Portland's beloved Fried Egg I'm In Love rocks the morning
The proprietors of Portland's Fried Egg I'm In Love aren't joking around when it comes to keeping their customers' clothes unsullied. A sign on a prominently-placed napkin box (next to a pump of Purell) reads "In case of yolk explosion, immediately seek napkins." In finer print below, "PS—they're located right above this message." For those unwilling to chance it, the cart offers an "OK Commuter" option of a hard-cooked center, "To avoid yolk explosions on your business attire." FEIIL's meticulousness about wardrobe is matched only by the deliciousness of their breakfast sandwiches—and possibly their love of puns.
Those Radiohead and Cure allusions are just a couple of a riot of musical jokes on the menus of the two bright yellow food carts that have kept Portlanders smiling and sated in the morning hours since 2012. There exists, for instance, a nod to The Pixies in the form of a Huevo Mutilation and a meat or vegan patty-stuffed Smells Like Protein Spirit for an a.m. Nirvana homage. On a recent trip to the city, the most Robert Smith-obsessed member of the Extra Crispy team nabbed FEIIL's signature Yolko Ono sandwich, and a chat with the friendly Ryan Kilkelly who was working the window of the Pioneer Square location to find out what makes their sandwiches so flipping good.
Extra Crispy: How long have you been working here?
Ryan Kilkelly: Almost a year. This particular cart has only been open since last October. At our flagship store over on Southeast Hawthorne, we just celebrated our six-year anniversary.
Are you personally here every day?
I'm here five days a week now. I work both carts sometimes. We have a commissary kitchen where we do our prep work.
How many sandwiches a day do you make?
A couple hundred at least. It depends on the day. Usually two to three hundred sandwiches a day.
What's your favorite part about it?
I love the pace and being in a high volume place. Plus, I love this—I don't know if you heard people coming up to the window, but they tell us many times a many times a day it's the best breakfast sandwich they've ever had. It's not simple, it's definitely thoughtful. The combination of flavors is really unique especially with the Yolko Ono that you got.
Tell me about the Magic Egg Dust that's on it.
The dust is just a little spice blend that we make and sprinkle on the egg. But it's really the dust paired with the pesto paired with the sausage we make in-house. If you get something with sausage, that's mixed with our own sausage spices and onions and all that stuff. It's a symphony of flavors.
What's up with all the music puns?
The owner, Jace Krause, is a pun guy. He quit his desk job to do this. He's a musician, and wanted to do something that involved his passion for music and also allowed him to be in bands in the evening. He's also been cooking breakfast sandwiches his whole life. He's not a classically trained chef, but he definitely knows what he's doing. And he's a punny guy all the time. Even when he's on the line, he just speaks in puns. It's really great.
If you named a sandwich what would it be?
I'm trying to think of some of the ones we've come up with on the side. For a while we did Kid Egg like Kid A. Our sandwiches are over medium so they're runny, so OK Commuter style is for when you're on the go and you don't want it to explode. On the 4/20 holiday, we had a smoked beef brisket that called Smoke Beef Every Day. We play around with our specials. We had Don't Look Back in Hanger with the hanger steak.
Are you a morning person?
I am yes, more or less. Sometimes during the week we get here at 6 to 6:30, and that's morning morning. I came into today at 8 and I'm like you know I'm good, this is my zone. I prefer to work in the morning. It's one of the things I love about the job.
Are people nice that early in the day?
Like anything in service, a majority of people are very nice. Most people are very friendly and we try to be too. That's part of the problem—when we get 60 or 70 backed-up orders. You're like, well I would love to get that out for you, but it's going to be 40 minutes before you get your sandwich. For some people it doesn't make sense to wait 40 minutes. Even for me sometimes it doesn't make sense to wait 40 minutes for an egg sandwich. But it comes off hot and if you're not doing anything and you just want to hang out, and that's the vibe you give, great. Our other store has an overhang and picnic tables, and we serve mimosas and coffee. Working in the confines of Pioneer Square in the middle of downtown we can't do all of what we express over there, but it's a big slice of it.