Downtown Market Co. dinners in high demand

Nora LaBrocca arguably is the only local restaurateur to find success serving strictly specials that rotate every week.

If you haven’t been to her Downtown Market Co. on Medford’s East Main Street, arrive early for lunch because the dozen seats always are filled by noon. Customers know they can expect a couple sandwiches, soups and salads that change with LaBrocca’s whims and available ingredients.

My favorite dishes have ranged from pork ribs to the delicious portobello mushroom burger I enjoyed today. And LaBrocca keeps adding desserts. Her latest and greatest is a nest of finely cut, crisped pastry filled with Greek yogurt and garnished with fresh berries.

So it would seem LaBrocca would enjoy the same following for weekly prix-fixe dinners. She started testing the four-course format last month and settled, for the time being, on Wednesday service at 6:30 p.m. for $35 per person. LaBrocca e-mails the menus to regular customers so, as with lunchtime, you have to claim your spot early.

Space in the market’s “Taste Kitchen” is almost filled for tomorrow’s dinner of roasted beet and burrata salad, proscuitto-wrapped filet mignon with wild mushroom risotto or pasta with scallops and lemon butter, chocolate-sea salt tartlets, as well as appetizers of LaBrocca’s choice.

Next week’s menu features roasted fennel and olive salad, rosemary lamb cutlets with truffle-oil mashed potatoes or pappardelle with roasted vegetable Bolognese. For dessert, there’s chocolate-hazelnut dacquoise cake.

She’ll close out the month with baby spinach salad with mushrooms and goat cheese, seared halibut with tomato-chili sauce and lemon pasta or roasted portobello mushrooms with Champagne-Parmesan risotto and dessert of frozen lemon mousse tart.

Both dinners still have plenty of seats. Call 541-973-2233.

If you can’t get in for dinner, try one of Downtown Market’s cooking classes, which cost $45 per person. Thursday’s is on making pasta and gnocchi. The price includes food and two glasses of wine.   

Readers of this blog will recall that I included Downtown Market in my recent “best of” 2010 list. My only critique of the operation is its website, which — admittedly — LaBrocca hasn’t updated in going on a year. But she and husband Brian Witter already have enough on their hands. And posting dinner menus online could push reservations back months instead of weeks.

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