2448 E Burnside St., 954-2322, levantpdx.com.
[BONZO FOR GARBANZO] Levant, chef Scott Snyder's new Buckman restaurant, seems to have invented its own genre: high-end French modernist takes on the food of the Sephardic Jewish diaspora—Arabic, African and Hebrew lands huddled around the Mediterranean Sea. The menu has some tremendous successes. A summer lamb dish offered the meat in full, riotous concert, from rack to loin to tender roast to spiced meatball. Citrus and rich jus blended for a depth and acidity a bit like a fine bourguignon gone herbal. A simple salad of baby artichoke, garlic vinaigrette and lamb bacon, topped with an over-easy egg, was similarly a thing of warmth and comfort, a blend of low, earthy notes that reads a bit like a string orchestra stripped-down to harmonies of bass and cello. Still, caution is warranted: The chef's wilder ideas sometimes drift into muddles, as with a brothy monkfish dish and deeply confused spot prawn crudo, a tendency to bury earthy notes in more earth. But for its ambition and newness it remains a restaurant to watch, if a bit warily.
Ideal meal: Chef Scott Snyder has a way with lamb and octopus.
Best deal: The hearty-portioned entrees satisfy; a meal constructed from small plates climbs quickly into unmanageable territory.
Pro tip: Make full use of the bar. The cocktail program is stellar.
5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$$.