Located in a sunny, high-ceilinged room just off the lobby of the historic Hood River Hotel, Broder Øst, the far eastern outpost of the beloved Portland breakfast spot, has every ounce of the original Broder’s charm. At 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, just after opening, the restaurant is already starting to fill up with vacationing couples and families anxious to order æbleskiver (round Danish pancakes, served in a skillet with lingonberry jam and lemon curd) and lefse (potato crepes) before heading out on the weekend’s adventures.
They sit at long tables in the middle of the room, upstairs in the balcony and in an alcove decorated with cheerful daisy-printed wallpaper. I seat myself at the bar and order a coffee. Even at this early hour in Hood River’s off-season, almost all the seats at the bar are taken. A couple sits next to me and orders coffee, Bloody Marys and a shot of aquavit, a spiced Scandinavian spirit that smells strongly of caraway.
In a brunch landscape crowded with identical menus of pancakes and scrambles, Broder Øst’s menu stands out — and not just for the exotic names. I order a coffee, a Swedish breakfast board and uunipuuro (Finnish porridge served with compote and steamed cardamom milk). I have no intention of eating all of it, but once it arrives, I can’t exactly stop myself. One of my dining companions can’t stop herself either. “What you ordered is so pretty!” she blurts out from across the bar, as my board is placed in front of me.
Yes, the breakfast board is adorable. There’s no other way to put it. A tiny yogurt parfait, served with granola and compote, and a soft-boiled egg in an egg cup bracket the board’s other offerings, which include sliced fruit, brown bread, rye crisp and a tiny muffin dusted with sugar; two different kinds of cheese, pickled onions, sliced ham and a generous serving of smoked trout. Served with my coffee in a blue glass mug and a tiny bottle of warmed milk, the meal is filling but dainty — a pint-sized version of what a hearty fisherman named Ragnarok might eat before heading out on his boat for the day.
And while the uunipuuro may look like an unprepossessing puck of porridge at first, softened with steamed milk and sweetened with fruit compote and honey, it is a warm and delicious accompaniment to my trout and ham, not that I particularly needed it.
Manager Chad Hinman informs me that the Portland-based investors behind the retro-cool Jupiter Hotel in Portland recently bought the Hood River Hotel, which was built in 1912 and has served as something of a common gathering space in downtown Hood River since then. They will be keeping Broder Øst and slowly updating the hotel throughout 2017. It’s hard to imagine how much more attractive the space could get, but one thing does seem certain: You can’t expect to sleep in for brunch in Hood River anytime soon.