Tasty news for Southeast Division neighborhoodies: After nearly two years of listening to diners moan about that endless sidewalk wait for premium table space, chef David Machado is expanding the hours of Lauro Kitchen, WW's Restaurant of the Year 2004. Machado's throwin' open his Mediterranean kitchen's doors Sunday and Monday nights from 5 to 9 pm starting this weekend-just in time for the arrival of spring asparagus, artichokes and pea dishes. Bite Club bets Machado's seven-day plunge may have been prompted by an exchange he had with Portland's modest Mayor Tom Potter a few weeks ago. "When I thanked him for coming in [Mayor Potter] said that it was his first time he'd eaten at Lauro," Machado told Bite Club. "He said, 'I've come here seven times and never made it in. This is the first time I made it past the front door.'"

After abandoning plans to launch a snazzy Pearl District salad-bar restaurant last year, Noble Rot's chef Leather Storrs is talking about a new place-sans sneeze guard. He's still planning on calling it Rocket, but now the joint-which sounds like it'll be more midcentury swank than butter-lettuce cool-will be located on the fifth-floor of a high-rise on magma-hot East Burnside Street.

"Rocket will be a fusion of clarklewis' sleek chic, the diamond-in-the-rough quality of the Gotham Bldg. Tavern and the funky free-love vibe from ripe's Supper Club," Storrs told Bite Club. How mysterious.

The restaurant isn't slated to open until next Christmas, but Storrs let it slip already that "in the way that Noble Rot is organized around wine, Rocket will be organized around booze."

And speaking of the ripe empire: Michael Hebberoy, co-owner of that new Gotham Bldg. Tavern, was pleasantly surprised when he picked up the Portland Mercury last Thursday. The alt-alt-weekly's guide to Portland eats heaped approval on ripe's newest project. Managing Editor Phil Busse praised the Gotham's "tiptop food" and "modish ambiance" in his short review, gushing over the supposedly "swanky service" like a regular.

Too bad the highly anticipated "gastropub" doesn't open until April 9. Hebberoy says he's never spoken to Busse about the tavern, nor has the editor ever visited the unfinished space. Hebberoy says the most savory thing stocked at the unfinished Tavern so far is the acrylic finish they're using to seal the floors.

"I think it's beautiful," Hebberoy says of the Mercury's Nostradamus-style reportage. "I love Phil Busse's balls. He's got really big balls."

So what happened? Despite Hebberoy's assessment of Busse's massive Rocky Mountain oysters, the editor's answer was particularly ball-less: It wasn't his fault. "The original text got a little changed in the editing process," Busse told Bite Club on Monday. "The future tense was supposed to be there." His original review referenced the food at ripe's family supper and the ambience at clarklewis. He says he was trying to "triangulate" those ideas for the Tavern.

Whatever. Bite Club's willing to give Busse, a "Rogue of the Week" alumnus (see WW, April 28, 2004), the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this review was simply a case of sloppy editing-and not pre-emptive Tofurky-fake journalism. After all, a managing editor can't be expected to read his own newspaper before it goes to press, can he?

Lauro Kitchen

, 3377 SE Division St., 239-7000.

Noble Rot, 2724 SE Ankeny St., 233-1999.

Gotham Bdlg. Tavern, 2240 N Interstate Ave., 235-2294.