Seattle: Portage Bay Cafe

Day Three. The highlight of the day is the Museum of Flight. Since we are traveling southward that day, we decided to go for breakfast at one of the recommended places.


The Portage Bay Cafe is located in the University District. This is supposed to be one of the most popular breakfast places. Parking is a bit of a problem because their parking lot is so puny. We ended up having to do pay parking along the street.


It was quite early in the morning when we got there. Moreover, it was a weekday and so we were seated very quickly. We were quite worried of the reported long waits (over 1 hour) that we had read. Customer service sucks really or maybe we just got a grumpy impatient waitress — she does not seem too happy with us asking about the all-you-can-eat breakfast bar. *shrugs*

Anyway, they serve all-day breakfast here. They prepare the food in an open kitchen and behind the breakfast bar of fruits, whipped cream, maple syrup and what-nots. Because of the hype and prices of this place, we expected that fruits in particular should be fresh, like being prepared just a hour or so ago — some of them looked sadly soggy and decidedly yesterday’s fruits that’s just taken out from a freezer.


Started with the coffee, the litmus test of a good breakfast. It was alright not awesome, but we liked it.


Almost everything on the menu is described with the word organic … it’s organic eggs, organic whole wheat toast, organic green onions, organic baby spinach. Even the Heinz Tomato Ketchup is organic. I bet the coffee we had was even organic. To me, organic means only one thing … $$$.


Since their breakfast bar is like the star of this place, we ordered their “Two Pancakes”. This is just two large and thick pancakes which included ONE free trip to the Toppings Bar. At the Toppings Bar are fruits, nuts, butter,organic maple and syrup. I find this quite expensive at $8.25 but I guess that’s what you pay for something that’s made from “organic wheat and low fat organic yogurt and organic vanilla”. Doesn’t look too filling does it?


We also ordered the Organic Prawn Omelette. It is made of grilled organic vegetables, even organic prawns, goat cheese and spicy coconut curry sauce. I thought the combination of omelette and curry sauce is very unique and a great idea. It was nice … love this dish but not the price. $13.


The Rancher’s Breakfast is nothing to shout about. Three eggs made anyway you want. There is also pepper bacon which was done pretty good (not oily).

Guess what the total came to … $55 bucks not including tips, taxes and my own parking. I must say it is too expensive and overpriced for the kind of food. We could get more for less elsewhere and not having to put up with grumpy waitresses. So, I got nothing really positive to say about Portage Bay Cafe.

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  1. Jessica

    Wow that’s crazy expensive. The spinach in the omlette looks tasty but not $13 tasty.

  2. col

    aw, I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience there! I’ve been there a few times and always had a good experience with the wait staff :/

  3. Erick

    Whoa! $55 for breakfast!! That’s quite steep for the first meal of the day. The food did look tasty though, but not $55 tasty. The coffee looked a bit watery for my taste or maybe you poured a lot of half-n-half/cream. Thanks for the tip. Won’t be going there in the near future!

  4. MoMo

    I still think organic is a myth. How do we know it’s really organic? Who is constantly checking on organic vendors or farmers? Is there a department checking on vendors like that department checking the cleanness of every restaurant and giving them grades in California?

    Julia Child lived until 90 and she never had anything organic. She ate meat too, she believed in balanced diet, she didn’t exclude anything from her diet. She was pretty mobile for a 90 year old.

    Martha Stewart’s mom lived pretty long as well, she died at 85 years old? She was very independent for her age. She was too old school to care for organic.

    What happened to wash your vegetables?

    I don’t think eat organic can prevent illness. It’s balanced diet, exercise, good gene and trying to be less stressed out can prevent illness.

  5. fxho

    I second MoMo’s opinion. After a brief discussion with a friend, we decided to do an experiment: get some organic and regular produce (brocoli, carrot, tomato, et al) , as well as an organic and a regular steak (same cut). Then prepare and cook them the same way. Since we wanted a blind taste, I cooked them but my friend plated the dishes with saying which one was which one. End result? Except for tomatoes, we agreed everything else tasted almost exactly the same. I must say, though, the regular tomatoes were a bit more firm than the organic one (riper?). Overall, I ignore the organic claims and buy whichever is cheaper. If I have to chose, then I focus on a different “parameter”: country of origin of the product. For example, I prefer local tomatoes to imported tomatoes, as that means the fruits (yes, tomato is a fruit!!!) can be left on the vine to ripe rather than harvest them while still green (to ship them internationally).

    Anyway, I am digressing. Now, back to the topic, Consumer Reports has an article about organic stuff. You can check it here:

    (caveat emptor, the article is 2+ years old so some findings might be outdated).

  6. 1. Breakfast is usually an expensive proposition. It’s not unusual for us to spend about $15 per person at western breakfast places. Which makes Chinese breakfast places such a good deal, but then, they’re totally different animals.

    2. Organic this, organic that: well, a lot of people have jumped on this bandwagon, to sell at a much higher price. Safeway sells organic, Walmart sells organic: big business has totally moved into organic and are taking over. To add insult to injury, there are some lobbying to loosen the standards even more so more things can be labelled “organic.”

    3. Case in point: “organic prawns.” How can prawns be labelled as organic?

    4. Organic never claimed to be better-tasting than conventionally-grown produce, just pesticide-free. So, for those who are concerned about pesticide residues in produce, there is the organic option. Although, given #2, we’ll just have to wait and see how the battle over organics goes. Sooner or later, it might just become another meaningless word, like “fresh” when applied to restaurant food.

  7. Ron C.

    Under $10.00 or breakfast is reasonable.
    Sapodilla on Broadway near Oak has inexpensive breakfasts ($4.95 and up) as does the Flying Swan on 4th Ave. near Fir. Add coffee and you’re still under $10.00.

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