly. our server, a lovely-dressed and smiling chic named caite, quickly offered to pump up mamamosa's mild mimosa and then brought everything else over. a few minutes later, having played musical mimosas and testing the palettes of our three varied bubblies, our lovely server brought complimentary sticky buns. ah shit, free buns on easter! it's a regular ol' easter frickin miracle. coffee refills had, and a decent cup at that, our meals arrived like the great snow storm of april 2007, fast and with a sense of "yo check this shit out y'alls. i be here mo fo, faster 'dan lightenin', speedier 'dan mighty mouse, an' shit yo i be stylin'!" our meals arrived fast, so fast in fact, that i wasn't even quite ready for it. not a complaint, as typically one would complain if it were slow. anyway, the bunnies of easters past blessed my thick slab of dark forest ham that sat atop my poached eggs and thin english crispy toast that acted as the subtle flotation of my yellow bog of hollandaise. with a touch of mamamosa's rejected hot sauce, this meal was really quite tasty. i will note that unfortunately i participated in a self-induced pizza eating contest the night before and was still rather tanked from a dozen or so slices. and for my "in the know" readers, i do not have a large appetite. i am like a french bird who dines at will, grazing like a swedish buffalo on grasses long and green-swept. my flightless will, complacent by the dew's soft kiss on my inarguably scruffy chinny-chin, lavender skies and milk chocolate-leaning shadows... the good egg, you are my pride and joy. so my meal was good. the service was great. thank you caite for a memorable easter feastus for the breakfast club's first annual "easter eggs are breakfast too!" campaign."
-traditional Mimosa, Coffee, Eggs From Hell
grade- b+

"i hopped on down to the good egg feeling a little hesitant about the name. i have a love/hate relationship with eggs. they gross me out if I give them too much consideration, but on the other hand they are so yummy, so on that fact alone I was nervous. we entered and were promptly told by a "6 year old" that a table would be available as soon as it could be cleared. we plopped ourselves down on a couch (that all but swallowed us) and found a large bowl of chocolates in the form of eggs. these were not cheep wal-mart style chocolate eggs, but deep dark dove eggs. mmm, how festive. i have to admit i took a large handful and stuffed them in my bag. our table was cleared quickly and when we asked to be seated in the back opposed to next to the door there was no hesitation by the staff. seated, our drink orders were taken before our ready-to-please (and well dressed) waitress arrived. the mimosa i received was lightly flavored with champagne and right when i was struggling with the idea of sending it back our waitress asked if it was strong enough. i quickly said no, and it was whisked away. it came back topped off with the good stuff, making me feel as if my $4 was not completely wasted. personally, i would have liked 1/2 poured out and refilled with bubbly, but hey, what's my name? cinnamon rolls were served on the house and our food came quickly. the first thing I noticed was that my eggs were over hard as opposed to over easy like I had requested. but for that, they were good. the eggs were flanked by a herbed tortilla and a good pile of well spiced beans. a sliver, and I mean sliver, of watermelon teetered on the edge of my plate. while this was a nice touch, if you are going to put it out there at least give me a mouth full. all the components melded nicely with one another and i was generally pleased with my meal. i would have liked to see the eggs and beans on top of the tortilla, plus some cheddar cheese and more sour cream. but I was satisfied and happy. the chipotle hell sauce was on the side as i requested. i sampled it and it burned most of my taste buds, but then again i am a huge wuss when it comes to hot sauce. the bathroom was dim and i did not have much confidence in the lock but it appeared clean and the soap was not overly floral. after all, who wants to eat their food when all that be can smelled is chemy flowers. overall, i enjoyed my meal and i look forward to returning there again. most of all, the company took the cake."

02 April 2007

hot suppa!

dining date: 04.02.07
eatery: hot suppa! on congress street across from the 7-11
web: hot suppa!
pricing category: pretty cheap (except for the benedict)
guest critic: nada
overall grade: B-

the lowdown:
- excellent service -- friendly and laid-back and was just right on the "attentiveness" scale
- comfortable, bright atmosphere
- it's important to note that one member opted to "hold it" all the way home because the bathroom was so gross -- big bummer
- good music playing and it wasn't too loud or overpowering -- just right on the volume

