When we came across the Brasserie Montmartre in downtown Portland, the menu alone was enough to convince us this was a place we needed to try when the timing worked out. We wanted to try brunch first, which they only serve on Sundays, and we typically stay home on Sundays. With all sorts of French-American classics and the promise of high quality results, today was the day we checked it out.
Located on SW Park Avenue next door to the Westin hotel, the restaurant is open and welcoming, with tables on the sidewalk should you so choose. A very large bar runs the depth of the long and narrow space, which opens up in the back around a staircase down to more tables, the open space well-lit with an enormous chandelier.
Despite the fact it was late morning on a Sunday the restaurant was less than a quarter full (hmm...) and we were seated promptly. After taking our orders the waitress brought us a croissant, our choice between plain or chocolate. This was not a difficult decisions; of course we both chose chocolate. The flavors of it were good, but the pastry itself wasn't flaky at all and was instead moist. We both liked it, but it's not a good example of a croissant.
I ordered the eggs Benedict, which came on a biscuit with pork belly, some avocado, and a side of roasted potatoes. (The pictures today are all taken with the iPhone 4S, using a flashlight app. I think we need to practice with that a bit more to avoid the shadows.)
This dish was pretty good. The pork belly was nicely cooked with a bit of a crunch, a welcome and unexpected element to the dish. The Hollandaise was tasty and the eggs cooked perfectly - not too runny, but still soft. They could have used a tiny bit more seasoning, tasting a little too much of, well, water (I realize they are poached in water, but it stills seems like something was missing). The potatoes were seasoned and crisped nicely.
Wifey ordered a special, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich on a biscuit with tomato bacon jam and butter lettuce. With that came an order of pomme frites (thin French fries) and a side of garlic aioli.
The fries were excellent, cooked to a good crunch without being overdone, as was the aioli (garlicky, but we like that). The sandwich was, well, just okay. The biscuit seemed a little dry and also the wrong choice to use as bread and the lettuce was soggy. The tomato bacon jam added some flavor, but none of that flavor was bacon. The chicken seemed to be nicely done, but they claim to use only breast meat for their sandwiches and this was definitely brown meat. Uh oh...
Mini Rant: Why is restaurants don't say on the menu if they use a specific cut of chicken? And even if they do, why is it sometimes that's not what we get? This happened at Irving Street Kitchen the last time we went to, where we were told something was going to be breast meat and it was not. Is whether or not a piece of chicken is breast meat subject to interpretation? I thought it was pretty clear. I mean, if they menu says one thing or if the wait staff is told to tell customers a dish is made with breast meat, how can it possibly be made a different way? Is the chef in the kitchen making changes on the fly and hoping no one will notice or complain? And no, we don't complain...usually. Sometimes we do. Mostly we just use it as a checkmark against returning to a particular restaurant.
Overall the meal was just okay. Parts of it were oustanding, such as the fries, and some of it just makes me shrug. The staff was very friendly, which is always a plus if the food isn't great. Despite not being blown away with goodness I think we will give Brasserie Montmartre another chance, perhaps for a regular lunch or a dinner.
At least we know we won't have to worry about getting a table...