Bijou Cafe – 11/10/13

2.5stars

Bijou Cafe
503.222.3187
132 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, 97204

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The least enjoyed visit of the year.

First it appeared to be a long wait with at leaf 10 others ahead of us so we put our name on the list and walked over to Blue Star for a appetizer donut but in the 30 minutes we were gone they blew through all those waiting and we ended up having to sign back in (okay our fault for wandering off). Even after signing back up it was another 30 minutes with only 4 others ahead of us so we lingered out front and talked about dogs & balloons. When we were finally seated we had already had plenty of time to look over the menu and make out selections so when our waitress arrived to take our drink orders we were more than ready to also give us our meal selections. It seemed to throw her off that we wanted to order our meal immediately and she had to ask twice what we had originally requested for our drinks. 5 minutes after walking away from our table she came back and asked a third time what we had requested to drink. Okay I figured we interrupted her flow and it was pretty busy but she was writing things down or at least holding a pad that she could have written down what we wanted. 10 minutes came and went and two other tables that sat down after us started having their meals arrive. I figured ours would be out any minute but another 10 minutes elapsed before our two plates finally came along and this was only a few minutes after our latte & cider showed up. Fine I thought a little slow on the service but a decent meal can easily cancel out “laggy” delivery. Well the biscuits and gravy I ordered were not horrible but they really didn’t help me forget just how long it took to get them. And the highly regarded muffins that foursquare said we should not miss really were only so/so. Carly’s roast beef hash had all the pieces to make it a meal but it was really rather bland and I found myself dreaming of the biscuit breakfast from James John Cafe or Tasty & Alder which still rank among the best tasting I’ve had. Slow service and an only “okay” meal made this one of the lesser of our 48 visits this year.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Incredibly slow and she had to ask what our drink order was 3 times.
2 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Corner cafe with nice brightly lit interior with 2 bars and plenty of seating
3 stars

MEAL
Somewhat of a letdown compared to other cafes and French eateries we’ve been to
3 stars

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Toast – 9/1/13

3stars

Toast
503.774.1020
5222 SE 52nd Ave
Portland, 97206

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Your neighborhood restaurant

Tucked way the hell back off of Powell is a small neighborhood restaurant with a ton of interior seating, this was todays destination after consulting the oracle app of restaurant recommendations named “Ness”. We picked up our friend Shelly who lives nearby and wandered over off the beaten path to find the little neighborhood eatery known simply as “Toast”. Walking in we saw a “L” shaped breakfast bar with baked goods surrounding the main grill that was surrounded by at least 5 cooks and 3 or 4 servers hurriedly serving up fare. We requested outside seating a a few minutes later we were seated street side under a green Bud Light umbrella, I mention the color because all our breakfasts looked “Seuss Like” under the coloration. I was really in the mood for Oatmeal which is kind of a bad way to judge a restaurant since there isn’t much unique about a bowl of boiled oats but since Carly & Shelly were with I figured I could steal some of their more exciting selections. They ended up both choosing the same breakfast sandwich which was super tasty and yes I did like my oatmeal and yes I did get rye toast that was decent but not nearly as satisfying as the girls selections. All in all a tasty brunch but I have to avoid getting plain old oatmeal when trying to actually judge a restaurant on it’s food.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Didn’t really see our waitress often but didn’t really need to.
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Somewhat typical neighborhood cafe with outside picnic benches and art on the walls inside.
3 stars

MEAL
Good selection with clever creative names that have nothing to do with the meal (how very Portland)
3 stars

Veritable Quandary – 8/25/13

4stars

Veritable Quandry
503.227.7342
1220 SW 1st Ave
Portlant, 97204

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Brunch at the foot of the Hawthorn Bridge.

