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PDX: Bijou Cafe

Pine Street Market

Food halls have been on the up and up in recent times. To be honest, they are just reskinning of food courts, but the change in name, and upgrades in the food offerings are attracting the masses to them. I grew up primarily in Malaysia and Singapore, and food courts are never desirable. They might offer more food options, but the quality and service are usually lackluster, due to the fact that the cost of entering the restaurant business is much lower in a food court. There are always hidden gems, but they are rare, and the lines are unbearably long. One such example is the cheapest Michelin Star in the world – Liao Fan Chicken Rice in Singapore, which has a humble beginning in a food court. Well, I heard rumors that Pine Street Market in Portland serves amazing food, and I have high expectations heading there for Sunday brunch. That’s where I’m dead wrong. Technically, they open at 11am, but nothing is operational until about noon. We give up and walk to the Bijou Cafe nearby.

Bijou Cafe
Getting quieter.

Bijou Cafe is a family friendly place. The soft colors and large glass windows bring in much light and screams brunch. We arrive much later than the peak hour, and as a result, our reward is to be seated immediately. The brunch menu is pretty typical, with an emphasize of French style omelettes. There is also rotating specials, and the flavor of the German pancake changes every week. Our server is extremely friendly and casual, and we place the order for farmer French omelette and pear German pancakes. It is only now we realized that we just have a European breakfast!

Farmers French Style Omelettes – red hill farm bacon, tillamook vintage cheddar, potatoes, caramelized onions with roasted yukon gold potatoes. $14
German Pancake – caramelized local pears, powdered sugar, fresh whipped cream. $14
Hot sauces made in house.

The service is very quick with the lack of crowd; even the restaurant feels lighter with people leaving. The farmer French omelette is stuffed with potatoes, and I have additional fried potatoes as side. The egg is cook very softly and is very fluffy. This work well in combination with bell onions, potatoes and bacon. The German pancakes remind me of apple pies, except they are not very sweet and much lighter. Both of our dishes are simple and delicious. No slight of hands going on here.

Salt and Straw’s Wiz Bang Bar
Chocolate Fudge
Just too loud.

I thought eating brunch at a food hall might be a fun experience. Coming from Bijou, the dark and loud atmosphere is such a big change and not at all suitable for brunch, especially because brunch is less about the food, and more about the conversation. We head back to Pine Street Market after lunch to try out Salt and Straw’s Wiz Bang Bar. The soft serve is very smooth, but rather plain compare to the crazy flavors at the original Salt and Straw. Their Taco Ice Cream Sandwich is just way over the top for the both of us. This is a good experience – just because food halls are getting popular, doesn’t mean they are good for all meals. We should just stick to traditional brunch places for the most important meal on the weekend!

Visited: January 5th, 2020 for brunch at 11am.
Address: 132 SW 3rd Ave.

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