Sandwich Review: Laurelhurst Market

OK, everybody has heard that the sandwich was first invented when the Earl of Sandwich asked for some meat between two slices of bread so that he could eat while gambling right? Except, it's not true. Yes, there was, and still is, an Earl of Sandwich, and it's likely that the meal was named after him. Also, it's more probably that Sandwich was dedicated to his work for the navy than to the gaming tables, so he probably ate at his desk. But Wikipedia says the idea for sandwiches were more likely carried to the Earl by his by his Grisons Republic born brother-in-law, Jerome de Salis. The republic is in the eastern part of what is now Switzerland, and is known for cured & dried sliced meats.

So, what we have is an obvious, and everyday part of the American menu ensconced in mystery and invention. What better way to describe all the sandwich possibilities? Also, since these are leaner times more people have been trying to stretch their money, changing vacations into staycations, movie nights into Netflix nights, etc, so Portland foodies may be scaling back too. This is possibly one reason there's been a burst of sandwich restaurants in PDX.

I figured I'd take up the foodessey challenge and visit some of these places during my lunch hour, checking out whether the sandwiches are better than I could make at home.

My first stop was Laurelhurst Market. Officially the full name is "Laurelhurst Market Restaurant and Butcher Shop," which intrigued me. From the outside it looks like a modernist restaurant -- I doubted whether the butcher shop existed. Imagine my surprise at the case of meats greeting me as I stepped through the front door. The Laurelhurst Market is not for vegans, or probably even for vegetarians. Nearly everything on the evening menu proclaims meat. The Choucroute Garnie (roughly translated as "sauerkraut with a garnish") starts the description with "Duck Confit, Boudin Blanc, Braised Applewood Smoked Bacon" and has sauerkraut as the fourth item, finishing with "Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes."

We were there for lunch, however, which was confined to sandwiches. I chose the steak sandwich with red onions and horseradish. On Tuesdays they make fried chicken and my wife opted for the fried chicken sandwich with pickled celery, Frank's hot sauce, mayo and bleu cheese. All the sandwiches are $7, and for a dollar more you can add a bag of kettle chips. Other than cookies they don't have any other sides available during lunch.

The dining room is austere, but casual, well-lit by the large windows facing the street. You could easily watch people go in and out of Music Millennium, or check out joggers heading through the Laurelhurst gates. Lunch wasn't noisy, even though there were some people with younger kids, and it was a relaxing atmosphere.

My steak sandwich was tasty, but not outstanding. The sliced steak was perfectly cooked -- slightly less than medium rare. But the amount and consistency of the meat, while tender, needed some contrast. I would have preferred a bit more horseradish, or thicker onion slices to give it structure. The real gem, however, was the fried chicken sandwich. The pickled celery and the hot sauce worked together almost like a chutney. The bleu cheese stood out, but wasn't obnoxious. The fried chicken was tender and gave enough crunch to the sandwich to make every bite interesting. This was definitely a sandwich I wouldn't have made for myself, and it was worth the $7.

I plan to head back to Laurelhurst Market, either on Tuesday for the fried chicken sandwich, or one of the evening meals.

Laurelhurst Market Restaurant and Butcher Shop
3155 E. Burnside, at the Gates of Laurelhurst
Butcher Shop Hours - Open Daily From 10am to 7pm
Restaurant Hours - Open Daily From 5pm to 10pm (Sunday 5pm to 9pm)
Open 7 Days a Week

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