Brunch at Portland City Grill   Leave a comment

Portland City Grill is located on the 30th floor of the US Bank Tower- the big pink building you can see downtown, towering over all the other buildings. Large windows give diners fortunate enough to sit close enough to the windows impressive sky high views over the city, the Willamette its bridges, the sprinkling of different houses on hills, and on a clear day gorgeous views of Mt St Helens and/or Mt Hood. It gives a unique perspective of how beautifully designed and well-situated Portland is. Looking down at the buildings, you see relatively wide clean streets that seem well-organized but not too cluttered or crowded, there are building of many floors but nothing that is exactly a wall of skyscraper steel and glass. The different type of bridges spanning over the river show a aesthetically pleasing mix of different architectural styles while ships and river ports show that a waterfront that still is business front. Just beyond though you can see busyness of the city turn into more and more trees and homes and then hills of what seem to be just green trees and then a mountain watching over it all. We're not talking looking even that far, like the vastness of LA or Chicago or New York- it looks seemingly like just an hour drive away.

Indeed, the view and perspective over Portland is probably why you would come to Portland City Grill. The inside of the restaurant feels surprisingly dark and closed in despite the huge windows surrounding the outer walls- wood beams hanging from the ceiling lower the space, and the arrangement of tables and chairs really let those sitting right by the window (literally right against the window) soak up the view, but everyone else could have been at any other restaurant in the city. The booths right in the back were raised slightly, but were so far back and in the dark that being in a booth was the only plus. All the other tables are normal table and chair and bench arrangements on a flat floor. Why they don't have a gradually elevated floor and more open space to see the windows to best please their customers is a huge missed opportunity for them.

The service at brunch was pleasant and smooth, with lots of mimosas and coffee refills, making for a good dining experience. They offer unlimited tea and coffee and mimosa refills, but when I saw the bloody mary bar they had set up, that's what I went for. You get a choice of Absolut – the original, Citron, or Pepper flavor, which is served in its own little mini-carafe so you can control the amount of vodka you'd like to start with. The fixins bar offers you multiple options to fill your glass with- I stuffed my glass with shrimp and pepperoni.

The kitchen also offers up a free mini-tasting to start with- in this case a couple slices of cantelope, a cube of honeydew, yogurt with few berries, and a mini bear claw. The bear claw was pretty hard (couldn't even cut my knife through it), the fruit not very juicy, but I could just eat the yogurt all breakfast.

Onto the main course. My stuffed french toast of brioche filled with mascarpone and topped with a fresh berry compote and a little whipped cream was a soft sweet mouthful mixed with tartness of the berry, though I was surprised that it came just as plated- bread and cheese and berry, and no side. The same with the banana bourbon pancakes of buttermilk pancakes, topped with bourbon glazed bananas, candied pecans, and vanilla whipped cream.

Both these dishes are rich (the pancakes especially so) and really needed a good side of scrambled egg or hash browns to help it out. The side of potatoes we ended up ordering to share tried to correct this, but we had to order this separately and ask for it (it wasn't even listed as a side on the menu – on proteins like eggs, sausage, bacon, ham or lox were) instead of a kitchen that put together that balance for you given the $15 cost of the dish- like my other favorite brunch spots, Mother's and Screen Door would have plated. Unlike these options, Portland City Grill does take reservations so as not to leave you standing in a line outside waiting (I hate starting a morning like that) and am more refined atmosphere, but why didn't that care extend to putting together their dishes? As it was, the side of potatoes we did get was pretty small- look at the relative size for $3. The potatoes were so so- crispy on the outside, though a lil undercooked on the inside, and needed seasoning

The Crab Cake Benedict, with dungeness crab cakes, English muffin, asparagus, and pimento hollandaise, at least came with a good amount of crab, and the side of potatoes- though for a $20 some dollar dish, would you expect nothing less? I didn't try this dish, but I would like to go back to give it a try. I scanned the dinner menu and there is no way I think the price is justified for that food- even with the view. But perhaps happy hour or another brunch, which are more reasonably priced (the duck and chicken are $20 something at dinner but are done Asian style, and other entrees like steaks and seafood take you back $30-80), can hold up for the slight premium in cost for the view and the fine dining special occasion-like atmosphere and that difference in what you get back in food in quantity and quality and even presentation compared to many other great restaurants in Portland. 



Posted February 15, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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