By Nancy Tannler
2035 SE 39th Ave.
When Gina Helvie first came to Portland to attend culinary school, she had no idea she would not be returning to her childhood home in Napa Valley. Then Portland put its spell on her along with fate, guiding her to becoming a restaurant owner of Trinket. She’s now a permanent transplant here in the Great Northwest.
The restaurant business has always been a part of Gina’s life. Her mother (nicknamed Trinka) worked in restaurants when Gina was young and her first job at sixteen was as a server. After graduating from culinary school, she began the rounds working as a chef in a French restaurant and working tables to make money. It became clear to her that although she loved to cook, she did her best working the front of the house.
This talent landed her here SE Lincoln & 39th working at the dinner restaurant, the Kingdom of Roosevelt. One day she mentioned to the owner she would like to own this place and the next day he countered with a price. She ran the idea by her future partners, Robert Thomas and Andrew Hanson, and within a heartbeat, the dinner restaurant became Trinket, a daytime coffeeshop and brunch and spirits place. This was back in 2013.
The name Trinket was a nod to the influence Gina’s mother had on her choice to pursue the food way, plus the decor builds on the previous owners’ northwest theme adding special trinkets and art to create a cozy, comfortable setting.
The menu has evolved over time to serve a variety of tantalizing breakfast and lunch standards, with a twist created by Gina and her kitchen chef, Melissa Madueno. Duck eggs Benedict, polenta with steamed eggs and greens, and savory waffles are a few of the choices. Each menu item speaks to the delicious side of breakfast food.
There is a daily quiche and hash special as well as other spontaneous courses that pop up in inspired moments. The lunch menu includes a French Dip, Tucker Bowl, grilled cheese, tuna melt, kale salad, sides and specials.
Pastries are predominantly made in-house, while the coffee is from the local roaster Extract. All chicken eggs are vegetarian fed, and pasture-raised on Camano Island in Washington. The duck eggs are vegetarian fed and antibiotic/hormone free and the meat is from Revel Meat Company in Canby, one of two USDA approved organic meat packers in Oregon.
“I use quality ingredients, choosing organic where I can,” Gina said. The menu also has choices for gluten free, vegetarian, vegan eaters, and substitutions work on some menu items.
“Over time we have attracted our regulars becoming part of the neighborhood experience for them and for me,” Gina said. “I’ve been here long enough to see the toddlers become grade school kids.” This is reassuring for her as it for many of the small business owners, to feel the support of your community and a sense of place.
Although the hours are not Happy Hours, the full service bar does serve lots of artisan mixed drinks, Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa, coffee drinks, etc. as well as beer and wine.
Trinket has six full time, invaluable employees, one of whom is Melissa Madueno, kitchen manager and right hand woman, who makes it possible for Gina to have a couple of days off every week.
Driving down 39th it’s possible to zoom right by Trinket, but if you are looking to expand your brunch experience, this would be a good place to slow down for. There is a full parking lot on the north side just before the light at Lincoln.