Restaurant Review: Lecosho

Matt Janke (late of Matt's in the Market) returns with a pork-lover's paradise on the Harbor Steps.
Allison Austin Scheff  |   February 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

It’s probably not fair, but everyone is going to compare Lecosho to Matt’s in the Market.

Matt Janke opened Matt’s in 1996, when there was room for about a dozen patrons in the ramshackle space, but—oh!—it was magic. Simple, honest, fresh and seasonal (but not preachy about it), the food was just good, good, so good to eat.

Soon after reopening Matt’s on a grander scale, Janke sold the place to Dan Bugge, his longtime business partner. Now Janke’s behind an earth-toned space halfway down the Harbor Steps. At Lecosho (the Chinook word for pig), rusticity rules, and the porchetta ($17) exemplifies this bent: pork belly wrapped around pork tenderloin, and dressed in pork jus. I loved that porchetta, as I did the house-made sausage ($9), which bursts its meaty juices onto a soft, homey, braised apple and cabbage slaw. One of the best salad dressings in town—a clever mix of cornichon and mustard—works its magic on the house salad ($7), which also wears a perfectly soft-boiled egg.

And so it goes at Lecosho; if rustic elegance is your thing, you’ll like it here. I especially recommend a visit at lunchtime, when the windowed room is bright and bustling. I got my hair blown back by a terrific tuna melt ($12): hunks of local albacore swathed in a spicy mustard-pickle aioli, topped with a slice of Gruyère, piled atop light rye and grilled. It’s a ridiculously good sandwich, and the price includes a cup of soup (a lush butternut squash that day).

Not everything is perfect—an otherwise delicious Carlton Farms pork chop ($19) needs more salsa verde to enliven its porky flavor—but you could say the same for the original Matt’s. And I’d happily eat there any day of the week, too. Lunch and dinner daily. Downtown, 89 University St.; 206.623.2101; lecosho.com. $$