Back in 2018, news broke that two Bar Mingo alums — bartender Samantha Castle and chef Todd Brown — would open a new brunch spot in Lents. But, after trying desperately to nab the right permits to turn the space into a restaurant, they eventually had to give up the lease. Then, the pandemic hit.
Years later, Castle and Brown have revived their brunch spot, spiking coffee and gravy-ing biscuits in Southeast Portland. Flattop & Salamander — named for the two kitchen appliances — took over the space once home to Grace Cafe (and several other BJ Smith restaurants) on January 12, after they gave it a cozy makeover and — of course — installed a new flattop.
The brunch menu at Flattop & Salamander tackles genre standards and gives them a twist or polish: chicken and waffles come with either maple and bacon butter or hot chile honey, the corned beef hash uses house-made corned beef and poblano peppers, and the house-made biscuits come smothered in gravy and frizzled onions. A particularly noteworthy item on the brunch menu is the Honduran baleadas, flour tortillas folded and filled with beans, crema, and queso duro; Flattop & Salamander’s version of the dish also includes scrambled eggs.
Many of the touches in the kitchen are house-made (jams, honeys), but that also applies to the bar — Castle is particularly proud of her blood mary mixes, including a verde version with tomatillos, cilantro, and lime. Many of the drinks on the menu incorporate coffee or coffee liqueurs, including Spanish coffee and espresso martinis; naturally, there are plenty of Prosecco-finished drinks as well, like spritzes and mimosas with fresh-squeezed juice. Non-alcoholic drinks include smoothies, hot chocolate, juices, and coffee.
The space currently offers indoor dining, with warmer colors on the walls and a chalkboard for specials; the art on the walls, from local artists, will rotate every three months, Castle expects.
Flattop & Salamander is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at 1401 SE Morrison Street.