We’d walked by Veritable Quandary the week before while down at the waterfront and it had come up many times in the suggestions for dining so when my mom spent the weekend with us it was an easy destination choice to make. Wandering into the restaurant it was rather dark and paralleled by a long bar with stools on the right but at the back end was a brightly lit room with giant skylights and an entrance to their hidden garden with outdoor seating. We sat at one of the stone round tables closer to the front of this garden space near the main street but traffic sounds weren’t really and issue and proceeded to look over their brunch menu selections. One of the fellows bringing water highly recommended the Russian Tea Cakes as a small breakfast appetizer and since their were thee of us and three of them it seemed like a good place to start. I once again was planning on leaving the meal selection up to our waitress but one of the items at the bottom somewhat caught my eye and I decided to try their poached egg and bacon salad while my mom and wife went for the more traditional fare of “Kings Choice” & “Vegetable Benedict”. Our coffee, tea and Russian cakey donut like things showed up a few moments after we placed our brunch order selections. The little powdered cookies were very dense but tasty and went well with my steamy latte  and I almost think a couple per person instead of just one would have been just that much better. Rubber necking around where we were sitting I realized how many times I had driven by this location and not noticed which is one of the many reasons we started doing a weekly breakfast outing. Our meals showed up in an appropriate amount of time and when I saw what Carly & my mom had laid in front of them I somewhat regretted not taking the waitresses suggestion of the “most popular item”. My salad was pretty good but compared to other Cobb salads (easiest & closest) it was nowhere near as filling. I did get to try some of what Carly had ordered as well as some of my moms french toast and both were very tasty and probably a better option for my but I’m trying to get away from my old habits of eggs & toast and a breakfast salad seemed like a decent option to fulfill that goal. Overall a good meal even if I was a little underhwhlemed but that only means next time I go for something deep fried.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Friendly wait staff with worthwhile breakfast suggestions
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Long brick building with cool exterior patio right at the foot of the Hawthorn bridge.
3.5 stars

MEAL
I don’t often order salads but this one was pretty tasty
3.5 stars

Genies Cafe – 6/2/13

4stars

Genies Cafe
503.445.9777
1101 SE Division Street
Portland, 97202

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Biscuits n’ Gruvy…

I’d been here one time previously about a year and half ago to met up with some friends before the Portland Auto show and had always planned a return visit with Carly and whomever else wanted a kick ass breakfast, this Sunday was that day. We arrived and parked incredibly easy which has me thinking either I got super lucky or that I’m finally feeling confident in my navigation skills around Portland. We walked in and placed our names on the list and while it wasn’t packed with people waiting there was still about a 20 minute chill time before we were seated. We were directed to the holding zone just past the bar that occupies 1/3 of the restaurant and I figured as long as they weren’t quite ready for us I’d put in an order for something to drink. Carly’s teaching friend Shelly was able to to join us so we would have a cohort to sample more of their menu selections. Genies is apparently well known for their biscuits and gravy (of which they have two, sausage or mushroom) which I sampled last time from a friends meal but this time I planned to let our hipster server pick my breakfast which had worked out in my favor so far over the last few months, he chose the Cajun Benedict that was on special which I had eyed but wasn’t convinced until he enthusiastically endorsed it, I also included a side of the well recommended biscuits and mushroom gravy that Carly and I would share. Shelly went with the biscuit & gravy along with scrambled eggs, bacon and the tiny taters as opposed to the sliced red ones I would be receiving. Carly picked a BLT & tiny taters and would also be sharing my biscuits & gravy. It was really quite loud that morning and every chair at every table was filled with hungry patrons. The orders seemed to flow from the kitchen at a rapid rate and it was only 10 minutes before our buffet arrived hot & steamy. I chomped down on a big bite of the biscuit smothered with the rich smokey mushroom immediately and then begin cutting the tails off the huge shrimp that were on top of my Benedict before trying it. I expected a bit of spice and bite from it being called “Cajun” but it was rather muted even though tasty, fortunately no brunch table in Portland is ever complete without a bottle of Aardvark hot sauce so I added a few shakes over my plate immediately taking it from a solid 6 to an 8.5, the potatoes were also aided by a few shakes of the Vark’ and were super crispy despite they thickness. Shelly & Carly seemed very satisfied with their selections as well and few words were exchanged during the next 5 minutes of initial gorging. It ended up that I couldn’t quite finish all the potatoes of which there were plenty and about 1/3 of the biscuit dish remained after Carly and I had our go at it but both the girls were able to finish off their plates that somehow appeared smaller than mine even which having more occupying them. For my second time here I was very happy with how good it had remained and I look forward to a 3rd, 4th and 30th visit.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Hipster filled tatty and stache’ but all friendly and approachable
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
A large three room building with a bar and waiting area occupying one half and the walls covered with locals artwork
3.5 stars

