1406 SE Stark St., Portland, OR 97213
(503) 234-1700‎

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Mornings after are perhaps the most painful human experience that exists, with the possible exception of not being picked up after a soccer game. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy cure- brunch. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal, and brunch has everything it has, plus socially acceptable cocktails before noon, and Portland has a lot of great brunch places.

Meat Cheese Bread is no exception- I seriously needed good food, good coffee and a relaxing atmosphere. It provides that in spades; located on SE Stark and 14th Avenue, it’s a tiny place (Mon-Sat 7am-7pm) specializing in breakfast and lunch. My little party almost walked by the shop, but were drawn in by the open kitchen and the chalkboards. Personally, I love it when menus are handwritten in chalk; it shows personality and an aptitude for change. The interior was small, but not cramped, and the open kitchen stretched over a far larger space than the sitting area. A few paintings by local artists covered the walls (including one elaborate mosaic of skulls that one of the party found fascinating) and a jazzy instrumental played overhead.

As soon as we walked in, a genial fellow leaned over the counter and offered us coffee- when we eagerly accepted, he pulled out a giant French press and made it fresh then and there. Now that’s service. The menus were divided into “Lunch” and “Breakfast” boards, everything reasonably priced (each of the three of us had coffee and a massive plateful for under ten dollars). I went the traditional route and ordered their Breakfast Bun (eggs, bleu cheese, bacon and intriguingly, frisee on an egg bun), while one companion ordered a Breakfast Burrito (green chilies, eggs and cheese) and the other opted for a Flank Steak Salad with beets and vinaigrette. There were more stolid offerings, like granola and yogurt and fruit, but we needed something savory and fast. Fortunately, it seemed like the meals were ready in minutes; we had barely finished our first coffees (the coffee service conveniently had white sugar, raw, simple syrup and both soy milk and cream) when steaming wicker plates covered in paper were placed in front of us.

In a word, everything was delicious: my Bun was amazing soft, the telltale toughness that sometimes strikes egg bread completely absent, and the frisee and bleu contrasted each other perfectly. The Burrito was barely commented on, but that’s only because my companion was wolfing it down so steadily- sated, he said it was one of the best he’d ever eaten, the chilies powerful but not overpowering. The Steak Salad had a little more mixed reviews; while the flank steak was tender and plentiful, the vinaigrette was a little too light to completely match with bitter greens and the earthiness of beets. But still, I could not have hoped for a better meal. The coffee never stopped coming and we could have kept eating all morning. I finished the experience with a Mexican Coca-cola and a deeply satisfied stomach- Meat Cheese Bread is a simple place and that’s just how I like it.

by Nathan Kamal

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