Sunday, November 6, 2011


A trip to Portland, Oregon, is a gastronomic adventure. My son Thor and wife Sarah live there, and on each visit for the past seven years they have taken me to a new restaurant. Every one has been excellent, or as Thor says, 'If they aren't outstanding, they fail; there are too many fine ones in town.' Portland is famous for its farms and produce, and even though it is a port, it doesn't seem to be a fishing port like Seattle. Everything I've eaten there has been delightfully fresh. So, it is always with eager anticipation that I arrive in town.

Sarah's mother, Cathy, invited me to breakfast so we could catch up on kids, gossip, and good times. She had been to Petite Provence of Alberta recently and recommended it highly. It gets its name because it sits on Alberta Street, a fairly nondescript neighborhood not likely to sport a fine French restaurant. I was expecting good food in a funky neighborhood atmosphere. The reality was the opposite. The exterior was a beautiful black with gold lettering. Inside full mirrors surrounded the sides, while the black and gold continued around. Cases full of pastries, pies, cakes, all exquisitely decorated curved around the right side. We were seated and given a huge menu. The waitress returned three times before I could focus and make up my mind.
The Menu

Pascal, Didier and Alain owners of Petite Provence Boulangerie and Patisserie arrived in 1996, and opened their first, La Provence Bakery and Bistro in Lake Oswego. This is the fourth location they have developed. The place looked so new, so clean, so tempting. I rubernecked the entire place, checking what others were eating, watching the waitresses bring the armloads of food. Everything looked good; choosing became more difficult.
Looking around

I hadn't event thought to bring a camera, but I had my iPhone, so I lifted it into the air, pointed into the mirror and snapped away.
I focus the camera into the mirror

I deferred to Cathy's suggestion to order a croissant with jelly, freshly made and warm with a cup of coffee and cream. I think a croissant is an excuse to squeeze butter out of bread. Perfect; I really didn't need anything else -- just several of these would have sufficed.
Cathy with the first croissant, coffee, and jelly

Next she suggested what she and Will had eaten the previous visit: corned beef hash with poached eggs. The waitress recommended the French toast. I went with the waitress. Cathy ordered the risotto with yams. What???? Didn't sound like breakfast to me. She let me taste the risotto. The verdict was 'guilty', and its now on the menu at Chez Ralph's.
Cathy's risotto with yams

The French toast, dipped in a white seasoned cheese sauce was a new fresh taste to my palate, experienced as it was in a thousand years of standard French toast. Two poached eggs garnished with chives and paprika topped the toast. Another Americano to wash it all down and I was set for the week.
The French toast with poached eggs and cheese sauce

Be sure to visit their website and click on the 'Photos' to see the pastries, decorations, and decor:

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