MEAL
All the basics are present as well as kick ass biscuits n’ gravy and the “specials” selections actually are and change often.
4 stars

Screen Door – 4/21/13

4stars

Screen Door
503.542.0880
2337 E. Burnside
Portland, 97214

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Downhome delicious…

We had been to Screen Door last July for dinner with my mother in-law and sampled a wide range of their offerings but for no good reason we hadn’t revisited until this Sunday morning. First off, be prepared for a wait, there is a long line before the restaurant even opens and then for the next few hours it remains a 40+ minute wait to be seated, but once inside the service is pretty brisk and you won’t be waiting long after you submit your order. We had visited the Screen Door in July for chicken dinner with my Mother Inlaw and decided a return was warranted to sample their brunch menu. Knowing they had “southern fare/flair” It was difficult for me not to go with something “chicken fried” for breakfast but I decided to put my trust in the hands of our server and order his suggestion of the Lone Star hash plate. Carly chose a massive bowl of fresh oatmeal as well as a biscuit (the oatmeal was slightly delayed so we were given a bowl of fresh fruit as an apology as well). We also picked the hush puppies from the menu hoping they might arrive a little earlier than the rest of the meal, they didn’t. But my Bloody Mary (another server recommendation) did and it was perfectly spicy and contained a garnishment of okra,olive and a wedge of lemon with a spicy salted rim. Probably close to 15 minutes later our spread arrived and our rather tiny two person table suddenly became quite full of a colorful assortment of flavors. The first thing I tried were the potatoes that were along side the pork hash on my plate and I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful they were with or without any additional ketchup. The shredded pork with the poached eggs was an excellent combination but the jalapeño grit cakes the pile sat upon were a little underwhelming, I think it was prepared perfectly well I just have begun to realize I like to order grits more than actually eat them.

The hushpuppies came with a honey-suryp mix that was thin enough to dunk but not so sweet that it over powered the super crispy corn ball. We split the biscuit which was among the best I’ve ever tried, it was so crispy on the outside I was sure it would be a dry mess when I broke into it but was surprised at just how moist and fluffy the interior had remained. I even got in a few scoops of Carly’s oatmeal for context and really loved the flavor of them even without any additional brown sugar or honey. I had noticed while waiting for our meals to arrive that nearly half the plates coming out of the kitchen were huge stacks of fried chicken on top of a massive waffle and I half regretted not taking that route as well but having been there for dinner I already knew how delicious their chicken is so I was satisfied with my meal in the end.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Coulda used more coffee trips but at least my water glass was never empty
3 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
The open kitchen looks really cool I just wish we could see more of it otherwise the decorating inside is rather spartan
3-5 stars

MEAL
Delicious and quite large meals, the “grit cakes” were nothing extraordinary but definitely get a biscuit!
4 stars

The Original – 4/13/13

3.5stars

The Original
503.546.2666
300 SW 6th Ave.
Portland, 97024

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First impressions were wrong…

The guide book my friend Nycole gave Carly and I a few months back has been a good asset to compliment the online reviews of many of the places we have visited and this time was no exception. Apparently “The Original” opened as a snooty, trendy, hipster place to get fruit loop flapjacks at 3am but has mellowed over time to the delicious “Dinerant” we visited on Saturday. The only thing remaining of it’s hipster roots is the horribly awkward name of “Diner-rant” (get it, it’s clever because it smashes the word Diner with Restaurant :-/ ) I was drawn to it by the Zagat review first, then by the street view they embedded in their site and finally by the promise of some interesting breakfast mashups like the afore mentioned fruit loop pancakes. I’m not much for pancakes as they tend to be served like frisbees and I can really make them myself (I go out to eat things I cannot or do not want to make myself). Upon arrival we had a moment to pause and take in the establishment which has two floors a full bar and booths as well as tables which I guess helps justify the menus hanging outside that show there to be only a couple hours between closing and opening. We were sat at one of the rather small blue square tables right against a wall of glass that makes up the east side of the restaurant and handed two brunch menus which of course contain references to Portlandia and putting birds on things. There was also a small blue “special brunch” menu with three options on it one of which was a basket of baked goods which for 6 dollars seemed an excellent way to start. We put in for that as well as the typical coffee & tea and began to peruse the menu for our “real meals”.

