"Life is too short for difficult food" is the motto of Dish Urban Market, a sweet little takeout spot that offers prepared dishes, boxed lunches, and specialty groceries. And although I completely disagree with that sentiment--I happen to live for difficult food--I still support indie delis and purveyors of grab-it-after-work-and-heat-it-up-later entrées. Little markets like Dish, with its wines and breads and golden-hued rotisserie humming in the back, inject a bustling, urban quality to their surrounding neighborhood (even if that sleepy neighborhood is affectionately known as "Old Town").

Dish's offerings rotate often, but on a recent visit, I saw enough to keep finicky regulars satiated. Thick slices of Cuban pork loin looked right at home with its neighbors: a heap of Montrachet balls, couscous and vegetables, roasted asparagus, Greek salad, pot stickers, and garlic mashed potatoes. Fresh pasta and sheets of lasagna (made using semolina and free-range eggs) also beckoned, with homemade sauces stacked nearby. On the shelves, I spotted paprika, saffron, jars of olives, and cans of imported San Marzano tomatoes; but bars of fragrant Provence soap, rubber spatulas, or Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me with Apples can also be found within arm's reach. It's hard to stay focused among such sensual clutter.

I bought a bunch of stuff by the pound, ready to tear into it after an excruciatingly long day. Potato-leek soup ($3) was creamy and complex, thanks to scraps of salty pancetta. I wolfed down roasted vegetable ravioli (a purée of squash, eggplant, peppers, and zucchini, $6.25/lb.) with tangy, chunky marinara ($2.25); it was good, but next time I'm going to sauté those pasta pillows in lots of butter and sprinkle Parmesan over them to bring out veggie flavors.

I reheated roast chicken ($4.25/lb.) in my oven, a balsamic-molasses glaze coating crispy, blackened skin and tender (but rather dry) meat, a carpet of rosemary covering the bird's underside. I didn't even bother warming up my string beans ($7/lb., $2.50 for a generous single serving), which were crisp, lushly verdant, and sautéed with Meyer lemon oil. Thin spirals of lemon rind, fraught with flavor, added some surprise and sophistication to the simple beans, and I was happy eating them cold, straight out of the box.

Dish Urban Market

2052 NW Market St (Ballard), 297-1852. Mon-Fri 10:30 am-7:30 pm (Sat 6 pm); closed Sun.