Sarah’s on Main in Portland CT: the “Cheers” of Breakfast

Hope Simmons

On the corner Main and Commerce in Portland is a cozy place that’s the “Cheers” of breakfast, Sarah's On Main—“where everybody knows your name and you’re always glad you came.” If you’re from either side of the river, don’t be surprised if you bump into old friends—or make new ones. I do both each time I go. Whether you find a spot at the counter or grab a table, there’s fresh and local deliciousness with a spin of creativity, courtesy of Sarah Weeden.

What began as a quest for waffles grew into a steady habit of breakfast—and occasional lunch—at my newest home away from home.

Day one, I realized I’d stumbled into a little gem when I tried the BLT Bennie. Served on toasted brioche, it’s sheer perfection of a Benedict, drizzled with Hollandaise. The hash of the day was summer squash and zucchini, which I requested instead of home fries. Thumbs up all the way around.

Personally, I’m not wild about the home fries, seasoned liberally with granulated garlic—but before anyone starts throwing eggs across the Arrigoni at me, let me say they’re made with fresh potatoes and have a huge fan base. Any of the special hash offerings are another story, though. Summer squash and zucchini? That’s a winner. Or kale, onion and potato? Garden veggie? Or good ol’ fashioned corned beef? Favorites, all. And as it’s the season of native garden vegetables, much of the produce comes straight from Gotta’s Farm, down the road on 17.

Now, about those waffles. They’re yeasted and crispy, same as my favorites from a long-ago vacation. Loaded with sliced native peaches and whipped cream, sprinkled with powdered sugar, they’re pretty much heaven on a plate. Maple syrup is yours for the asking if you wish. I wished and I do recommend.

Even a plain waffle is a treat here.

I was thrilled to find native corn pancakes on the menu one weekend. A “short stack” consists of two pancakes bigger than your head, so be prepared to share or bring home leftovers. And, just this morning, I overheard a man at the next table order a banana chocolate chip pancake to share with the rest of the table. As it arrived and the aroma wafted over to our table, I made a mental note to try that in the future.

Each weekend brings new specials to try. A recent visit featured a spicy skillet of corn, tomatoes, peppers (hot and mild), topped with two eggs over easy, with home fries (swapped for kale, onion and potato hash of the day) and toast. A hearty breakfast like this is perfect for the weekend, as you won’t need to eat again till dinner.

Another recent special was native blueberry French toast. Sarah personally asked how I liked it. Of course, it was apparent I enjoyed it, as my plate was practically mopped clean. I did mention I thought it would be more custard-y. She said because the slices of bread were so thick, the egg mixture probably didn’t soak through as much. But, more important, she said, “Now that I know you like your French toast that way, I’ll remember for next time. Half the time I forget what I wanted when I go to the supermarket, but I remember how my customers like their food.”

On the rare occasion when someone has accidentally turned off the wrong burner and served cold coffee, no problem. They just smile and make a whole new pot. It’s that kind of homey place. Muffins I’ve yet to try, but they’re Sarah’s own and they’re immense. Continuing the local angle, their bread comes from Hartford Baking Company. And they serve Avery’s Sodas, made in (hard hittin’) New Britain.

More often than not, I’ll only order a variety of eggs Benedict out. So many places fall down on something as simple as scrambled eggs, I steer clear of them unless I make them myself. But here, I broke tradition and found them to be creamy and soft. I mentioned that to Sarah one day after trying the bacon, hash and eggs scramble. Turns out the difference lies in how she prepares them. Eggs are cracked to order and scrambled in small sautépans rather than on the grill—just how I make them at home. Even Jill, one of the waitresses, told us, “I never liked eggs until I started working here.”

On the lunch menu, the California BLT has the unique component of ghost pepper jack in additional to the usual suspects (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) and the extra treat of a fried egg to ooze all over your tasty sandwich. The picture speaks for itself, does it not?

As I said to Sarah on my way out last week, “You know, I have my fast and boring bowl of cereal all week and tell myself, on the weekend you can go to Sarah’s. So, thanks for breakfast.” Today and every day! See you at the counter—if you get there first, save me a seat, OK?

Sarah’s on Main is located at 246 Main Street in Portland, CT.

(860) 788-3035

Neither CTbites nor the author was compensated for this review.