Portland Envy and Danish Pancakes

By: 
Leslie Kelly

Road trippin’ down to Portland is always such a pleasure and a wee bit of pain. Because as much as I adore SEA, the nifty Rose City almost always brings on pangs of Portland envy. On this overnighter, the jealousy was mostly about the Umläut.

Of course, I hit up the famous food carts in the heart of downtown as soon as I arrived, scoring a terrific plate lunch from 808 Grinds—oh, the mac salad!—and also the most incredibly flavorful Cuban pork plate made even better by a side of sweet potato tots.

 I walked that off by wandering the vast arboretum, ending up at the lovely Japanese Garden. Dinner at the Heathman Hotel’s Restaurant was wonderful, especially the way the Domaine Serene Pinot noir made the spring Chinook salmon sing. A failed attempt to grab a nightcap at Little Bird was the only minor glitch. (No room at the busy bar on a Monday night!) 

Yet, it wasn’t until the following morning that I was stricken by a true case of “Why don’t we have one of these in Seattle?” at Café Broder in Southeast PDX. This snug spot was jam-packed with fans of Scandinavian breakfast, aka Frukost. It tickled me to see an Umläut-heavy menu.

I wanted one of everything: the smoked trout hash served alongside pickled beets, the leftse (a traditional potato flatbread that looks a lot like a tortilla) stuffed with various savories and sweets, and the Breakfast Bord, a platter of cured meats, cheeses and dark rye bread. Instead, I ordered the Aebleskiver, baked Danish pancakes that look like overgrown doughnut holes—they’re delicious, especially when dipped in the house-made lemon curd and the from-scratch applesauce. I was tempted to circle back for lunch and try the trio of open-faced sandwiches or the Swedish meatballs. (Next time!)

These dishes speak to my Scandahooven roots. My great-grandmother, Signe, a darned good cook from Sweden, settled in Ballard in the 1960s, back when that neighborhood was stuffed with Scandinavians. That part of the city has experienced a sea change since those days, but can somebody please consider opening a sweet little breakfast-all-day café like Broder that does right by the delicious dishes from Scandinavia?