the food
the benny girl
- eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes, homies, tea, and one half of a piece of francais toast
- grade: B-
"i wasn't really looking forward to eating at this restaurant because i was definitely judging a book by its cover. the mismatched style of the restaurant's facade (the flag, the awning, the building, etc.) makes me cringe and hurts my eyes to look at, and i'm morally opposed to their name. not only is "suppa" an annoying word, they don't even serve "suppa" there. anyway, my point is that i shouldn't have judged this restaurant on its exterior because the interior was really nice. the cozy atmosphere and seeing some local ingredients on the menu made me very hopeful. unfortunately the food didn't really measure up. the benedict comes with a choice of canadian bacon or fried green tomatoes. loving the originality of it, and because i really like the movie, i went with the fried green tomatoes. those were definitely the best part of the meal. the hollandaise was pretty good, but lacked flavor. the eggs and english muffin were done just right. although all of the components were pretty good, the combination of it all was just okay. the homies were definitely a disappointment -- they tasted like they were either fried or baked after being frozen...kinda like oreida crinkle cut. not a quality that's complimentary for a homie. and they tasted like they were only seasoned with vinegar. last time i checked, vinegar was not a suitable replacement for salt, pepper, even rosemary perhaps. i will say that i enjoyed the various pieces of fruit that garnished my plate, although i think they accidentally put a waxed green apple slice on there. the tea was neutral -- the fact that it came in a pot (a plus) was cancelled out by the fact that the honey came in annoying packages (a minus). hence the neutrality. overall, a decent breakfast...but i won't be hankerin' for suppa again anytime soon."

the usual

- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, coffee, and one half of a piece of french toast
- grade: C+
"i'm not going to comment much on hot suppa!'s name -- an exclamation point, no "suppa" served...enough said. the inside of this quirky little place (just across from 7-11) is a pleasant surprise with interesting art, cozy (read, "tiny") booths, and high ceilings. our server greeted us promptly and let us have a window booth. although our coffee arrived quickly, it was just plain bad...certainly below par for anywhere i've been in portland. my food arrived in a timely fashion with plenty of homefries. my eggs, though not runny, were certainly not over-hard...a huge negative in my book, as i'm sure you've noticed. they were also completely round and completely white, lacking the characteristic brown highlights of eggs fried in butter. i tossed on tons of pepper and salt to give them some flavor, but still found them to be some of the plainest eggs in p-town. not bad, just plain. my toast was average, pre-buttered, which i enjoy. my homefries (if you can call them that) were certainly the low light of my meal. tough, brown, mealy little cubes that grew even chewier as they cooled. we discussed them in detail, trying to determine whether they were baked or fried -- trying to unravel the mystery of such a bland and uninteresting potato product. like the eggs, the homies seemed to be cooked without oil or butter in some sort of of low-fat, diet cooking contraption out back. my french toast was fine, bursting with flavor compared to the rest of the meal. overall, it's hard to know what to say about this meal -- it wasn't bad (although this review makes it seem so), the service was excellent and friendly, the atmosphere was quaint, but something was certainly lacking...and i think it was flavor. yes, that's it. flavor."
wild toast
- corned beef hash, 2 eggs, rye toast, homies, and coffee
-grade: B
"walking into this cute little joint, we were greeted warmly and invited to grab a seat of our choice. hopping into the cramped booth by the large front window, we were offered drinks to start. ordering coffee as usual, mine arrived and quickly it disappointed my pallette. our friendly server continued to top off what was unfortunately a burned and weak mug of joe. my meal arrived and i happily dove into my much anticipated corned beef hash. highly recommended by a good friend, B., i decided to jump on the train of shredded, purple hash...that was some pretty good stuff, guy. not that i was able to finish the potato-speckled hash, but it complimented my easy eggs. the homies, which created quite a flurry of conversation as we struggled to identify how they were prepared, really were not very exciting. the blase cubes tucked in next to the hash, revealed little spunk for my well-rounded meal. the marble rye, while plentiful, was buttered to a sopping excess, but was a nice raft for my river of eggs. overall, this is not over the top by any means. i would note that the c.b. hash was probably above par, yet i have little to judge it against, other than the cat food reminiscent globs i've seen in other places, which i steered clear of. the service was really good, which was maybe the best part of the experience -- casual and available."

