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Babica Hen Cafe
Location: Dundee, OR
Price to brunch two: $35 or thereabouts

There’s Breakfast. And then, apparently, there’s Not Breakfast.

At least that’s what it said on the menu at Babica Hen, where Mom and I stopped for brlunch on the way back from Lincoln City. We’d been there for a family weekend and Mom, eschewing the preferred kidbreakfast of Froot Loops or Cocoa Krispies, was seeking an early lunch. I wanted something sweet brunchy (apparently family vacations take me that way).

We arrived in Dundee, the roadside Oregon wine country village replete with tasting rooms and galleries, looking for grub. I pointed out Babica Hen as a likely spot, thinking I’d eaten there before.

I discovered that I hadn’t, and that anyone trying to make a left turn across busy 99W into the Babica Hen parking lot deserves a medal (hopefully NOT of the purple heart variety). The cafe is nestled between the tasting rooms of several vineyards–I could see making a designated driver afternoon there some lazy Saturday–and upholds the cherished northwest restaurant tradition: Cavernous ceilings, hard surfaces, a glassy wine vault reminiscent of Mission Impossible…and echoes. Lots of echoes.

Why anyone in their right mind thinks concrete, steel, rock, glass and wood make for a cozy, intimate dining spot I’ll never know. But it’s endemic in Portland restaurants so I’ve kinda gotten used to it. It’s usually worth it; the food is MUCH better than the cold, industrial surroundings in which it’s served.

And so it was with Babica Hen. We were seated, quickly served by very nice people who paid attention to us throughout the meal.

Mom ordered the Quattro Fromaggie sandwich with a salad. Me? I got waffles.

The menu offered “yeast-raised waffles” which were intriguing. I’d never seen waffles made with anything but a quick batter, so I tried the ones with berries (of course) and creme fraiche. While they were being fixed I had one of the best Caffe Americanos I’ve had, ever. By the time the meal arrived I was in an expansive mood.

And decided I liked yeast-raised waffles very, very much. So much so that I wished I’d ordered one without the creme fraiche and berries. This waffle could (and should) stand on its own. Or maybe just a smeeeetch of butter and a smiiiidgen of syrup. Or maybe not.

They were feather-light with a taste almost like a Sally Lunn, crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside. I asked for a side order of sausage, which tasted ‘way too sweet, a little overcooked, and kinda fennelish. I quickly abandoned it to focus on my waffle and that delightful Americano.

Mom was OK with the sandwich, which was essentially grilled cheeses on bread with a spreading of tomato fondue. She loved her salad.

But that waffle was the all-time champ. And definitely worth a repeat.