Saturday, February 27, 2021
Feb. 27, 2021

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Clark County menus offer tasty plant-based breakfast options that can satisfy the unsuspecting

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Vegan breakfast sandwiches from River Maiden, Dev's Coffee Bar and Seize the Bagel.
Vegan breakfast sandwiches from River Maiden, Dev's Coffee Bar and Seize the Bagel. (Photos by Rachel Pinsky for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Over the past year, vegan breakfast sandwiches appeared on menus throughout Clark County. Vegan-curious, I tried every one that I could find. Expecting substitutes with odd textures attempting to taste like their meat, dairy and egg cohorts, I was pleasantly surprised to find many tasty plant-based options that would fool and please even the most adamant meat eater.

Here’s a list of some of the vegan breakfast sandwiches found in the area divided into bagel-based or bread-based options.

Bagel-based options

Cedar Street Bagels, Seize the Bagel and Dev’s Coffee Bar all offer breakfast meals sandwiched between two halves of a bagel.

Cedar Street Bagel Co. (316 N.E. Cedar St, Camas) has excellent bagels. They boil and bake them using the traditional methods brought to this country by Jewish immigrants from Poland and famously associated with New York City. The result is a shiny, hard exterior and a dense, chewy but tender interior. According to 23andMe, my DNA is 98 percent Ashkenazi Jewish, so I’m genetically predisposed to have long heated arguments about who makes the best bagel. If you’re interested in arguing about this important topic, get in touch, but for now, back to the sandwiches.

For its vegan breakfast sandwich, the Melvie ($9.25), Cedar Street offers choice of bagel (an everything bagel is highly recommended) with a flat folded Just Egg, a Light Life breakfast patty, and tofu- and soy-based cream cheese. This sandwich was similar to the other ones I tasted, but the high quality of the bagel set it apart. The Light Life sausage patty was a bit bland compared to those used by other shops in the area (particularly Before the Butcher served at Seize the Bagel and River Maiden). Overall, though, the Melvie is a great sandwich.

At Seize the Bagel  (8086 E. Mill Plain Blvd.; 13215 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.; 9904 N.E. Highway 99; and 9609 N.E. 117th Ave.), the Conscious Chris with Just Egg and Follow Your Heart cheese is offered with ($7) or without ($5.25) a Before the Butcher sausage patty on bagel choices ranging from jalapeno to cinnamon. Add-ons like avocado slices, capers and caramelized onions are extra (50 cents to $1). I tried one without sausage on a plain bagel. All the components of this sandwich melted together into a flavorful and satisfying meal — simple and tasty.

Dev’s Coffee Bar (12302 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.) offers a stick-to-your ribs faux meat and potato breakfast sandwich so satisfying that the owner’s meat-loving Texan father loves it. Owner Devyn Slagle has been a vegan for the past 14 years after forsaking meat and dairy at the tender age of 14. Tired of suffering through unappetizing veganized meals at restaurants, Slagle wanted to create something both plant-based and delicious. Dev’s standard sandwich, called The Veganizer, is the only breakfast sandwich that I found with a crispy hash brown added to the mix of vegan patty (Simply Truth organic) and melted cheddar cheese (Violife). It also was the only sandwich without egg. The Angry Vegan (The Veganizer with a kick in the butt, according to Dev’s menu) adds jalapenos and Sriracha to this symphony of salt, grease and carbs.

Other sandwiches

“Alice in Wonderland”-themed Madhouse Coffee (13503 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.) began serving vegan drinks based on a request from a regular customer. Father and daughter owners, Eric Heilman and Alisha Heilman, soon added vegan items to the breakfast and lunch menu.

Madhouse’s build-your-own breakfast sandwich ($7) gives eaters many options to create their ultimate sandwich. When I called in my order, I was offered a variety of choices: English muffin or bagel; egg, sausage or bacon; and gouda, sun-dried tomato cheddar or American cheese. I was craving something fairly basic so I got egg (made by Just Egg), American cheese and sausage on an everything bagel.

Madhouse’s sandwich tasted freshly made. The Gardein sausage patty was smaller than patties in other sandwiches and didn’t fill the entire sandwich, but it had a nice flavor. I enjoyed eating Madhouse’s sandwich as I drove home.

River Maiden and The Great North in the Heights neighborhood both offer next-level vegan breakfast sandwiches that would satisfy the most sophisticated gourmet — or anyone else.

River Maiden (5301 E. Mill Plain Blvd.) recently launched a vegan version of its popular breakfast sando ($5.50). It has a fluffy cloud of Just Eggs scrambled in extra virgin olive oil and bits of fresh chives covered in Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese and placed in Grand Central ciabatta bread. Before the Butcher’s vegan breakfast sausage, arugula, Three Little Figs onion jam and Mama Lil’s red peppers can be added for an additional charge (Before the Butcher bacon will added to the menu soon).

The toasted ciabatta bun tasted like it was baked that morning and had the perfect mix of air pockets and chew. The scrambled eggs with bits of chives added an onion-y freshness. A fennel-forward spice mix in the sausage patty gave a nice finish to the mix of flavors and textures. Owner Melissa Layman sources her vegan ingredients from Earthly Gourmet, a Portland-based distributor of vegan and gluten-free foods. To create the ultimate plant-based breakfast sandwich, she bought small amounts of various products from this distributor and experimented with them until even the coffee shop’s non-vegan staff enjoyed them.

The Great North (602 N. Devine Road) recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Albina Press.

“Our primary goal is to be a welcoming place for everyone,” owner Jonathan Felix-Lund said. “Having a plant-based option is a way we can make sure folks with specific dietary preferences or needs still can find something delicious to enjoy. We also thinks it’s delicious!”

The shop’s sandwich includes the typical Just Egg and Follow Your Heart gouda cheese augmented with a mix of house pickled veggies and a piquant Romesco enclosed in a craggy sourdough English muffin from Dos Hermanos in Portland. It’s a satisfying sandwich filled with a nice mix of interesting and complementary flavors.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t one bad vegan breakfast sandwich. You could easily serve any of these goodies to the most adamant carnivores. They would greedily devour it without a clue.

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