Elsewhere in Portland—at Kenny & Zuke's or Kornblatt's, say—a New York-style menu is loudly announced in the décor, the pastrami front and center in a deli case, the pickles on the tables, etc. Block's is oddly demure. There is a pastrami hash, but the walls are covered in cheerily domestic family photos, the walls are bright, and the kitchen minimal and visible from nearly every seat.
The plates can be dainty: The Pequod poached egg stack ($12) is served on a pair of gravlax-studded latkes so light they almost seem baked rather than fried, sitting prettily next to each other with a startling amount of room left on the plate. It left me with a residual ache in my belly and the need for an early lunch. Instead, get the heartier Rainbow ($9), two poached eggs with ready-to-pop yolks, perched atop two slices of rich polenta and stewy sauteed greens.
Breakfast specials named for a pair of Old Book friends—Sofia and Solomon—involve yogurt and granola. Solomon's ($7) comes in a Mason jar, a wisely assembled soup of thin, tart yogurt and crunchy toasted walnuts, sweetened by honey and sliced banana.
Homesick East Coasters, take note: You can get matzo ball soup at lunchtime for a mere $7. And even if your mom's from Georgia and doesn't know a kugel from a rugelach (the latter is $1.25 at the counter), it'll make you feel like your grandmother loves you.
EAT: Block's, 2032 SE Clinton St., 234-5689, blockspdx.com. 8 am-6 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-3 pm Saturday-Sunday.