Cinnamon Swirl Challah French Toast ($10)
The Country Cat
7937 SE Stark St;
Portland’s overlord of down-home but up-flavor Southern cooking, Adam Sappington, serves brunch every day at his inviting Montavilla eatery. From chicken-fried steak to smoked steelhead Benedict, the Country Cat covers the classic country breakfast with soulful aplomb, but transcendence can be found in the French toast. This is not French toast as you know it—this is French toast as you will remember it. At its core is an eggy, cinnamon-laced challah bread, baked weekly in the kitchen. Dipped in Maker’s Mark–spiked custard, the thick slices are served with a generous dollop of “clabber,” a traditional Southern staple that tastes like whipped cream on steroids. Add a rustic compote of bing cherries, currants, and raisins, employ your little pitcher of maple syrup spiced with cinnamon, anise, and clove, and you have the formula for the most enjoyable food coma in town.
What’s In Your Cup: The Maple Leaf: Pendleton Canadian whiskey, maple syrup, and lemon juice, served up in martini glass. For the full effect, order it warm.
The Ideal Meal: Go ahead and order a side of house-cured, maple syrup–dipped bacon. At this point, why not? —RR
Golden Egg Custard Buns ($4.50)
3016 SE 82nd Ave;
Ocean City’s dim sum feeding frenzy is in full force by midday: servers wheel dumpling-laden carts around the giant Chinese ballroom, dispensing rich, marinated meats and deep-fried seafood to families packed in around doily-topped lazy Susans. You can spin a fine feast from familiar adventures like barbecued pork buns, chicken feet, and lotus-wrapped envelopes of sticky rice, flecked with bits of Chinese sausage and egg. But Ocean City’s crown jewel is a special not found anywhere else: the golden egg custard buns. They come three to an order, oozing with a warm, egg-yolk center and capped by a shimmering veneer of sugar and egg, like the best meringue. It’s dim sum alchemy: thick, sweet custard, the yeasty chew of the bun, and a resounding crackle through the sugarcoated top.
What’s In Your Cup: A steaming pot of jasmine tea. It’s traditional, mandatory, and wonderfully fragrant.
The Ideal Meal: Just point and eat. Be adventurous. —Benjamin Tepler
Smoked Trout Pytt I Panna ($12)
2508 SE Clinton St;
Inside Peter Bro’s svelte, Scandinavian digs, pastel ramekins of ripe farm cheeses, fresh berries, and pickled herring emerge from the open kitchen with unpronounceable names and a surplus of umlauts. The kitchen repackages Swedish classics into quaint shapes and sizes, putting a requisite Portland egg on almost everything. Brave the weekend brunch line (or better yet, treat yourself on a weekday) to find one of Portland’s great surprises: the Pytt I Panna, a Swedish hash with smoked trout served in your very own orange ceramic pot over blue-checked paper, complete with a giant wedge of walnut bread and a cute crock of butter. How often does a hash look art-directed by Martha Stewart? The fun begins with the visual drama of big-yolked eggs baked into a square and decorated with chunks of auburn pickled beets. Hiding underneath are tiny cubes of well-buttered Yukon potatoes mingling happily with morsels of smoked rainbow trout. The dish fires on all cylinders: savory umami, sweet and sour, and rich satisfaction.
What’s In Your Cup: A list of Scandinavian aquavits makes for early-morning thrills, as does the Swedish Coffee (Krogstad aquavit, Kahlúa, and Stumptown).
The Ideal Meal: No trip to Broder is complete without a pile of aebleskivers (Danish pancakes)—round, fluffy globes dusted with a heavy hand of powdered sugar. On the side: tiny bowls of house-made lemon curd and lingonberry jam. Dip away.
The fun begins with the visual drama of big-yolked eggs baked into a square and decorated with chunks of auburn pickled beets.
The Dutch Baby ($10.75)
The Original Pancake House
8601 SW 24th Ave;
Just off the traffic scrum of SW Barbur Boulevard sits a cheerful alternate universe you’d be tempted to call “Old Portland.” The panels are wood, the decorative ceramics collectible, and the skirt-and-tennis-shoe-wearing waitresses are chipper in a bygone, 1950s way. And then this venerable anchor of a national chain, open since 1953, produces the unforgettable objet d’art: the Dutch Baby, a golden, imperial crown of eggy dough and powdered sugar and—well, that’s it. The deep trough in the baby’s center allows you to create your own Glacial Lake Missoula of savory creamed butter and fresh lemon juice, which your fork then releases in a staggering, plate-swamping flood. In between bites, you marvel.
What’s In Your Cup: Some of the city’s worst coffee—like Grandma used to make, but not in a good way—and some of its best orange juice.
The Ideal Meal: If you go Dutch, you really won’t want anything else. But opinions seem divided between Dutch Baby loyalists and partisans of the other house special, the titanic apple pancake. And for your grain-challenged chums, the Pancake House offers a whole rack of gluten-free options.
Burmese Red Pork Stew ($10)
Tasty n Sons
3808 N Williams Ave;
History is riddled with happy accidents that turned out to be revelatory (penicillin and Coca-Cola, to name a couple). So it should come as no surprise that among Tasty n Sons’ myriad standout dishes, the Burmese red pork stew developed somewhat serendipitously out of chef John Gorham’s regular Sunday dinners. He made the smoky, sweet dish from a Burmese friend’s family recipe, then brought the leftovers to Toro Bravo Monday morning. A little improvisation with a pickled egg later, and a flawless breakfast dish was born. Of course, like many good things, the stew requires a lengthy incubation. The stars—lightly sweet, tender chunks of pork shoulder and belly—spend an entire day marinating in a soy, sugar, and ginger mix before earning a crisp char followed by two hours in a dark, caramel oven braise. The searing accounts for part of the stew’s slow-developing heat: Gorham uses his own chile sauce made with sesame oil and Calabrian chiles. Topped with two eggs—one sunny-side up and one that has pickled for a full day in a bath of Hood River honey, soy, and garlic—spring onions, and a few more of those Calabrian chiles, Gorham’s stew qualifies as much as dinner as it does breakfast. But then again, when it comes to revelations, rules don’t exactly apply.
What’s In Your Cup: Tasty’s crisp grapefruit mimosa—made with Althea Prosecco, not Champagne—promises a refreshing, blessedly uncloying way to relieve the heat.
The Ideal Meal: Cap your savory stew with a sweet note: two-bite chocolate potato doughnuts sitting in a rich puddle of crème anglaise. —KC
The stew’s stars—lightly sweet, tender chunks of pork shoulder and belly—spend an entire day marinating in a soy, sugar, and ginger mix.