Got together with some PortlandFood folks today for brunch and a chocolates tasting. (Tried chocolates from Pix, Sahagun, John DePaula, Hot Chefs, and Alma.) Finally got to try Simpatica.
The menu changes often. There's a good range of dishes, from french toast with orange maple syrup, chantilly cream, and bacon or potatoes for $9, to crepes with butternut squash, chard, bacon, and salad for $8, to a cubano sandwich with coppa, manchego, sweet pickles, and mustard for $8. There was only one item over $10, the house smoked, dry-aged ribeye with eggs, potatoes, and biscuit for $11. (Seems like an excellent price for that and I almost got it.)
I got the philly cheesesteak ($10) and a side of boudin blanc ($4). My wife got the fried chicken and waffles ($10).
The philly cheesesteak came on a large (probably) ciabatta roll with a spinach side salad -- thin slices of tender, moist steak stuffed into the bread as a creamy mess with sauteed mushrooms and green peppers. It was adequately seasoned and enjoyable. I would like a little more cheese, but given the flavor, that's a quibble. The sausage was good, too, a nice balance of flavorful spices yet still quite meaty. It was griddled until crusted brown but still moist inside.
The waffles were terrific. Light and moist inside, with a delicate texture, but still crisped and golden brown on the outside. They were topped with a very nice syrup with dried fruit. Sweet, but somehow not cloying, perhaps because of the complexity of the sweetness. The chicken was more of a mixed bag. The breading was a little burnt. I'm not brown-bits averse, but this was too much. I think it's deep-fried, not pan-fried, because it was fairly evenly burnt. (See picture below.) The wing was still very juicy. The breast piece was fine, but not as juicy as it could be. It's not an entirely traditional fried chicken. I didn't taste a buttermilk tang, but instead it had a distinct curry flavor. I'd be willing to give it another try if I knew that the darkness of the frying was an aberration, but another person at our table got it as well, and it looked similar. I sat at the other end, though, so I didn't ask how his tasted.
Overall a good meal. A couple of the other dishes around me looked pretty good, too, including the biscuits of gravy (which I took a picture of) and the cubano sandwich; and those who tried them seemed to enjoy them. The Jerusalem artichoke and roasted red onion frittata, though, didn't look that frittata-ish and seemed small for primarily an egg and starch dish.
I expected the room to be bigger. They've fixed it up nice, though, and there's even natural light flowing in. By the time we left, though, there was a pretty good line. (They take reservations for groups of 8 or more, now.) I'd suggest getting there before 10am.
828 SE Ash
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