Saturday, August 6, 2011
Now, a "dinerant," in print, looks to me as though it should be defined as an angry tirade about a disappointing or upsetting meal. However, Portland's "The Original" seems to define it as a hybrid between "Diner" and "Restaurant." Since I think we can all agree that all diners are restaurants, this may seem an odd hybrid. Nonetheless, it is oddness that drew me to The Original in the first place.
I decided to consult Breakfast In Bridgetown to find a singular breakfast joint in the downtown Portland area. One of the lovely things about the book is that it gives you the hours and days the various establishments serve breakfast, and since I was leaving on a weekday, it definitely limited my options. But I finally stumbled across the entry for The Original. Apparently when it first opened, its overly (and seemingly overtly) bizarre menu proved quite divisive. Lobster corn dogs, and other such low brow/high brow mashups explain the "dinerant" moniker. It has since seemingly slowed its roll a bit, and the book settled upon the opinion that despite the fact many Portlanders might still hold it in contempt, it is pretty much without reason. Also, it was really close to where I got off of the bus (I tried to minimize my travel since I was weighed down with all sorts of travel souvenirs), and, y'know, open.
They definitely had a policy of hiring insanely attractive girls with awesome tattoos. I definitely felt my lack of cool carrying a bunch of luggage, but swallowed my pride and took a seat next to the window. The place was huge, with a very definite hypermod, 50's World's Fair kind of retrofuture feel. There were tons of fun low brow paintings everywhere, including one wall covered with celebrity portraits paired with quotes by a local homeless artist. I think the reason that Bridgetowners might dislike it is that it does seem perhaps a little more self-aware than most places there; it is very "Portland," but it does feel like it's trying for it. The menu was not nearly as outlandish as the book led me to believe (although I got the impression the weekend brunch menu is far more adventurous).
I went with the most unique-sounding item on the menu, the Creme Brulee French Toast, and paired it with some delicious Stumptown Coffee (aside from being a big Stumptown fan, part of my plan was to keep myself insanely caffeinated so that the crash would coincide with lights out on the train. I was semi-successful).
You can see to the right the full compliment of syrups that come with all the griddle orders; Maple Syrup, a Seasonal Syrup (in this case Marionberry), and Honey Butter. A different syrup for each slice! The bacon was good, and the French Toast was incredible. True to its name, it had the crunchy caramelocity of creme brulee, but was soft and sweet in the middle. It went perfectly well with the maple syrup, and the marionberry was excellent! Just the slightest hint of tartness paired well with the beautiful texture of the toast. The honey butter would have been great on a less sweet dish, but was a little overwhelming with the already-sweet toast. It was delightfully filling, and I got a strong buzz from the coffee that kept me humming all the way to the train station!
As per Morning Constitution tradition, I visited the restroom before I left (the importance to me of restroom's reflection of a restaurant will be detailed soon, I promise). I was a little disappointed at first, that such a design-heavy restaurant -- or, excuse me, dinerant -- would have such a boring restroom, although the deep blue was a nice color. Then I realized that instead of being a simple box, the walls actually curved into the ceiling so that the negative space of the room actually resembled something akin to the Brave Little Toaster. It was a simple, but elegant touch that helped seal the deal, and let me leave fulfilled in my Bridgetown Breakfast experiences. The Original might be trying, but it also succeeded.
Service: 3/2 (bonus point for everyone being a supermodel)
Food: 7/9 pts
Bathroom: 3/5 pts.