The Oregonian Publishing Company LLC has written to us to complain that Willamette Week’s 2013 guide to Portland diners is likely to cause confusion and represents unfair competition. To be clear: the seven reviews in our online guide represent a parody of The Oregonian’s 2013 Diner. Please do not confuse them with the real thing.
Welcome to Diner 2013—not a guide to the Portland area’s best restaurants, or even to the best Oregonian-operated diners, but a seven-part series where we ate at seven Portland diners we hadn't been to in a while. Over the next week, we hit standbys where you can get eggs and coffee at a counter early or late in the day. Diner 2013: It's the best name for a series about Portland diners published in 2013.
Overlook Family Restaurant
288-0880, 1332 N Skidmore Street, facebook.com/OverlookRestaurantLounge.
Neighborhood: Overlook, a bluff nestled between the interstate and industrial Swan Island. A colleague described the immediate area as “a park built on top of a superfund site.”
Vibe: “May we suggest a Morning Cocktail” are the first words on the Overlook’s menu. They are prescient. This “family restaurant” feels much more like a well-worn Reno Lounge than wholesome diner, with orange stained glass windows, pink-hued chandeliers and a crackling gas fireplace provide dim dive bar lighting. Video lottery and Keno machines are out in the middle of the nearly empty room. A cigarette vending machine sits by the rear door. Big television screens are set to the Today show, a cooking segment, which we watch as our waitress slips out the front door for a smoke.
The Grub: Well, the toast is great—lightly buttered sourdough with a nice tang. Everything else was not. A Belgian waffle ($6.50) was dense and dry, as though it’d been made with all egg yolks instead of all egg whites. The massive “small” cinnamon roll ($3.75) tasted like a past-its-prime Franz loaf that’d been reformed into a swirl and and topped with sugar goo. A Western omelette ($8.95) had just enough ham, green peppers and sharp cheddar, but the ingredients were blended into the eggs then pan-fried—to me, that’s more a scramble, than an omelette. Hashbrowns were undercooked in the center, left limp and gritty. “It’s not somewhere I like to eat, but I could drink and watch college football there all day long,” a colleague said. Too bad it’s not actually Reno—this place could use a sports book where the Keno machines sit.