I’m a famous brunch curmudgeon. I won’t go over my reasons, because you already know them. (But for one, long waits for a stupid scramble that I could make better at home for less money.) Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Still, I love a brunch that offers something I can’t get from my cozy kitchen, be it excellent cocktails, international delicacies, or, in the case of two new brunch services from the Alibi and Perlot, excellent musical entertainment.
Perlot, located on NE Fremont with a globally inspired menu from Chef Patrick McKee, has a robust live jazz program at night, and now all weekend at brunch. The Alibi is rivaled only by Chopsticks for absolute Portland karaoke supremacy—and with the addition of benedict and boozy coffee, it’s got my vote for the best.
Alibi Restaurant & Lounge
I’m not familiar with anyone who goes to karaoke bars for the food. This remains the case at the Alibi’s Hawaiian-influenced brunch, but honestly, no matter what you order, you’re in for a good time. Start off with the Hawaiian Coffee ($9); with both 151 and dark rum, it’s guaranteed you’ll start to limber up for pre-noon vocal gymnastics.
I went with a group of five friends on a recent Sunday, and it was as dark as always on the inside, Tiki lights and disco ball glowing at the ungodly hour of 11 am. Menus in one hand and karaoke songbook in the other, we picked our first meal of the day and morning-themed songs to kick things off right. (“Good Morning, Good Morning;” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s;” and “What’s Up” are all excellent options, IMHO.)
We didn’t have to wait long: without plenty of pre-game cocktails and the fact the Alibi’s karaoke brunch is still new, we were the first ones up to sing. While more people arrived as the brunch went on, we got in at least three or four songs each.
Brunch items include coconut shrimp and grits ($12) and a hamburger with bacon and egg ($12). The loco moco ($10), the island favorite of a burger patty over rice with gravy and a fried egg, fell super flat, begging for any hint of salt or hot sauce, and a side of Spam for $3 was too grilled to eat. Best go with the Kalua pork benedict ($12), served on those tasty Hawaiian sweet rolls with grits on the side. And be warned: food arrives piecemeal and over the course of an hour or so, so there’s no point in politely waiting for everyone to be served.
Thanks to a boozy coffee, several $4 mimosas with guava juice, and an enthusiastic, sparse audience, by the end, I was feeling brave enough to tackle songs at noon that midnight-me would never try. Pro tip: Order a $28 bowl with three kinds of rum when you arrive. Slurp that thing down as a group, using ridiculously long plastic straws (sorry, sea turtles)—it’s a pregame bonding ritual that shouldn’t be missed. See you there.
Sundays 11 am-2:30 am, 4024 N Interstate, alibiportland.com
With prices from $7 to $15, brunch at Perlot isn’t any more expensive than most Portland spots, but it sure feels way fancier.
There’s a lot of seats to fill in this former Smallwares space (which was also called Southfork before getting rebranded last year), and so walking in at 11 am on a Saturday was a blissfully easy experience. Grab a seat in the back bar area to catch the live jazz and tuck into some above-average brunch classics.
I’m not much for day drinking when I’ve got shit to do, but no matter what, get the peach herb cocktail. It arrives full of peachy summer brightness, and D.L. Franklin vodka balanced with basil and white peach purée, for $8. I managed to just have one and still run errands just fine, thankyouverymuch.
A summer veggie omelet with ricotta ($11) flowed with yummy cheese and late summer bounty, including corn, which I thought was a weird thing to put into an omelet, until the sweet crunchy kernels taught me otherwise. A benedict with smoked butter Hollandaise delivered on its smoky promise, and an heirloom tomato tucked under the braised greens was a welcome touch of sweet acidity in the rich dish ($12). We also split a Belgian waffle ($8), a single fluffy circle served with simple butter and jam.
As the sounds of a piano played in the background, it’s hard to imagine that other people choose to brunch otherwise.
Saturday & Sunday 8:30 am-2:30 pm (jazz from 10 am-1 pm), 4605 NE Fremont, perlotpdx.com