Breakfast in Portland: the most important meal of the day

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If there’s one thing Portland does right it’s breakfast. Don’t believe me? Grab a copy of Breakfast in Bridgetown: The definitive guide to Portland’s favorite meal.

Paul Gerald, local author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland, uses the book to highlight the best amenities that 95 restaurants serve for breakfast in Portland.

Gerald doesn’t use a rating system for his reviews. Instead, he believes that all restaurants have their individual perks that he portrays in a layout that’s quick and easy to read. For readers who demand a more detailed description, he also writes about two pages on each restaurant.

After many acknowledgements and notes to readers, Gerald explains the categories that range from mom-and-pop diners to classy (read: pricey) restaurants. Then, he lists by location all 95 restaurants and on what page to find out more information. He inserts another list for restaurants that offer patio seating.

There are also small, black-and-white photos of each building. Although these aren’t effective in giving an overall sense of the establishment, the pictures make it easier to find the restaurants when walking or driving to a new area. Plus, it gives an image for the mind to associate each place with, because after reading 95 reviews most of the diners begin to blur together.

Finally, breakfast is served in alphabetical order from Arcadia to Zell’s. Each restaurant lists a one-line description, address, phone number, hours breakfast/brunch is served, Web site, prices and accepted forms of payment.

Gerald writes a two-page summary of his breakfast experience at that particular location. He ends each restaurant description listing wait time, seating, large group capability, portion size, allowed menu substitutions, coffee brand, other drinks, vibe, health options and Wi-Fi accessibility.

Although Gerald clearly enjoys animal products, he does manage to keep vegetarians and vegans in mind when he categorizes restaurants and amenities. He labels the diners that have tofu, the ones that are veggie-based and the ones that have little to no vegan options.

Self-published books in general have something of a bad reputation, but Breakfast in Bridgetown is a classy product. It’s professionally designed, well organized and well edited.

Gerald doesn’t pretend to be a food expert. He relays his experience in a frank, honest tone that’s enjoyable to read. He relays his breakfast ventures in the same casual, light-hearted manner and by the end of the book, Gerald seems like an old friend.

Sometimes his reviews show that he definitely felt out of place in restaurants that cater more regularly to young “hipsters,” but overall he provides sound, fatherly advice on where to eat.

Each restaurant is visited at least once with a large group of friends or a few times with small groups. Most commonly, the reviews are the recollections of two separate trips to a restaurant and several ordered specialties.

That way different entrees are examined and described in Gerald’s review. It’s interesting just to thumb through the book and see the many ingenious ways that restaurants take a staple, such as French toast, and transform it into a memorable, one-of-a-kind dish.

In addition to reviewing the food, Gerald talks with the owners of restaurants he writes about. He discovers where they get their ingredients (i.e. is it local?) and the authenticity of foreign food. For example, he recommends the Mexican restaurant Autentica because it buys local food and serves dishes only from the owner’s hometown of Guerrero, Mexico. Whenever there’s local history about the establishment, Gerald relishes in relaying the details.

Gerald hopes that Breakfast in Bridgetown will be successful enough to warrant a next edition that will be expanded and improved. Even though there are over 200 different restaurants serving breakfast in Portland, and Gerald covers less than half of them, this is still an impressive first edition that should keep readers busy while Gerald is hard at work eating and writing for the next edition.

Gerald even invites readers to join in on the second edition by making suggestions or leaving comments at www.BreakfastInBridgetown.com.

This guidebook is perfect for someone who just moved to Portland, a suburbanite who works downtown or a Portlander who wants to break out of a niche to try a new haunt. Gerald shows us that there are ample options for any diner.

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