Restaurant Guide 2013: The Country Cat

7937 SE Stark St., 408-1414,

[EXTREME COMFORT] In 2007, the opening of the Country Cat ushered in a mini-renaissance of foodie-friendly establishments in the Montavilla neighborhood. Six years later, the smoke from the little Cookshack smoker stationed just outside the back door continues to beckon. But still, caution is in order. One of the pitfalls of sitting at the Cat's well-stocked bar during brunch (which will probably be the only seats available on weekends) is the distractingly clear view of the bartender assembling one of many Proud Mary cocktails ($8) that will be served to other guests during the course of a typical visit. Usually you see this after you order eggs Benedict ($12), constructed with a cream biscuit in lieu of the English muffin, house-smoked ham playing a salty counterpoint to the tangy hollandaise. A bloody mary—no matter how beautifully assembled in a huge, frosty mug, with house pickles nestled next to an elephant ear–sized piece of house beef jerky—is going to be downright excessive, given the pile of home fries served with the eggs Benedict. A far more reasonable choice if you're getting the drink is the lemon poppy seed challah French toast ($10), redolent of vanilla bean and strewn with wine-infused cherries. So share it with a dining companion: Such sacrifices build character.

Ideal meal: Brunch. Anything with the home fries and/or onion rings. Something sweet.

Best deal: The French toast ($10) is huge. Drink plenty of coffee with it, or you will fall asleep immediately after consumption.

Pro tip: With everything they do well here, it's a bit sad they haven't nailed their homemade ketchup (too five-spicey, a touch watery). Just ignore it.

9 am-2 pm and 5 pm-close daily. $$.


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