I DON'T KNOW if it's because I'm 30 and getting married this summer, but when I look at the Milk Glass Market and New American on N Killingsworth, I see the progression of young adult life over the span of one block.
Milk Glass Market is where the pretty young things are—a twee café with petite, well-crafted breakfast sandwiches and baked goods. Let's put it this way: Mustaches are welcome here. I go here after sleeping off a Saturday night party, rolling in at noon and savoring fried eggs laid lovingly over greens with watermelon radish, smoked trout, and roasted leeks ($10).
New American, on the other hand, is for pretty young families. Unabashedly kid-friendly without giving off a Chuck E. Cheese vibe, New American's menu is actually pretty traditional. Dishes like rotisserie chicken, mac 'n' cheese, and roasted veggies are sure-fire winners for picky eaters.
(Coincidentally, the Beaterville Café, an Old Portland stalwart that looks as if it were drawn by the animators of Rocco's Modern Life, rests on the same block. The owner retired and closed up in June 2014 after 20 years in the biz. I would have loved that place in college.)
Milk Glass Market
2150 N Killingsworth, 395-4742
Milk Glass Market is already killing it—the lines are growing longer on weekend mornings, and the dishes are consistently fresh and exciting. The décor is light and airy, with wall appliqués and a smattering of small wooden tables and counter seating. Water comes in empty bourbon bottles (owners Nancy Benson and William Mackinac must have had a blast building up that collection), and a small "market" offers wine, beer, and expensive specialty products.
Yelp says the masses are griping about small portions for high prices. This is kind of true. If you're planning on going whole-hog brunch, plan on ordering starters to share. The fig bread pudding ($7) with orange marmalade and whipped cream or steamed milk is a nice starter for a savory meal. It features whole figs and slightly astringent anise popping against the sweet marmalade. Focaccia, to my mind, is, like, so '90s. I don't care. Order the airy bread embedded with fat green olives ($3-9) to eat on the side.
Almost every table orders the biscuit sandwich, made famous at the owners' now-defunct Moxie Rx food cart on N Mississippi. It's a dense cheddar biscuit stacked high with herbed egg, bacon, and smoked salmon or roasted peppers ($8). It's simple and in need of nothing else.
But my favorite was the Swell, a hulking sandwich dripping fried egg over thin-sliced prosciutto, roasted peppers, and provolone, with a nice herby bite from fresh basil on ciabatta ($9). After the bread pudding, I had to donate the last quarter to the greater good.
I am a well-established hater of brunch wait times. These are growing inevitable at Milk Glass on a Sunday. But at least it's worth queuing for.
Tues-Sun 9 am–7 pm. Wine and beer.
2103 N Killingsworth, 971-229-0570
The New American dinner menu is modular: You pick a protein, sides, veggies, and a tasty sauce—available from small portions for one up to large portions for four. Order online and it will be waiting by the time you roll up. It is, as the owners say, slow fast food.
Chef/owners Faith and Aaron Dionne are still playing with the format, and in late December brought on former Grain and Gristle chef de cuisine Nathaniel Price. Since then, a dry, overcooked prime rib roast has been replaced with the more succulent Carman Ranch beef short ribs ($21 for a large order). The mac 'n' cheese ($5.25 for a small order) remains consistently good, with a nice, creamy cheese-to-noodle ratio.
Keep in mind your total as you go: For a family of four, a large order of chicken ($21), a large order of sweet potato wedges ($12.50), and roasted broccoli, beets, and squash ($12.50) comes out to $46 before tip, drinks, and dessert. Plus, New American charges for sauces ($4 for a large order) like gravy and Churriguera that add needed depth and pop to the meats.
There have been some execution issues along the way too. Nearly half a serving of thin-sliced brunch potatoes ($2) had a huge brown spot all the way through the middle. The prep cooks should've caught that. Similarly, a braised chard offering tasted as if the greens hadn't been washed at all—they were grainy and lacked any seasoning.
I was much happier at brunch, where, unlike many of the more austere serving sizes at Milk Glass, entrées are ample and really, really good. A chicken and biscuit ($7.50) is like a fluffy-bottomed pot pie. It combines rotisserie chicken with chicken gravy, greens, and other goodies on a puffy cheddar biscuit; add an egg for an extra $2. There will be leftovers. Two eggs baked in a Portuguese red sauce with harissa and mint yogurt with toast ($7.50) was a well-balanced nod to Tasty n Sons, with the rich yolk pinging off the tart yogurt. Nab the French toast ($6.50), which is really griddled bread pudding, for the table as a starter. Nothing we tried at brunch missed the mark.
On your way out, get some Bees and Beans confections: Faith Dionne also runs that business, and her chocolate-covered honey marshmallows are a thing of beauty. It's clear the couple has an eye for what works—each successive visit has been better than the last. In a few months, New American should deliver fully.
Mon-Thurs 3–9 pm, Fri 3–10 pm, Sat 9 am–10 pm, Sun 9 am-9 pm. Weekend brunch. Wine and beer.