Brunch at Tusk and Upcoming Summer Party

Tusk in Portland took over the old Levant space on SE 24th and Burnside, transforming it into a light filled bright space with a sweet touch but continuing to offer Middle Eastern food and making use of the inherited open wood-burning hearth. Brunch at Tusk is only 10 AM – 2PM on Saturday and Sunday, otherwise they are open for dinner daily.

It’s quite a contrast seeing almost kitty corner across the street the line of people waiting for the heavier Southern brunch and fried chicken and biscuits versus here, the lighter Middle Eastern brunch plates, many which are vegetarian, can be made vegan, and feel healthier. Extensive studies have shown that Mediterranean eating patterns – of which Middle Eastern food share some commonality with its use of chickpeas, lentils, vegetables, olive oil, etc. –  are directly correlated with good health including the reduction of that LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) bad cholesterol,  risk of Alzheimer’s by approximately 40 percent, and the development of Parkinson’s Disease. So let’s bring on the hummus and pita, shall we!

Bright interior full of light welcomes you and keeps you feeling cheerful during your meal.
Tusk in Portland interior Tusk in Portland interior

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Brunch at Broder Nord

There are always lines for the Broder restaurants at brunch on the weekend for their unique Swedish cuisine – but I’ve never experienced them. That’s because though I love Broder, I go on the weekdays because they offer brunch everyday 8 AM – 3 PM, not just on weekends! For an example of my favoriter Broder dishes, here’s a look at my brunch at Broder Nord.
Brunch at Broder Nord - Lefse, a Norwegian potato crepe filled with rotating ingredients (mine was Havarti and salami) topped with baked eggs and served with mixed greens; Aebelskivers (Danish Pancakes) served with lingonbarry jam and lemon curd; Smørrebrød, Danish Open Faced Sandwiches where you can choose two of five options, we picked the Gravlax with shrimp skagenröra, radish, mustard sauce, microgreens and the Beet and Asparagus with asparagus, beets, and chevre; and at the top Förlorade ägg (Lost Eggs) a dish of 2 eggs on a bed of sliced ham and spinach baked under breadcrumbs in a skillet
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Bagel Farm in Portland

There’s a new bagel option in Portland – at least sometimes. It’s a Bagel Brunch pop-up by Sean Coyne called Bagel Farm that offers bagels to dine in at a pop up locations on Saturdays (Elder Hall) or Sundays (right now Renata). The bagels are organic, use Pacific Northwest flour, and have a great crispness to the outside but doughy inside that is a perfect combo.
Bagel Farm pop up in Portland menu when popping up at Renata Bagel Farm pop up in Portland menu when popping up at Renata Salmon Deluxe bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, salmon, horseradish cream cheese, salted cucumbers, capers, onions. Vegan Lox bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, walnut spread, carrot lox, capers, red onions, salted cucumbers. This was my favorite especially on the sesame bagel

I happened to stop by the Renata pop-up at the beginning of the month when they first appeared at the wonderful space that is Renata. The next pop up is this weekend and next weekend, August 20, 21, 27, and 28.

The bagel choices include

  • Plain
  • Poppy
  • Sesame (this is my personal favorite)
  • Salt
    Salt Bagel from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland
  • Everything (my #2)
    Everything Bagel from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland

Meanwhile, the schmears are particularly fun, including besides having your bagel plain, or with butter, the spreads of

  • Plain cream cheese
  • Leek, scallion chive cream cheese
  • Horseradish cream cheese
  • Country ham cream cheese (here on an Everything bagel)
    Everything bagel with country ham cream cheese from Bagel Farm, a pop up offering bagel brunch in Portland
  • Hummus (vegan)
  • Walnut spread (vegan)

You can also additionally add cucumbers, capers, onions, or a tomato to enhance your sandwich. Or, they also offer open faced bagel sandwiches, which they called “Bagels Composed”, that include

  • Salmon Deluxe: choice of bagel, horseradish cream cheese, salted cucumbers, capers, onions. I was a big fan of the horseradish cream cheese.
    Salmon Deluxe bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, salmon, horseradish cream cheese, salted cucumbers, capers, onions. Salmon Deluxe bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, salmon, horseradish cream cheese, salted cucumbers, capers, onions.
  • Hammy Time: choice of bagel, country ham cream cheese, fennel slaw, radish
  • Hummus Among Us: choice of bagel, hummus, salted cucumber, radish, paprika, olive oil, lemon
  • Vegan “Lox”: choice of bagel, walnut spread, carrot “lox”, capers, red onions, salted cucumbers. This was my favorite especially on the sesame bagel.
    Vegan Lox bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, walnut spread, carrot lox, capers, red onions, salted cucumbers. This was my favorite especially on the sesame bagel Vegan Lox bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, walnut spread, carrot lox, capers, red onions, salted cucumbers. This was my favorite especially on the sesame bagel
  • Israeli Salad: choice of bagel topped with Israeli salad of tomatoes and cucumbers