31 March 2007

the morning hustle: a five day Breakfast sandwich extravaganza

last week we got a glimpse of how morgan spurlock felt while he was making his documentary super size me as we embarked on a mission to eat breakfast sandwiches five days in a row. ten pounds heavier and burnt out on eggs, we suffered through it for the good of the column. we're happy to bring you the scoop on the morning hustle.

dining date: 03.26.07
west end grocery on spring st
pricing category:
pretty pricey for breakfast
guest critic:
sporty spice
flavah grade:
hustle factor:
coffee: B
tea: C
(maybe if they would actually open one of the honey jars they have for sale so you can use it in the hot beverages, they would have been better than "average")
the lowdown:
we were all fans of the cook, he was sassy and had a lot of personality. some of us (the usual in particular) were disappointed that breakfast burritos were the only option. those of us that enjoy breakfast burritos were a little disappointed that the only choices for filling beyond the norm were beans and salsa. the beans and salsa added a good deal of flavor to an otherwise mediocre burrito, though you might want to pass on salsa in the morning if you have a weaker stomach. the egg and cheese were fine, nothing special. the burritos were pretty huge, with enough filling to keep you full for a while. the price was a little hefty for what we were given, basically the price of a lunch burrito. despite being friendly, the service wasn't all that fast, but the good news is that while you wait you can grocery shop and snack on dog biscuits.
from sporty spice:
i would say that i found the west end grocery breakfast experience to be a good one overall. when TBC and i ordered from the cook at the back of the market we were treated to some good-natured sass and a number of options for how we would like our burritos prepared: plain, wheat, or garlic & herb tortilla; bacon or sausage; cheese or no cheese, etc. i found this nice since i could get basically what i wanted without any trouble. the burrito itself was good. well seasoned with salt and pepper and plenty of cheese. the only complaint i have is that there was nowhere to sit and eat, so we had to eat upon the ledge of the building next door, although that had a charm of its own. all in all, i had a good experience: good food, reasonable price, friendly service and good speed.

dining date:
ohno cafe on brackett st
web: http://www.ohnocafe.com/
pricing category:
average, worth your dime all the time
flavah grade:
hustle factor:
coffee: A
tea: A+ (organic teas, self-serve hot water, and honey!)

the lowdown:we here at TBC like to refer to this eatery as the oh YEAH, as it ranked as our top review of the week. while an outstanding array of choices guided our way, we had the option to modify our orders as we pleased. the usual was pumped to find soy sausage on the menu, a rarity that turned out to be a wonderful edition to a plain egg and cheese. wild toast and benny girl ordered the same thing because they were so excited that avocado was an option. they both thought that the smoked turkey, avocado, gouda, eggwich was the bomb. this place is so great that we found a couple of our east end friends who trekked across town waiting in line for their morning fix when we got there. that's dedication. p.s. the ohno is closed on mondays.

dining date: 03.28.07
eatery: o'naturals on exchange st (no longer open)
pricing category: pricey but organic
guest critic: "the cheapskate" aka S2H
flavah grade: A/A-
hustle factor: A-
coffee: B+
A+ (organic teas, self-serve hot water, and honey!)
the lowdown:
this local stop offered an organic component to our week. the flair of flatbread gave the ohno cafe a run for its money, mixing up the usual egg and cheese on a bagel or english muffin. o'naturals also has a great selection of toppings for your sandwich, as well as some tasty specials. wild toast's selection of egg, cheese, spinach and sausage was good except for the odd rabbit turd sausage bits tucked in the cheese. the usual was impressed with the complete change of pace that her sandwich brought. being a bit of a health nut, benny girl appreciated the thick slices of tasty, organic bacon that accompanied the free range eggs and all-natural cheddar. the service was great and the sunny atmosphere was a good way to start a day.
"from the cheapskate" (S2H):
so, ordinarily i cringe at the thought of paying more than $3 for a breakfast sandwich. i mean, the ingredients can't cost more than a dollar, maybe a buck fifty, so naturally i winced at the $4.17 egg, cheese, and bacon on a panini. we are talking organic though, so the chickens aren't kept in cages the size of bowling ball bags, which is going to make it more expensive. all in all though, it was pretty good and filling - that's the big one. there's not too much flare you can add to a egg/cheese/bacon sandwich, so if you're gonna charge over 4 bucks, i'd better not wanna eat lunch (i'm cheap by the way). the panini was also a pleasant surprise. the service at o'naturals was delightful - it's not a waitress setting, but our chef anna was nice enough to bring our food to us. good jobs guys... keep fighting the good organic fight, just try not to tag our wallets in the crossfire. overall - a B/B+

