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..."

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