Eat: An Oyster Bar
There’s something about the way brunch tastes when you haven’t endured an endless, soul-crushing wait: that delicious satisfaction of imagining folks fidgeting in sidewalks across town, hungrily listening for their names to be called, as you breezily enjoy your first mouthful. This is reason no. 1 to head up to N Williams Avenue for the New Orleans–style jazz brunch at Eat before the masses catch on. Reasons two and three are less steeped in schadenfreude: it’s charming, and it tastes great.
Eat has been steadily attracting a lively evening crowd with classic Cajun and Creole dishes, stiff cocktails, and a bevy of oyster options, from raw to Rockefeller to chile-infused shooters. But in March, co-owners Ethan Powell and Tobias Hogan launched their brunch service, and with it brought the convivial magic of a French Quarter bistro jam to Stumptown. With an opening invitation of luscious beignets flanked by a buttery bourbon sauce, the menu is small and welcoming. Entrées are ideal for sharing: the veal grillades are a hearty standout, sliced thick, braised in a dark roux, and served over coarse-ground, belly-warming grits, while the light and lovely eggs Sardou, a grand culinary legacy of New Orleans, balances two poached eggs, perfectly cradled within artichoke hearts, with creamed spinach and a modest dousing of house-made hollandaise.
Per tradition, half of the menu is devoted to cocktails, wine, and beer, so if a Sunday-morning hurricane is what the doctor ordered, you can fill the prescription at Eat. But the real intoxicant here is Reggie Houston’s Box of Chocolates. A seasoned sax player who has gigged with Fats Domino, Dr. John, and the Neville Brothers, the New Orleans transplant now fills Eat with the sound of the Big Easy every Sunday from 11 to 2. With that alluring trinity of food, booze, and music, the lines will surely be forming soon.