The Breakfast Serial

Eggs in Purgatory. photo/Dan Zarin

Woodford Food & Beverage
660 Forest Ave., Portland

In a small city, great neighborhood restaurants can be hard to find outside the downtown area. That’s been true for those of us who live off the peninsula here in Portland. There’s no shortage of pizza places and sandwich shops, tiny ethnic enclaves and takeout joints, but casual, friendly eateries serving tasty comfort food are more elusive than you might think. Woodford Food & Beverage is exactly that kind of restaurant.

When it opened in early 2016, Woodford F&B breathed new life into the perpetually under-construction clusterfuck of an intersection known as Woodfords Corner. Locals took notice right away, filling the booths and barstools on most nights for classic, upscale American dishes and excellent cocktails. F&B started serving brunch soon after, and my family has been there at least a half dozen times since we moved into the nearby Oakdale neighborhood last year. I haven’t written about this brunch until now — not because I didn’t love it, but because I didn’t want to share. I now realize that was unfair to you, dear reader. I’ve been selfish. I feel terrible, believe me.

My wife and I usually opt for the brunch prix fixe menu: a brunch cocktail, entrée, and bottomless cup of good, strong coffee for $21. It’s not cheap, but it’s a fair price for the quality and quantity they’re serving. We typically start with Bloody Marys. Spicy, moderately strong, and well-appointed with garnishes like house-pickled green beans, F&B serves as good a Bloody as you’ll find anywhere in town.

The list of entrées isn’t long, but there’s something for everyone, from sweet Dulche de Leche Bread Pudding French Toast to rich, savory Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. Beyond the prix fixe options, the menu includes favorites like Croque Monsieur, Steak Tartare, and a brisket-burger and fries combo that ranks as one of Portland’s best.

On our most recent visit I chose the Breakfast Sandwich: a pork sausage patty, scrambled eggs, cheese, and spicy sauce on a toasted brioche bun. Served with a side order of crisp, salty breakfast potatoes, it was an intensely flavorful and filling meal. My wife chose the weekly special: a toasted everything bagel from nearby Rose Foods, with scallion cream cheese on one half and a deliciously old-school, pickle-studded salmon salad on the other.

My daughter’s Eggs Florentine was also outstanding. The eggs were served on herbed focaccia bread rather than the traditional English muffin, with garlicky spinach, creamy bechamel sauce, and salty fontina and parmesan cheeses. A friend joining us at the table ordered the Eggs in Purgatory, an Italianized version of the North African dish known as shakshuka, featuring two perfectly poached eggs and white corn polenta in a spicy tomato sauce.

The neighborly vibe and friendly atmosphere at Woodford F&B is a big part of its appeal. (Full disclosure: we have a good friend who works there.) Every diner gets a welcoming smile and attentive service from the moment they walk in the door. If the goal of husband-and-wife owners Birch Shambaugh and Fayth Preyer is to make Woodford F&B the neighborhood’s favorite restaurant, they’re well on their way to achieving that. It’s definitely become our favorite.

— Dan Zarin

Woodford Food & Beverage serves brunch Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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