Since I happen to live just mere blocks from Lauro Kitchen the restaurant on SE 34 Ave. & Division has been a big favorite of mine since it opened in late 2003. The owner, Chef David Machado has been a long time favorite of mine. I loved his food at Pazzo in the early 1990's and I personally thanked him for bringing back to life one of the most delicious appetizers ever when he placed the Radicchio wrapped in Pancetta served with a Basil & Goat Cheese dressing. If it is on the menu when you go, you have to order it. I can remember literally wiping the plate clean with bread to get the last morsel of dressing.
To be honest, when we stopped by the other night it was more out of convenience than the desire for an inspired meal. The past 3-4 times we had eaten at Lauro the food had been good, but not "great". Monday we showed up at 6:30pm, grabbed the best seats in the house (in front of the grill station) and had an exceptional meal.
Jennifer Buehler and David Machado have put together a stellar fall menu.
A squash soup spiced with cinnamon, ginger and some nutmeg was wonderful and the Cafe Salad of Endive, French Blue Cheese, Apples and Walnuts jumped in my mouth as it hit all of the flavor senses on the tongue (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory).
We ordered the Butternut Squash Tortellini with Hazelnut, Sage and Marsala Sauce and also the Braised Oregon Lamb Shank with Caramelized Pears and Shallots. The tortellini was fantastic and this is a pasta dish that I probably wouldn't do at home. It is a very nice dish.
The lamb shank was perfectly braised and the combination of shallots and pears (still slightly firm) was nice. This dish too had a great combination of sweet, salty, and savory).
We combined the meal with a nice Domaine Khalkhal-Pamiès,Minervois, Plaiser des Lys, 2005 (This Languedoc adds the traditional Rhône Valley grapes of Syrah and Grenache to the more typical Carignan and Cinsault. It is balanced and rich, with jellied black fruits, spice, plum, and a pepper note).
All I can say is that Lauro Kitchen has definately got their Mojo back-good for them, and great for us. On the Yuk or Yum scale: Big time Yum!