Q is a chef driven restaurant on a bright corner in the heart of downtown Portland. Q Restaurant and Bar is also home to over 60 culinary professionals that were displaced when Veritable Quandary shuttered last year. We went for brunch at Q on a Saturday at 11 a.m and the restaurant was bustling with people. Brunch staples such as Eggs Benedict and French Toast came to mind as we were seated in a sunny corner with a downtown view on one side and within sight of the large exhibition kitchen across from us.
Brunch at Q
However, my preconceived ideas about brunch flew out that sunny window when the menus arrived and our server made some suggestions. Brunch isn’t just brunch at Q. It’s a creative exercise in making the best use of seasonal, locally-sourced foods… in a way that appeals to the tastes of the diners. That is something I don’t always find in Portland. Quite often the chefs are creative, artistic, locally focused and all but then the creation just doesn’t appeal to the average palate (read… my tastes!).
We started with fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and a Mimosa. There were other options available from the fully stocked bar… A House Bloody Mary made with Rose City Vodka, their in-house Bloody Mix, toasted herbs and garlic with a garnish on the side. Or perhaps “That’s My Jam,” might entice you. It’s made with Monopolowa Gin, orange marmalade, lemon juice, Prosecco, and garnished with an orange slice.
Q takes pride in their relationships with local purveyors, producers, and growers, which is reflected not only in their dishes, but also in their craft cocktails, wine, and beer selections. And, I might add, in their décor. As we sipped on our drinks, we noticed how beautiful the restaurant was… beautiful warm woods, locally made stained glass light fixtures, combined with industrial touches for a decidedly Pacific Northwest look.
Q’s Surprising Creative Options
The sun streamed in the windows as we, now relaxed, made our brunch decisions. On the advice of the server, I tried the Crispy Fried Smoked Chicken with fresh apple, cabbage and avocado slaw, puffed quinoa with buttermilk dressing. My friend opted for a Veggie Benedict with roasted wild mushrooms (locally foraged), spinach, house-made English muffin, Hollandaise sauce and, what they called Crispy Potatoes.
What came to us from the huge modern kitchen totally surprised us. The chicken was first smoked right in the kitchen smoker and then breaded and fried. This is the first time I’ve enjoyed the crunch of fried chicken combined with that smoky taste. The avocado was plentiful (I love avocado) and the slaw, tart. The puffed quinoa added a crunchy zest to the dish. I was surprised at how the combination both pleased my eye and my palate.
My friend’s Veggie Benedict was equally as surprising. She loved the tastes and the combination of freshly cooked mushrooms with the eggs and spinach. But what was unusual was the round, perfectly toasted muffin and… a beautifully browned square next to it. The square, we found out later, was a specialty of one of the chefs. He grated lightly cooked potatoes, formed them in a sheet pan and then, to order, cut a square from the pan and very carefully browned it on all sides in a frying pan before plating it. And those potatoes were delicious!
We were encouraged by the staff to try a couple more things… and were glad for the prodding. I’ll return for the Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding made with prosciutto, leeks, brie, and lovely fresh greens. Forget the sweet bread pudding you are used to…. This is more like a rich portion of the best bread dressing you have ever experienced made with a great combination of meat, leeks and cheese. It’s not easy to explain… just order it!
Last but not least, we were “forced” to try the churros and Mexican chocolate. The churros, covered with sugar and cinnamon, were warm, soft and sinfully rich.
Keeping it Local at Q
We then took a tour of the beautiful kitchen and food lockers and came away with an appreciation for the dedication of Chefs Annie Cuggino, Victor Martinez and Natalie Gullish for keeping it local and doing most everything in-house… down to the ice cream and gelato! There is a reason the mushrooms and greens tasted so fresh… they were freshly picked and foraged. There is nothing like that taste.
Needless to say, I was totally impressed with what the Q staff has put together for Portland and in record time. There was very little down time between the closing of Veritable Quandary and the opening of Q. I’ll definitely return and I urge Portlanders and visitors to the Rose City to make a reservation for a meal at Q. You won’t be disappointed.
When You Go
Q Restaurant and Bar is in the center of downtown Portland just a few blocks from Pioneer Square and close to MAX light rail stops. Brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure and make a reservation. The word is getting out!
Address: 828 SW Second Ave. Portland, OR 97204
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.