Hangover Helper: Corncakes and Honey Pie at Sweedeedee in Portland, OR
The food scene in Portland, Oregon, often feels split between two objectives: one-upping the status quo with dishes you don't often find here, and reinforcing an obsession with comfort food. At Sweedeedee, a newish brunch spot in North Portland that entered my radar when Michael Russell of the Oregonian called it the "brunch find of the year," you'll find tradition and the unexpected coexisting harmoniously.
A quick glance at the corncakes plate ($10) may not strike you with the notion that it's particularly noteworthy. Flapjacks (of the corn variety, not that you'd know to look at them), eggs, bacon, and maple syrup? You can just go to Denny's for that stuff, right? You could, but none of it would be prepared with nearly the prowess of the Sweedeedee kitchen. Corncakes are a crapshoot on any menu, typically resulting in flat, dry, bland discs better suited for winging across an open field, but here the cornmeal-rich batter achieves a sweet and salty balance that's satisfying enough on its own as to render the accompanying dish of syrup unnecessary. Fat and moist, yet not undercooked, they're hearty breakfast fare worthy of your attention.
Don't ignore the rest of the plate, though. The baked eggs emerge from the oven impossibly tender and elicit a delightful crunch courtesy of a sprinkling of flaked sea salt over the golden yolks. Three strips of bacon, neither too crispy nor too chewy and pleasantly free of grease, nestle against the syrup cup, dying to go for a swim to hit even more sweet-and-savory notes. And the addition of braised greens is a master stroke; they provide much-needed bitterness to the indulgent array of sugars, fats, and proteins occupying the remaining real estate on your plate.
It's all quite filling, but don't leave the restaurant without ordering one of the most surprising desserts I've come across in ages: the honey pie ($4). It tastes like nothing I have ever eaten. Plenty of Pacific Northwest honey went into its creation, yet no honey to cross my palate tastes anything like this. I picked up notes of caramel and butter in the custard-like filling, and the sweetness is tempered by the application of sea salt and the plainspoken crust that shatters into flakes when attacked with your fork.
Word is getting out, and Sweedeedee is already drawing more diners than perhaps the kitchen is able to handle at its current capacity, so plan to get here before others in the neighborhood get the same idea you do.
About the author: Adam Lindsley is a Pacific Northwest-based writer, musician, and the author of the pizza blog, This Is Pizza. You can follow him at @ThisIsPizza on Twitter. He thinks Belgian beer is just tops.