dining date: 03.29.07
eatery: market street eats on market st
pricing category: medium/expensive
flavah grade: B+
hustle factor: B-
coffee: N/A
tea: incomplete
the lowdown:
the wrapping of eggs and other ingredients can be tricky, but jeff behind the counter at this joint made it happen with ease. market street eats does wraps exclusively, but has a wide selection of fillings to start off the day. another nice touch is that they're wrapped with delicious syrians, as opposed to the ever typical tortillas. we all chose wraps with veggies and avocado right alongside the egg and cheese. the experience might have been better if the cheese had been melted onto the eggs, or at least next to it in the line-up. unfortunately it was seperated by the multitude of other fillings, leaving the cheese a little solid. a perfect amount of "hots" was a nice touch for wild toast and benny girl's wraps. one slight complaint was that the eggs were a little rubbery / chewy, according to one TBC member. just a side note, no hot beverages in this place, so swing around to exchange street to grab a cup to go. friendly service and mellow atmosphere make this a unique stop in the morning hustle.

dining date: 03.30.07
eatery: vaughan street on vaughan st
pricing category: pretty average to inexpensive
flavah grade: C+/B-
hustle factor: B+
coffee: B-
tea: B+
the lowdown:
don't be fooled by the lack of a breakfast menu when you walk in this place in the a.m. they actually have a (small) variety of choices for breakfast samiches -- just ask when you order. we opted to go the simple route: egg and cheese. all of us chose the bulky roll option, as a fresh new twist on the otherwise tired out egg sandwich. in retrospect this was a terrible idea. lurking somewhere in the flavah zone, was a strange aftertaste that was hard to put a finger on. was it the roll? the cheese? or just a "vaughan street secret ingredient"? still not sure. our initial bites were promising, but our appreciation waned as we forged ahead into the smushy mess of bread, egg and cheese. and we should add that there was entirely too much egg on this sandwich. perhaps the whole thing would have been fine had we chosen the old standby -- english muffins. hard to say. the service here was decent and friendly and perhaps next time we'll go for lunch and try the falafel. as we learned the hard way, this place is cash only.

25 March 2007


(no longer open)
dining date: 03.25.07
eatery: uffa! on state street at longfellow square
pricing category: a little pricey, but worth every penny
guest critic: bird
overall grade: A/A+

the lowdown:
- great table, in the front window. heat was blasting under our seats when we got there, but they turned it down for us immediately.
- nice open, sunny atmosphere.
- service was excellent. when the food runner brought out our breakfast he'd been told who got what, always a sign of great service when they don't have to ask customers which meal is theirs.
- great location right in longfellow square.
- there is a "donut bar"...!
the food
the benny girl
- eggs florentine w/bacon added, homies and tea. plus donuts.
- grade: A+
"quite possibly the best benedict in portland- hands down. when ordering, i was torn between the eggs benedict and the florentine (i'd like to note that uffa! describes their traditional benedict as coming with ham NOT canadian bacon. FINALLY a place that calls it what it is...or at least what it tastes like. this definitely earned uffa! mega brownie points). anyway, the reason i was torn was because i really wanted the tomatoes and spinach of the florentine, but it comes with cheddar and i wanted hollandaise. well....i told our server that i was torn and he saved the day. first, he told me that the florentine comes with cheddar AND hollandaise, whoa! and second, he suggested adding bacon to it so i can have my 'daily dose of pork'- brilliant. let's just say that the whole thing was effin' delicious. it came with a side of homies that were more like dinner potatoes, buttery and well-seasoned. the breakfast also came with a side of greens and a little bunch of grapes. a lovely and nutritiously tasty treat. the tea was a good experience too. as a dessert we ordered from 'the donut bar.' we ordered a plain donut, a maple cream, and a chocolate coconut. holy cow! we were wondering why they took a little while to arrive but understood immediately when they came out piping hot. the donuts are made to order! wow. overall, this is an incredible breakfast. my only complaint is that i was too full to eat another uffa! meal right after."

