29 April 2008

bintliff's american cafe

dining date: 04.27.08
eatery: bintliff's american cafe on park ave
web: bintliff's american cafe
pricing category:
you might have to take out a second mortgage for this rather over-priced eatery
guest critic:
socially awkward huevos
overall grade:
B
the lowdown:
- you all may be wondering why we're reviewing bintliff's again. well, the last time we ate there (as you may recall), it was a monday and they were training a new chef. since that experience was rather dismal (read: TWO breakfasts returned to the kitchen), we decided to give them the benedict of the doubt, and review them again on their big brunch day.
- still had a nautical ship-like feel -- that hasn't changed.
- they still serve their coffee from annoying airpots -- that hasn't changed either.
- definitely plan on waiting for a table...at least for a little while. unless you go on a monday perhaps.
- there is a very large selection of food options -- in fact, the menu's so big that you can't see the other people at your table while you're reading it. although, we can't honestly say that a lot of the options on the menu are things that we'd actually want to eat.

- the service was great -- very friendly and attentive.

- conveniently located next to bubba's sulky lounge -- so if you don't feel like waiting in line at bintliff's, you can go there for spam and eggs instead. or if you find yourself waking up in bubba's bathroom after a crazy 80's night, you can just go next door for a stiff hair of the dog (they have lots of drink options at bintliff's).
the food

