James-Beard-winning chef Gabriel Rucker wanted to launch brunch quietly. On May 21, an employee let it slip that breakfast and lunch had opened at Rucker’s wine bar, making it the only Gabriel Rucker institution to do brunch or breakfast: no benedicts at Little Bird; no pancakes at Le Pigeon. He wanted to do it right.
“It was like opening again,” Rucker says, standing in the doorway of Canard while a few customers stroll in for happy hour. He says the daytime crowd, especially mid-week, is far more casual, which he likes. He wants campers to open laptops and hang out. He wants the space to be amorphous, the way it shifts easily between bar and restaurant at night. “If you want to treat it like a coffee shop, you can treat it like a coffee shop,” he explains.
But no day-old muffins and lazy paninis are hiding on Canard’s daytime menu. Instead, fried chicken sandwiches arrive dripping with fiery orange chile-wasabi mayo, pancakes bathe in decadent duck sausage gravy, crunch shrimp toasts receive swirls of hollandaise and poached eggs for benedicts. If it’s a place to camp out, it’s closer to Out of Africa than Into the Wild. If you’re just looking to peruse menus, you can find them here; for now, these are Rucker’s three picks for breakfast, brunch, or whenever you decide to stroll in.
Shrimp Toast Benedict (Breakfast, Brunch)
Based off a dish on the dinner menu with fried shrimp and avocado, the shrimp toast Benedict tops the dish with a classic hollandaise, poached eggs, and a sprinkle of Japanese seasoning mix Furikake. The idea came from Canard chef de cuisine Taylor Daugherty, and after trying out the dish with a crab bearnaise, the two decided simple was the way to go. The shrimp is delicate enough to stand on its own, and if a customer wants a plain old Benedict, “We have prosciutto, we have English muffins,” Rucker says.
The Duck Stack (All Menus)
In the early days of Canard, Rucker made something called “ducketta,” aka duck porcetta, that The Oregonian said “might become the restaurant’s signature.” Unfortunately, creating the dish was an enormous task for a tiny kitchen, one that Rucker soon decided wasn’t worth it. So he swapped out his ducketta for another quack-happy dish: the duck stack, a set of duck fat buttermilk pancakes loaded with duck sausage gravy and sunny duck eggs. It started on the dinner menu, but it’s now available all day. “It’s like biscuits and gravy,” Rucker says. “I wanted to have a dish that’s just as good at 9 a.m. as it is at midnight after a bunch of Pabst.” If the duck-fat-roux in the gravy wasn’t rich enough for you, Rucker will throw on a lobe of seared foie gras for an extra $15.
Wasabi Fried Chicken Sandwich (Lunch)
Portland goes hard on fried chicken sandwiches. From Basilisk’s take with cabbage slaw to Maya Lovelace’s indulgent Intimidator with pimento cheese, Portland diners love their crunchy deep-fried poultry with just a little extra bread. Canard’s version, however, certainly stands out, drenched in Nickelodeon-orange chile-wasabi mayo, bread-and-butter daikon, and miso egg salad. It started as an entree at Le Pigeon, transforming that dish into something casual but explosive (seriously — the egg salad will get everywhere if you’re not careful).
Canard is open from 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays. The restaurant will be closed from June 10 to June 15 for a summer break, so now’s the time to go before the chefs take a breather.
• Canard [Official]
• Duck-Gravy-Smothered Pancakes Arrive at Canard’s Newly Launched Brunch [EPDX]
• Channeling Paris (and White Castle), Canard opens next door to Le Pigeon [The O]
• All Canard coverage [EPDX]