I always describe brunch in Portland as a contact sport, and so while I do enjoy going to the brunch meccas around town, a true Portlander knows that sometimes you just don't want to wait for eggs, and that there are many neighborhood joints that serve up a fantastic brunch. Navarre is that spot for me.
The food is about as rustic as it gets, serving up the basic necessities with elegance. Butter, jam, and bread are elevated to stratospheric heights in this setting, and that's where Navarre excels best: understated farmhouse charm.
Meat dishes such as boudin blanc with caramelized apples or rabbit are executed perfectly, and perhaps this is where Navarre contrasts most with those other brunch meccas. Instead of a gravy-laden meal (for which there will always be a time and place), Navarre prefers instead to show restraint, emphasizing artisanal vegetables as well as their meat purveyors.
I know Navarre is available for dinner, but I turn to it at brunch specifically for this contrast. So while here, it bears mentioning that their poached eggs are excuisite, shown here atop a crab cake.
And the foie, o! the foie! A generous slice, dusted with cumin and salt, Navarre's preparation is such a departure from the usual pairing of foie with something sweet. Here, the natural richness of foie comes through, and its savory aspects are highlighted. An exceptional dish.
Every now and then I just need to escape the Portland brunch crowd, and it's with great pleasure that I turn to Navarre for that moment of mid-morning zen.