the benny girl
- the vegetable benedict (two poached eggs with portabellas and a crap ton of other veggies on an english muffin with hollandaise), 1.5 pieces of bacon, homies, part of a gingerbread pancake with lemon syrup, and tea
- grade: B
"in all honesty, i have pretty mixed feelings about bintliff's. it's one of those places that i really want to like more than i actually do. on one hand, the service is always really good and it has a great "brunchy" atmosphere -- meaning that it's one of those restaurants that you'd feel really comfortable eating a nice long sunday morning meal in...complete with jazzy music and comfy booths. oh, and the back patio is a pretty fabulous spot in the warm weather. but on the other hand, i haven't always been all that impressed with the food and i think it's really expensive. somehow, all of the sides and beverages you have to order to get a nice solid meal seem to compound exponentionally and all of the sudden the check comes and you realize that you might not be able to pay rent this month because of the eggs and tri-tater homies that you just scarfed down. i wonder if bintliff's actually hires dishwashers, or if all of the dishes are just cleaned by the many people that are unable to pay their tab. that probably saves quite a bit on their labor costs. one other thing that bothers me about bintliff's is their complete lack of a waiting area. instead of using the very small amount of space on the first floor for a comfy space to wait for a table, they decided to cram three extra tables in there...leaving all of the people on the waiting list stuck right inside the door next to the stairs. frankly it just gets a little old constantly opening the door for others, repeatedly stepping outside so that people can exit through the door that you're stuck standing in front of, and having total strangers pin you against the wall as they squeeze by you. they really ought to rethink that layout. luckily, we didn't have to wait all that long -- about 20 minutes, which isn't bad for bintliff's on a sunday. we were seated upstairs, thank god. i've sat at the little tables downstairs and they suck. it always feels like you're being hovered over by all of the people on the waiting list who have nowhere else to stand except on top of you. after we were seated in a very comfy booth, our friendly and charming server andrew came over to greet us and take our drink order. immediately we could tell that he was a master of the art of serving that our poor chump at frog & turtle failed so miserably at -- he was polite, sassy, slightly flirtatious, fun, friendly, personable, professional, and attentive all at once. unlike mr. socially awkward, potty-mouthed, sketchy spice over in westbrook. we all liked him instantly. he gave us the perfect amount of time to contemplate the menu options before returning with our beverages and to collect our food orders. funny thing happened here. he brought me a nice mug with a pretty tea bag in it, along with mini honey and milk pitchers...but he forgot the hot water. i didn't really notice that until he had left the table, so when he came back a few minutes later, i asked him if i could please have some hot water for my tea. he looked slightly stunned by his oversight, but rebounded quickly and perfectly with some ice-breaking joke that also assumed total responsibility for the mistake. in other words, he did NOT say anything like "that's bullshit. that's total bullshit on my part." nice change of pace, i gotta say. the food came pretty quickly. i decided to order a benedict, since last time we reviewed bintliff's i broke the norm and got an omelette, which was a huge mistake as you might recall. the meal was yet another thing that i had mixed feelings about. on one hand, the english muffin was grilled perfectly, the veggies were plentiful and well-cooked, and the hollandaise was great. but on the other hand, the eggs were poached hard (BIG faux pas in the eyes of any benedict patron other than the usual, who is just weird when it comes to eggs) and the homefries were just kind of a pile of tri-colored mash. they really could have been a lot better than they were. oh, and the bacon was pretty over-cooked. ooh, but the pancake was really yummy. just the right amount of gingerbread flavor and the syrup was reminiscent of lemon meringue pie. you know, i'm not really sure what else to say about this experience. i think we were all hoping that our review would be monumentally different if we ate there again on a non-monday...but it wasn't all that much better. i'll probably still go back there again -- after i save up about 3 months worth of allowance. what can i say? i'm a sucker for patios that are like tree houses and it's still a cozy place to enjoy a leisurely sunday meal with good people. and i also have a slight crush on our server."
the usual
- 2 eggs over-hard, homemade white toast, homefries, mimosa and coffee
- grade: B-/C+
"oh bintliff's i sincerely thought that we had done you wrong you in our first review, that we had just chosen the wrong day to grace you with our glorious presence. but alas, i'm not sure that is the case. let me explain. although we didn’t initially plan to brunch at bintliff’s, i was ready and willing to fork over the dough and try this place again. we arrived during the mid-brunch hustle-bustle and were greeted by the friendly host. the wait was maybe 15 minutes, which isn’t bad considering bintliff's position as one of portland's "best" brunch establishments. meanwhile, i checked out the d├ęcor, which was antique? country-living? i'm a little unsure. there were definitely dried flowers and topiarys scattered about, making me feel a little like i'd stepped into someone's overly-powdered, check-pinching grandmother's house. otherwise the atmosphere was nice, with warm lighting and framed photos on the walls. we nestled into our cozy booth beneath the eves and were promptly handed menus the size of small children. our server arrived and was an instantaneous hit. after ordering coffee i settled in to check out the options. after careful menu perusal, i realized that "the usual" actually looked like the best bet on the menu, not a good sign. my other possibility was the veggie florentine, but it was unfortunately decked out with parmesan bacon sauce instead of hollandaise. so, i got the usual. after our fantastic server informed me that i couldn't get a "bayside breeze" due to an unfortunate grapefruit juice outage, i settled on a plain old mimosa to quench my morning thirst. it was good, pretty standard. our food arrived quickly and i had high hopes that the monumental beacon of bintliff's would finally shine through, revealing what everyone loved about this place. my eyes widened excitedly as my almost comically large plate was set in front of me, my mouth hoping for glory. and what can i say? it wasn't glorious. it wasn't monumental. it wasn't even really notable. The homies were a smush of otherwise beautiful tubers, requiring multiple applications of s&p. it's sad, but sometimes people forget to put the "fry" in homefries and in this case i was presented with home-mush. my toast had great potential, a thick-cut slice of homemade white clinging to the side of the plate. it's potential fell flat however when i realized that it was in dire need of butter and that there was none available. yes, our server was extremely accommodating and would certainly have brought butter had i asked. but honestly, why should we have to ask for butter? for TOAST? on to the eggs. they started out fine, pretty tasty in fact. i was wary after my last bintliff's experience of non-over-hard eggs and so i examined the yolk carefully. although they weren't as hard as i would have maybe liked, they were definitely adequate. all was going well until i bit into a pocket of uncooked whites and all hell broke loose in my mouth. there are times when i can deal with slightly runny yolk, but whites however should never be runny in an "over-hard" egg. unless the cook is trying to kill me with grossness. Apparently bintliff's is unaware that when an egg is cooked "over-hard," all of the egg parts should be solid. it should be completely cooked. all the way through. and honestly, it's not that hard to do. anyway. the rest of my bintliff's experience was good, our server was the perfect combo of friendly and sassy and i would have to say, he was one of the best we've encountered. score one for bintliff's."
wild toast
-“the acadian” (an omelet with andouille sausage, red onion, baby spinach, and pepperjack) uber thick white toast, homefries, coffee, bloody mary, and some bacon
- grade: B

