Saturday, November 04, 2006

Portland, OR: Violet's Cafe

Greetings from Portland, OR. I have not done restaurant reviews on my blog but decided that I had to write about this place because I aspire to make food like they do. Tasty, flavorful, and just inspiring.

Violet's Cafe is a local neighborhood eatery that serves the most amazing breakfast food. On Friday morning, we decided to leave our hotel in search of breakfast. We didn't do any research a head of time. We figured this is Portland and we'll eventually run into something. Not being familiar with the area at all but having a very general sense of downtown and neighborhoods, we drove around aimlessly for nearly 45 minutes before stumbling across Violet's. Twenty minutes into the search for breakfast, I suggested we go to the Starbucks just so we could get something which met with a "When I travel, I don't like to eat at chains" conversation. For those that know me, when hunger sets in, I have a one track mind and it's all set on eating ASAP.

So we were driving around when we ran across a sign that said "Violet's Cafe Open." Of course, we saw the sign and restaurant as we drove right by them and then had to back track. Let me tell you, this was the best 45 minutes I have traveled to find such great food.

I'm not sure where to begin because everything about this place is good. When you walk in, there's a little case that displays all their amazing scones bursting with a variety of berries and fruit. They also make homemade cinnamon rolls. On this day, we did not eat scones or cinnamon rolls but ordered from their main menu. While not exclusively vegetarian, there are many choices for those that do not eat meat. With so many choices, I was finally able to settle on the roasted veggie scramble, which comes with crispy home fries, and your choice of made from scratch buttermilk pancakes or toast. My travel buddy seemed keen on a vegetarian version of egg's Benedict but was conflicted about those blueberry pancakes. So I ordered pancakes so he could have the best of both worlds, and the waitress offered to throw in blueberries. And so that we wouldn't have so many home fries, my travel buddy ordered fresh fruit.

While we waited for our food, we got hot chocolate which had the sweetest little touch. On top of the foam, they wrote Violet in chocolate syrup. Oddly enough, and I'm not sure this is an Oregonian thing, the hot chocolate wasn't very sweet at all. It was a nice change from the overly sweet drink you get elsewhere.

And then our food came and the portions were huge! Both of our meals were amazing. I really liked that nothing was greasy, not even the home fries, yet everything was completely flavorful. The egg's Benedict were just delightful! A nice crispy muffin, topped with roasted veggies, an nice sized egg, and hollandaise sauce. It was a to die for. For a moment there, I mistakenly thought (and much to my delight) part of the muffin was a piece of bacon/ham. Sadly, it wasn't! I just adored my scramble -- it was full of fresh roasted vegetables and oh so filling. And the fresh fruit was not your typical fresh fruit bowl -- it had apples, pears, plums, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, grapes, and more. Last but definitely not least were the blueberry pancakes were amazing. The pancake and syrup were definitely authentic -- nothing tasted like it was from a box.

On top of this, are the crazy reasonable prices. Our two meals, including hot chocolate and herbal tea was $20 (not including tip). And remember there is no tax! I forgot, they don't rus you out of the place at all -- it's definitely a good place to have a relaxing meal.

As you can imagine, this is my new favorite breakfast place and I'm utterly dismayed and sad to say that I haven't eaten at any place equivalent in California. During our dining experience, we decided immediately that we were returning the next day just to try their scones and cinnamon rolls. We made it there before 9 AM (the weekend is crazy busy apparently) and only had to wait 10 minutes or so.

The scone, oh the scone. I'm still thinking about the scone and will most likely go again tomorrow morning just so I can relish another one. I find myself day dreaming about my next visit....It's not like any scone I've ever had. Before I forget, we had a marionberry scone. It was light and buttery and buttery and light. The outside was crisp and the inside was soft and moist. It went perfectly with my cup of coffee. The cinnamon buns were very good too but I felt that I could get an equal or similar quality roll elsewhere. Go for the scones. One scone is just $1.50. A cinnamon roll is just $2.50.

I aspire to make scones like the one I had here today while my travel buddy wants to make great egg's Benedict and cinnamon rolls. When we make these items, I will most certainly write about the experience.

In any case, if you are ever in Portland, OR, you must eat at Violet's.

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