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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Modern, Baked goods
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:30am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–midnight
Sun 10:00am–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Northwest Portland
701 NW 23rd Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 228-7317
Mon–Thu 11:30am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–midnight
Sun 10:00am–9:00pm
Mon–Thu 11:30am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–midnight
Sun 11:30am–10:00pm

5829 SE Milwaukie Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 232-9440
Papa Haydn
Life is short—eat dessert first

Papa Haydn is like a much more likeable Portland version of Cheesecake Factory. The menu is not quite as lengthy nor as globetrotting, but it is pretty nondescript. It’s really just a reason to feel like dessert has been earned. Hotellish mains abound, like eggplant parmesan, fettucine alfredo disguised as something called a “Hunter’s Pasta” (where did they hunt for this, an Olive Garden?), and a $15 chicken Caesar salad. Mostly older folks and visitors get suckered into this unremarkable dinner. Everyone else comes for one reason and one reason only: dessert.

If you’re taking dessert to go, like many do, you’ll enjoy some of the nicest, most attentive counter service in the city. Even sweeter is a carrot cake with an ideal ratio of hearty, moist cake to buttery cream-cheese icing. Little bits of pineapple, coconut, and cinnamon give you plenty to think about, while three layers of frosting—plus the outside—shut your brain down entirely. A pretty banana-coconut-cream pie has some extra zing from a rich espresso ganache; meringues, mousses, and panna cottas are impossibly airy, like clouds of fruit, egg, and chocolate.

Any chance you get to purchase a whole one of these beauties, do it (with 24 hours’ notice). A Marjolaine is particularly artful: layers of toasted hazelnut-praline cream formed into balls and topped with more layers of chocolate and hazelnut meringue. What results is a study in black and off-white, stripes and spheres, all topped with dainty mint leaves and flowers. It makes a terrific dinner party gift, although no one will want to cut into it. Most cakes are $45 and serve upwards of about 12, so it’s still a better deal than ordering it in the restaurant.

The Sellwood location does all the baking for both stores, but the frozen desserts are over at the west side only. The west Papa Haydn also adjoins Jo Bar and Rotisserie, which gets the benefit of a wood-fired oven in which pizzas and chicken are cooked. These are more worth the trouble than dinner next door. A shared wine list is long—perhaps longer than it needs to be; some of it is good, especially Alsatian, Loire Valley, and a few Central Coast bottles; some of it is not so good, but all are a steal.

If we were rating this place solely on its dessert, it would get a 9.0. Maybe Papa Haydn should consider cutting its ballasts and soaring into its sweet, sweet destiny.

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