"if only the white heart had been open at 10…but alas we decided to (2 x re)-view good ol’ bintliff’s. or at least what we were hoping would be good bintliff’s. after a bit of a wait where my stomach growled and asked for some cheese for its wine we were seated upstairs with a lovely view of the much needed rain dripping on the deck. squirrels donned raincoats, birds feathered their paddles, and i went snorkeling about in my bloody mary, which would soon arrive garnished with a flock of migratory olives branched and speared on the overarching forest of my celery. (sorry socially awkward huevos, but celery, while never declared as a strong candidate for the “life-time achievement award”, still holds a dignified and honorable place in the vegetable kingdom (or should i say kingdom: plantae, class: magnoliopsida, order: apiales, family: apiaceae (or umbelliferae), genus: apium, species: graveolens)) ah…so…where was i… ah yes, so our pleasant server, always giving funny estimates of how much time we could expect our food, or drinks to arrive, “that’ll be 2-4 minutes for your pancake” “that’s gonna be about 39 to 262 seconds til you get your coffee..." kept us stocked with the goodies of his service and even sat down to discuss a quiz i was giving benny girl which included such highlights as “Q.what is my favorite color A. blue” and “Q. what was the score of the sox game last night? A. 2-1 rays” neither of which benny girl answered correctly. so then at some point our food arrived and i happily dug in to my omelet. now there are 2 things i must try to remember, one is that from now on i should not order andouille sausage because i don’t think i like it, even if i tell myself i do, and i don’t really love omelets. this last confession comes with some grief as i have many fond memories of omelets from my youth, when i was yet an aspiring breakfast connoisseur and would add 100 varietal cheeses, 200 leafy vegetables (including our fond apium) , 2 bottles of “dr. bronner’s cayenne all purpose wash-it or sauce-it sauce”, 1600 ears of corn, a peck of pickled eggs (discounted from marden’s), a herd of hungry hungry hippos and a side of soggy salad. but those are but moments of my youth, and today i must move on, forge ahead, and try my mushy looking pile of potatoes. and in fact, in all reality, my tri-tater canyon was disappointing. as my loyal fans will understand, a homefry is a homefry when, and if, and only when it is crisped, browned, seasoned, and most importantly loved. friends, what i am obliged to spell out for you is that i did not love this pile of muddled starch. and how did my toast stand up? well, let me just say that I didn’t finish it. it was thick, it was white, it was hardly buttered, and i thought it just wasn’t what the doctor ordered. and my omelet, that was good. it really was, even for a recent andouille-me-no-liky candidate as my self, and a closet omelet-I don’t really care for this incarnation of egg person such as myself, the omelet was tasty. and the service kept on in keeping, with just enough coffee refills, even if they had to fill a little vessel from an airpot because that’s the best they can do (really it’s a strange thing in my opinion) and in general my overall experience was fine. not what it is always built up to be, but fine. and leaving bintiliff’s, after spilling benny girl’s cream on the floor, i took off my snorkel and hit the no longer dusty trail to marden’s.”

socially awkward huevos

- veggie homefries with baby spinach, tomato, mushroom, asparagus, onion, red pepper, broccoli and zucchini over three potato home fries with parmesan and two eggs over medium on top of homemade white toast, two bites of gingerbread pancakes with warm lemon syrup and a bellini the “Italian mimosa: champagne and peach juice
- grade: B

"after becoming the self-appointed door person for exiting customers, i was a bit scared by the decor. i have always had a problem with forest green and maroon dried eucalyptus leaves used as decoration. bintliff's decorator didn't seem to share my hatred as they were all over the place in every vase, including the one on our table-which we got to in an acceptable amount of time for sunday brunch. our friendly and relaxed waiter handed us our ginormous menus. i don’t mean huge as in a lot to choose from, i mean huge in that i could not see the usual across the booth from me- this is not conducive to talking about what you might or might not want to order at all. after deciding that i would not rock the boat and order anything vaguely lunch-like i chose the veggie home fries, it sounded like a great combination of yummy veggies and standard breakfast eggs and potatoes. i also decided to let the boozer in me out and ordered a large breakfast cocktail. my first choice was denied by the waiter due to a lack of grapefruit juice (what?), so I went for a peach bubbly concoction that when came to the table was very bubbly and tasted good i think. i could be wrong as i was at that point taken aback by the architectural celery olive spire sticking out of wild toast's bloody mary. i am never, i repeat never impressed by celery but the fun little olives sticking off the side of the stalk made me for ever a brief second think that i wanted a bite of that putrid veggie. i then came back to reality and realized celery is the devil even when disguised with delicious olives. our meal arrived promptly and i was impressed by the size of the portion, there was a lot of food on that plate. The veggies were yummy, seasoned very well, though I only saw one leaf of baby spinach on top of my fork during the whole meal. the home fries were a bit soggy and at first I was willing to say it was due to the veggies that lay on top but in conferring with my tablemates i found out that they were born that way. eggs were the perfect amount of runny in the over medium world. the toast was a bit dry and overly thick but tasted good enough that i ate the whole piece. my two bites of the gingerbread pancake were yummy very sweet. i do not think I could ever eat a whole order of them, but they were yummy. all in all my meal and my company were good, the company by far better then the food, and I wonder if the company might have made the food seem better then it actually was."

2 comments:

LoraLewWho said...

Dear Wild Toast,

Your vast knowledge of the taxonomic classification of celery astounds me. I must say that you outdid yourself with this review -- I laughed, I cried, I craved olives. Brilliant!

Sincerely,
One of your loyal fans

Marya said...

I am so with you on the Bintliff's. I haven't been in ages but it is always frustrating. Plus the bloody mary is chunky. Ewww.

I just found your site, coincidentally after I posted a breakfasty thing (including complaining about Bintliff's) this morning. Very cool! I added you to my blog list.