I LOVE coffee. Finding an amazing cup of coffee in each city that I travel to is something that I love to do. After living in Melbourne for 7 years, I have been spoilt for choice when it comes to the coffee and brunch options that exist there. It’s fair to say that it has made me become a brunch/coffee snob because the standard is just so high. If a cafe in Melbourne doesn’t have amazing coffee and food, chances are that it’s not going to be around for long. Moving to London and travelling around, I’ve had many good brunches and coffees but there’s nothing more comforting than a “Melbourne brunch”. You can imagine how excited I got when I found out that Proud Mary, a true Melbourne coffee institution, had opened up cafe in Portland, just a few months before we visited. We had such a great experience that we ended up going there two days in a row. Here’s a rundown of what we thought of Proud Mary Portland!
In true Melbourne brunch fashion, we couldn’t reserve tables. On the first day (Saturday), we waited for about 20-30 minutes at around 11am and on the second day we only waited 10 minutes at around the same time. If you really don’t like waiting for tables or you have a large group then I suggest getting there early.
Design and Layout
The first thing that I noticed was how big the space was, especially in comparison to Proud Mary in Melbourne. The cafe is spacious and the design is minimal with a slightly industrial feel. My favourite area of the cafe was the coffee bar, where all the baristas were stationed. The coffee bar features a one of a kind coffee machine with 6 groups, 4 steam wands and 4 hot water taps, which was custom built by Synesso for the Proud Mary Portland cafe. Having a huge coffee machine built into the bar (as opposed to on top of the bar) really helped open up the entire space and allowed a more interactive coffee and dining experience.
On the first day we were seated at the bar and on the second day we were seated at the back near the kitchen. We enjoyed sitting in two different areas as it allowed us to experience both settings. Personally, the bar was my favourite. It was fun to watch the baristas make our coffee and have a chat to them as well. We were lucky enough to be seated in front of Nolan Hirte, the founder of Proud Mary. Nolan was really friendly and we chatted to him as he served up coffee orders non-stop! After speaking to him for a short while it was clear that he is extremely passionate about coffee and the cafe experience. He mentioned that there are now around 1900 cafes in Melbourne which is a big reason for making the move to Portland and embarking on a new challenge. On one hand I can’t believe there’s that much coffee in Melbourne but if you’ve been to Melbourne before it makes total sense!
Upon sitting down at the bar, we were given a run down of the beans being used and presented with a coffee card with details about the coffee farm, different variety of beans and flavours we could expect. During our visit, they were serving up the Costa Rica Hacienda Sonora. Andrew had the washed and natural espressos and thoroughly enjoyed both (seriously, he’s still talking about them), but preferred the natural over the washed. I ordered a flat white on the first day and a piccolo on the second day. Both coffees were some of the best coffees that I’ve had in a while, and made me feel like I was having brunch back in Melbourne.
We enjoyed the coffee so much that we bought a bag of the Costa Rica Hacienda Sonora Natural beans ($17/250 grams) so that we could make Aeropress coffee with them during our USA/Canada road trip.
On the first day, I ordered the potato hash and Andrew had the asparagus and parmesan. The potato hash was served with smoked bacon, kale salad, a poached egg and garlic and anchovy cream sauce. This is one of Proud Mary’s signature dishes, and Nolan told us that he couldn’t bring Proud Mary to Portland without putting this dish on the menu. Having eaten Proud Mary’s potato hash in Melbourne previously, I knew I had to order it here as well. It was extremely popular as we saw them flying out of the kitchen and this dish was so good that I ordered it on second day as well!
The asparagus and parmesan dish consisted of grilled asparagus, house-made grilled corn bread, a poached egg and parmesan cream. It was like someone had taken the standard poached eggs on toast and lifted it to the next level. Something about the charred flavour of the asparagus along with the fruity and nutty flavour of the parmesan just made sense. Best of all the egg was poached perfectly. What else do you expect from a Melbourne born cafe?
The Potato Hash
Asparagus and Parmesan
On the second day, as well as the potato hash, we ordered the ricotta hotcake. I’ve previously had the ricotta hotcake in Proud Mary Melbourne so I had high expectations. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint! The vanilla ricotta hotcake was beautifully plated with macerated berries, lemon curd cream, cinnamon cookie meringue and edible flowers. My favourite element was cinnamon cookie meringue. You could taste the cinnamon but it wasn’t overpowering and it paired so well with the other elements of the dish. If you love sweet brunches, then the ricotta hotcake is for you!
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Proud Mary in Portland and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this cafe to anyone visiting Portland. The food and coffee were great on both days and lived up to our expectations. It was wonderful seeing a fabulous cafe that was born out of Melbourne doing so well in the US and we can’t wait to see what Nolan and his team at Proud Mary have in store for the future!
2012 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 97211, USA
+1 503 208 3475