Even though I lived in the Pearl District during my first year in Portland, I didn’t visit that many restaurants in the neighborhood. That’s mostly due to many of Pearl’s restaurants not being the most veg-friendly. When I finally got around to visiting Irving Street Kitchen just a few blocks from my apartment, I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating they were. However, I will admit that I wasn’t blown away by the food. When Eva of Rockshic visited from NYC in the early summer, we set a Sunday brunch date at Irving Street Kitchen. (Note: Eva’s colleague recommended this spot and arranged for us to receive a media discount.)
At Irving Street Kitchen, urban meets rustic in a swanky warehouse space. Not something you come across everyday in Portland. It’s got a TriBeCa in Portland vibe, which makes sense since the chef hails from New York City. The menu is upscale Southern inspired comfort foods with a farm-to-table focus. Of course, with Southern cooking, meat and dairy is all over the menu, but as soon as we mentioned the magical “v” word, our waiter checked in with the kitchen to see what they could whip up for us.
Our table started with a round of summery cocktails. I don’t recall which cocktail I had, only that it was delicious and that the overall consensus at the table was that the cocktails were spot on. The spring farm greens and fennel salad ($11) topped with wildflower herb vinaigrette and sunflower crumbs appears to be only the dish on the menu that’s already vegan. I didn’t try the salad, but it does look mighty refreshing.
The curry smoked cauliflower and mushroom hash ($14) can be made vegan upon request. (Normally, it’s served with an egg.) I’ve never had a veggie hash like this before, and the toasted pistachios mixed in there sure were tasty. However, the cauliflower could stand be cooked longer so it’s more tender, and I personally would have enjoyed more intense curry smoked flavors.
For $5, you can get a hefty portion of herbed breakfast potatoes. They normally cook ’em up in butter, but switched to oil when we requested a vegan version. Everyone loves carbs, and you can’t go wrong with these potatoes with nicely browned edges.
The vegan dessert option on our visit was a housemade strawberry sorbet. Refreshing and enjoyable, but when there are so many vegan-friendly ice cream options in town, this sorbet just isn’t memorable.