Seattle >Food & Dining > Portage Bay Cafe & Catering
4130 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA | Directions 9810547.657652 -122.317705
Open daily 730am - 230pm
breakfast and brunch daily
Neighborhoods: Northeast, University District, Northeast Seattle
Citysearch Editorial Review – With three spacious locations, Portage Bay Café is a Seattle institution for breakfast, with long lines snaking out their doors on any given day. The big draw? A trip to their famous “toppings bar” which features wonderfully fresh chunks of fruit, berries, organic maple syrup, and nuts—all yours for the heaping, with any order of pancakes, or French toast. (Celiacs rejoice—there are also two gluten-free pancake options on the menu!) Portage Bay Café bills itself as a sustainable breakfast/lunch option, with organic eggs, bread, and potatoes being used on the hot sides. Also on the menu: a veritable smorgasboard of various omelettes, Eggs Benny, scrambles, and hashes, all dished up in gut-busting portions. The Roosevelt location is smaller, with seating for around 40-50, and a slightly more casual feel. With a menu this diverse, you can bet their loyal patrons run the gamut for young families to hungover hipsters still sporting last night’s guyliner, and everyone in between.
Huh? – What's with the long lines?!
I thought for sure I found a gem. I finally found a decent priced brunch to attend on those hangover days.
Huge portions and a fruit bar full of toppings for your pancakes or thick cut french toast!
After a really long door wait, a long wait to order, and an even longer wait to receive the food... it arrives... Cold poop.
If you cover poop with fruit and whipped cream from the fruit bar, it just makes for fruit and whip cream covered poop.
bring a hotplate – I was disappointed. Our food arrived quickly but was cold! Toast, potatoes, pancakes and the plate all cool or downright cold to the touch. WTH?!! My corned beef hash was a roasted vegetable variation. My guess, the ingredients are all pre-cooked and tossed in a skillet for a quick warm up before service. In my case too little warm up and too much pre-cooked. As mentioned elsewhere, the corned beefed was sliced lunch meat chopped and tossed into the mix to reheat. Chunks of unseasoned and un-browned potato complete the "hash." The whole was oily, wet, unappetizing and expensive. The pancakes were okay for flavor but cold, again. Service was cheery but there were many plates stacked on the warming table waiting a long time to go out. Weirdly, the warming lamps on the warming shelf appeared to be turned off. Not a place I am going to return to or recommend.
Not sure what the hype is about. – Imagine trying to re-brand a university cafeteria as a mom-and-pop brunch destination, and you pretty much end up with Portage Bay Cafe. It suffers from this identity crises in that they are trying to be all things to everyone- a mass eatery with community sensibilities. I love the idea of local and organic going to the masses, but the problem is in the the execution of the idea. Consistently hit-or-miss dishes (stay AWAY from the Swedish pancakes), loud impersonal atmosphere (think food service cafeteria), really overworked servers, and a very obvious commitment to keeping things this way. Want brunch? Go somewhere else.
Great place for organic, healthy brunch! – Portage Bay Cafe is a great location tucked away near UW. My girlfriend brought me here during lunch and we had to wait about 45 minutes to get seated. Sipped on a latte and spoke with people around me while waiting. When I got our food it was amazing and everything is organic. You definitely must try out the french toast w/ trip to the fruit bar along with the eggs benedict. If you go there during an off-hour (around 9-11am) or when it's rainy you don't have to wait in line. This place is growing on me the more I go.
great brunch spot. – this cafe is awesome. the food was great. the challah french toast is delish! i would definitely come back, although the wait can be tiresome, but it's worth it.
Another dissappointing Seattle trend – Well, it wasn't terrible. But, not worth the wait. The seating is rather chlosterphobic and noisy. The coffee is not tasty (organic is not synominous with good tasting, folks). The food wasn't anything beyond regular ol' breakfast fare. In fact, I would say my pancakes were rather bland and floury tasting. Also, the "fresh" fruit bar--hm, the berries I added to my plate were partially frozen. And I would agree with previous reviews, too, that the service was not particularly friendly. I can understand it's stressful to be busy with a lot of customers, I've been there, but hey, when you are in a customer service position, you have to go out of your way to be friendly and welcoming. Earn your tips, folks!
Over-Hyped – After several great reviews from friends, my boyfriend and I decided to go for a late Sunday brunch at Portage Bay. First, they said the wait would be a 10min wait, but in reality the wait was 25-30 mins. When they took us to out table in the back room it had the same feeling as a high school cafeteria, and we weren't served water or utensils for at least 15 mins. The staff was less than welcoming. I ordered hot coco, and it was only steamed milk with the slightest tinge of chocolate. When the food arrived, I was sad to see that my organic mushroom hash was at least two thirds celery. My boyfriend's salmon omelet was fine, but nothing worth 13 dollars. The only thing I really enjoyed was the toast with organic preserves.
Next time when I want brunch, I'll just ask my 21 year old boyfriend to make it because it's a lot cheaper, tastier, and a better atmosphere.
are you kidding me?????? – After reading the reviews and seeing the ever present long line over the weekends, we decided to try this place. First of all, the wait is absolutely insane!! And after a long wait of 45 mins to an hour, you would expect the food to be really good or atleast good. I had the greek omlette, it had to have the saltiest bacon I have ever tasted. I waited almost 10 minutes for the waitress to notice me and bring sugar for my coffee by which the coffee was cold. Another 10 minutes for my water refill and 15 minutes before they noticed that we were done with our food. After which, the waitress comes in and plonks the check and walks away... we weren't even asked if we would like to eat anything else.. the staff is so snotty and presumptous. Needless to say, you are not going to see me there ever again.....
SLU location - changes need to happen – I find that I am re-itterating most of the poor reviews for many of the same reasons that others below have written. We also decided to go there at 10:30am on Sundy the 1st of June at the new SLU location. I will begin with what I liked about this and why I find myself being forgiving. The food was good, I throughly enjoyed the style and taste. The problems we saw were lack of organization on taking names and seating. Then, on a busy day, they had no clear way of indicating that orders were ready for pick-up. Many orders packed the window at times two plates high. In turn it took 40mins to be seatted another 30-40 mins to receive our food after beeing seated. While I understand that this is a very busy time of day, I don't agree with a new location falling into such poor habits after only a month of serving. These problems need to be fixed if they want to appeal to the changing area of South Lake Union and grow the name of Portage Bay Cafe. I will be expecting some changes before I return.
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