Saturday, January 14, 2012
O Broder, Where Art Thou?
In retrospect, even without snow piled up to the rafters, it was the perfect day to go to a Swedish restaurant. It was (for Portland) a bitterly cold Saturday morning, with temperatures hovering around thirty degrees and the wind trying to work its fingers through every crack and crevice in the layers of clothing between it and my skin.
Broder, which beat Grüner owner Chris Israel to the "alpine cuisine" table by at least a couple of years. And I've never seen a line wrapping around the block at Israel's place waiting for his food, good as it is. Maybe he should try making the little popovers known as aebleskivers with house-made lemon curd and lingonberry jam that have been drawing raves from rabid fans since Broder opened its doors.
In any case, when I arrived my friend had already taken shelter in the Savoy Tavern next door, which wasn't even open. Did she break in to get out of the whipping wind? No! In a stroke of brilliance, the owner of both spots, Peter Bro, has otherwise-frostbitten patrons to wait in the warm comfort of the bar with complimentary serve-yourself coffee available.
After a not-too-long wait, we were ushered into Broder. Long and narrow, it has small two-tops crowded along a wooden banquette on one wall and an open galley kitchen fronted by a long counter against the other wall. Two more tables are jammed against the front windows (though they're the best seats in the house), so don't go expecting to stretch out or have an intimate conversation…you'll end up getting advice from those you're elbowing.
My friend ordered the Swedish meatballs (top photo), and all I could think of were the tiny, dried-out little nuggets that Ikea sells by the car-load to spaced-out shoppers. Knowing her, I should have known better. What arrived was a little pyramid of perfectly-seasoned meatballs (and yes, I begged one off of her) delicately blanketed with a lovely sherry cream sauce. She'd ordered it with the walnut toast, lingonberry jam and a salad, but I've heard you can sub the walnut toast for a slice of toasted brioche bread, which many recommend.
Not being an avid breakfast person, even I'd go back for another shot at those aebleskivers, just not on a weekend when there's a wait for the cheek-by-jowl seating…though maybe it's the Swedes' way of staying warm in the winter.
Details: Broder, 2508 SE Clinton St. 503-453-0166.
Top photo by Kim Ferris.