Laurelhurst Market, Restaurant and Butchershop ~ Portland Oregon | Memosne

Laurelhurst Market, Restaurant and Butchershop ~ Portland Oregon

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 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
Given how much meat and bones the market goes through, I really appreciated this sort of attempt to use "all parts of the animal." I'm not sure about what the market necessarily does, but I am a huge fan of nose to tail cooking. Upon a preliminary google search, Laurelhurst Market and its head chefs have quite a lot of articles associating them with nose to tail cooking, you guys can peruse them if you so wish!

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 
Tto make a foie with the Torchon technique takes a lot of time and effort. Although I do love my pan seared foie, I really have to appreciate the commitment that chefs put in to create Foie Gras Au Torchon. It takes about an average of four days to create a beautiful torchon and that includes de-veining, curing, boiling, forming and refridgerating the raw foie before it evolves into its final form in the photo.

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 
As always, I have a strong weakness to steak tartare and when I saw that it was paired with all my favorite things, I just had to order it. The vodka, chives and shallot all cut through the raw beefiness of the tartar with a gentle acidity and the salted yolk was just a wonderful salty binder.

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 
This is actually the dish that I dreamed about and was the driving force for me to come back to Laurelhurst Market. The mussels and fries are so lovely and so popular that they actually deserved a whole section of the menu by themselves! So, you have the option of choosing Dijon mustard and creme fraiche, mole sausage, or green curry sauces that your mussels will be steamed in. Honestly though, I do think that dijon mustard and the creme fraiche is the combo that beats out all the rest.

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 
Given that our meal was almost 90% meat and starch, we wanted some veggies to balance out the protein. Out of all the salads, this one looked the most appealing, especially with its combination of mozzarella, pancetta, and kale...three of my many weaknesses. ;)

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
The Wagyu Denver steak was what our dinner companion ordered and I only got a piece of it, but I wasn't expecting it to be presented pre-cut. I didn't get to eat much of it, but I was impressed by the rub and the sauce. The cocoa nibs gave the meat a deeper, sweeter flavor and the red harissa sauce gave it a nice spicy-kick.

Creekstone Ranch Ribeye -- Cold Smoked; Blue Cheese Butter, Fried Sweet Onion Rings
This is what my sister and I ordered, to share of course, and it was delicious. Something about the combination of blue cheese, a delicious cut of meat and some golden onion rings just made this dish irresistible.

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
Honestly, I think it was a bit unwise of me to order this cheesecake considering that I was already pretty full at the time. It was a sweet, dense cheesecake, and I definitely needed the aid of water to help wash the "body" of the cheesecake down. I really appreciated that Laurelhurst gave it a thick, thick crust. It was good and interesting, but it doesn't make me crave for it after the fact and honestly didn't leave a very strong impression, probably because I was so full. I think if I ever return I'd try some of the other dessert items listed.

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 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.

Kid Friendly: 
Yes, I've seen children dine at the long communal tables, but the majority of the crowd were certainly older diners. 
Price:$$$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes

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