Though the term "modern steakhouse" conjures images of valet parking and professional athletes promoting vodka, John Gorham uses it more as a catch-all for his playful interpretation of traditional American cuisine. It's also clearly influenced by the international travels of the restaurateur behind Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons and Mediterranean Exploration Company.

Small plates like the "Hmong-style" steak tartare ($14) with jalapeños, quail egg and airy shrimp crackers or the locally famous radicchio salad ($7) with lardons and chopped egg encourage sharing. The cuts of meat, primarily from Oregon farms, provide the hedonistic joy of sinking your teeth into a rare, juicy wagyu steak ($24) or apple-brined pork chop ($24).

Go back for brunch where the menu more than holds its own, boasting a sweet-savory spectrum from pillowy little chocolate potato doughnuts ($3) and silver-dollar lemon ricotta pancakes ($7) to pork schnitzel ($16, but definitely add a mug of Munich dunkel for $2).

And if you just need an escape from work, the midday menu lets you sit at the bar and snack on things like fries cooked in wagyu beef tallow ($3) and drink from a selection of precisely mixed cocktails for seven bucks, like the Brown Derby with bourbon, grapefruit and honey shrub. Yes, Tasty n Alder is busy at all hours, every day of the week. That's because there's never an inappropriate time for this food.

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

Eat: The small radicchio salad ($7), wagyu skirt steak ($24) and a couple of sides like sweet-spicy skillet corn cake ($5) and grilled broccolini ($8) make a perfect meal for two.

Drink: Like the food, the cocktails are mostly playful—and delicious—interpretations of classics. Try the Good Herb ($12) with gin, Suze, génépy and lemon.

Most popular dish: Ryan's Steak tartare with lean, flavorful Piedmontese beef. Raw meat at its finest.

Noise level: 68/100

Expected wait: Reservations are available only for parties of seven or more at the communal table. No brunch reservations. Grab a coffee or cocktail and expect to wait at least an hour.

Who you'll eat with: Delightfully baffled tourists, well-dressed couples and hungover 20-somethings.

Year opened: 2013

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

580 SW 12th Ave., 503-621-9251, 5:30-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-11 pm Friday-Saturday, brunch 9 am-2 pm daily, midday bar menu 2-5:30 pm daily. $-$$$.