Last time I was at Accanto was for dinner in June, but something caught my eye on their starters menu that had me returning back a few weeks later. So, we made reservations on OpenTable – yes! You can make reservations here instead of just waiting in line like so many other brunch spots in Portland- for a Sunday brunch. So, 10am Accanto Sunday Brunch- soon this place would be filled up. Look what a small kitchen they have to produce that menu!
That starter that kept lingering in my mind until I just had to have it and returned? Burrata with strawberries, favas, wrinkle crinkle crumple cress. What? Wrinkle Crinkle Crumple Cress. Yes, it’s real. First, here’s a look:
At first glance, it has the texture and appearance of parsley. However, it has a mustard-like spiciness just like it’s cousin, watercress, but slightly more intense piquancy that is closer but not quite like peppery peppy arugula. Apparently the fact that its leaves are so rumpled looking lead to its name. And what a name right? I appreciated being able to calm the forkfuls of the wrinkle crinkle crumple cress with the tart sweetness of the burst as you bite into strawberries and the creamy freshness of the burrata, and little bits of earthy mealiness from the texture of the fava beans as you chew.
That dish alone wasn’t enough, so we filled out the check with orders of the Creamy polenta with garlicky braised greens, poached eggs and chili oil but minus the poached egg, a side of crispy potatoes, and Asparagus and Truffle Omelet with truffled mashed potato, asparagus, spring onion and pecorino tartufo in a French style omelet with arugula salad and toast, and coffees of course.
The polenta was creamy but the addition of the braised greens gave it some crunch while the chili oil tickled the tongue- if a poached egg as original to the menu had been kept that probably would have added some great additional texture and richness to the creamy polenta with the play of two different viscosity (polenta vs yolk).
Similarly, the crispy potatoes lived up to the promise in their name as well, and I walked very slowly pass the big pan of roasted crispy potatoes that I saw in the kitchen, eying all that golden goodness. Finally, the scent of the Asparagus and Truffle Omelet with truffled mashed potato, asparagus, spring onion and pecorino tartufo in a French style omelet with arugula salad and toast was wonderful even before the waitress placed it on the table I could smell its approach, and I appreciated how it was a thin layer of egg that encased the omelet rather then the all too often super thick wrapper you see at brunch that fills you with egg rather then the precious tasty cargo inside.
The service was pleasant and unobtrusive, and she make sure to keep our coffees warm- we had to stop her on the 4th refill or I would be shaking from the caffeine as we had to drive. So unfortunately no brunch cocktail was sampled, though there were many options that sounded tempting. That will just have to be another trip. Unlike at locations where people are lining up and staring as they hungrily await their turn at brunch, here the atmosphere was relaxing and cheerful, so that even though it was busy it also felt like we had our personal space for our conversations as we kick-started our morning. It feels like the neighborhood spot you want to go to every morning if you could, one you could linger over your coffee and laugh freely, that is local but also sophisticated.
Also, go ahead and say it. Wrinkle Crinkle Crumple Cress. Wrinkle Crinkle Crumple Cress. You’re welcome.