My go-to cuisine for brunch is always Mediterranean, whether it be Spanish, Greek or Israeli. The American waffle/pancake breakfast is essentially dessert for breakfast. It’s sugar upon sugar. I need something savory and complex. Dare I say it?
I need vegetables, yogurt, and meat. Gadzooks! I sound like a health nut, don’t I? When you see these photos from Shalom Y’all, I’ll change your mind about starting the day with a savory breakfast.
The dishes at the restaurant are vegetable-centric, but their proteins are incredible. When I sat down at the bar by the kitchen, I couldn’t help but notice the Elegant Woman next to me immensely enjoying her brunch. Hair perfectly coiffed and bejeweled, she clearly was enjoying roasted cauliflower and labneh (creamy yogurt cheese). It was showered with a light dose of za’atar that I could smell from my seat. My stomach grumbled, then the waiter placed a plate of lamb chops pungent with the smell of garlic, oregano, and lemon. The Elegant Woman turned and said to me in a Texas drawl, “This is why I come here. I’ve been looking forward to this all morning.”
If someone flew from Texas to PDX to eat lamb, it must be good! I’ll take one! Perfectly cooked and tender, I finished both pieces thinking to myself, “Maybe I could order another plate.”
Back to the veg, the roasted cauliflower, and their house-made labneh was perfect. Shalom Y’all’s labneh is more on the tart side which nicely balanced the richness of the roasted cauliflower and za’atar sprinkled over it.
Za’atar is a blend of sesame, sumac, salt, oregano, thyme, and sweet marjoram. The blend of spices differs regionally. In Jordan, it’s heavy on the sumac. The Lebanese version has orange zest. It is the seasoning that is used in everything, as a finishing spice, as a dip with pita and olive oil, it is sprinkled on hummus or labneh. It makes sense. The floral and herbal notes add a welcome finish to any dish.
I also ordered the fennel salad. It was dressed in a grilled lemon vinaigrette, tarragon, and candied pecans. The lemons, tarragon and mustard seed brought out the sweetness of the fennel. Of late, a few of the restaurants I have visited overpowered their dishes with tarragon, but as with the lamb and the roasted cauliflower, it was perfectly balanced.
At that point, I was stuffed, but I could smell them roasting sweet potatoes in the oven. I am a sucker for sweet potatoes. Shalom Y’all’s version is dressed with pomegranate, honey, toasted walnuts, and harissa. It was heaven on the plate. I completely forgot about how good the lamb was. No kidding! The skins were crisp and earthy, the walnuts added a nice crunch and the perfume from the harissa - woah!
As I finished my last bite, I thought to myself. Maybe the waitstaff can roll me out of the restaurant. I’m stuffed!
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.