Right away I saw the word Polenta under the Griddle section and figured it could be something for us to share and experience together since awesome Polenta dishes seem to pop up only now and again like good episodes of Saturday Night Live. I was tempted to steer towards the typical chicken friend gravy covered this or that but I was advised by the girl at the reception counter to try something called a Chilaquiles (Chilly Killy) and I figured since we already had a basket of baked goods and the Polenta I would try something out of my norm that I wouldn’t feel compelled to finish. Carly, ever being the sucker for clever French toast went with the “Elvis Sighting” which ended up being two of the thicket crispiest cuts of brioche topped with fresh banana’s, fresh banana mousse, peanut butter sauce and two giant thick strips of bacon. I knew we had ordered about two items too many as we worked our way through the “goodie basket” that was on the blue brunch sheet. There were two different types of fruit muffins (rhubarb & apple), two different scones (cinnamon & cheese) a tiny bacon maple bar and something called an orange-ricotta gallette that looked like a fried ravioli but was crispy, light and citrusy. We split each of the items in two to samples while Carly cleverly only took one taste of each and then set it aside I hungrily cleaned up every crumb as though it was the only thing we ordered. I had also submitted an order for one of their home-made sodas they bragged about on the back of the menu since with a Foursquare or Facebook check-in they gave you a choice of Soda, Lemonade or Ice Tea. I left it up to Carly what the flavor should be and when the tall flute of Honeydew soda arrived I saw by the wince on her face as she tasted it a mistake had been made. Fortunately with the remaining cold I had in my sinus I was able to chug about 4 ounces down before getting the strangest fruit after taste. It wasn’t horrible but it definitely wasn’t enjoyable. The waitress kindly offered to bring us another flavor but seeing as how it was a freebie anyway and we had a full buffet headed our way shortly I figured we’d opt out.

About another 7 minutes elapsed before our trio of plates arrived each a colorful steaming delight to behold. I lunged for the polenta first seeing as how I was interested to see how the flavors of hunny, bacon & polenta meshed together. There were two 4 inch squares of polenta drizzled with hunny and 4 super crisply slices of bacon and the first second and thrid bites we super savory but then you begin to realize how filling polenta can be and how over powering even an ounce of hunny can be to your sugar sensors. I decided to back off and dig into my “breakfast nachos” as the girl up front had referred to them. The pork was nice and grilled and really complimented the fluffy scrambled eggs & avocado quite well. I didn’t eat too many of the tortilla chips as they really seemed more a part of the presentation than the meal and didn’t have much flavor to them. Carly seemed to be really loving her French toast and I was lucky enough to get a couple forkfulls as well. The banana mousse they had doloped on top of the two super thick cuts of brioche was so awesome it made me want to have just a cup of that as a meal. The combination of sweet and savory for the banana’s, bacon, peanut butter and brioche easily made the the best French toasts I’ve ever tried. From the start I had no intentions of cleaning my plate especially after ordering all the various flavors and we left The Original completely satisfied and filled but not over-stuffed.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Happy, attractive and full of great breakfast advice
3.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Cool bright wide open interior with booths, tables, a bar and a second story
4 stars

MEAL
Great blends of sweet & savory with brunch offerings, baked goods, home -made sodas & shakes
4 stars

Pine State Biscuits – 3/7/13

4stars

Pine State Biscuits
503.477.6605
2204 NE Alberta
Portland, 97211

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You bet your sweet buttermilk…

