I have to apologize to you, dear readers. For leading you down the garden path, for taking advantage of your trusting natures, for not being fussier and bitchier and harder-to-satisfy. But, you see, I just can't help myself. When presented with an opportunity to go out for dinner and not have to cook yet another family meal, I lose all sense of propriety, not to mention discernment.
If the service is a bit slow, the courses a tad ill-paced, the food not the absolute definition of perfection, well, at least I don't have to clean up the dishes. I usually just order a cocktail (not a fancy one, at least not until I know the bartender) or pour another glass of wine. So, again, I beg your forgiveness for yet another rave of yet another terrific meal.
This time it was at Lauro, David Machado's Spanish and Portuguese-inflected bistro on Division. We met friends George and Edie for an early (5 pm) dinner and had our pick of tables, with generally attentive but not-too-intrusive service and some decent cocktails. Even if the olives in the martinis weren't pitted. (For the record, George likes them pit-in. Go fig.)
We started with their calamari with piri piri sauce, the squid lightly battered and tender but the sauce a bit vinegary, covering up the flavor of the piri piri chiles. But the grilled shrimp with a lively, chunky tomato sauce made up for any shortcomings on the part of the piri piri. This is sauce to die for, to sop up, to lick off the plate. Oh, and the shrimp with a bit of broiled cheese on top was lovely, too, perfectly luscious and tender and good with the sauce.
The beef daube with polenta was smashing, deeply succulent hunks of braised beef with two triangles of fried polenta alongside. And the special of artic char (below, right) on a bed of stewed lentils and roasted potatoes topped with a garlic aioli was the ideal dish for this beautiful fall day, not too heavy but decidedly hearty.
I have to note here that as we tucked into our orders, the place got quite busy but the noise level at our window table was very manageable, an unusual (and quite welcome) occurrence in my experience at other Portland dining establishments. Our dinner with drinks, appetizers, wine and desserts came in under $50 apiece not including the tip, so it's a spot I'd recommend heartily for a nice but not too expensive evening out.
Details: Lauro Kitchen, 3377 SE Division, #106. Phone 503-239-7000.