The Country Cat: Restaurant Guide 2014

7937 SE Stark St., 408-1414, thecountrycat.net

[FRY DADDY] Old-time brunch hounds—and Portland is full of couples who spend every summer Saturday waiting somewhere for waffles—will tell you this place is their sleeper pick for the best in town, at least when you consider the hassles attendant upon all those who dare knock on the Screen Door. Opened in 2007, before the rush on reclaimed wood, Country Cat's décor wouldn't be out of place in a nicer Atlanta-area Starbucks. But this Montavilla bruncherie and dinner house takes the extra step everywhere—curing its own ham, baking its own biscuits, serving every bloody mary with a half-stick of beef jerky, which you can also buy by the quarter pound ($6). It's high-end, post-Paula Southern fare, and even the yogurt parfait ($6) is rich; the berry topping actually cuts the sweetness of the sugary vanilla-flavored yogurt. Half the mains are fried and most are meaty. The standard bearer is the chicken-fried steak ($12), which seems double-battered, with a thick husk separating the beef from the tangy Worcestershire-based gravy. They give you a little kale on the side, a serving of veggies on par with the pimiento pepper in cheese spread. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Pro tip:

Brunch is served at 9 am sharp. Arrive at 8:50 and you'll almost certainly get into the first seating.

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