This place had been on our list for awhile and I assumed we’d make it to Pine State biscuits eventually but today became the day since 3 of the other places we tried to go were either not open yet, closed permanently or we just simple couldn’t locate the entrance. Originally we found ourselves right next to their Belmont location or rather their former location since it was now closed and under construction but luckily their mainstay on Alberta street was easy to find and had only modest traffic at 9am allowing us to order within a few minutes of arriving. One thing to note upon entering the front door is that you’ll have a very short time to determine what you want to order since you place it at the counter then wait for your name to be called a short time later. We frantically scanned the board and picked out 4 plates to order since everything is a side and they also charge for hunny. We took a seat on two of the stools on the far side of the restaurant just next to the restroom at the end of the cook station which makes up 1/4 of the interior of the rather small restaurant. For the next 20 minutes we watched a frantic ballet of biscuits, gravy and chicken fried this and that be slapped onto plates and shuffled off the counter at break neck speeds. Finally our name was called and our position gave us easy access to retrieve the scalding hot platters topped with steaming gravy soaked biscuits. Along with my “Moneyball” I also ordered a side of hashed browns which completely covered the 10″ plate as well as a side of hush puppies for both of us to share, Carly selected a more mundane biscuit egg sandwich. The first few bites of my gravy soaked biscuit were heavenly and the hash browns were among the crispest I’d ever experienced, the hush puppies while tasty were not the normal cornbread style I had expected and id be unlikely to order again. It became clear after a few minutes that while an empty plate for my meal was achievable the has browns were jut too plentiful to eliminate more than half of. Carly put in a valiant effort for her breakfast as well but bits still remained after the smoke cleared. We both agreed that we would make an effort to return for lunch at some point to the try the much balleyhooed “Reggie” a giant chicken fried steak on top of a biscuit with egg and cheese oozing all around it. We bussed our own table and cautiously shuffled our way through the elbow to elbow traffic that had filled the interior while we ate. Upon exiting we saw that the 6 or 8 people that were waiting when we arrived had quadrupled and wrapped around the corner into a side street. Apparently our early foray worked out in our favor as a 8 minute wait to order is all we had to deal with.

GALLERY

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SERVICE
Get your own order and bus your own table
2.5 stars

AMBIANCE / DESIGN
Simple efficient cafe style with a few benches
3 stars

MEAL
Nothin but biscuits…n gravy…. n eggs
4 stars

Stepping Stone Cafe – 1/20/13

3 stars

Stepping Stone Cafe
503.242.1916
2390 Northwest Quimby Street
Portland, OR 97210

Banana Nut French Toast

Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs

You eat here because we let you

I had heard of the Stepping Stone quite awhile ago I think on the Food Channel and it always stuck in the back of my mind as a place to visit. The time finally came to hunt it down and try out the chicken fried steak I had heard about. I ordered that & two poached eggs with potatoes and swapped the toast for a giant home made biscuit while Carly chose the banana nut French toast with a plate of sausages. It had taken almost 40 mins to get a seat even though there were only 4 other groups ahead of us, I hoped this spoke well of the restaurant as a whole. Our breakfast arrived pretty quickly taking only about 8 minutes and I was eager to plow into some delicious home made biscuits n gravy. While It was certainly a better meal than you’d get at a Denny’s it really didn’t have any of the “special quality” to stand it apart from the rest. Carly’s banana nut French toast was literally that, slices of banana nut bread coated in egg and pan fried with extra nuts. I thought it was quite tasty but she had hoped it would be crispy and maybe a bit fluffier (something quite difficult with a dense nut bread) the sausages were tasty but really nothing more than the norm. My biscuit was decent but a bit “yeasty” and doughy rather than light and fluffy.

GALLERY

We're next! Streetfront Scolded Surroundings Wrap Around Breakfast Bar Lunch Waiting for brunch

SERVICE
Our meal came quite quick but they were super busy so we barely made eye contact with our hosts.
2.5 stars

AMBIANCE/DESIGN
Snarky & in need of a good scrubbing but I think that’s part of its overall charm.
2.5 stars

MEAL
It’s hard to go wrong with fried chicken covered in gravy but I have had better.
3 stars

Tin Shed – 1/13/13

3.5 stars

Tin Shed
503.288.6966
1438 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR 97211

