A couple weeks back a new breakfast and lunch place opened up on North Williams, just down the street from Ristretto Coffee and Pix Patisserie, called Tasty n Sons. It's the new place from the mind of John Gorham, the esteemed owner of the critically acclaimed (by this blog and the rest of the world) Toro Bravo and got his start in Portland with Viande Meats at City Market and then also at Simpatica (which longtime readers here know we love).
All that is to say Gorham is Portland restaurant royalty, he knows food, and I really like everything he's ever done. Really like it.
So when we read about his combining two of my favorite things - his cooking and vision with brunch - Wifey and I knew we'd be going to check this place out. So Saturday morning we did.
We meant to get there earlier than 12:15 to avoid a rush of any kind, but that's just about my only day of the week to sleep in, so it didn't happen. Lucky for us we found a parking spot right across Williams and we walked in just as another couple was leaving from two seats at the "bar" - the area right in front of where all the magic happens. (If you read my Toro Bravo review and have been there, it's basically the same type of area we sat there, and plenty of restaurants around town are adding this kind of seating - I like it.)
And, as it so happens, Mr. Gorham himself was there right in front of us, keeping an eye on the work and flow of his new business (still not officially open, just a "soft" open) while he did prep work, cutting up red peppers, stripping and washing chard, cutting tiny openings in dates, and all sorts of other things while giving the occasional direction and clarification to the staff the person who will presumably be in charge when he is not there.
No, we didn't actually talk to him, since he was busy working and all, but he did smile and say hello to us and the many other patrons in the area, plus any who walked by to thank him. Why were they thanking him? Well, because the food was simply wonderful.
Tasty n Sons doesn't have a menu on their website yet, but here is one sample from Portlandfood.org, about 3/4 of the way down the page. The menu we saw on Saturday was very similar.
We had to start off with the griddled bacon-wrapped dates with maple syrup, one each. We ordered it's cousin at Toro Bravo and these little nuggets are just fantastic. I don't know if the Tasty n Sons version is better, but it really is a little slice of heaven. The almond inserted in the middle has a lightly smoked flavor, adding a nice twist of smoky and salty to the sweetness of the date and the syrup. Highly recommend - $2 each.
Our next dish (I should point out here each item comes out as the kitchen finishes making it, so you will get one dish at a time instead of all at once - again, I'm a big fan of this service style) was the glazed yams with cumin maple syrup. I'll be honest here - we wouldn't have ordered this if we hadn't have already read people raving about it online. And you know what? Those people were absolutely right. The cumin adds a very contrasting flavor - without being overpowering - to the sweetness of the roasted yam and the syrup. I would absolutely order these again. I believe there were three good-sized slices of yam for $4.
This was followed by the chocolate potato doughnuts, which came with a vanilla creme anglaise sauce. Online reviews of this dish have been split, and I'm still not exactly sure where I fall on it. Wifey wasn't too excited by them. I liked the thickness of the dough, but they seemed a little hard and a tad on the crunchy side - trying to cut them with a fork seemed to make them crumble. The sauce was good, but I could have used a little more for three doughnut holes. Have seen people describe these as not chocolately enough, but that part was okay for me. May try again, if I hear they tweak it a bit. $5.
All three of those were in the Smaller Plates section, but the next two were in the Larger Plates portion of the menu. The first is Auntie Paula's French toast with rhubarb and whip cream. On the link to the menu above you will see it's $8, but that was for two slices, I think. They changed it by the time we went, so there are two options - a $5 one and a $10 one. We opted for the smaller one so we could try another dish. This station was actually right in front of us, so we could see some of the process. The slices of bread are very thick, and after being dipped in the batter they go onto a simple electric griddle that has been generously buttered. These are then left for what I thought was quite a long time - much longer than I do it at home, so maybe I need to turn down the temperature. And add butter. Mmm...butter... When they are finally finished the toast is topped with a rhubarb jam/sauce and then whip cream. Verdict? Super damn good. Super. Damn. Good. The whip cream tastes like fluffy ice cream, the sauce is amazing, and the French toast a dream. Highly, highly, highly recommend. A lot. You should order this.
Our final dish was the fried egg and cheddar biscuit. There is a choice of sausage or fried chicken on that, so we chose the chicken. Splitting this was difficult because it was quite large and a little problematic to cut, but we managed. The biscuit was good and everything was cooked very well, but it was a tad crunchy. Now, crunchy isn't a bad thing - it just means every time you whip out the knife to cut it or take a bite, it crumbles to bits. I ended up eating most of it in pieces with my fork rather than eating it as a sandwich. Wifey thought the flavors were perfect and I really like it, but would have liked a tad bit of something sweet on there just set the flavors off - maybe a dab of honey, a jam, or even maple syrup would have done the trick - but it was pretty good.
Overall, Tasty n Sons was fantastic. The service was very good, the food was excellent, and we are already planning what to get on our next trip (the burger, perhaps, or the cheesesteak, followed by the chocolate chip cookie and ice cream for dessert; and maybe some dates...and French toast...). Looks like Mr. Gorham has another hit on his hands.