the usual

- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, bacon for my compadres, coffee
- grade: A
"let me just say that i have always disliked the name uffa!. so much so that i've been known to say 'heck if i'll ever go there.' i'm not a huge fan of names that are sounds or contain exclamation points. that said, uffa!'s brunch is certainly one of the best in portland. we were greeted sincerely and given the best seat in the house- by the window looking out at longfellow square. coffee and tea arrived fairly quickly as we perused the compact yet extensive menu. i went with the usual- i figured what the hey- why not? after ordering, my gaze wandered to the stuff on the table. what was that tucked in between the salt shaker and the sugar packets? could it be? yes! it is! a pepper GRINDER! my eyes lit up as i shared my discovery- lack of fresh pepper is something i complain about constantly- as i find it nowhere during our brunch excursions. what a perk! anyhow, our meals came, not super quickly but in good time, allowing us ample time to chat. my plate was packed with food- my eggs were fried perfectly over-hard- already slightly seasoned. the toast- homemade wheat with butter- was quite possibly the best part of the meal: thickly sliced and balanced perfectly between crumbly and crusty. my bacon was distributed to the meat eaters and appeared to have been enjoyed. the homefries, though tasty, were probably the weakest aspect of my meal. a small spoonful (though enough to adequately fill the plate)- they were soft, mushy and buttery. they had good flavor but lacked the crisp necessary to be acknowledged as true homefries. this i'm willing to forgive because my meal was basically stellar all around. the service was impeccable, the food was delicious, really, uffa! impressed the pants right off me."

wild toast
- scrambled eggs with tomatoes, scallions and brie on a croissant, homefries, mixed greens and coffee
-grade: A+
"i had avoided this particular location as it seemed a little pretentious and as you all know, i really can be pleased with the fine dinings of marcy's. to my pleasant surprise i had misjudged this portland destination. uffa's nose is not raised to you and instead, the employees are warm and friendly. to our delight we were seated at the window table which is really a fantastic location. filled with inspiration we gazed at longfellow perched above us as a beacon of good fortune and high prospects of what was to come. what arrived was maybe the tastiest breakfast i've had in this vivacious town we so dearly love. now if someone would just get a handle on The State, all will be fine. i digress. my meal, the scrambled huevos and friends, was to die for. each bite surpassing the last, it was a wicked good- guy. the coffee was plentiful as was the translucent wine with cubes. (H2O in wine glass). my homefries were not really amazing, a little mushy but honestly i didn't care as all my attention was on the egg delight that so quenched my breakfast necessities. having a few bites of mesclun and grapes was a nice addition, especially before moving on to what most would consider overkill, freshly made donuts. oh, shizamm! ordering 3 to split 4 ways seemed appropriate and we enjoyed them all especially the thankfully understated special of the day which was a maple-cream nugget. very tasty. the one odd thing was the flavor of the plain donut which was the one i specifically wanted to try. it kinda tasted like chicken fingers...ah, who cares, i was still flying high on all of the other wonderful things. one more thing to add was that after months of searching we finally found an establishment that offered a pepper grinder on the table. ya'll hear dat? freshly ground pepper, booyah! awesome meal, i will definitely be going back for more!"
-eggs florentine, coffee, donuts
-grade: A
"ugh, the pressure's on: first time reviewing, first time at uffa's, first time eating eggs florentine. overall, this was a great meal with excellent service. although i don't really eat meat and would get the florentine again, it seemed like it was missing something... something salty. like maybe bacon. anyways, it was still very yummy. also, i definitely would have wanted more home fries instead of salad and grapes. the donuts = fried deliciousness. wow.

19 March 2007

brea lu cafe

dining date: 03.19.07
eatery: brea lu cafe (pronounced "bray loo") on forest avenue
pricing category: a little bit expensive for the diner-like quality of food
guest critic: none. just the dream team. the core TBC.
overall grade: B+

the lowdown:
- for those of you who think the brea lu cafe is a french bistro, guess again. "brea lu" is actually short for "breakfast lunch"...so a fancy way to say "brunch."
- the decor is eclectic without being too distracting: complete with old encyclopedias and cool signs...like the one that says "unaccompanied children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." brilliant.
- the head server (who's been there forever) sells an array of jewelry that she makes on the side. nice to see that the brea lu management encourages extracurricular hobbies.
- there are two different seating areas, and on sundays that's a huge plus. while our area was not as exciting as the front part of the restaurant, we had the whole section to ourselves, which was nice.
- the restaurant is right on the busy part of forest avenue, which makes parking a little squirrely...but it's a nice change from the strip malls that surround it.

