By Charlotte Wallace
Lewis & Clark students get rallied for an important event every Saturday afternoon. No offense to the football team, but it is not football games; we never win at those. It is brunch, something we and the city of Portland are best at. Lewis & Clark students take their brunches very seriously. The quality of that early, maybe even late, afternoon meal can make or break the rest of Saturday. Every neighborhood in Portland has a solid brunch spot offering an eggs benedict that someone swears is the best. But whose eggs reign supreme? Here are a few oft-recommended classics.
Jam on Hawthorne (2239 SE Hawthorne Avenue)
Jam serves standard West Coast comfort food like hashes and breakfast bowls. Brunch is served all day and in large portions. The wait can exceed twenty minutes on Saturdays and Sundays, so avoid showing up at ten a.m. on the weekend. Jam is your typical six out of ten brunch spot: it is satisfying, tasty and reasonable but nothing special. Well, actually, their homemade jam is a bit special. They offer a rotating variety available to purchase and take home. I bought two jars of their peach jam two weeks ago and it disappeared far more quickly than I anticipated. Their chai pancakes and eggs florentine are the best dishes. Jam has solid food; do not let the linoleum cafeteria floors and old booths turn you away.
Tasty n Alder (580 SW 12th Avenue)
As a regular brunch eater, I can say Tasty n Alder offers the best brunch in Portland, no doubt. However, the up to two hour wait times make it not always worth it. I recommend getting there at 9 a.m. when the waiting list opens, putting your name in and going to grab a coffee while you wait. A secret: they serve brunch all week and the wait is only twenty minutes on weekdays. Now you know what to do the next time your professor cancels class. The menu is extensive and portions are small, but everything is intended to be shared. Bring your friends and try as much as you can. You cannot go wrong with any of their dishes. A few of my favorites are the homemade cottage cheese with pineapple jam, lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote, steak and eggs, homemade granola, potatoes bravas, bim bop egg bowl, radicchio salad and seasonal cheese board.
Olympia Provisions (1632 NW Thurman and 107 SE Washington)
If it were not for Tasty n Alder, I would have given the best brunch title to Olympia Provisions. However, if you are vegan, the only thing you can order is the side of fruit — sorry. Olympia Provisions is also a butcher, and they cure all their own meats, from sausage to pâté. My omelette standards will never be the same after ordering their mushroom, goat cheese and spinach omelette. They have amazing charcuterie and cheese boards and, yes, the best eggs benedict. Their salty house-cured ham and homemade english muffins are the secret.
Fireside (801 NW 23rd)
Fireside is the perfect place for the coldest or the warmest of brunch days. They have a fireplace to sit in front of in the winter, hence the name, and they open the front glass wall of the restaurant in the summer. The menu changes seasonally but the rhubarb challah french toast, grilled grapefruit, romaine wedge and seasonal veggie hash have been some of my favorites. Their eggs benedict is also good, but Olympia Provisions has them beat on that one.
Maurice (921 SW Oak Street)
If you prefer lighter fare or the perfect pastry for your brunch, Maurice is your best choice. It is a traditional French luncheonette and offers superb quality dishes and pastries. Unfortunately, it is closed Sunday and is only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. other days. Their Norwegian meatballs, quiche and Polenta Clafoutis are excellent. For the pastries, the black pepper cheesecake and lemon souffle pudding cake are delicious, but you can expect as much from any other pastry you order here.