Under chef Ben Bettinger, Laurelhurst Market produces meals with the craftsmanship of a Swiss watchmaker. Because the kitchen is adjacent to one of the city's finest butcher shops, the meat is consistently superb. The menu is simple and straightforward—except there's nothing simple about the food. The grilled radicchio Caesar ($11) harmoniously blends garlic and anchovies with the balance of a skilled tightrope walker that challenges similar versions at Ken's Artisan Pizza and Nostrana for the title of the eastside's best. The harvest salad ($11) is a symphony of raw, grilled and pickled vegetables, bound together with romesco sauce and a subtle citrus vinaigrette.
The steak and greens ($27) features bavette, a tender, marbled cut Laurelhurst helped rescue from obscurity, paired with a rich, tangy romesco and a heaping portion of seasonal greens tossed in lemon. The smoked and grilled pork chop ($30) comes with corn and wild mushrooms, a sublime combination that underlines a great strength—as good as the meat is, the vegetable pairings may be better. Bettinger is also a deft hand with fish. The selection changes daily but is often a member of the salmon family or a pan-seared halibut, which came on a recent night with pureed squash, roasted cauliflower, carrots and salsa verde ($33). Desserts are few but impeccable. The cornmeal pound cake with maple whipped cream ($11) is sprinkled with blueberries in a happy marriage of contrasting tastes and textures.
Pro tip: It can be tough to snag a table most nights, but seats at the bar—a snug world of its own—are often available. Hold onto your receipt from dinner and get 10 percent off a purchase at the butcher shop. And every day, from 11 am to 5 pm, that same butcher shop produces sandwiches as substantial as they are delicious. The Italian sub ($6.25 half, $10.95 whole) can cure East Coasters' homesickness.