the food
the benny girl
- spinach and bacon eggs benedict with a side of homefries and a tea
- grade: A-
"this was our first breakfast "off the penninsula" and i definitely think the brea lu cafe can hold its own with the downtown hot spots. although there were several items on the menu that looked very appetizing to me, i decided to order my old standby because i know that our many adoring fans wait with baited breath every week to read how the benedict was. however, not being a huge fan of canadian bacon (why don't people just call it ham?), i opted for the spinach and real bacon benedict. the hollandaise sauce was surprisingly really good (just the right amount of lemon hint), the eggs were perfectly poached, and based on the golden deliciousness of the english muffins, the toaster was clearly set to precisely the right setting. my only complaint was the spinach to bacon ratio: too much (slightly soggy) spinach and not enough bacon. an very good benedict overall though. the homies on the other hand...not my fave. not crispy enough, and the flavor wasn't all that great -- trying to be spicy or cajun or something -- but not quite cutting the mustard. palatable, for sure...but could definitely be better. my tea experience was good enough -- no pots unfortunately, so my tea was definitely too strong. but after the long weekend i had, i'd opt for a stronger cup of caffeine anyway. oh, and instead of just topping off with hot water, she offered a new tea bag...and we all know that i'm a fan of that. with the sunny and eclectic atmosphere, friendly and quick service, and a varied menu, brea lu is definitely worth the trip off the peninsula."

the usual

- vegetarian omelette, toast, homefries, and coffee
- grade: B
"i yet again decided to switch it up and get something off the 'the usual' beaten path. plus- their omelettes seemed pretty tempting and interesting. we were seated by the fireplace in the back room, which was nice because of the privacy, but in retrospect- the main room has a lot more character and light. (it also probably gets more frequent coffee refills). our food arrived fairly quickly and looked wonderful. the homefries were a lovely reddish color- paprika i'm assuming. they were tasty- different from those i've had everywhere else in portland. definitely not my faves, but interesting all the same. at the brea lu, they aren't afraid to season them up a little bit. my omelette on the other hand seemed completely lacking flavor. the tiny bit of dill havarti cheese was not enough, i tasted it in about 3 bites total. my omelette included spinach- which seemed like a good idea at the time- but in actuality it made up most of the omelette innards and seemed like that chopped frozen stuff. oh well. despite adding salt and pepper, i remained unimpressed. more cheese next time! the toast was fine, pretty good in fact. our server was great, although i felt a little abandoned in the back room in terms of coffee refills. our server added tons of character and charm to the place. for the next time, sit in the front room with all the signs and knick-knacks. the usual signing off. "

wild toast
- greek omelette, homies, toast and coffee
-grade: B+
"upon arrival we were greeted very warmly. with encyclopedias and witty signs surrounding the first room, we were invited to sit by the genuine gas, open flame, woodstove look-alike fire. what a treat...except that the back room missed all sense of funky coolness that the signage-clad first room boasted. so we were offered two types of coffee, oh goody! the menu offered a very interesting selection of omelettes and other b-fast norms. oddly, the thing i really wanted to get they didn't have. i was in the mood for what could have been frowned upon by my two fellow reviewers, fruit salad and yogurt. my omelette was decent though nothing special. the greek olives, spinach, tomatoes and feta were nice but rather muted. the homies were not really anything to write home about and no one will get a postcard boasting about them. the coffee was pretty good, but the initial refill was rather delayed, probably a result of being tucked away by the leaping flames of the fire. anyway. i wasn't all that impressed. it filled the void and i would consider going back, probably when i feel like eating a benedict or something and i would strongly urge all to eat in the booths in the front room. our server was very friendly and she pushed my grade up a little bit. oh yeah, think they brush fake butter on the toast, i'd rather have to spread my own butter than have that stuff..."

12 March 2007

the front room

dining date: 03.12.07
eatery: the front room on congress street
web: the front room
pricing category: reasonably priced for the amount of food you get
guest critic: none. just the dream team. the core TBC.
overall grade: B/B+

the lowdown:
- about the atmosphere: we all really like that there's an open kitchen. we also agreed that the ambiance would even better without all of the kitchy trinkets around the periphery of the restaurant (what's with the framed photo of jerry garcia?!). benny girl appreciated the slow-turning ceiling fans and said they sort of made her feel like she was in aruba...whatever that means.
- there's a silent TV on at the bar, which is nice for the people who eat there alone...and the good thing is that it doesn't interfere with people eating in the dining room.
- the service was good and she brought an appropriate amount of condiments to the table -- something that the front room has struggled with in the past.
- fabulous location -- a nice neighborhood joint for the east end.

