I had brunch with a former coworker today at Besaw's. We met at 11:30am, and it was still packed. It was a rainy Portland morning, but a much heavier rain was falling than usual. I smashed myself just inside the door to get my name on the list. Thankfully there were only two of us, so it was just a 20 minute wait. What I appreciate about places like Besaw's, which is constantly busy in the mornings, is that even though I'm stuck outside waiting, they bring out not only fresh pots of coffee (Stumptown, yum!), but also two steaming Belgian waffles dusted with powdered sugar cut into bite-sized pieces. It takes little effort, but makes the wait tolerable--caffeinated and with a little sugar to tide us over.
When we got in, we were lucky to be seated at a four top next to the window. I like the bistro-inspired decor and simple touches that keep the look consistent with the restaurant's history, established in 1903.
Ordering was tough. The breakfast menu is extensive enough (not overwhelmingly, but complete), but there's also a lunch menu available after 11:30am (Tuesdays-Saturdays), and the specials. Most of the specials today were benedicts...five of them...ranging from the usual ham or smoked salmon (house smoked, by the way) to the unusual grass-fed beef tenderloin. While tempted to go with the hollandaise laden benedict, I couldn't resist the forest mushroom omelette (shiitake, portabello and button mushrooms with fresh herbs and sour cream). Most items are served with rosemary garlic potatoes; mine also included whole wheat toast and there didn't seem to be a choice on the toast. My friend ended up with the smoked salmon scramble. Like I mentioned, the smoked salmon is done in-house, which is done superbly.
To celebrate a long-awaited brunch, we ordered drinks. I indulged in my favorite, the mimosa, which was made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was a little pulpy, which I normally dislike, but didn't bother me in this case. My friend ordered the peppermint patty, topped with fresh whipped cream.
Our order arrived quickly, surprising considering the full house. My omelette was cooked perfectly--not overdone, not runny (I hate runny eggs). The mushrooms were plentiful. My one complaint would be that the sour cream seemed to be piled on one side; a fact I didn't realize until I had already eaten that side and was left with no creamy sidekick to my mushrooms. The potatoes were flavorful, but sadly a little cold and tough. It wasn't enough to stop me from eating all of them, though. The whole wheat toast was tasty and thick, but less toasted than I prefer. Again, not a huge deal.
I've been to Besaw's about three or four times now, and each time I come out feeling satisfied. There are a lot of breakfast places in Portland, but it's evident why Besaw's has been a cornerstone for so long.