Well Crafted Brunch at Ned Ludd

Ned Ludd, a restaurant in northeast Portland calling itself an "American Craft Kitchen," has been on our list of restaurants to try for quite a while. Each time we came close to choosing it, though, something else looked just a little bit more interesting. Part of that is because it's really difficult to nail down just what kind of restaurant it is. They are big on local and sustainable ingredients and there are influences of many different cuisines in their menus.

This past Saturday we decided to try it out; many pictures of dishes from the restaurant looking fantastic convinced us it was time to go. Here are a couple pictures of the menu and it help to illustrate why Ned Ludd is so hard to categorize (click the pic for a larger version).

Located on NE Martin Luther King Boulevard in a tin shed of a building set back from the street, the restaurant doesn't exactly announce itself. The name over the door blends in with the restaurant's colors. There is a courtyard out front with picnic tables and various plantings, making it seem like a pleasant place for a summer dinner outside (which sounds like a reason in itself to go back). The inside of Ned Ludd is small, seating maybe 40 diners or so, with some tables and some bar seating. The kitchen is open and dominated by a brick oven which keeps the place toasty warm.

On a Saturday morning around 10:30 there was only one other couple there when we arrived, but it started to fill up the closer it got towards noon. The decor is eclectic, a mixture of rustic country with rich curtains giving it a very welcoming feel, as if the chef was inviting you into his home. Large windows let in copious amounts of light.

We decided to start off with two smaller plates from the "bits" section. The first was the deck crisped muffin with honey and butter for $6.

Served on a wooden cutting board, one well loved in a good way, what it looks like is a quartered muffin that has been burnt, but it didn't taste that way at all. It was crisp, as promised, but it was very, very moist inside with a variety of sweet and savory flavors, including some apple, cloves and cinnamon. The cup in the picture is filled with warm honey and the butter flecked with large flakes of salt. The muffin didn't even need he accompaniments, but they definitely didn't hurt. We've never eaten a six-dollar muffin before, but this was fantastic.

Next up was the pork rilletes with mustard and volkhorn brot (that's the bread) for $9. It also came with some slices of pickled apple.

The rillette was smooth, rich, flavorful, and easily spread on the bread. The jar is topped with a layer of fat, which our waitress explained is the traditional way to store a rillette. See the crosshatch design in the top? That's an example of the attention to detail you find at Ned Ludd. It has to be a challenge to top something with a quarter-inch layer of fat and have it look appetizing, but they did it. This was fantastic. The mustard wasn't too hot and worked well with the bread and the pork. The apple also was a nice palate cleanser, though I don't feel it was necessary.

Wifey's main course was the "bird in a nest" over meat ragu for $13. The nest is a polenta cake, with a circle carved out and replaced with an egg.

There's the egg.

Simply put, this was amazing. The polenta cake by itself had plenty of flavors, not just corn, and had a nice crunch. The egg was cooked perfectly. And that ragu? Oh my - melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I don't know how long that had been reducing in the brick oven, but it's totally worth the time.

I went with the "hangtown bake" of eggs, leeks, bacon, mushrooms and oysters served with toast for $14.

Again, all of the flavors perfectly complemented each other. I don't even like mushrooms, but these were tasty and added a level of umami to the dish that was just right. The oyster pieces melted in your mouth and the bacon chunks added a rich, salty profile. These eggs were also done just right.

That's quite a bit of well prepared food that added up to a spendy brunch. While the cost was more than I would typically prefer to spend for brunch, I can't say any of this was overpriced. Considering the attention to detail and exceedingly high quality of the meal, I can only compliment Ned Ludd on a job well done. The service was good also. I will absolutely recommend Ned Ludd to others and can't wait to go back for dinner. Maybe in the summer we can and eat outside, with Misaki curled up at our feet.


  1. Your wife has excellent taste! Her dish looks amazing. All the food looks amazing and brunch is our favorite meal. Yuki dislikes brunch because we leave her home alone instead of taking her out (such abuse!) :D

  2. She does, I have to admit her dish was better than mine. :) Misaki is the same way. We come home and she's like, hey, what did you bring me? Then she huffs when we have nothing for her.