Monday, August 11, 2008

Clinton Corner Cafe

Portland is a brunch town. God help you if you want to eat some eggs on a Saturday morning. On weekends, even regular blue-collar lunch counters become "brunch places" packed with hipsters willing to wait an hour for some eggs and hash browns. Some places are worth the wait, sure, but if you're more interested in food than in standing around with other hipsters, drinking Stumptown coffee, being seen, then head over to Clinton Corner Cafe.

I shouldn't even be telling you about this place. One time we were starving on a Saturday (late) morning, and the audacity of Broder to expect us to wait for a table, just to eat adorable Ikea food, was fucking unbearable. The cruelty! I may have even been PMSing a little, because I think I yelled and almost cried. We went down Clinton a little further, around the corner from New Seasons, and like a beacon from the heavens, shone the Clinton Corner Cafe. We found it easily enough, on a blinking stoplight corner down the street from one hipster brunch clusterfuck, 26th and SE Clinton.
We had our choice of indoor and outdoor tables. It was pleasant out, so we sat outdoors. Anything to drink? Sure, why not a cup of coffee and a mimosa. The breakfast menu is the perfect size and has standard fare, including my eating-out-brekkie standby: the breakfast burrito. If I recall correctly, Scott had some French toast and bacon. I know this is going to sound back-handed, but they did such a good job of not fucking up, or further pissing me off when I was on the rag, that we went back a couple weeks later. And now we go damn-near every weekend. I consider it a good investment to become regulars at a neighborhood joint.

Yesterday we stopped by for late afternoon lunch. I had the Clinton Club, a double-decker of turkey, bacon, Swiss, lettuce and tomato on (I think) sourdough. I added avocado and stole the sliced red onion from Scott's burger and fries. Linda, my lovely mother-in-law, is a perfect lady and ordered a half a BLT and a glass of the house white. My sammich was delicious, with good palate-scraping toasted bread and perfectly crispy-soggy fries (that's my favorite way of a fry). Was Scott's burger good, too? "Yeah," he said.

We like the Clinton Corner Cafe for its lack of pretense and comfy neighborhood vibe. We love the Clinton Corner Cafe because it lets us cut the bullshit, and just sit right down to the business of eating honest, good food.
Clinton Corner Cafe
2633 SE 21st Ave
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-8035

Clinton Corner Cafe on Urbanspoon


Leigh said...

i'm a beleiver that as long as you take the time to look, we are never too far from places like this. The decor may be functional, the clientele may be a little...shabby, but damn is the food good. The Good Stuff. Nice spot, a change from the usual places you see on food sites.

Manggy said...

Hah! There are some places that I frequent but the only time it has paid off was when the owner of the dimsum place was crushing on me and gave me extra dumplings. (Huh, how's that for egotistical? I have no proof of his motives!!)
The sandwich-and-fries look goooood. I'm also a *big* ketchup fiend :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I love these kinds of places! We just found some nice places like that around here - which was sorely needed! Sometimes in the summer, I just can't bear to cook!

Foodycat said...

I am jealous as hell. London is NOT a brunch town. We've found a place that'll do eggs benedict (and very nicely too) at 3pm, but aside from that there is no recognition that some of us don't get up until noon on a Saturday and still want bacon.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I'm loving that photo of the dessert case. Let me at it!

People in New York are just as brunch obsessed. It's ridiculous. You wait two hours for a table where you can pay twice as much for an omlet. It's the whole brucnh cache thing.

Lo said...

Our favorite places are spots like these -- where relaxation is paramount, and it's really all about the food.

I'm tired of places where the decor LOOKS better than the food tastes.

So, while we're a distance from Portland, these are the sorts of places I'll be putting on my list of "must trys" when we're in the area. Thanks!

Peter G said...

I hear ya!...we have a bunch of "A-list" brunch places here in Sydney where they charge you $10 bucks for banana bread...of course it's just an excuse for people to show up and show off their latest gadget and air kiss!!! Good to know these "out of the way" places exist and you enjoyed your meals.

glamah16 said...

I hate the whole wait in line bruch scene. I could be at home eating a good one than enduring that. So great that you found s good undiscovered place. But I imagine you have outed them now and next time there will be a line.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

"I consider it a good investment to become regulars at a neighborhood joint."

I couldn't agree more, Heather. It's part of life's pleasures, I think.

Heather said...

Leigh - The little holes-in-the-wall that aren't trying too hard usually have the best stuff. Especially when it's all neighs coming in.

Mark - Damn, boy, work it! I'd work it for free dumplings.

Jenn - Eating out gets expensive, but if you mix in little sammich and breakfast joints it's not so bad. :)

Foodycat - I'm pretty happy that I don't have to stick to the after-church crowd for getting brunch after 11am on a weekend.

Rachel - I despise waiting for a table, especially for the first meal of the day. There oughta be a law!

Lo - Breakfast and brunch places are so hard to find when you're on vacay, it's good to start socking them away them early!

Petah - The "out of the way" places are usually right under your nose all along!

Courtney - If fresh hollandaise sauce weren't such a pain in the ass, I'd never eat brunch out. :)

Jen - Good business owners know that regulars are their bread and butter, and being one means you'll always be taken care of when the place gets full or trendy (and the good ones always do).

Tom Aarons said...

Hipsters? Lock and load. Rock and roll.

You are the Hunter S. Thompson of brunch...

Toni said...

I'm so with you on becoming a regular at a neighborhood joint. At a certain point in life, being a hipster just isn't an option, so why bother? Besides, those fries look really good!!!

Lore said...

BLT & fries look mighty good! There's really no such thing as too much brunch places, right? :)

Heather said...

Tom - Hey you're my new Foodbuzz friend, yeah? I save the "lock and load" for vegans, usually.

Toni - Pretty soon, you wake up and realize the only person who would notice if you were dead is the waitress who serves you coffee every morning.

Lore - As long as they're good, a brunch place can open on every corner!


It's really cool to see local restaurant stuff. I miss Portland, and there are so many new places. And that neighborhood is great -- I lived in that area in the late 90's. I was always a downtown kind of girl, and also really enjoyed the diversity of close-in SE & NE Portland.

Looking forward to seeing more!

Leif erik Sundstrom said...

Man I feel like I must have just totally overlooked this place. I didn't even know it existed. I do love broder though. I think the food is pretty darn good, it makes me not miss Henry's at all. But, I can certainly see where an Ikea-esque decor would irritate the PMSing Lay-lady. After all, I don't konw if any of the stuff in there is actually Ikea. I mean it is a sedish place after all, and can't we give them some credit for going the real mile instead of using the Ikea rip offs. Plus, we all know (yet some of still like to gripe) that restaurants can't spontaneously create more seats. When they're full - they're full, and people happened to get there before you it's tough titties.

But I will try Clinton street! Sounds like a great little place for simple diggs.