Other Side Diner
500 Washington Ave., Portland
Getting breakfast from a drive-thru window used to be strictly a fast-food affair — paper-wrapped breakfast sandwiches, doughnuts and coffee. Not exactly inspiring cuisine. But it’s 2020, and in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re about two squares away from Apocalypse Bingo. Some of us (my family included) are not ready to risk it all just to dine indoors. We still want to support our local restaurants, though, and that means take-out. Or, in the case of Other Side Diner, drive-thru.
Craving a diner-style breakfast on a recent Thursday morning, I ordered online (via othersidediner.com) and headed to the corner of Washington and Veranda streets, in Portland’s East Deering neighborhood. I arrived a few minutes early, pulled up to the window, and picked up the food as soon as it came out of the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later I was back at my apartment, unloading containers onto the kitchen counter.
I had been mindful to avoid ordering dishes with ingredients like soft-cooked eggs, which I suspected would not survive the short car trip. That meant a hard pass on the very tempting falafel benedict ($12) and biscuits and sausage gravy ($13), options that just wouldn’t be the same without a warm, runny egg yolk. But I couldn’t predict how other dishes would fare, which led to some mixed results.
For example, the phyllo burrito ($12) was delightfully crispy, but only on top. The ravages of gravity and time had left the bottom soggy and greasy. Inside the dough, the combination of scrambled eggs, feta cheese, spinach, tomatoes and Greek olives was excellent. But a side salad, cohabitating the same container, was limp and lifeless by the time it hit my plate. And my side order of scrapple ($6) also turned out to be a poor choice for take-out. Without that fresh-from-the-griddle crispness, the magic faded away.
On the other hand, Other Side’s thick, fluffy pancakes ($12) were absolutely delicious despite having lost their crispness and most of their warmth on the way home. The tartness of Greek yogurt and lemon zest contrasted beautifully with the real maple syrup (provided on the side, of course).
Best of all were the Greek doughnuts ($5) topped with crushed pistachios, walnuts, honey and cinnamon. They were still slightly warm, crunchy on the outside, and not too heavy. The flavor and aroma, reminiscent of a tray of homemade baklava, were flat-out amazing.
So, it’s fair to say, lessons were learned. Other Side does have a nice patio for outdoor dining, and it’s quite close to some beautiful spots to sit and eat in the car, including Back Cove and the Eastern Prom. Next time, I may just enjoy their breakfast in the parking lot while the food is hot, fresh, and at its very best.