Aaron Goeglein
Genies Cafe

1011 SE Divison

445-9777

While no one can quite agree on how to identify "the measure of a man," it's safe to say that hollandaise sauce is the measure of a good breakfast restaurant. This creamy, lemony, egg-laden creation of heathenous sauce is, when done correctly, guiltless; entirely worth the fat and calories, and even spiritually satisfying. When made sloppily (hello, Denny's) hollandaise can make you feel like a depressed tub of guts for the rest of the day.

Genies, the latest endeavor from the owners of the Shanghai Tunnel and Bar of the Gods, is a brunch/lunch restaurant with some of the most finely tuned hollandaise in town. Not only that, but the poached eggs that arrive with it are perfectly cooked, the yolks running rampantly when you pierce them. And with five incredible types of eggs benedict to choose from, Genies holds the present championship title for this signature dish. Enjoy your benedict sans English muffin, replaced with a delectable crab cake and asparagus spears. Or try it minus meat, with a risotto cake, spinach, and smoked tomato; or perhaps with salmon... but whatever you do, don't miss a taste of the benedict with the tasso ham. Lord Jesus... the dry smokiness, robust flavor, spiciness, and overall manly presence of this ham makes breakfast a climactic experience.

And Genies doesn't stop there. The dining space is adorable--a clean, bright, airy, booth-filled sanctuary. Their selection of scrambles, omelets, sandwiches, and sides is concise yet inclusive, with ingredients like broccoli, chicken, three kinds of mushrooms, leeks, cream cheese, and garden sausage. For potatoes, you can order the usual roasted variety (very tasty), or the potato pancakes. The latter can be difficult to eat due to their strange, brittle starfish shape, but if you're up to the challenge, are crispy and delicious. You also shouldn't pass up the chicken apple sausage, which, along with all of Genies' eggs, meats, and cheeses, are organic, so you can feel good about eating them.

All that, and I haven't even laid down my trump card: the cocktails. Perhaps it's because the owners are entrenched in the bar business, but Genies subscribes to the notion of early-day drinking. They're only open until 4 pm, yet they have a list of cocktails so long it would take me two weeks to try them all. Also, for the adventurous diner, they have a suggested wine with each breakfast entrée (try a Chardonnay with the classic Canadian bacon benedict, for example). Choosing to stick with the old standby, I ordered their Bloody Mary; or rather, I had two, falling victim to the salty, perfectly boozed zing. The mimosa is also worthwhile, as are the many coffee drinks made with the requisite Stumptown beans.

Lunch dishes at Genies are prepared with equal proficiency (they stop serving breakfast at 11 am on weekdays), the winners being the Rueben, falafel burger (fantastic), and grilled chicken breast with cheese and bacon.

In the end, the only complaint I have is that I occasionally feel like I could eat more food than they serve up, but many of my less gluttonous friends find their portions perfectly satisfying. This is no Katie O'Brien's three-egg bar breakfast meant to sop up your hangover, after all; it's lovingly prepared cuisine. And if my one criticism is that it leaves me wanting more, well, life could be a hell of a lot worse.