Not far from Forest Park is an old industrial part of Portland, which includes a spot called Industrial Cafe and Saloon. We stopped by for some brunch and found the menu to generally be in line with the kinds of brunches I’m used to. There were scrambles, hash and a breakfast burrito, but one thing stood out to me. It was called Chipped Beef on Toast and because I had never seen such a thing I had to have it.
It turns out that chipped beef on toast has a somewhat rich tradition in the US, being kind of like our version of cured beef, except not exactly known to be very good. It also became big in the military, where it was apparently not popular (some called it Shit on a Shingle). Regardless, I was excited to try it out and was pretty happy when the silverware that came out was straight from the Army Surplus store to add to the theme.
The beef was house-cured (from a nearby grassfed farm) and covered in a cream sauce on top of sourdough and there was plenty of it on my plate. When I dug in, I found the beef to be similar to the Irish kind of corned beef in both consistency and flavor. The cream sauce was really quite good, adding some additional flavor and texture to the mix.
On top of all that goodness, I opted to grab a side of True Grits instead of the rosemary potatoes the dish was supposed to come with. These grits were cheesy and cooked just right to ensure they were slightly runny without being soupy. With a touch of the house-made hot sauce these guys nailed it.
There was a time when fancy brunch spots didn’t have old-timey greasy spoon dishes like corned beef hash, but now everyone has a take on that dish. I can only hope that the chipped beef on toast is the next in that line, because Industrial Cafe and Saloon has shown it can be done right without tasting like Shit on a Shingle.