Laurelhurst is Decent

Sometimes when you pick a new restaurant to try you take a risk. Maybe you want to check it out for the hype, a special dish, or because all the critics say it's good. Maybe they don't and you want to check it out anyway. Whatever the reason for choosing a place you always run the risk of being disappointed; that's part of the price you pay in the quest for perfection.

Last week Wifey and I decided to go to Laurelhurst Market on East Burnside for dinner. We had gone last summer and bought sandwiches out of the attached deli (open during the day), but wanted to check out the restaurant (only open for dinner). It's a meat-centric place - always a plus for us - and they have high quality meats, so the prices weren't exactly walking around money. We knew that going in. We also chose it despite continually being disappointed with steakhouses (I'm looking at you Ringside Steakhouse).

The menu looks very good with plenty of different kinds of meats to choose from. I will point out, though, that the main course dishes really are just the protein - if you want more you need to order a side or a salad. I'm not really sure I understand the steakhouse predilection for this not having side dishes included in the meal, but there you go - you've been warned.

Wifey ordered the grilled ribeye with blue cheese butter and fried Walla Walla onions, medium. Here's another thing about steakhouses - they never give you the doneness you request. Medium, to them, is apparently very red in the middle. I know cooks seem to like their meat less cooked than perhaps I do, but one would think if you ask for medium you should get some pink without any red. It's like the cook is saying no, that's not what you want. I'll do whatever I please. I get that on some level, but at the same time if you don't like raw beef you don't like raw beef.

Despite that, the steak was a nice piece of meat and it was very good. The onions had a very nice crust on them that didn't get soggy, even on re-heating in the microwave the next day. Overall this was a good dish - just not sure it was $32 good. She ordered smashed olive oil new potatoes to go with it that was also pretty decent.

I opted for the double cut pork chop, which is not the one listed on the menu at the link above. It's the same cut of meat, but Carlton Farms instead of Tails and Trotters and had a sweet smokiness to it. Again, I ordered it medium and this was probably done closer to my request than Wifey's steak, but it was pink in the middle and almost dry on the outside. (Oddly enough, the next day it actually seemed moister when I ate leftovers - not quite sure how that happens.) I picked a side of Mom's Baked Beans - which promise to be what Mom would have served me if she loved me - thinking I couldn't go wrong there. The flavors were good, but not all of my beans were cooked through - some were hard.

We ordered a glass of red wine with the dinner to share, something we don't normally do. At a steakhouse it seemed like the right thing to do. We chose a $10 glass of Dollar Bill from Patricia Green Cellars which was excellent. I may have mentioned before I'm not a big fan of most of the pinot noirs around here, but apparently I just need to get the expensive stuff. Highly recommend this wine - it had a fruity nose, minimal tannins, and just a solid overall flavor and feel.

When the dessert menu came we saw their version of S'mores (I think they called it Night at Lost Lake or something like that) and had to get it. It comes on a plate with two house-made graham crackers, almost gingerbread, which have rosemary in them. That was an interesting tweak I liked while Wifey wasn't that thrilled about it. That came with a nice square of toasted marshmallow and some soft Callebaut chocolate - plus a smooth shot of Maker's Mark bourbon, which I downed cheerfully. Eaten together it was very good (to me anyway). Sadly, I think this and the wine were the highlights of my Laurelhurst experience.

The food was pretty decent, but the high prices weren't justified. I'll spend the money if it really, truly is that good - this just wasn't.

Would I go back? Surprisingly, yes I would. But if we did I'd nibble around the edges of the menu, perhaps trying the bacon cheese burger, one of the salads, or the fish and chips, instead of going for a large chunk of meat main course. And many of the appetizers our fellow diners ordered - it's an open dining room - did look good. The pommes frites looked fantastic.

Would I recommend it? Probably not. And that's kind of sad because I really wanted to like this place. I'll recommend the deli part for sandwiches and hard to find cuts of beef and pork, just not necessarily for a steak dinner.

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