Saturday, January 14, 2012

O Broder, Where Art Thou?

In retrospect, even without snow piled up to the rafters, it was the perfect day to go to a Swedish restaurant. It was (for Portland) a bitterly cold Saturday morning, with temperatures hovering around thirty degrees and the wind trying to work its fingers through every crack and crevice in the layers of clothing between it and my skin.

I was meeting a friend for my first ever breakfast at the much-raved-about Broder, which beat Grüner owner Chris Israel to the "alpine cuisine" table by at least a couple of years. And I've never seen a line wrapping around the block at Israel's place waiting for his food, good as it is. Maybe he should try making the little popovers known as aebleskivers with house-made lemon curd and lingonberry jam that have been drawing raves from rabid fans since Broder opened its doors.

In any case, when I arrived my friend had already taken shelter in the Savoy Tavern next door, which wasn't even open. Did she break in to get out of the whipping wind? No! In a stroke of brilliance, the owner of both spots, Peter Bro, has otherwise-frostbitten patrons to wait in the warm comfort of the bar with complimentary serve-yourself coffee available.

After a not-too-long wait, we were ushered into Broder. Long and narrow, it has small two-tops crowded along a wooden banquette on one wall and an open galley kitchen fronted by a long counter against the other wall. Two more tables are jammed against the front windows (though they're the best seats in the house), so don't go expecting to stretch out or have an intimate conversation…you'll end up getting advice from those you're elbowing.

They were out of their "Pytt i Panna" or Swedish hash, so I opted for the lefse (above left), a Swedish potato crepe which on this day came folded around smoked ham and set on a drizzle of herbed sour cream. Someone here really likes precise geometrical shapes, because both the crepe and the two eggs on top were perfectly square…cute, of course, but really, squares? The pancake played nicely with the ham and softly-fried eggs, and there was just enough sauce to moisten the crepe.

My friend ordered the Swedish meatballs (top photo), and all I could think of were the tiny, dried-out little nuggets that Ikea sells by the car-load to spaced-out shoppers. Knowing her, I should have known better. What arrived was a little pyramid of perfectly-seasoned meatballs (and yes, I begged one off of her) delicately blanketed with a lovely sherry cream sauce. She'd ordered it with the walnut toast, lingonberry jam and a salad, but I've heard you can sub the walnut toast for a slice of toasted brioche bread, which many recommend.

Not being an avid breakfast person, even I'd go back for another shot at those aebleskivers, just not on a weekend when there's a wait for the cheek-by-jowl seating…though maybe it's the Swedes' way of staying warm in the winter.

Details: Broder, 2508 SE Clinton St. 503-453-0166.

Top photo by Kim Ferris.


Missy ~ said...

I had no clue there was a swedish rest. in town. GREAT review, and even better photos! Very honest, I appreciate it! I think I may hop over for breakfast tomorrow morning, as WELL as retweet this post! Thanks!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Glad I'm not the only one who hasn't been here yet. Let me know what you think…

Drew said...

I live in Virginia and have traveled to PDX on a somewhat regular basis since July 2006, a minimum of once, but usually two trips there each year. I have never made the journey there and back without at least one visit to Broder. One of the most delicious places in your fair city to breakfast, and by far the cutest. Not to mention Joe's impeccable service. That guy is a joy to encounter and a wonderfully professional server. Peter Bro is a great guy, as well, and I often have dinner and drinks at Savoy while in Portland (not to mention that Savoy has the hottest waiters and barkeeps in town!).

Kathleen Bauer said...

It's wonderful to have a place that feels like home when you're far from yours. Glad you've found your spot!

george rede said...

Glad you discovered this little jewel. Next up for me: Savoy!

Kathleen Bauer said...

So many restaurants, so little time…thanks for reading, George!