Portage Bay Cafe: A Nice Northwest Breakfast Spot

A Nice Northwest Breakfast Spot

This past weekend, I had a chance to make a quick trip back to Seattle. So this meant I had to hit some of my favorite places like Bakery Nouveau and Where Ya At Matt. And I spent an overly ridiculous amount of time at Zoka, getting my fill of my favorite coffee in my favorite atmosphere in Seattle. There is nothing like Zoka in Cleveland and it makes me a little sad. But I digress, especially because this post is not about Zoka. It’s actually about how I took this opportunity to check out a couple of other places in Seattle that I hadn’t been to before; like Portage Bay Cafe.

My friend Rob and I decided that Portage Bay would be a great place for breakfast and that the South Lake Union cafe would be the one to meet at. The cafe is located in some of the new buildings that have drawn businesses like Amazon and restaurants like Tom Douglas’ Bravehorse Tavern. It’s a good fit for Portage Bay which has a strong reputation around town, especially for breakfast, that was born out of its U-District location.

The restaurant itself is wide open with plenty of seating and high ceilings. It’s easy to see it packed during the week as Amazonians and Microsofties and other business-ies meet for breakfast meetings, or just want a nice place to read the paper before kicking off the day. This Saturday morning, it was pretty quiet with only a handful of other people in the restaurant.

I scanned the menu and immediately zeroed in on one of my personal favorites; corned beef hash. And this corned beef hash was exactly the variety that I like best. Instead of taking corned beef and throwing it in a food processor and then cooking it on a griddle like a lot of places, PortageBay made their hash with pieces of corned beef. Though rather than chunks, it appeared to be sliced fairly thin, and then cut into bite-sized pieces. And in a truly Northwest and seasonal twist, instead of potatoes and peppers, the hash had seasonal root vegetables and squash. I topped it with over easy eggs rather than the recommended scrambled as the yolk always makes a nice sauce and adds a creaminess to everything.

The dish was nice, and lighter than you would normally expect from a hash. The butternut squash was a great touch, adding in level of sweetness that it definitely needed to cut through the savoriness of the dish as a whole. The overall flavors were subtle, almost too much so. I would have liked a little more pop of flavor and saltiness from the corned beef, and a just a touch more seasoning. I ended up adding some green Tabasco to give it a little more flavor.

It really was a nice Northwest breakfast. From the coffee to the bread to the seasonal aspects of the dish itself, it was exactly what I like, and I miss, about Seattle food. I haven’t found anything like it in Cleveland yet, and am not sure I will. It left me feeling happy but homesick at the same time. Which is exactly what I wanted.