The Breakfast Serial

The Mac Dutch, with hash browns. photo/Naomi Zarin
The Mac Dutch, with hash browns. photos/Naomi Zarin

28 Preble St., Portland

It’s safe to say that I have more conversations about breakfast sandwiches than most people do. Lately, an increasing number of those conversations have gone like this:

Me: I just had a great breakfast sandwich at [such and such a place].

Friend: Yeah, those are pretty good. But have you been to Dutch’s yet? Theirs are the best.

Inspired by those rave reviews, I finally made it over to Preble Street to check out this casual breakfast-and-lunch joint on a recent Saturday. While I can’t say the breakfast sandwiches at Dutch’s are, hands-down, the best in Portland, they were pretty damn good. And the sandwiches weren’t the best thing on the menu. More about that shortly…

My wife, our 12-year-old daughter and I sidled up to the counter to place our order, which turned out to be no easy task. Owners Lucy and Ian Dutch have assembled an impressive menu of sandwiches, plates and sides for breakfast and lunch, plus daily specials and a tempting array of pastries.

I settled on the Mac Dutch ($5.50), which is an egg, meat and cheese sandwiched between maple griddle cakes. For the meat, I chose the house-made maple sausage, which tipped the sandwich a bit too far to the sweet side for my taste, though a healthy splash of Dutch’s flavorful house hot sauce (also available for purchase by the bottle) balanced it out quite well. For a $4 upcharge, I made it a combo meal with a small cup of fresh, strong Coffee By Design coffee and a side of crispy hash browns.

OK, let’s pause for a moment and talk about those hash browns. Pillowy soft on the inside, perfectly crisped and seasoned on the outside, these cube-shaped hash browns were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever eaten. Seriously, I would gladly eat them every single day for the rest of my life.

My daughter’s breakfast burrito ($8) was a little less successful. A midsize flour tortilla was stuffed with scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, chimmichurri sauce, cheddar cheese, sour cream and hash browns. The taste was excellent, but the magical hash browns quickly turned soggy, which left nothing to lend texture to the soft, mushy burrito.

Everything Avocado Toast.
Everything Avocado Toast.

The Everything Avocado Toast ($6) that my wife chose was much better. Thick-cut toast was topped with mashed avocado, “everything seasoning” (the mix of seeds and salt you typically find on an “everything” bagel), chili oil and scallions. For $1 more, she added a perfectly poached egg; another $4 made it a combo. This unique meal struck a nice balance between its bold flavors, varied textures and satisfying richness — a great choice for anyone, but especially those steering away from dairy.

The three of us split a brioche cinnamon bun ($3.50) for dessert. It was wonderfully fluffy, with a slightly tart cream-cheese icing that kept the pastry from being cloyingly sweet. We all agreed it was a great way to cap off a delicious meal.

As if I needed further inducement to return, the Dutches are applying for a liquor license, so there’ll likely be brunch cocktails in the coming months. And the next time someone wants to talk about breakfast sandwiches, I’ll have something new to add to the conversation: “Yeah, those are pretty good. But have you tried the potatoes?”

— Dan Zarin

Dutch’s serves breakfast Tuesday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.