Tasty…but just a taste
My preference for eating out on the weekends has to be breakfast. There’s something luxurious about being out, having the kinds of foods you don’t always take the time to prepare yourself, lingering over coffee and conversation. Tasty and Sons has been on my list since the first day I decided to try writing a food blog. I was persuaded that day instead to try another place, however I’ve been wanting to visit this one for a couple of reasons. One, it’s in my former stomping grounds in North Portland, and two I’m always on the lookout for new breakfast spots.
I’ve grown accustomed to the wait time for many Portland restaurants, the long lines that often extend outside the doors of any popular establishment in the morning – but this time we were fooled – there was no line outside the door. It wasn’t until we got inside that we were able to realize and appreciate the scope of the situation. There were people milling about the foyer, sipping coffee, bloody marys, reading, jockeying around to give each other space to get by. It was a study in social interaction for sure, strangers crowded together in elevator-like coziness – only in this case juggling cups of coffee, coats, purses, smart phones. Some sat on the stairs, others lined the walls – most just stood in the middle of the area, gazing longingly at the lucky ones already seated inside, wistfully tracking the servers as they carried trays of food about the establishment… I can only imagine what the uninitiated must think. However, having that indoor area to wait, despite the dearth of seating, made all the difference. Despite the crowding, we were warm and had coffee, and the wait was just about 30 minutes, not terrible bad for a weekend morning.
The servers were very gracious, always polite as they moved through the area doing their work. Free coffee was available while we waited, one brought Luke chocolate milk. Once we were seated, we were immediately taken care of despite how tremendously busy they were – every table in the building was in use of course. There were four of us, so we needed a table, but there is seating along the kitchen grill area, and had we not had a minor along, there’s also what appears to be a communal long table in the bar area. I liked the cozy feel of the interior, the way they have it broken up seems to incorporate the natural flow, the decor is interesting without being too much, not trying too hard.
We began to place our order and learned that everything was to be served “family style” which was a little odd I thought, for a breakfast restaurant, because I associate that with foods such as Chinese that are one large simple dish and meant to be shared. When you’re ordering a plate combo with one biscuit, a few eggs and some bacon, I wasn’t certain how this would translate into the kind of dish you would share. This also meant, our server informed us, that items would be brought out as they were finished, again a little different, but fine, particularly as we were ready to eat after the wait. And after all it makes sense to have food brought to you while it’s hot and fresh.
What we were unaware of was that the size of the particular dishes we ordered was so small as to preclude that sort of “family style” sharing in most cases. The menu is divided up into two sizes – small plates and big plates. The small plates, just be aware, are extremely small.
We ordered the Chocolate Potato doughnut with creme anglaise ($1.50) a Griddled Bacon Wrapped Date with maple syrup & almond ($2) Two of the Bambino Plates (scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuit and honey butter $6) off the smaller plates menu. Everything was yummy – the bacon cooked properly – just on the edge of crispy without being dry, the eggs were done well. The bambino plate actually was what I would have expected from a small plate. The $1.50, however, for what essentially is a doughnut hole? Really? I did cut it up in order to allow the others at the table to taste it if they cared to, however I felt a little ridiculous doing so. I could have popped that thing in my mouth and downed it with a swallow of coffee – but I exercised restraint.
The bacon fig item I understand, that’s something a little unique, I guess it’s just that to serve that sort of plate and then suggest it’s to be shared family style without mentioning that we might need to order more than one with four people at the table seemed a little negligent. On the other hand, we were aware – or should have been, that it was just one date. Daniela ordered this one, and we didn’t make her share… she said it was very good.
Off the larger plates menu we ordered the french toast ($5) and the Cast Iron Frittata (with butternut squash, swiss chard, caramelized onions & feta.) The Frittata was about what I expected in terms of size, and very impressive as it arrived still in the Cast Iron Pan. Marcella (Daniela’s Aunt had joined us for breakfast that morning) ate every bit and said it was quite good. I’ve never had squash but it looked and smelled delicious.
The french toast was also very good, but again, our server mentioned to me when I ordered that the smaller plate would be two pieces – what she meant was one slice of bread cut into two pieces – had I known that I would have ordered the larger. Although $10 for what really is two pieces of french toast seems a bit steep.
We also ordered the special, which was biscuits and gravy, a standing favorite of Luke’s which I nearly always order for him despite the photographic challenge off-white gravy represents … we are after all there to eat, not just to order dishes that make pretty pictures. He said this was good, although he still hasn’t found anything to top the fare at Pine State Biscuits which I find very amusing – my child is turning into a biscuits and gravy connoisseur! This plate was appropriate sized for a child and served hot, (although the french toast was not) but I think an adult might have been disappointed at the size of the biscuits. A puzzle, because the biscuit that came with the bambino plate was normal-sized.
The service was great, the coffee was very good and the food was good and we ended up having enough to eat without feeling overstuffed and the total cost was still only about $40 which isn’t bad at all for four people. We just were a bit taken off guard by the small portions. They do have other dishes that interested me and that seem to promise a more conventional portion – the burger for instance, Carolina Cheesesteak, and a stew served with rice and eggs. I would definitely go back again, the food was good, but I think for breakfast food, with the items we ordered, it was average. I’d like to return to try their other offerings and see how they compare. I would also know better next time to order the bigger plates, something I tend to not do because they normally are too much food. This is more of a tapas-sized menu, which may be ideal, if you know that going in.