When you walk into Seattle’s Porkchop & Co., you encounter a great gust of smoke. The scent is expected considering the carnivorous name, which, for me, elicited images of diners gnawing on humungous bones á la the Flintstones. Don’t be fooled; Porkchop & Co. is more than a pork-lover’s pleasure palace. Produce gets equal care and attention. What else would you expect from an eatery an apple’s throw away from the Ballard Farmer’s Market?
I discovered Porkchop & Co.'s omnivorous delights when I met chef and owner Paul Osher at a farm-fresh dinner. At Skylight Farms — one of Osher's produce purveyors — he cooked a delicious feast that began with the stellar smoked beet dip. The gorgeous and garlicky dip lured me to Osher's brick-and-mortar spot, as I was hungry for the recipe and more of his mouthwatering cooking.
If a restaurant can represent a chef’s past, Porkchop & Co. hums with Osher’s culinary history. With ancestors in the kosher meat business — an old Osherwitz Deli sign is propped next to the bar — and a 15-year stint as a vegetarian behind him, Osher embraces both the carnivorous and herbivorous side of the gastronomic coin. Sandwiches get star billing at Porkchop & Co., thanks to Osher’s college job at a corner deli and his previous gig running a successful, sandwich-focused catering company in L.A.
Having spent a third of his life as a vegetarian, the chef wanted the non-meat offerings to be special instead of the token caprese sandwiches found on so many menus. He had nailed a cauliflower sandwich and an apple brie melt, yet craved a third for his garden-fresh trifecta.
Enter: the smoked beet dip.
For inspiration, Osher headed to the Ballard Farmer’s Market. At one of his favorite vendors, Nash Organic Produce, Osher purchased cylindrical beets, thinking they’d fit ergonomically in an oblong sandwich. He sliced the beets lengthwise and roasted them. To his surprise, they resembled bacon, and the visual sparked an idea; why not smoke the beets like the beloved breakfast meat?
Osher’s sous chef sealed the beets’ fate when he stumbled upon a recipe for beet romesco. He suggested they follow it and substitute beets for red peppers in this Spanish sauce, and the smoked beet dip was born. At Porkchop & Co, the beet dip comes on a sandwich with blue cheese, frisée, and traditional romesco. Or, opt for it à la carte, which is also available to-go; this beautiful fuchsia dip will be the belle of your next dinner party. In keeping with his communal spirit, Osher has shared the recipe with The Daily Meal.
Porkchop & Co. is open Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The menu features comfort food with an upscale spin like kimchi hash and smoked trout salad. The porchetta — served hot with jus for dipping — is one of the tastiest in town. Bottled beers, craft cocktails, local drafts, and a never-empty coffee urn round out the menu.