The question of where to go for brunch in Portland is a constant, inescapable, ever-evolving query.
Do you want a full vegan menu? Are there omnis in tow? Is anyone gluten-free?
Are you looking for breakfast cocktails or a great local roaster (or both!)? Sweet or savoury?
How long are you in town for? Wait, what’s open? Did that one place close?
What do you need to try next? Seriously, can you all handle waiting in line (which means I’m required to mention this) if need be ?
And so on.
As it was, I had two dear friends who used to live in Portland return to town this past weekend, and there was a must-brunch on at least one of their lists: A.N.D. Cafe. I admit, I wasn’t exactly stoked; I was grumbly and tired and woke up thinking about scrambled tofu, and due to the nuts in A.N.D.’s mainstay pesto-scrambled tofu (which was all their tofu), my options were limited, so there would be no tofu for this gal. But wait – it gets better.
Of course, grumblings be damned and friends to see, being polite and all that, brunch happened, and to my surprise, as it was a few days into a new menu at A.N.D., we learned they had just introduced an herbed, scrambled tofu. Phew. Sorry to all the pesto lovers, but I’m selfish and stoked to have the option! To top that off, I went for something way new for me, and a little outside my realm of typical ordering.
Most importantly, it was about time I tried one of their adored and creatively adorned, gluten-free waffles.
In the end, after a pleasant meal with my sights set on J. Legume’s Hot Nest order for a future visit (the Secret Aardvark got to know my own waffle quite well), the highlight of our dining experience – which I certainly don’t intend as an insult to our dishes – has to be the pickled Bloody Mary.
Our visit to Chelsea’s Portland vegan brunch-must follows…
My heat tolerance has both its good days and its fierce ones, and this breakfast cocktail was evidently in the middle, because again, I couldn’t resist a little Secret Aardvark to bring it quite where I wanted. But the salted, delightfully house-pickled garnishes were totally where it’s at. So much so, that we couldn’t resist ordering their charming pickle jar, pictured below.
This doesn’t seem like something I’d normally order – I was torn between the Espresso BBQ wrap (okay, which again, is so not me, but that sauce sounded bomb and I like to try new things). All in all, I totally appreciate the savoury waffle components, but I’d like to revisit and try something more on the classical side to really get acquainted with their crispy waffles: I couldn’t help wanting my plate to bring a little more sweet & salty in each bite, but I’m glad I gave it a go. I can see folks going gaga for this!
Shockingly, I didn’t grab a bite of this, as I was quite full from my own dish at that point, but my friend insisted I break my camera out to capture this glorious waffle. I gladly obliged. What a beauty.
Two breakfasts: the out-of-town objective, passed on.