Because I was at Renata, I was happy to treat myself to a well earned after the gym cocktail – and I wanted to make sure I got my fruit into my brunch too. This cocktail is called the Buon Giorno Princepessa with white peach – blueberry mint sorbetto and prosecco. It takes a little care and love to create, but it’s worth the wait – I could have drank these all morning.
 

What’s your favorite type of bagel, and what do you top with your bagel in terms of schmear?

Vegan Lox bagel composed bagel sandwich from Bagel Farm pop up in Portland that comes with choice of bagel, walnut spread, carrot lox, capers, red onions, salted cucumbers. This was my favorite especially on the sesame bagel

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Ya Hala Brunch

The first time I realized Ya Hala had a brunch was when it was listed as March of 2015 when they initially launched it and were recommended by Portland Monthly (Three Reasons To Try Ya Hala’s New Lebanese Brunch) and the Oregonian (Ya Hala’s brunch goes beyond bacon and eggs: Cheap eats). And then this was reinforced when shortly after I tried Ya Hala’s entry at the Portland Monthly Country Brunch last year of a Breakfast Canape with grilled potato, tomato marmalade, egg relish, and smoked lamb bacon was assembled on the spot by Chef Mirna Attar and team. It was one of the best bites of that brunch event, and so I knew I had to go.

Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant in Portland

Since then, I’ve been a few times. It’s located in Montavilla, at SE 80th and Stark, literally right across the street from famous brunch / fried chicken restaurant The Country Cat. Unlike The Country Cat though, each time I’ve been there has never been a line, and so I think Ya Hala is still one of the best kept brunch secrets in Portland.
Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant interior in Portland Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant interior in Portland

Here’s a look at some of the dishes I’ve tried – they are huge, meant for sharing!

A thick hit of Turkish Coffee is a classic start to the day
Sludgey thick hit of Turkish Coffee to start at Ya Hala Brunch Lebanese Restaurant

Meanwhile, I like to opt for the Flight of Mimosas, which includes sparkling white and muddled cucumber with mango, guava, or pomegranate juice. These are wonderful, every time.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch Flight of Mimosas, sparkling white and muddled cucumber with mango, guava, or pomegranate juice

One of my favorite dishes to share is the Brunch dish of Fried Haloumi and Rainbow Carrots served with a Pomegranate Demiglace, Arugula and two Fried Eggs. It had me at the words Fried Haloumi. And, the additional Rainbow Carrots with the sweet Pomegranate Demiglace and the slightly peppery arugula make it seem healthy enough to justify eating fried cheese as part of brunch.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch dish of fried haloumi and rainbow carrots served with a pomegranate demiglace, arugula and two fried eggs Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch dish of fried haloumi and rainbow carrots served with a pomegranate demiglace, arugula and two fried eggs

There’s also the Lebanese take on the classic, a Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of Lebanese Country Breakfast with house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash. All the good breakfast meats of bacon and soujouk (the sausage) are here to share with your brunch party. I think I preferred the soujak to the lamb bacon.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of lebanese country breakfast house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of lebanese country breakfast house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash

The huge earthen bowl of Houmous Balila with garlic spiced garbanzos, classic homous, vegetarian ghee and pine nuts is F’s favorite. When you sit down, you are given a complimentary HUGE freshly baked and grilled pita to share, still warm, so this is a great accompaniment for the pita.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of houmous balila with garlic spiced garbanzos, classic homous, vegetarian ghee and pine nuts

If you order the fried chicken dish, remind yourself that this is not going to be your crispy Southern fried American chicken. It’s Moroccan Fried Chicken, so it will be in a tangy sticky sauce that includes flavors of with onion and garlic with cinnamon and cardamom, so don’t expect crispy breaded chicken. The Moroccan Fried Chicken is served with couscous gratin and a fried egg.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg

Personally, I think the star of this platter is actually the creamy cheesy but fun texturally Couscous Gratin. Having this dish eventually inspired me to make a Israeli cheese couscous which I’ve shared before. They are a great mash up of the luxury of a risotto and a mac and cheese, combining their powers!
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg

You can order this for dessert or just as a sweet starter, but the small brunch plate of Kanefe Bejeben, a sweet cheese pie served with a sesame pita and rose water syrup is definitely unique to Ya Hala by offering this Lebanese dessert. It’s gooey and yet feels like a perfect combo of rich and light. This is especially fine paired with that Turkish Cofee.
"Ya Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch small plate of kanefe bejeben, a sweet cheese pie served with a sesame pita and rose water syrup

To go, consider taking a chocolate halva croissant or za’atar croissant (I went for the latter) for later!
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch hand-rolled croissants where you have a choice of chocolate halva or za’atar

Have you heard of the Ya Hala brunch before? Have you had a Lebanese Brunch before, which of these food dishes I highlighted would you order? Where is your brunch secret spot?

Ya Hala Lebanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Han Oak Brunch

There’s a dispiriting amount of authentic Asian food in Portland – many Asian restaurants and food carts serve an Americanized version based on what they think will sell based on mass expectations.  Whenever I hear of a possible sprout of authentic Asian food experience growing, I am usually quick to try to water it and hope it can flourish – and I am hoping with all my might for Han Oak, which recently poked it’s head out into Portland’s restaurant garden this past 6 or 7 months. Han Oak deserves and needs your support. I think it’s the best brunch in Portland right now – and I think it’s uniqueness would be hard to find in most other cities.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

Han Oak is reservation only, where they only open a couple days a week for dinner service and then on Sunday offer brunch service. When you make your reservation online you pre-pay, although you can add on additional beverages or some a la carte dishes at dinner if you’d like. Dinner has been a Bo Ssäm format, but let me put a little focus on their Sunday brunch for this post. They are located at 511 NE 24th, between Pie Spot and 24th and Meatballs. Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space with a welcoming backyard escape and a bright open room with wooden 8-top tables with bench seating and some counter seating at their open kitchen bartop.
Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Keep stepping through the doorway into this backyard, and the entrance to the Han Oak restaurant space is then to your right Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space faces a quaint backyard patio area

Here’s the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don’t need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it’s all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice.
Here's the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don't need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it's all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice

For this brunch for instance, my so cool little brunch tray boasted

  • Kimchi, soy pickled vegetables, sauteed and wilted greens
    Han Oak brunch, banchan like kimchee and Sauteed and wilted greens Han Oak brunch, banchan
  • Blood cake with soft boiled egg
    Han Oak brunch, Blood cake with soft boiled egg
  • Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
    Han Oak brunch, Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
  • Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts with a little dipping sauce
    Han Oak brunch, Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts
  • A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
    Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
  • Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap
    Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap

The above also come with your choice of iced barley tea (the traditional Korean “water” that you should just get), or Water Avenue coffee, or cold brew. You have additionally drink options of cocktails, beer and cider, wine, soju, as well as non alcoholic beverages. For you, my readers, I sacrificed my liver to try all four of the cocktails, curated by the gifted Michelle Ruocco that included

  • The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa
    The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) with the waffle and the rice
    The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm – I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness which I loved with the dumpling soup and the tuna. This was my favorite, though it’s non-traditional flavor may not be for everyone
    The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm - I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The K-Pop was how I finished my cocktail drinking at brunch, a cocktail light and refreshing so would be great as a starter as well, with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber. I wish there was a bit more ginger in this, but I really like the spiciness of ginger too so maybe that’s just me.
    The K-Pop with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco

At $32 for the Korean brunch tray + bowls (with the four cocktails or other alcoholic drinks being extra) that is prix fixe and includes service, this is an insane bargain that is incredibly unique. The atmosphere feels traditional with recognizable Korean stalwarts like the kimchee and the iced barley tea and the rice or the dumpling soup, but also includes modern Northwest playful takes like the blood cake and savory waffle.

The seating feels modern and airy, but almost like dining with family and friends with the intimate atmosphere of a 5 large tables with benches, and a backyard where multiple guests’ children kicked around a beachball together. This is not an experience that you will usually find anywhere, even in larger cities with established larger Korean populations. We’re so fortunate to have this opportunity in Portland.

So what are you waiting for? Make your reservation for brunch now! Brunch is only offered on Sundays, 11 AM – 2 PM. They are also open for dinner (reservation only – make them on the website) on Friday and Saturdays 6 – 9 PM only.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

And aren’t those cocktails Michele created incredibly lovely? Which one would you order?

Han Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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