If you've been reading for a while now you know that we love breakfast food. And bakeries. In fact, I hear Portland is one of the biggest breakfast food towns around, replete with cafes, bakeries, and coffee shops all making their own versions of delicious breakfasty goodness. Our list of places we want to visit is full of breakfast/brunch places, and one that was high on that list was the Little Red Bike Cafe in North Portland, not too far from the University of Portland.
Little Red Bike Cafe has a website, but it doesn't tell you much. Their blog has a bunch more information, but in neither place will you find the actual everyday menu listed.
No matter - Yelp gave great reviews and they stand for everything we like. You know, mainly good breakfast food.
First off, know how to get there. It's on N. Lombard and we were coming from I-5 North. That means taking the Lombard exit and going left - not right, like we did. Oops. After 40 blocks I figured turning around was probably the best course of action, since we had been in NE Portland (not North) for 35 of those blocks and all.
The location is right in the middle of the St. John's area, a relative quiet area right on the street. It has some outdoor seating (chilly on the day we went), some seats at a counter looking out into the street, and a few tables.
The primary item we wanted to try was a breakfast sandwich called "The Messenger." I have no idea where it gets its name, but it probably has an interesting story behind it. The Messenger comes on a ciabatta role with gorgonzola, applewood bacon, an egg, and some delicious apple butter. We ordered that and something called - I think I'm remembering this right - Rapini's Special. That was a basic egg and bacon sandwich with gruyere on a ciabatta role, came with an all-you-can-drink cup of Courier coffee, and one of their fresh-made cinnamon rolls.
If you are wondering if that was enough food for two people, yes, yes it was. In fact, we were full for hours after, which isn't a bad thing at all.
The Messenger was fantastic. The bread was soft, not hard and crunchy like ciabatta rolls can sometimes be, so there was no roof of the mouth damage. The egg was cooked just right - not too liquidy, but enough to seep out when you squeeze it - the bacon was a hefty chunk, and the apple butter worked very well to tie all the flavors together and didn't allow the gorgonzola to become overpowering.
The other sandwich was just as well-made even though it didn't have the same bursts of flavor. The overall flavor was smooth and even, with everything melding together nicely. The cinnamon roll was fine (I'm spoiled - Wifey is a fantastic baker), but one good thing in my book is the frosting was light - just for flavor, not for dominance. The roll itself was light, so it didn't weight on your stomach like a rock the way some will-leave-unnamed commercial cinnamon rolls will.
The coffee was fine - it's the serve yourself kind, but it is French pressed. Also, another note - get your own napkins and silverware from the area in the back with the coffee. Apparently I'm not very observant because when our food was brought out we didn't have any of those things, but the guy was kind enough to get them for us. Did I mention the service was excellent? It was mid-morning on a Thursday and not very busy, so that helps, but everyone was friendly.
I would definitely recommend this place and we plan on going back. When we do I'm ordering the "Rudy Fernandez" - named for the Portland Trail Blazers guard from Spain. What's on it? Well, Spanish things of course! Jamon serrano and manchego with my egg sandwich? Yes, please! And the pictures look fantastic!
Dang, now I'm hungry... Anyway, two thumbs up!