Look for an excellent place for brunch in Portland? (Check out the brunch menu here) Across the street from Portland’s iconic Multnomah Whiskey Library, Tasty n Alder is a solid choice for brunch, lunch or dinner. It is a modern steakhouse that reflects the global immigrant community of Portland and the travels of Executive Chef and co-owner John Gorham. Will you wait to get in? Sure, but it is worth it.
After two consecutive all-nighters at work, I decided to treat myself to a proper brunch. Take a peek at the menu. The menu contains a myriad of influences from Israel, Korea, Vietnam, Spain - you get the picture.
I took a seat at the bar in front of their open kitchen. Some like to people watch. Personally, I enjoy observing the back-of-house. If you are the dishwasher, you have it the worse because you are the foundation for everyone above you. You are continually scrubbing, lugging trays and trying to replace cookware before the chefs need it. If you are a line chef, you are expected to produce food quickly and consistently under the toughest of conditions. The back of the house is invisible to the customer yet essential to the brand of a restaurant. It is hard work that most customers don’t see or care to see. For me, watching the back-of-house is a lesson in humility, teamwork, and coordination under stress.
Back to the food, I decided to start with their radicchio, bacon lardon, Manchego cheese, and six-minute egg salad. My first bite was met with surprise. The radicchio was sweet and crunchy, but without the bitterness you usually find! The egg was executed perfectly. The combination with Manchego and bacon lardons was an excellent idea. However, the salad was overdressed. It was salt upon salt. Mistakes like this happen in a busy restaurant. Orders come fast down the line. It happens. You can’t fault a guy for forgetting how much dressing was already in the bowl.
While ordering, the server was incredibly enthusiastic about the Duck...Duck…Steak! I was sold when I saw the cut of meat was Teres Major. It’s not a cut of beef you often see outside of an NY steakhouse. It’s inexpensive cut of meat that only a butcher would know to extract from the shoulder of the steer. If you are going to cook a Teres Major cut at home, you should know it is a lean cut of beef, so you do not want to cook it well done. Personally, I would cut it into medallions like a filet mignon before throwing it on a grill. Prepared as a single piece, Teres Major is too easy of a cut to screw up if you are not paying attention. Least to say the Teres Major was cooked perfectly: juicy, beefy and perfectly seasoned.
At this point, you may be wondering where is the duck portion of the dish. The beef is served with a sunny-side-up duck egg and fries cooked in duck fat. Let’s be honest, the runny yolk makes a luxurious sauce for the meat. The fries were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fragrant on the inside. Onion sour cream sauce for the chips? Yes, please!
To finish off the meal, I ordered the Maple Cumin Glazed Yams. A side dish for dessert? Why not? The yams were perfectly roasted. Consider this: crispy, earthy skins, silky smooth yams scented with maple and cumin. Perfectly balanced. This could replace the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie this year!
One thing before I wrap, on behalf of FunFriendsFoodTravel, I’d like to give a shout out to Jasmin Ortiz and JC Gomez. The soon-to-be nuptials joined me at the bar during the middle of the shoot. Clearly, foodies, I peppered them with questions while stuffing their faces with the dishes I ordered. When I was confident they were about to explode, I asked them about their favorite taco trucks in LA and the standards they used to judge. Jasmine’s rule is simple: “If it tastes like something my immigrant grandmother would make in the US, it’s good.” So Jasmin and JC, congratulation on your engagement and don’t be surprised if someone at FunFriendsFoodTravel shows up at your doorstep to visit your favorite haunts!
So to wrap, Tasty n Alder: Food is excellent. Service is great. The ambiance is great. Cocktails are great. Tasty n Alder is a solid choice for a lazy and delicious brunch.
Kent is a management consultant who has spent years traveling for work. His refuge is looking for the perfect meal so that he can reproduce it at home with his wife and friends.