While Portland got busy re-tweaking the bahn mi and rocking the kale salad, Oui Presse owner Shawna McKeown shrugged and followed her own dream to nail to perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
After months of trial and error, testing peanuts, and stalking grocery store grinders—she did it. Her sweet little cafe on SE Hawthorne continues to surprise, from the well-curated magazine rack to the small batch ice creams, but the PB&J Royale single-handedly makes Oui Presse a new Portland destination.
Here’s five reasons to say hello to one of the city’s great new sandwiches.
No 1. Homemade bread. Who makes homemade bread just for PB&J sandwiches? Each little masterpiece is bound in thick sheets of fluffy-rich bread with just the right ratio of squoosh, medium-soft crust and delicate richness. From a small open kitchen that also bakes up a few cakes, the billowing loaves are sliced to order.
No 2. Fresh ground peanut butter. McKeown says she tried every unsalted peanut in the city to find the best, then broke all the grinders to get the right texture. The winner: Fred Meyer. Each sandwich gets a thick swatch of nutty intensity -- smooth but roughed up with a little texture. McKeown sums it up best: “Once you grind your own, there’s no going back.”
No 3. Oregon strawberry jam and French sea salt. Next comes bright jam from the reliable Oregon Grower’s and Shipper’s. But the cool move is crowning it with sprinkles of crunchy fleur de sel, sending the whole sandwich into a fit of sweet and salty.
No 4. Unsweetened butter. A super thin arc of local butter crests the top of each order. Does peanut butter need real butter? Maybe not, but this last note of audacity helps send the sandwich into the realm of Must Eats.
No 5: The price. All this, made to order, $4.50. In a peanut nutshell: a steal.
1740 SE Hawthorne Blvd