“Can I take you out to lunch when I get home?” The text brought a tiny tear to my eye. My wife wanted to treat me to a mid-day meal. Sure, she owed me for dinner from the night before, but I had already forgotten about that, so a lunch on her sounded like a legitimate bonus. She didn’t like any of my suggestions about where to go though, so when she suggested Salty Sally’s on Congress St., I was okay with finally trying it. We had considered a visit a half dozen times before, but this time it would actually happen.
The restaurant had tables on the left, a seating island in the middle, and a bar along the right side. The restaurant touts itself as a bar and grill, but had more of a bar and diner feel to me, not that it mattered. The waiter/bartender came around and provided menus and waters. The menu was for brunch and reinforced my initial thoughts about it as a diner. It didn’t offer anything too fascinating, just a reasonable selection of breakfast and lunch options, occasionally with a little twist or turn.
While we were looking at the menus, we declined drinks and accepted a review of the specials. There were two, and one of them – Creme Brulee French Toast – sounded crazier and sweeter than any dessert I could imagine. After some internal debate, I passed and looked for something a little more breakfast and a little less diabetes. One of the breakfast burritos or a breakfast sandwich on an extra large English muffin sounded pretty good, but in the end, I decided I wanted an omelet. The only one I saw was the Chili and Cheddar Omelet with hash browns, and I was okay with that. Mrs. Portlandeater went with a favorite lunch item – Grilled Cheese (mozzarella, meunster, and gouda) with tomato bisque.
Before leaving our table, the waiter informed me that the hash browns in my order were actually tater tots. I told him that was great and my mouth started watering. I’m not sure there’s a deep fried food I enjoy more than tater tots, so I was hardly concerned. He left and we waited for our goods. The restaurant was about half full with a few patrons walking in and out as we relaxed with hunger our only concern. When a couple tables got their food before us, I became a little jealous, but attempted to exhibit a reasonable amount of patience.
Our meals arrived before long and I found myself with a folded egg encasement and potato puffs. My wife’s soup was topped with some shredded cheese and a nicely toasted sandwich. I tried a tot immediately and was super pleased at how well fried they were – crispy and crunchy. I threw down some ketchup and sriracha to dip some of the rest into. Then I readied for battle against the omelet. Not sure I’d ever had a chili omelet, I approached cautiously, separating a manageable amount from the rest of it, hoping the bean and beef concoction wouldn’t fall out. I tried a bite and was pleasantly surprised by the nice smooth chili. It wasn’t overly spicy-hot, but had plenty of flavor. A smattering of cheese added a fine finishing touch.
I swept through my food like a tornado, finding it to be just the amount of sustenance I needed. My wife had a little of hers left over and I went for a taste of that, taking the remaining portion of the grilled cheese for a spin. There was plenty of cheese, but the best part was that I could pick out each one easily. The combination of them all made for a small army of cheesy awesome. A sip of the bisque brought forth some creamy tomato, a little basil, and a tiny bit of cheese topper. It was a pretty fine example of the lunch standard.
We finished all we had minus a few drops of bisque and decided that was enough. It was a solid meal and most certainly enough for the time being. The cost came to just a smidge over 20 clams before tip. I suppose that’s pretty inexpensive considering I can’t remember the last time I got meal with table service for that price for two. The food was good – not fine dining, but high quality, well executed, and mildly inventive. The casual, relaxed atmosphere seemed amply suited for drinks, a meal, or both. Though I can’t say how they are at other times, Saturday around lunch was a good hour to be there since it wasn’t overly busy. Go there for an omelet, a sandwich, or try the decadent French toast special.
Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?
Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can now also find me at pppe.bangordailynews.com.