Tastys brunchy egg, potato dishes go over easy
- Anne Marie DiStefano
- Portland Tribune - Features
Bread and Brew
I hate the name, but I love Tasty n Sons, the new brunch spot from Toro Bravo's chef and owner, John Gorham.
I'm not alone - pretty much everyone loves Tasty • Sons. Never before have I seen a brunch spot that was full at 2 on a Monday afternoon.
The menu takes the building blocks of brunch - potatoes, eggs and pork - and runs with them. Sometimes the Spanish style of the parent restaurant comes through, and there are also more far-flung influences: Burmese red pork stew, North African sausage, Moroccan chicken hash.
Many dishes are served in large, sizzling skillets, with serving spoons so they can be shared. It can be kind of awkward if you're eating alone, especially if you're seated at the large communal table in the sunny front of the dining room. I felt a little wrong for not offering some of my breakfast to the other diners, especially because my skillet of patatas bravas with over-easy eggs was way more than I could eat.
These potatoes, cooked in a style that is standard at tapas restaurants, hit that fine balance of crisp edges and soft insides that so many home-fries fail to strike. They're evenly coated with a beautiful red layer of sweet, spicy garlic, paprika, onion and tomato puree. On top were two flavorful eggs, their yolks doubling as a rich gravy for the potatoes, along with a dollop of pungent aioli.
Suddenly, brunch tapas makes complete sense, and most of the food here is true brunch food - not exactly breakfast, and not exactly lunch - although there is granola on the menu, and a burger. There are sweets, too.
You can start with a chocolate potato doughnut (really, more of a doughnut hole) that is intense and crisp and sits in a pool of sweet cream sauce.
Or you can jump-start your day with a potent Coffee Nudge, topped with fresh whipped cream, that will nudge you back toward Saturday night. The coffee comes from Ristretto Roasters, which has a cafe in the same building.
Other breakfast cocktails include a bevy of bloody marys, and the Flamingo, a gorgeous and exotic drink that is tall and pink. It's made with vodka, grapefruit, Campari and prosecco, and it's light, slightly bitter and fruity, and works well with a savory dish.
Dreamy French toast
I highly recommend the tasso hash, if it's on the menu for the week. It's a mix of seasonal vegetables, including asparagus, potatoes and cauliflower, sautéed with slices of fantastic smoked pork that lends its flavor to the vegetables. It's all draped in an over-easy egg. And under the egg is horseradish cream that erupts intermittently, cutting through the richness and keeping every bite different and interesting.
The French toast is dreamy. Very soft bread is imbued with maple and topped with a strawberry rhubarb sauce and freshly whipped cream.
The frittata is excellent, too. It's moist for a frittata and huge. It's ingredients change over time, but this time of year you can count on asparagus being one of them. And there's something about eggs and asparagus together - they really bring out the best in each other.
There's a confidence and generosity in the cooking at Tasty • Sons that has a cumulative effect. Each good dish creates a sense of anticipation, a desire to return soon, not for the same experience over again, but to try something different.
One thing I don't love is the space. I reviewed the defunct Japanese restaurant Anju in the same location just five months ago, and some of its problems remain. You still have to walk half a block to the bathrooms, which are down an echoing back hallway. The concrete hull of the space has been warmed up a bit, but it's still long and narrow, with windows only at one end and lots of sub-prime seating.
You're going to have to take what you can get for seating, because this place is becoming more popular, and it's going to be very, very crowded from here on out.
Tasty • Sons, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, 3808 N. Williams Suite C, 503-621-1400, www.tastynsons.com