The Knotted Apron
496 Woodford St., Portland
If the fall of 2020 was all about takeout, this fall is the season of the patio. Restaurants with outdoor seating are especially attractive as COVID case numbers and fatalities spike. Again.
Some of the quietest, most comfortable patios in Portland are located off the peninsula, where space isn’t as limitied or expensive. So when my wife and I were in the mood for a leisurely brunch on a recent sunny Sunday morning, we decided it was finally time to check out the patio at The Knotted Apron.
The Rosemont neighborhood bistro opened during the last week of January 2020. Some of you might remember what happened a few weeks later. Yeah, that. The Knotted Apron managed to survive by pivoting to a takeout-only menu. They recently reopened for dinner and Sunday brunch.
When we arrived, just after they opened, the dining room was nearly empty but the patio was fully booked with reservations — another reminder of how much times have changed. Thankfully, we were able to snag the last available outdoor table. We sipped mugs of Bard coffee ($4) while we perused the menu. With no dairy-free milk options available, my wife was forced to drink hers black, but the brew was so smooth and rich that she was cool with that.
For my “appetizer” course, I ordered the Rise and Brine, a perfectly spiced Bloody Mary garnished with colossal green olives and a seasoned-salt rim. I could have easily downed a second one, but at $12 apiece I decided one was plenty.
The Eggs Benedict ($14) featured two nicely poached eggs and a bright, light-bodied Hollandaise sauce over slices of house-smoked ham steak that were deeply flavorful, if a bit on the tough side. A split biscuit, standing in for the traditional English muffin, was disappointingly dense, with a sandy texture reminiscent of shortbread. The crisp, aggressively seasoned, smashed-and-roasted fingerling potatoes on the side were easily my favorite part of the dish.
My wife passed up the temptation of shrimp and grits with bacon and calabrian chili ($16) in favor of the Duck Confit Benedict ($16). The shredded duck meat was rich, fatty, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Brussel sprouts were roasted perfectly — just slightly al dente — and paired especially well with the Hollandaise sauce. Although the menu description included tostones (crispy, fried plantain cakes), the dish came with the same biscuits as the standard bennie — apparently plantains were unavailable on this particular day.
In addition to our entrées, we split a plate of Anadama French Toast ($14) with molasses butter and maple syrup. Baked with cornmeal and molasses, the bread’s texture was reminiscent of a griddled muffin. Soaked in egg custard and combined with the smoky-sweet butter and syrup, it was decadent and delicious.
The days are getting cooler, and I don’t know how late in the season patios like this one will remain open. But we Mainers are a hardy bunch, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and with any luck, we’ll all be dining inside again soon. In the meantime, it’s sure nice to have a comfortable outdoor option for brunch.
The Knotted Apron is open for brunch Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.