Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Portland, Oregon: The Baron of Brunch

Brunch. It may be my most favorite meal of the day. Not that I eat it every day. Brunch is reserved for weekends. And in case you were wondering, there is a difference between brunch and breakfast.

Breakfast is for responsible people who wear ties and monitor their daily steps with a pedometer. These people actually carve out morning time to nourish their bodies before dutifully flouncing off to work or school.

But brunch, oh sweet disfunctional brunch. Brunch was built for the lazy, late-waking, ravished, bleary eyed set. It's an after-party of sorts. Some of the brunchers will still be slightly drunk, and the rest can replenish with a morning cocktail. But booze banter aside, there is one rule when it comes to brunch:

1.) Thou shalt not shower before brunch. Brunch is a bed-to-table meal. You will most likely be late for brunch because you are too tired (read: hungover) to get out of bed, which means you certainly don't have time to shower. And if you do shower, you are clearly making a mockery of your brunch companions who will feel self conscious about their unruly hair, tobacco scented clothing and alcohol soaked pores.

Every time I make a visit to Portland I look forward to brunch. The city is simply stacked with great spots to have a first meal. Readers, I'm not talking organic over-easy eggs and 12-grain toast. Yawn. These morning meal makers have really thought this through!

Just when I thought I'd found the best of the best, the belle of the brunch ball (Cricket Cafe)... along comes Screen Door. Fancified Southern food. Think Dolly Parton in a solid gold mini dress. Holding a fried chicken leg.

As I skimmed the menu my heart started to race. I hadn't even ordered yet and I was already planning my trip back. I am known to be a chronic take-forever-orderer, but last Saturday the choice was easy: Fried Oyster Benedict.
Crisp, cornmeal crusted oysters teeter atop a crisscross of bacon. Below this holy matrimony, a perfectly poached egg on a toasted English muffin. All of this is topped with just enough sunny yellow Hollandaise sauce. Outside, the oyster has a satisfying crunch, but inside it's all tender, salty ocean. Oy! This could come with a pile of potatoes, but I chose the alternative: a shallow dish of orange, cheddar gritz.

One brunch companion didn't even need to crack his menu. Nothing would keep him from the sweet potato waffle topped with a frikkin' giant tower of fried chicken. Like the oysters, the chicken is magically grease-free and tastes mighty fine paired with a forkful of waffle and a drizzle of syrup.

By the time the biscuits and gravy landed on the table I started to think Screen Door was just getting cocky. If Screen Door was a car it would have a bumper sticker that reads: "My brunch is an honor roll student."

Just look at those biscuits and gravy! I didn't look that good on prom night! One fellow bruncher smartly selected the sausage country gravy, and the other opted for the creamy, mushroomy vegetarian version. The biscuits are unique: they're big, square, squishy and almost like

Everything tastes just a teeny tiny bit better when treated with a small splash of brick-red Louisiana hot sauce. Of course, I do have my loyalties and always prefer Tapatio or Sriracha.

But I guess people who don't take showers can't be too choosy.


Chuck Vose said...

Drool. Sounds and looks exceedingly tasty!

Lydia said...

dolly parton in a solid gold mini dress holding a chicken leg....dude i just wet myself.

Lydia said...

i got so excited about your dolly metaphor that i forgot to mention....

i call bullshit on that dusting of powdered sugar on the chicken/waffle combo.