IKEA's July grand opening brought more than right-angled furniture to Portland living rooms. It also delivered its famously salty, straight-from-the-package Swedish meatballs to its busy in-store cafeteria.
But IKEA wasn't the only Swedish restaurant to drop its balls of meat on PDX recently. Three weeks before the Swedish retailer jammed up local traffic patterns, Savoy's Peter Bro opened his Swedish-themed Broder (2508 SE Clinton St., 736-3333) in the space formerly home to Henry's Cafe on Clinton Street. The eatery feels a lot more home-grown than IKEA, and the meatballs ($8) aren't frozen. Made fresh daily and bathed in a creamy sherry sauce, they kick IKEA's to the curb.
Additions like blue plastic chairs and rough cedar siding lend Broder a vaguely Scandinavian aesthetic, a look that Bro likens to the inside of a Swedish sauna. "We didn't want to geek out too much at first," the restaurateur says. But geek out they did.
Take the excellent smoked trout and onion scramble ($9): It's oven-baked and served on a square-shaped mini skillet that looks to have been swiped from a child's kitchen playset—complete with a dinky quilted oven mitt that fits snugly over the tiny metal handle. The delicious dish is served with sweet roasted heirloom tomatoes and potato pancakes, and it's probably the most distinctive brunch item in Portland.
Broder's edible-cute theme continues with Aebleskiver ($7), pillowy, apricot-sized Danish pancakes with the trio of homemade lingonberry jam, maple syrup and what the menu rightly dubs "good butter." These and the waffles are standouts.
Breakfast "bords" include bits of this and that on polished wood planks, and are perfect to share. The Swedish Bord ($10) includes rye crisp, salami, smoked trout and hard cheese, and the Summer Bord ($8) boasts a boiled egg, brown bread and Crescenza, a soft cheese whose texture rivals that of foie gras mousse. Both sport granola and fresh fruit.
The Broder Club ($8) rules lunch time with gravlax, bacon, avocado, roasted tomato and horseradish cream on Pearl Bakery bread. It nearly feeds two. Bro says there's more to come during lunch hour, and once it obtains a liquor license in September, Broder will add dinner. Scandinavian meat dishes like prune-stuffed pork and a cold seafood bar with shrimp, crab legs and oysters are in the works. Bro also plans to make sausages and cure ham and salami in-house.
"Broder" is Swedish for "brother," which is how Bro sees his new restaurant: as little brother to his Savoy Bistro next door. (He also owns Aalto Lounge.) Whereas Savoy serves dishes from Bro's native Wisconsin, Broder aims at the source: the Scandinavian Old Country where many Wisconsinites and Oregonians like me can now proudly trace our big-boned heritage.