There aren’t many “off the beaten path” or “hidden gems” in Portland. So much of our dining scene exists between Commercial and Cumberland, in the main sections of town. But, there are a few unassuming places–like Ohno! Cafe and Caiola’s–that are tucked away in cute little neighborhoods. Artemisia Cafe, located on Pleasant Street, is one of those gems and I’m lucky to call it my neighborhood spot.
During the week, Tuesday through Friday, they’re only open for a quick window of time (11am-2pm) where they serve up a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads, with a daily special written on the large chalkboard that occupies nearly the entirety of the back wall.
The space is well loved and homey, with throw pillows in the booths for a little extra, comfortable cushion. There’s a small bar and waiting area, but during the week the restaurant is relatively quiet. Come the weekend, though, expect a 20+ minute wait for a table.
They’re opened longer hours on the weekend (9am-2pm), thankfully. The brunch menu is no longer than most places in town and they offer the usual eggs and bacon, french toast, four different types of Eggs Benedict, Huevos Rancheros, fruit bowls and, my favorite, Biscuits with Sausage Gravy.
How good are those biscuits (pictured above)? Even my mom, ever the picky eater, loved them the last time she visited and my sister, who joined her, hounded me until I went over and asked them for the recipe for their gravy. Out of respect for the restaurant, I won’t post it here, but I will say that it’s not your typical sausage and gravy mix. Think of it more like a bechamel, thickened with a variety of cheeses and large chunks of Italian sausage. And the chef definitely doesn’t skimp on the amount of sausage, either, which some places do. Ladle that goodness over two house made flaky biscuits and you have yourself a breakfast of champions or just a really good cure for a horrible hangover. Oh, and just to make it even better, they throw in two eggs(your choice) and a side of home fries. All for just $9.50.
But, not only is the food wonderful, the service is too. There’s a blonde waitress (please forgive me for forgetting her name at the moment) who is ever present in the dining room and always on her game, even on the days when she seems to be the only one and waist deep in the weeds. She’s nice, cheerful and always engaging. Basically, she’s the embodiment of everything I could ask for in a server. We’ve had her as our waitress nearly every time we’ve gone in and she has been all of that and more. I’ve never seen her flinch or lose her cool when dealing with a loud, probably still intoxicated, table or a family of four whose children have decided to finger paint with the maple syrup. She definitely makes our time their much more enjoyable and kudos to for being one of my favorite servers in Portland.
So, when you’re looking for a spot to pop out to brunch this weekend, consider forgoing the usual haunts and take a trip to my neighborhood and stop in to Artemesia Cafe and, for the love of God, someone try the Sausage and Biscuits.