First Look: Broder Nord in Portland, OR
Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
When you find yourself squinting through a Portland brunch line (if only that Portlandia episode was a joke), your stomach pulsing with hunger and your headache getting sharper by the minute, you start to focusing on surrounding details to distract you 'til breakfast.
The recently opened Broder Nord has plenty to take in. The sky-high windows showcase the arched back of the Fremont bridge; a sliding front window hints ahead to outdoor seating during warmer days. Near the entrance sits a pot of fresh brewed coffee and steamed carafes of cream to stir in while you wait.
Once seated, you'll find Swede-inspired cuisine, with nautical touches finding its way from breakfast to dinner in dishes like the Baked Egg Scramble ($11) with preserved lemon, baked Northwest salmon, dill, and pickled shallots; and Salmon Fish Cakes ($11) served atop arugula tossed with caraway-citrus vinaigrette. Come dinnertime, you'll find classics like Swedish Meatballs ($11) in Sherry cream sauce with lignonberry jam, and a Hamburgare à la Lindstrom ($11), stuffed with house-pickled beets and capers.
Though the food at Broder has a heavy Swedish accent, the interior has more diverse roots. "I collected different tiles out in Polk County, and our hanging barrels behind the bar at a shop on SE Hawthorne," says owner Peter Bro of the detailing he's gathered over time for his second outpost of Broder.
The new location, Broder Nord (referring to its home in North Portland) is just down the hill from popping Mississippi Avenue, and may attract a different crowd from his South East Clinton location. "We're hoping to have takeout options in the front here, where people can grab food to go on their way to and from work. We're also working on a Trimet ticket validation deal, since there's a Yellow line train directly outside."
The space, which was once housed hot-spot Gotham Tavern, has been refurbished, though Bro's team held onto various pieces like the towering "pods" (intimate private booths in the back of the restaurant) and the tables utilize wood from the original space.
Bro, who got his master's degree in architecture, has done a great deal of interior design consulting with local restaurants—everyone from Mississippi Studios to Smallwares. He owns a consulting firm called Intentionally Blank and the food industry job site, Poached.com.
His design background is evident in Broder's plates of doll-like breakfasts crafted by chef Michael Murray, each meticulously arranged on hand-crafted boards or piled neatly into mini-skillets, often finished with a checkered sheet of paper or a colorful pot holder: "Our boards are specially made by Doug Vincent, and we hope to sell them at the front of the shop soon, along with our skillet cozies sewn by our manager, Chad Hinman."
The menu, which is identical to that of the SE Broder location, highlights daily lefse (flatbread with various savory and sweet fillings), baked eggs, hashes studded with smoked seafood and seasonal vegetables, and charcuterie boards with piles of house-cured gravalax and tiny jars of yogurt and granola. "I chose to serve this kind of food because I'm half Swedish and grew up eating this way. Europeans eat small portions in the morning, nothing is too heavy."
Their lunch menu includes the Broder Club ($11) which layers bacon, gravalax and horseradish cream, and there's a Stockholm Hot Dog ($8) which is slathered with house made mustard sauce and wrapped in a potato pancake.
Broder Nord's dinner menu, coming in early 2014, won't stray far from the delicate touches of breakfast and lunch, Bro assures me: "Dinner will focus on trout, herring, salmon, mussels and Aquavit, presented in the same style, of course."
About the author: Kat Vetrano currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she's eating her way through food carts, farmers markets and pho joints. Follow her on Twitter @kat707