Friday, February 25, 2011

Veritable Quandary Issues Grubbus Wake Up Call

It took some seriously amazing Eggs Benedict to wake Grubbus from a months-long slumber.

Veritable Quandary is a gorgeous little restaurant in an out of the way corner in downtown Portland. It's a strange sight, a cozy little restaurant there by the river and the highway, surrounded by parking garages and nondescript office buildings. Tracy and I walked the 10 blocks or so from our hotel, and the closer we got, the more certain I was that we'd taken a wrong turn.

Then - around that last turn - it appeared, a little black and gold house emblazoned with its clever mouthful of a name.

When we showed up for brunch on Saturday morning it was still 30 minutes before their unambitious 10AM opening time. But not long after we sat down at a little table out front to wait, a man - newspaper in hand - walked right in. We followed him, and were greeted by the warm sounds of a restaurant getting ready for the day. Rather than shoo us out, they offered us a cup of coffee (Stumptown, natch) and a seat at the bar. It was brilliant - Tracy and I, a gorgeous interior space filled with deep leather booths and a long polished wood bar, the flaming lips, a huge bay window out on the street.

A few minutes later, we were whisked off to a table in a sunroom off the main dining room, coffee refilled, and handed a short brunch menu. People were filtering in, and the Flaming Lips was replaced by a more "we're open now" Miles Davis. I ordered Eggs Benedict, Tracy got the french toast.

The first thing that hits you with these eggs is the color. Before VQ, the brightest yolks I'd seen were Jerimiah Cunningham's. These made those look pale and listless by comparison. Amazing, gorgeous, yellow-orange yolks. Then, you notice the tall cylinders of homemade english muffin. The smoked pork tenderloin. The frothy hollandaise. And the perfectly geometric, perfectly browned block of hashbrowns. It's a remarkable thing, this Benedict. Second best I've ever had, in fact. (East End Eatery in Gainesville, FL still holds the title for the best).

If I could have tweaked, it'd be little things - homemade english muffins are hard to do well, and are a bit heavy at this height. And while the eggs were truly stunning, the hollandaise could have been just a bit lighter. But I quibble. This was the best breakfast I've had in the last 6 months, easy. And Tracy's French toast was no less impressive - the bacon crispy and substantial, the bread etherial.

VQ was our last stop in Portland, a pause on our way out to the airport to catch the flight home. I can't think of a better way to remember a city that I fall in love with a little more every time I go.

Veritable Quandary on Urbanspoon

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