After fish and chips and the almighty sandwich, the fry-up stands as England's greatest contribution to world gastronomy. The full English breakfast is a painter's palette of protein and fat: fried eggs always sunny, bacon, baked beans, black pudding, tomatoes, toast and especially breakfast banger sausages. It is a collage in comfort, a variety plate custom-made for a country shy of spice.
But the meal is often hard to appreciate in Portland. The full English is obscure outside its homeland, available at precious few spots in town and often served in loose or subpar interpretations. Until recently, the best and most meticulously prepared full English in town came from a downtown food cart run by Englishman Chris Payne—a huddled mass of meat and egg that had to be speared out of a box.
Kingland's space still has the character of the coffee shop that preceded it, though the brightly lit and somewhat sparse counter-service restaurant now sports soft seats backed with genuine cowhide. The food is bolstered by craft beer and surprisingly good $8 cocktails, including one made with Scotch and pear Combier.
The full English is better than ever, however. The bacon is back bacon, thank you, just as the beans come from Heinz. The house-made bangers pop with rusk—an English wheat filler that makes sausage into snappy dumplings—and are deepened with thyme and rosemary. They make Jimmy Dean seem like a fennel-plugged amateur. Meanwhile, the tomatoes come sliced and thyme-roasted with mushrooms, and the oh-so-English black pudding is also made in house. It is the finest example of the form I've had in Portland, and at $16 it could serve two.
That plate is served all day until 3 pm, closing time, as is perhaps the city's most generous avocado toast ($8), which comes slathered in a half-inch of smushed green on toasted wheat bread, in a bed of bitter greens.
But the breakfast menu—served till 11 am weekdays and 3 pm on the weekend—has now broadened considerably with a seven-deep selection of English muffin sandwiches for those on the go, mostly breakfast-patty upgrades on the McMuffin. If you can't sit still for the full English, you should nonetheless skip the muffin fare in favor of the more interesting sammies served on bap—a soft Scottish roll that comes pillowy with flour and lightly toasted on its bottom. These include both a $10 steak chimichurri sandwich and an $8 Little Britain stacked up with the banger, egg and bacon found in the Full English.
Lunch finds Kingsland a bit less consistent, as the menu branches out into the Indian- and Jamaican influenced fare that defines the modern English diet. A Mumbai-spiced chicken breast sandwich was bland and a little dry, and diners should heavily prefer slathering the pub fries ($5) in HP brown sauce rather than getting them in $8 "pigsty" form—a hard-to-put-together combo of pork cracklin, banana peppers and tart-acidic "#1 King's sauce." A field mushroom salad ($7) filled the mushrooms' hollow tops with oil while leaving the lettuce mostly dry.
But alongside a juicy and excellent Guinness-braised beef sandwich ($11) that also graced the cart menu, there's at least one genuine new hit on the lunch menu at Kingsland. Though the spicy fried chicken sandwich was shaky in early weeks, it's has rounded into a gob-smackingly chili-spiced take on a General Tso's sandwich. Saucy sweet heat, aged cheddar, slightly smushy breading and a wealth of very English "gherkin mayo" mash up three continents' worth of junk food into joyous ecstasy. It's a genuine winner, and at $10 it's a full meal even without sides.
Alongside multiple lunchtime dishes with those excellent sausages—including the classic bangers and mash—the menu also sports a decent apple-chutney pork sandwich and a double-patty burger ($11) with aged cheddar that one of our writers swears is her favorite in town. The $3 tomato soup side is spicy, thick and dense with flavor.
The menu might want some editing, but Kingsland Kitchen is a roundly successful translation—one of the rare food carts to move to brick and mortar with its value proposition utterly intact. Nothing feels overpriced, and the hospitality is equally preserved. Spicy fried chicken aside, what's on offer here is not a flavor wallop, but cloudy-day comforts that can feel surprisingly particular. When someone flies in from Sussex with an insoluble need for black pudding and bangers, there's now a place to recommend without a single caveat.
Kingsland Kitchen, 301 SW Pine St., 971-300-3118, kingslandkitchen.com. 8 am-3 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-3 pm Saturday.