A. N. D Café
We started our final full day in Portland, Oregon with a big breakfast at A. N. D Café. A. N. D Café is a vegetarian restaurant, where everything can be prepared vegan. There are loads of gluten-free options, and in fact, the only thing on the menu that isn’t available gluten-free is the reuben.
I’d visited A. N. D back in 2013. I was so inspired by that visit, I developed a recipe based on their breakfast nests. The nests are made with hash browns and cooked with tofu scramble baked into them. Being a huge brunch lover, I was excited to reacquaint myself with one of their platters.
I ordered the blue plate. It was a smorgasbord of brunch classics – hash brown nests, vegan sausage, and biscuits and gravy. The nests come with your choice of eggs or herbed tofu. Obviously, I went with the latter.
I was surprised that the nests were a little different than I remembered from my earlier visit. Instead of being baked into a single unit in muffin cups, the hash brown nests were more like hash brown patties that had scramble spooned on top. It was still tasty, but I missed the cute execution.
Biscuits and gravy are something that I never make at home, and so it feels like a real treat to get them out. The sausage at A. N. D is very unique and different from the standard veggie links or patties you find elsewhere. It’s served as a sprawling thin pancake of a sausage.
David sided with Aumie’s Awesome Plate. It comes with half of a waffle, maple syrup, greens, and your choice of eggs or herbed tofu. Again, he took the latter option, of course.
An unusual addition to David’s plate was jackfruit bacon. I’ve had savory jackfruit dishes a million times over, but I’ve never seen jackfruit bacon. It was flavored like the tempeh bacon that you see more commonly – smoky and sweet. However, it had the piecey quality of jackfruit. I liked that it was cooked until dry and wasn’t wet or soupy.
The vegan mini mall
After breakfast we went to that iconic Portland destination (for vegans at least) – the vegan mini mall! In this little strip mall there are four vegan businesses – Food Fight Grocery, Herbivore Clothing, Scapegoat Tattoo, and Sweet Pea Bakery.
I often buy vegan specialty products from Food Fight, and so it was even better going in-person to pick up products that aren’t available in every grocery store. There were loads of vegan chocolates and cheeses, a number of plant-based bacons, frozen items, and refrigerated goods.
Next we perused Herbivore Clothing. During the winter, I’m a walking advertisement for Herbivore, because their sweatshirts are so cozy and wearable. (Last Christmas David got me the softest gray sweatshirt that says, “I love animals too much to eat them.” It was basically my at-home uniform during the chilliest months.) On this visit, I picked up a new mason jar glass for cucumber water & smoothies.
By then, it was time to meet friends for lunch at Vtopia, a vegan cheese shop. I’d heard about Vtopia for months before going to Portland, and it was one of the places I was most eager to visit. Dinners of veganized charcuterie boards are a mainstay in our home. At Vtopia, they do all of it for you. They also have a menu of items like mac and cheese and melty sandwiches, using their house-made cheeses. I’d love to try those next time.
The brick and mortar location of Homegrown Smoker is in the adjacent building, and they share a front dining area outside. However, they were closed the day we were visiting. Luckily, Vtopia sells seitan from HGS for their charcuterie board. So I was able to sneak in a third pseudo visit to my Portland favorite.
You can pick out your choice of cheeses from Vtopia’s rotation in the deli case. All of the cheeses were lovely. I was especially fond of the beer cheddar, but I wouldn’t kick any of them out of bed for eating crackers.
Speaking of crackers, the only downside to our visit was that the bread tasted a little stale. Since that was part of almost every bite, it diminished the experience a little. I thought maybe it was just the gluten-free bread; however, I ended up eating some of the gluten-full bread too, and it was also on the dry side. A bit of toasting would help.
One person in our group ordered a caprese salad with slices of ripe tomato, fresh basil, and Vtopia’s mozzarella. I had a bite, and it was refreshing and creamy.
St. Johns Bridge
After lunch, we drove over St. Johns Bridge, a steel suspension bridge that stretches across Willamette River. It was just breathtaking, and I couldn’t stop snapping photos. Currently my computer is filled with pictures of this massive beauty.
I also found a necklace featuring St. Johns Bridge in a neighborhood store selling local artwork. So now I have a reminder of our visit to wear around my neck.
Ready to rest for a while, we returned to our AirBnb to kick back and relax over drinks before our final dinner in Portland.
Fun fact: The design on these coasters is from the carpet at the Portland Airport before it was renovated. Apparently that carpet has something of a cult following in Portland and there’s even a hashtag on Instagram where people share pictures of the design. More than 80,000 pictures have been posted with the hashtag #pdxcarpet. (This guy even covered his car in the design!) The Des Moines Airport carpet must be seething with jealousy.
Harvest at the Bindery
For dinner our last night, we ventured to Harvest at the Bindery. It had come highly recommended by Kittee, and I’m so glad she suggested it. I hadn’t heard of the restaurant, but it ended up being a major highlight of the trip. Food-wise, I’d put it up there with Millennium. It’s a small plates kind of restaurant, where you order several things and share. The focus is very much on seasonality and vegetables. It is a vegan restaurant that truly puts produce at the front and center.
The restaurant was not at all busy the night we were there, and we had it almost entirely to ourselves.
We started with corn bread, which was automatically brought to the table. (This was the only gluten-full dish of the night. Kristy is gluten-free. So since we were sharing, all of the dishes we ordered were that way too.)
For our first appetizer we had warmed olives. Castelvetrano olives were included in the mix, which always makes me very happy.
Next up, potato cakes made with Yukon gold potatoes, velvety wild forest floor mushrooms, and mounds of kale.
The hit of the night were these heirloom carrots. In fact, this is the dish that stands out the most from the whole trip. They were topped with a miso almond curd and tekka.
Tekka was a new-to-me ingredient that looks a little like black dirt. Apparently it’s a Japanese ingredient that was formulated by the founder of modern macrobiotics, George Ohsawa. It’s made with miso and root vegetables that have been stir-fried and boiled into a concentrated powder. Tekka is used in place of salt, because it offers more minerals and vitamins, while also enhancing the dish’s natural flavor. (I’d like to find out more about tekka. Add it to my grocery store wish list!) On the side was grilled radicchio.
For the main course, we shared the Harvest Hash Barbecue. This long hollow log was packed with smoked mushrooms, roast lilies, and Padrón peppers that were skewered with a long rosemary sprig. On the side there was a lemon tahini sauce and poblano cream.
All of the dishes were sensational and would be impressive to any kind of eater – vegan or otherwise.
The next morning while I packed, David picked up Voodoo Donuts and coffee for us. Then it was time to say goodbye to PDX and its new airport carpet. I can’t wait to go back another time for more vegan barbecue, bowls, and brunch in the city that knows how to do it right.