Brunch is coming to Northwest French restaurant St. Jack, and it may become one of Portland’s most decadent. Chef Aaron Barnett has packed his menu with an array of brunch dishes, ranging from the traditionally French to a calvados-soaked cinnamon roll.
Barnett’s brunch menu, which will begin Sunday, March 17 at 10 a.m., ranges from small and simple bites to hulking plates that require after-meal naps. Some of the latter include a massive croque madame, served with fried chicken, imported Bayonne ham, mornay, and and a fried egg on double-butter brioche, or its mammoth breakfast sandwich, an english muffin topped with foie gras boudin sausage, cheddar, braised greens, bearnaise, and a two-egg omelet.
Not all dishes are yolk-dripping, stoner-y monsters, however. Barnett offers lighter dishes, like his butter lettuce salad or an avocado toast, as well as things that are inspired by what he likes to eat before noon. “I’m not a big brunch person — I’m the guy who goes to brunch and orders the burger,” he says. “But I love menudo, so I love our tripes a la mode de caen, sort of like a tripe stew in the morning. If I go to France, it’s the first thing I order.”
Beyond the obvious French influences, both Barnett and his chef de cuisine Ben Morris pull from their childhoods in Manitoba and Minnesota, respectively, from gooey, fancy-Cinnabon-esque cinnamon rolls “hosed down with Calvados” to the Orange Julius flip made with Aperol. The paris brest, for instance, is a savory version that plays on the classic bagel-and-lox, with smoked salmon, capers, and an everything-seasoning-spiced pâte à choux pastry. “The area of Canada I grew up in has a large Jewish community, so I grew up with a lot of bagels and lox,” he says. “It’s something I find incredibly cute and also super yummy.”
Beyond the Up & Atom — aka the Orange Julius Aperol flip — St. Jack’s brunch cocktail list leans on the savory side, borrowing various elements from the kitchen. The St. Jack bloody mary, for instance, uses house fermented chili juice for its mix, lining the rim with house Montreal seasoning salt. For non-drinkers, St. Jack also offers honey-pear and sarsaparilla house sodas, as well as fresh-squeezed juice.