As we waited for a table, there was time to observe our surroundings and I was struck by the thoughtful use of space. There are rows of tables that line the front exterior, equipped with both heaters and fans above to match the weather conditions. A side patio with cocktail service works as an area to wait for an available table. The interior has a mix of wood and iron tables with aqua blue windsor chairs (which match the concrete stained floors), and about three 8 tops, one of which had red barrel chairs for seating. The bar is lined with Bend brand wire chairs (reserved for dining only). Take a look at some interior shots on Eater to fully appreciate the lovely interior (due to dim lighting, my pictures did not turn out well). The bar area overlooks an open kitchen where you can watch all the magic happen. Soon enough a host seated us at the bar and we realized that the bar stools with their leather cushions were surprisingly comfortable. Our server guided us through the menu and suggested we order about two items per person, some items being larger in size than others. We started with the Fried Oysters listed under the Snacky Bits section of the menu. These perfectly fried oysters came with coriander dressing, lemon, and jalapeño. The dressing was the perfect accompaniment and the lemons (which I believe were preserved) were great to nibble on between bites of oyster. Our server also recommended the Soft Egg Toast with asparagus, taleggio, truffle vinaigrette, bottarga and focaccia. This was a truly comforting dish; a combination of the perfectly toasted in-house bread, the egg that was just right, the fruity tang of the cheese, and the brininess of the roe.
For entrée we split the Whole Branzino (reminiscent of one once served at Sway) listed under the Wood Fired section of the menu. This was served with sliced almond, preserved lemon, thyme, mint, and parsley. The fish was delicate and tender on the inside, with a crusty outer flesh, and a nice char in places. Very satisfying. As a side to this we split the Romaine Heart served with anchovy dressing, chives, and croutonitos, A great version of Caesar Salad with a spicy twist. We knew we could not leave without trying dessert. We decided on the the Hazelnut Layer Cake with dulcey coffee mousse, praline, banana, and sour cream ice cream. It was been a while since I have had one of Laura Sawiki's desserts and after eating that cake I remember what I have been missing. Light, delicate, harmonious, with texture contrasts and amazing flavor. Definitely a highlight of the meal.
One thing I noticed during my time at Launderette is how the people who work there seem to be happy and truly enjoy what they do. Our server was thoroughly engaging, funny and sincere. The host was polite and eager to make us feel at home. While watching the bartenders, servers and back of house interact with each other, I noticed they conveyed a calm and relaxed composure mixed with a jovial easiness. Not something that you always see at a very new restaurant, much less one that is packed to the gills on a busy Saturday night. It is clear that Ortiz and Sawiki have created an environment that is professional and exacting, but also very hospitable. The sublime food, the buzzy atmosphere, and the effortless rhythm of the staff are what make Launderette a beautiful thing to behold.