Tin Shed Garden macaroni © 2011 Natasha. All rights reserved.

Tin Shed Garden Cafe

If you were wondering if the Tin Shed in Portland is a bona fide tin shed, well.

It is.  The Shed’s across the street from “Frock” and “Spank” on Alberta, with that little corner doing its part to Keep Portland Weird.

We arrived right at 3:00 and unfortunately missed the breakfast menu, for which the Shed is pretty famous.  I say unfortunately because if there’s a town that loves its breakfast, it’s Portland.  I’ve never known a town to love breakfast more as I’ve been invited out to breakfast more times there than any other town in America.  Then again, I’ve never woken up in so many strangers’ houses, either.  Hey-oh!  Ahem.  I will have to go back to try the potato cakes, biscuits and gravy, fruityful oatmeal, sweet potato brioche french bread….  Doesn’t that last one just leave you whimpering with longing?  And we missed it!  By ten minutes!  The horror.

The Shed is a dog-friendly restaurant, and while there were pictures of dogs all over the walls (no pooch poker faces in sight, unfortunately),  there were no actual dogs.  I’m assuming they do frequent the place as there are menu items available.   I have no idea why there’s more than one because I’ve never met a dog who’d falter between chicken or beef.  Although I’d love to see what happens when a garden burger is added to the mix.  Is it only in the Pacific Northwest that we have vegetarian menu items for dogs?

After accepting that ten minutes of whining, begging, and threatening wasn’t going to sway our server into letting us order from the breakfast menu,  we settled on a couple of items from the Happy Hour.  James went for the Berry Garcia ($4), which is a vegetarian quesadilla stuffed with roasted red peppers, jalapeño, black bean, Tillamook cheddar, berry jam, and it’s topped with a jalapeño-cilantro creme fraiche.   He enjoyed it so much, he still talks about that dish and says he’s glad we missed breakfast just so he could try it.   As for me, no matter how lovely the filling was, the cilantro simply overpowered my tongue and I had to leave it to enjoy some creamy mac-n-cheese.

The cavatpi noodles in a three-cheese sauce ($4) is very rich, but not overwhelmed with cheddar which is generally the kiss of death for a mac-n-cheese dish for me.  I’m not normally one who likes that bread stuff on top, but the Tin Shed folks didn’t fool around.  These were crispity bread crumbs on top that showed no shame in being drenched in butter to achieve that delightful crunch that only being toasted in butter can achieve.  I made my way through about half of this and had to box the rest for later.  Note on that:  leftover mac is better when eaten cold as heating tends to turn the noodles to mush.

Neil Diamond sang to us as we enjoyed the food and watched cocktails and coffee flow to the thirsty customers (lots and lots of customers).   The service was friendly and prompt, but I’m not going back unless it’s for breakfast.  I couldn’t stand being teased by the knowledge that sweet potato french toast is in the building, er, shed, and I couldn’t have any.  We’ll be back!

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