Looking for a Sunday brunch location we could go to with friends that also wouldn’t be exceptionally busy brought us to East Ender on Middle St. I hadn’t been since it changed hands in 2015, so it felt like I was going somewhere I had never been before. That detail made the trip there a little more interesting as I was ready to get a renewed sense of a restaurant I had been to frequently in its previous incarnations.
As we expected, the place wasn’t overly packed, so we were seated right away and promptly started to pick some food and drink off the menus. My wife ordered a mimosa and the rest of us decided to stick with water. We didn’t arrive at our food selections quickly. Chitchat, some questions about menu items, and decisions about whether to order breakfast or lunch slowed us down significantly.
When the waitress arrived to deliver the mimosa, we asked for a couple more minutes and then finally all made our decisions. I ordered the Daily Donut and the East Ender Breakfast Sandwich – fried egg, bacon, house kimchi, truffle fontina. My wife also chose the donut and House-made Yogurt and Olive Oil Granola Parfait. My buddy went to the House Smoked Burger – jack cheese, ketchup, mayo, thrice cooked fries – and his wife, the Eggs in Purgatory – whipped house ricotta, grilled boule.
I was quite hungry and hoping my order was enough for a ravenous Portland Eater. It was clear that everyone else at the table was ready to eat too when the food arrived. My sandwich looked hearty with thick slices of toast and some egg and cheese hanging out of it. It was accompanied by a very crispy looking hash brown, local lettuce, and a cup of ketchup.
Before digging into my sandwich, I gazed at my donut and considered eating it first, but then realized it would be more appropriate as dessert. I had ordered it on a whim after the waitress mentioned something about honey glazed strawberry rhubarb cream deliciousness. I slid it aside in order to access my sandwich.
The first bite of my food alone was worth the trip. The cheese was powerful and permeated all the flavors. The kimchi added an interesting texture as the crunchy vegetables were impossible to forget since the sound of biting down on them resonated pleasantly within my noggin. The circular hash brown was supremely crispy and delicious – well-seasoned and perfect with or without ketchup.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying their food as I stuffed my face. I launched my hand across the table and commandeered a thrice cooked fry and then lauded its crispness and flavor. I spied the eggs in purgatory across the way. They were poached and resting in tomato sauce and their owner showered them in praise. I finally finished my sandwich and made a play for the sweet treat next to my now empty plate.
My first bite of donut was mostly satisfying, but I felt that the inside could have been a little more moist. Other than that, it was a very tasty concoction. The combination of toppings was some of the best I’d had on a donut in recent memory. Strawberry rhubarb gets me every time and this model won me over.
With the table soon full of empty plates, we called it quits. We were a happy brunch bunch and I was sure I’d be back to try the dinner menu at some point. The meal tab for my wife and I came to about 30 bucks before tip. I left smiling and Mrs. Portlandeater noted her approval, so all was well. If you’re looking for some Sunday morning or afternoon goodness, take a trip down to East Ender. There are no lines and the food is both interesting and sure to please.
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