In 2010, New York’s outsized meat bard, Josh Ozersky, barreled into Portland looking for the culinary equivalent of Elliott Smith. He ate for 36 hours—until he “writhed in pain”—then regurgitated the experience in Time magazine, proclaiming “The Food in Portland Is So Good It Will Literally Make You Sick.” He loved the raw beauty, the lo-fi gastronomy, and the sheer friendliness of the culture … so much so that he moved here a year ago with his wife, Danit. It was a beautiful but brief love affair. Ozersky died, suddenly, shockingly in May, following an epileptic seizure. (His Portland posse pays tribute here).
As a Portland newcomer, Ozersky (Esquire magazine’s food correspondent) hated the idea that he didn't know the territory, the hidden gems. He lived to find that sweet spot: a genuine taste of the flavors time forgot—vintage cakes to prime rib sandwiches—and share it with the world. He found it, at last, at Muscadine (1465 SE Prescott St). The under-the-radar Southern brunch spot made Esquire’s Best New American Restaurants 2015 list, drawn from Ozersky’s recommendations (true to Ozersky form, he spent the magazine’s travel and food budget before he could file a single word). Standing in for Ozersky’s “it hurts so good” to eat in Portland, Esquire’s James Ross Gardner writes: “Muscadine serves only breakfast and lunch, and with food this good, that can be a cruel thing. Then again, limitation has a way of focusing you, honing the senses. Do you go for the fried chicken with the crispiest skin and the juiciest meat you've ever tasted? Or the catfish—which the kitchen is known to send out one piece at a time to ensure only the most freshly fried portions hit your plate?”
Ozersky didn’t choose; he had it all.
Muscadine also found its way into Portland Monthly’s Best New Brunches 2015, which dropped in February 2015. In her review, senior editor Kelly Clarke notes the slim, “15-minute wait” time in a city known for long lines. All that is about to change.