Location: 87 Brackett Street
Notes: After the recent writeup in the Portland Daily Sun, we decided to revisit the Ohno! Cafe. We hadn’t visited since this Summer, when we were instantly charmed by the place and the people running it, if not a tiny bit underwhelmed by their sandwiches. The piece in the Sun heaped praise on the Ohno! Cafe’s “Number One,” a breakfast sandwich made up of fried egg, “maple glazed prosciutto,” cheddar cheese and Tabasco on a plain bagel, so I tried one this morning.
The Number One is a perfect example of the kind of sandwich that I am more impressed by in theory, than I actually enjoy. An expertly fried, over-medium egg sits on a flattop-grilled bagel, with a slice of cheese and some warm prosciutto. It seemed less like the ham was “honey glazed,” and more like each cut half of the bagel was dipped ever so briefly in maple syrup. This made for a fairly sweet, sticky sandwich. The inventors of the Number One knew what they were doing in terms of balance: The salty prosciutto is tempered by the sweet syrup, and, when it gets TOO sweet, the Tabasco sauce kicks in to provide a little spice. Ultimately, the combination ends up reminiscent of a really, really high-end McDonald’s McGriddle, only made with real food. The egg and, sadly, the Cheddar cheese, are largely non-players in this sandwich. Their omission wouldn’t be noticed. I was actually most impressed by the bagel; it was chewy, and the black grill marks gave it a “toasted” quality without crisping the outside up too much.
I can see how the Number One could get in your head, particularly if the whole sweet/savory breakfast sandwich is your thing. The Ohno! Cafe is using high-quality ingredients, and assembling them in a thoughtful way. This is not, however, likely to be a breakfast option I will be returning for regularly. The whole thing just ends up being too much, with my palette being drop-kicked into too many directions, and a fortune in calories being burned through, for a sandwich that leaves me hungry and somewhat unsatisfied an hour later. Next time, I’ll get a bagel with cream cheese and get on with my day…with my hands a lot less sticky.