In a town where the restaurant scene is as hot as it can get, it isn’t hard to run into the same chef or owner in multiple places. The Portland area’s astonishing growth makes it fertile ground for those seeking to expand their holdings. As a result, many a restaurateur in Portland sits atop his or her own mini-empire.
Several names come to mind. Andy Ricker, John Gorham, and of course, Bruce Carey. Today we return to one of his stables as we dig deeper into our Portland Brunch Series. Welcome to 23Hoyt, one of the pillars of the Portland restaurant fiefdom that is Bruce Carey restaurants. Considering Carey has plenty of restaurants to go around, it’s no surprise that we find ourselves returning to them.
Perched in a desirable location in the popular Nob Hill neighborhood, 23Hoyt offers up a chic, upscale vibe with a wide selection of small and large plates and craft cocktails. As Carey’s fourth opening, 23Hoyt puts a heavy focus on artistic flair and wide open spaces.
With a Master’s degree in Art Administration, Carey set out to make sure 23Hoyt expressed a unique vibe, with large candles dripping with melted wax atop the bar and giant deer antler chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. Various pieces of art and sculpture make themselves at home in interesting nooks and crannies.
It’s likely with good reason that Carey has focused on a unique look for 23Hoyt, considering the heavy competition in the surrounding neighborhood. Fortunately, multiple spaces and appealing sidewalk seating set up 23Hoyt as a great visual draw.
And while 23Hoyt is well known for its fine dining fare, their new brunch offerings stand out. A fantastic bar service and healthy drink selection provide for a number of choices, no matter your palate’s preference.
Upon arrival, you would be remiss to not immediately order the quintessential brunch beverage: A delicious Bloody Mary. 23Hoyt’s version brims with pickled vegetables, bacon and a lemon and lime wedge. The heaping of salt rounding out the rim provides the accompaniment to the peppery heat of the drink. It’s not always easy to make this drink right, but 23Hoyt’s version shines.
For those who don’t ride on the tomato bandwagon, and we know there are more than a few of you, try to find your inner bourgeoisie and step it up a notch to the Aristocrat, a delicate beverage of Dutch Gin, muddled cucumber, lime, lemon and sage. A slice of cucumber provides the visual double to a drink that is deceptively delicious. It’s the sage that steals the show, adding a hint of something special to a drink you wouldn’t think calls for it.
As the summer draws to a close, you might find yourself nursing on a warm Irish Coffee, complete with a billowing of whipped cream and sprinkled of cinnamon crowning the dark, delicious goodness hidden below.
Once you’ve filled your stomach with enough alcohol (you are having brunch, aren’t you?), it’s time to recharge with some filling, greasy goodness. The meal starts with the cast iron cornbread with seasonal jam and Marionberry fruit butter. The cornbread is fluffy and warm, providing the perfect foundation for a heaping of Marionberry butter and jam.
With your starter out of the way, a true hearty meal awaits. While 23Hoyt’s brunch offerings don’t set the standard of innovation, they do what you expect to see well. It’s hard not to find the appeal in a classic preparation of huevos rancheros. A giant plate arrives filled sectioned off with black beans, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, cojita cheese, two eggs and, of course, smoked chorizo.
Another traditional offering brimming with flavor and succulence is the braised brisket hash. Quite frankly, any time there’s a hash on the menu, it’s hard to pass up. This version arrives with well-aged brisket meat, hearty greens, potatoes, whole grain mustard, sour cream and a couple over-easy eggs. It’s the type of meal you look for after you’ve been out on the trail, burning calories; something hearty to fill your stomach with upon your return.
The fact is, there are a lot of brunch offerings in Portland. Considering Portland has seen an influx of – at one point – 111 people a day, it’s no surprise that a crowded restaurant market continues to fill in. Fortunately for 23Hoyt, it’s still all about location, location, location. Set in a heavily trafficked area and designed with contemporary art in mind, 23Hoyt makes for a great place to stop for an afternoon brunch on lazy (or busy) afternoon.
23Hoyt is located at 529 NW 23rd Avenue in Portland, Oregon. They can be reached at 503.445.7400. For more information, visit their website at www.23hoyt.com.
William Bessette – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
William Bessette is a published author, poet and longtime journalist who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over twelve years. He currently works from his home in the Pacific Northwest profiling restaurants, reviewing local plays and reporting on regional, national and international travel.