Everything Naughty Everything Nice Monte Cristo Pesto Burrito

Busy Alberta Artsy Eatery

An acquaintance that owns the local Java Mama coffee shop recommended the dog friendly Tin Shed last week when I stopped by for an early morning Americano after sharing with them that I had begun this breakfast blog project. Sunday morning we set off around 11 am expecting to get in between the Breakfast & Lunch rush but even so still managed to have a 35 minute wait upon arrival which was fine since my cousin Mark and his wife Ellen were meeting up with us. Upon first entering the Shed portion of “Tin Shed” you feel the warmth of the overhead heaters and see the large brick fireplace at the back end surrounded by wooden benches with metal chairs. We all grabbed a cup of coffee from the self service bar and hung around catching up until we were seated at one of the older red wooden benches next to the main “indoor” heated building. The menu contained many whimsical names some after famous people “The Tim Curry” some with canine inspiration “Stay”, “Fetch”, “Roll Over” but the bottom two options under breakfast are what captured our attention “Everything Naughty” & “Everything Nice” while Mark & Ellen opted for past favorites a Pesto Burrito with cheesy grits & the Monte Cristo with fruit. We spent the next 12 minutes or so talking about our upcoming summer plans and shivering now and then as the wooden double doors to the street swang open and closed every few minutes with new arrivals, fortunately they offer a phone booth filled with blankets to help offset the winter chills

The plates of food that arrived were completely covered by our selections and I could smell the sausage & mushroom gravy the instant it came though the door. It’s been quite awhile since I enjoyed such a massive amount of homemade biscuits smothered by rich gravy and my first few bites barely had time to be savored before the scolding voice of my father crept in. Carly got a sampling of the Sweet Potato french toast with a crisp potato cake & sausage patty served with fruit to take the edge off. I was quite satisfied with my scrambled eggs and perfectly crisp bacon which helped offset the smokey heaviness of the gravy(s) just a bit. But Carly wasn’t as enamored with the sweet potato french toast which while tasty wasn’t nearly as firm as she/we would have hoped for. Ellen shared a bite of her french toast Monte Cristo with me which while tasty was not nearly as satisfying as the gut buster I had in front of me and I didnt attempt to grab any of cousin Marks meal while he munched away. Post breakfast we sat a bit longer with our coffee & tea and chatted as a slowing stream of patrons drifted in and out. I’d like to return and try some of their lunch offerings but from the size of the menu ti seems that at least a dozen return trips would be in order just to decide what a favorite might be.

GALLERY
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SERVICE
You get your own coffee & tea so it’s your own fault if it’s never not full.
3 stars

AMBIANCE
If it had been a slight amount warmer it would have been more fun sitting outdoors under the heaters.
3.5 stars

MEAL
A fun sounding menu with plenty of the good and bad selections to satisfy everyones hunger.
3.5 stars

Verde Cocina – 1/6/13

3 stars

Verde Cocina
503.384.2327
6446 SW Capitol Hwy.,
Portland 97239

Quesadilla Chorizo Hash

Out of the way Mexican oasis

We had a late Saturday night out at a Jazz bar in Portland so “brunch” didn’t occur until we’ll after lunch time. We were wandering aimlessly checking with Siri every mile for new Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch places until Carly shouted out Sasquatch! but since we were headed towards the Pearl district we ended up doubling back to Hillsdale where the Sasquatch Bar & Grill was. As we were parking Carly spotted the sign in the window for Verde Cocina and since it had not shown up in the Siri results for one reason or another we decided it would be worth checkin out saving the “Squatch” for a future visit. Upon walking in we thought perhaps we had misread the sign since there was only a bar with a kitchen but quickly realized the entire upstairs was the dining room. Despite our later than average brunch time it was pretty busy and our waitress had to make the rounds before arriving at our table. I’d planned on the good ol’ steak & eggs but the waitress suggested the chorizo hash with beans while Carly chose the quesadilla off the back of the menu. Our meals arrived in an average time and appeared super colorful with a few out of the ordinary vegetables like sweet potatoes. Carly was thrilled with her selection while I felt a little underwhelmed by the lack of spicy ness in my hash and a poached egg or two would have added greatly but it was still enjoyable, perhaps not quite as much as the steak would have been but that will be saved for a return visit.

GALLERY
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SERVICE
I had to wait awhile to get my coffee refilled even though we were at the tail end of the brunch traffic but to be honest a whirlwind family with 2 horrible children had just left.
3 stars

AMBIANCE
Theres not much on the walls upstairs but it is a quaint little space that looks out into the woods.
3 stars

MEAL
I chose the daily special instead of the steak & eggs I saw on the menu which I think would have been more satisfying.
3 stars