Brunch at Irving Street Kitchen

Irving Street Kitchen, in Portland's Pearl District just west of the main downtown core, has been on our list of places to try since it opened about a year ago. The menu looks good for dinner or brunch, which they serve on the weekends. A couple weeks back we decided to hit it up on a Saturday morning for brunch.

Irving Street side of the building.

Wifey and I got there just after it opened, hoping to not find a line we would have to wait in. We shouldn't have worried.

13th Street side, main entrance.

When we arrived only a couple other people were there, already seated, and we pretty much could have been seated anywhere. Our table was on the 13th Street side of the restaurant, up against floor to ceiling windows. Like most Portland spring mornings it was overcast, but there was plenty of light.

Notice the bookcases in the picture below? There are a few of these, stocked with (I'm guessing) old books from local libraries, but books one might find interesting if bored and waiting for food. Some old, some newer, some full of pictures and recipes.

Our server was very helpful in describing the dishes and answering questions, taking time to make sure we had what we wanted. Then again, it wasn't busy at all - we overheard another server telling her table they are much busier on Sundays - so she had the time.

Looking towards the bar area from our seats on the 13th Street side.

It was later in the morning and we hadn't eaten anything, so we may have gone a little overboard with our ordering. First was a side order of the Irving Street breakfast potatoes. The potatoes are flash fried, giving them a nice crunch on the outside and leaving them soft in the middle. They are nicely seasoned with a bit of red pepper mixed in to give a mild kick. Yep, they were fantastic.

Wifey ordered lobster soft scrambled eggs with truffled mascarpone on toasted brioche, with a side of chickory salad.

This really had great flavors and everything was cooked perfectly. Even the salad was excellent. If I had any beef with the dish at all it would be that the truffled mascarpone was overpowered by the egg flavors - I didn't get any of the truffle flavor at all. Still, very, very good.

I ordered salmon gravlax benedict on buttermilk biscuits with spinach and dill Hollandaise.

Normally something like this comes on an English muffin, but ISK is southern-influenced, hence the biscuits. They held up pretty well to the weight of the perfectly cooked eggs and the moisture of the Hollandaise sauce, which had a fantastic flavor with the dill. I liked the flavor the spinach added, but my minor beef with this dish is the spinach should have been cut up a bit, because it sure doesn't cut easily. The end result is I ate the entire piece of spinach from one side of the dish in one bite. I would absolutely order this again.

After brunch, despite being close to full, we had to order dessert. ISK has become pretty well known around these parts for their butterscotch pudding, but the vanilla bean ice cream - which, yes, they make themselves - with chocolate bourbon caramel sauce sounded too good to pass up.

It's a good thing we didn't, because it was very, very good. The bourbon flavor came through but didn't overpower the chocolate and the caramel, and the ice cream was well done. We definitely recommend this.

But no, we couldn't stop at one. Eating at ISK and not ordering the butterscotch pudding with roasted banana caramel and creme fraiche would have been a crime - so we did. And look how it's presented! It comes with the jar closed, waiting for the server to open it and display the goodness. Two caramelized banana slices topped the caramel, but they had already been eaten before we remembered the camera.

And, bonus, two pecan sandies on the side. Pick your adjective for fantastically creamy dessert and this pudding fits. People rave about it, we will rave about - you just have to go there and get it for yourself. And you can stop in any time they are open and pick one up to go, so there are no excuses (though I don't know if you get the cool jar or not).

Both of these desserts were amazing, but too much for just two people. The pudding by itself would have been borderline too much for two, but we managed to finish them off anyway (we aren't totally crazy - half of each entree came home with us for Sunday brunch).

So, in the end, yes we absolutely recommend a visit to ISK. We will go back for brunch and eventually will hit up the dinner menu at some point.

One bad thing, though. In the summer they open up the patio with a few tables, but we were told dogs are not allowed. Sad. Misaki does not approve.

Seriously? No cute Shiba? What are they thinking? Huff!

But go anyway.

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