the food
the benny girl
- eggs benedict with a side of homefries and a tea
- grade: B
"i feel like i should like the front room more than i actually do, because generally speaking it's the kind of restaurant that i usually enjoy. however, every time i give it another chance i leave slightly less than satisfied. this morning i ordered the traditional eggs benedict...and i'd like to note that it's the only benedict option. vegetarians beware: no spinach and tomato benedict on the menu.one thing that has always bothered me about the front room's benedict is that it doesn't come with homefries. what kind of restaurant serves an egg dish without homies?! cardinal sin, in my opinion. but i'm a sucker for homies, so i ordered a side of them for $1.50 (to accompany my $7 benedict, i might add). the benedict arrived sans homefries -- i think my two TBC compadres got the last of the batch and the chefs was making more. the hollandaise sauce -- despite being a strange bright orange color -- was really good. the amount of canadian bacon was definitely ample (if not borderline excessive) and quite tasty -- especially in combination with the hollandaise. my two complaints about the benedict were that the poached eggs were overcooked (the yolks barely runny) and the english muffins were burnt. about 7 - 10 minutes into my meal, the homefries finally arrived piping hot. at first they looked really delectable, but after eating a couple of them i realized that they were not up to par. they were soft and kind of mushy and barely grilled -- i like my homies to have some crisp to them. they were also really greasy and even though they were cooked with red peppers and onions, they lacked flavor. on a positive note, the tea proved to be the high point of my meal. it was served in a little pot (always a plus) and the honey and cream were in little pitchers. the server was on top of refilling the hot water. in fact, the service in general was really good. overall, eating at the front room was a decent experience. the food is definitely palatable and "good enough"...but not quite as good as you think it's going to be, based on the restaurant's apprearance and reputation. lastly, i'd like to note that i've tried several things on their menu, and i always feel the same about it -- never as good as you hope it will be."

the usual

- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee...plus 2 - 3 bites of bacon
- grade: B
"brunch on a monday is pretty much a different ballgame -- no lines, no bustle, etc. we were quickly seated by our friendly server and given menus and coffee. the coffee was delicious, i might add, and though initially slow on the refills, kept on coming. my meal arrived with french bread toast piled high atop my fried eggs. a small scoop of homefries sat alone on the other end of the plate. even though i'm a vegetarian, i ordered bacon with mine because that was the only option for the usual and i planned on giving it to my fellow breakfast-ateers. however, i was tempted and took a couple of bites -- a tasty treat -- but having not eaten bacon in 10 years, i didn't have much to compare it to. the toast was delicious, 4 slices with plenty of extra butter to smear on if needed. my eggs were pretty much not worth mentioning -- not quite as hard as i'd like and lacking even the most basic of flavors. i tasted a weird, abnormal flavor (pam nonstick spray perhaps?) but wasn't sure what it was. the homefries were served in a minimalist style, with maybe 13 chunks total. i prefer to be impressed by my potato portions, and these certainly weren't impressive. they tasted decent, but were a bit chewy and sat in 2 tablespoons of grease. they were also completely different than benny girl's homies -- how odd. overall, i think what the entire meal lacked was flavor -- a little salt and pepper won't kill anyone, and goes a long way when used appropriately. it wasn't bad, but certainly didn't live up to all the hype around portland about the place. our server was wonderful -- nearby when we needed her and quick with the spectacular coffee."

wild toast
- 3-egg omelette with bacon, red onion, and goat cheese, with brown bread toast, homies, and coffee
-grade: B+/A-
"as we went on a monday, we did not experience the normal wait or the bustling homey feel of this restaurant. seated immediately, we were offered good coffee. the meal was, on a whole, quite tasty. rather a lot of food for me to take down -- indeed, i could not finish it. the choice of goat cheese turned out to be overpowering, as i was hoping to enjoy the largish tidleys of bacon. the circular brown bread was fresh and sweet. my homies were a little chewy and overly greasy. the pile of grease pooling on my plate detracted from my meal a bit, but thankfully i had been gifted strips of bacon (from the usual) to distract me. while the first coffee refill was slow, the above standard coffee bouquet was a true delight. as i sit and write this, the ice cubes from my first fill of water still mingle in the top of my glass. now that is a cold ice cube. hurrah! overall, an enjoyable meal, as my coffee topped the charts."