This is the place I originally had dreams about. Why? They fry their french fries in duck fat. End.That's all you need to know. Oh you want more? I guess I can expound on my experience. ;) However, I do have to say that I might have built up my expectations too high in anticipation of my second visit....it wasn't that the food was bad. It was simply that I was just so blown away with it the first time and built up such a enormous idea and taste profile in my head, the second visit didn't really stand up to my memory of the first. It was still yummy though! I would still definitely go back. Also, I apologize for the blurry pictures in advance! I've been hoarding these pictures for awhile.
My family has a friend in who lives in Portland, so we always make a point to visit when we're passing through the area. Our Portland friend also happens to be a foodie, and makes a point to take us to his new dives. He was also the one that originally introduced us to Laurelhurst.
Although by no means revolutionary, Laurelhurst combines the best of both worlds: a fully stocked butcher shop, with patties, sausages, and cured meats all made in house, and a fantastic, family style no frills restaurant. The whole restaurant is sort of a shrine to meat, good company, and raucous times. The first time we ate here, our party sat at the long communal table located in the middle of the restaurant.. However, this time we had a smaller, four seat table to ourselves. Both times I've visited, the restaurant has always, always been busy with a boisterous atmosphere. The decor is bare bones, even on the restaurant side, and the whole theme of being a butcher shop runs through both halves of the restaurant. There's a chalkboard with different cuts of meats available hanging above the open kitchen, hardwood tables and chairs filling up every inch of floor space and some candles to add that certain "atmosphere." It's a great place to have a goodbye party or even a first date!
For being so busy, the servers were alright. Food wasn't really delivered in a timely manner, but waters and wine were constantly being poured and refilled. They also knew exactly when to disappear and when they were needed. Their menu was diverse, yet concise and it only filled up one "menu page", but the hard part is just ordering one thing. Literally, everything on the menu looks lovely and delicious. Combine the menu descriptions with the dishes and smells coming out of the kitchen and it's almost impossible to just order an appetizer, main, and dessert. Definitely make plans to share with the rest of your party.
|Marrow Bones, Toasted Soft Pretzel and Pickled Mustard Seeds|
Marrow is one of my favourite "secret" bit of the animal, tucked within the the calcium prison of bone, it's an absolute delight to scoop out and eat. Served with soft pretzel and pickled mustard seeds, both accentuate the smokey, rich, and buttery marrow. The toasted pretzel provided a wonderful base to slather the opulent marrow on and the pickled mustard seeds cut right through the oil and added another layer of flavor to the marrow.
|Foie Gras Au Torchon|
This torchon was beautifully done and not discolored at all, which is inherent of foie that has been sitting too long and the surface has begun to oxidize. As per usual this foie was served with toasted bread and a fruit accompaniment: a raspberry sauce and some pickled grapes. For those of you who haven't tried a foie torchon, it is like eating the most decadent butter in the world. It melts in your mouth, and since it has already been imbued with all the gentle spices and flavorings of the curing process, imparts just a lovely fatty, protein-y, goodness that is supported by the starchy bread and elevated by the sweet fruit. As paraphrased from Thomas Keller's cookbook, "Foie gras is something that should be minimally garnished. You eat it because you lie the taste and feel of foie gras. Foie gras on toast is perfect. Foie gras with a poached pear, a fig, a truffle --it's almost impossible to go wrong."
|Steak Tartare: Vodka, Chives, Shallot, Salt 'Cured Egg Yolk|
Honestly, it was just a solid, well executed beef tartare. If raw meat doesn't float your boat or if you're not in the mood that day, then don't order it!
|Mussels Frites: Dijon Mustard and Creme Fraiche|
The mussels were cooked to perfection and were allowed to wallow in the juices that they were steamed in. Taking out each succulent rusty, saffron colored mussel from its obsidian prison and dragging it through the Dijon mustard sauce in the bottom of the bowl was absolutely heavenly. The fries were crisp, golden and the perfect starch to absorb the remnants of the mussel juice and the dijon mustard sauce.
However, I must say that this second experience really differed from my first tasting of this dish. Again, maybe I elevated the flavor profile in my mind or maybe Laurelhurst was having an off day, but the powerful well integrated flavor was somewhat lacking in this dish. Not to say that it was flavorless, but where previously the flavor was a solid ten, I would rank this second iteration of the dish at maybe a five or a six.
|Warm Red Kale Salad: Marinated House-Made Mozzarella, Fried Cardoons, Pickled Peppers, Pancetta Vinaigrette|
Honestly, I'm not a huge salad fan, I prefer to have my veggies cooked, and since this was a warm salad it definitely made the dish more palatable to someone that usually rejects salad. Now, it didn't blow my mind or make me crave it long after the meal was over, but it had a simple flavor profile that made it exactly what I needed in the meal to prevent scurvy.
|Wagyu Denver Steak -- Cocoa Nib Rub, Red Harissa, Grilled Scallions, Queso Blanco|
|Creekstone Ranch Ribeye -- Cold Smoked; Blue Cheese Butter, Fried Sweet Onion Rings|
It's a good piece of meat! We ordered it rare, as we usually tend to do, and really loved how the blue cheese elevated the beefiness of the ribeye. The flavor profile was simple, but packed a punch, while the meat was tender, juicy, and cooked to our liking!
|Dulce De Leche Chesecake|
Laurelhurst Market is still definitely a lure that makes me want to visit Portland, but I have to say the times that I have visited Laurelhurst were radically different. The first time the meal was incredible and it really made a lasting impression on my mind, and palate, while the second time was not bad...it was just simply unmemorable. It didn't really live up to my first visit and the meal I had then. However, I still don't know whether I built up the flavors in my mind or whether Laurelhurst was having an "off-night" that night, but I do know my sister also felt the same way. When it all boils down to revisiting or not, I would still visit it again.
Yes, I've seen children dine at the long communal tables, but the majority of the crowd were certainly older diners.
Price:$$$$ out of $$$$$
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