The classic modern dining experience was born in the 1950s, when comfort food was served at equally comfortable booths, soda jerks concocted elaborate drinks, and evenings meant cocktails at an intimate lounge. Today, those same iconic experiences come together for a foodie’s trip back in time at downtown Portland’s all-day diner, The Original Dinerant.
I stopped by The Original for brunch and was struck by the menu’s attention to detail in combining the best of the past with today’s sophisticated flavors. Of course, each of their menus featured classics, like chicken fried steak and eggs or a meatloaf plate ($15), but also the unexpected smoked steelhead eggs benedict ($14) and barbeque lamb ($18). I chose the Croissant-E Cristo ($10), a meaty, creamy, spicy and sweet breakfast sandwich that satisfied every craving I woke up with that morning. Swiss cheese slightly melted over a pile of sliced ham and sandwiched inside a buttery croissant, with one swipe of Dijon mustard and another of marionberry jam, it was every taste sensation a traditional croissant sandwich promises, but ratcheted up a few notches. Along with a vanilla latte ($5), my meal served up just what you come expect from a Portland breakfast eatery, with flair and fantasy cooked right in.
All the menus follow this same pattern. Concept and form going towards the traditional, with ingredients playing towards the modern. Locally-sourced and seasonal foods rule and dessert choices change daily. Make a stop at the pie case next to the door to tempt your sweet tooth for later.
From breakfast to late night, The Original’s serves specially crafted drinks mixed up behind a classic soda fountain. Original, house made sodas are a great option that carries on the spirit of the diner with unique flavors, like ginger mint, honey rosemary and, my favorite, rhubarb.
With its mid-century themes and sophisticated menus, The Original Dinerant takes diners back to the future where the best of the modern Portland food scene is delivered to you with a blast from the past.