$25 fixed price meal at Wildwood is hard to pass up. Here's the complete menu:
* Mizuna gardens salad of seasonal greens with toasted hazelnuts, balsamic vinaigrette, currants and choice of cheese (75 cents extra), goat, blue, or pamesan
* Skillet roasted Washington mussels with garlic, sun dried tomatoes, saffron, and grilled bread
* Soup of the day: White bean and ham hock soup with olive oil croutons
* Mesquite roasted Washington chicken on saffron egg noodles with a green olive and orange tapenade vinaigrette
* Grilled potato "lasagne" with asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon on first crop morels with elephant garlic and sherry vinaigrette
* Clay oven roasted quail basted in rhubarb mustard with toasted walnut Spatzle
* Chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream and candied walnuts
* Lemon buttermilk tart with whipped cream
* Butterscotch pot de creme with whipped cream and biscotti
My wife and I went there tonight. She ordered the fixed the menu: salad, quail, tart.
The salad was simple and typical for the NW. She got it with chevre. But it was quite balanced with lots of filberts and dried currants.
The quail was my favorite dish that we ate. The spatzle was delicate, not at all gummy, and accented with truffle oil, I think. The quail's skin was nicely seasoned and the basting was delicious, adding tartness/tanginess. I deboned the quail for my wife and tore the extra bits off for her. I got to eat the skin, too, and spent several minutes licking all the yumminess from my hands before I dug into my food. The dish also came with a bed of greens and some grilled scallions. A very balanced, tasty dish.
The tart also came with a rhubarb compote not mentioned on the menu. This was a surprisingly good dessert. Normally I'm not too interested in these sorts of things, but the flavors all went together quite well. The lemon filling itself had a sour-tartness, while the rhubarb had a sweet tartness. Then you had a very good crust and the ability to soften the flavors with whipped cream.
I didn't order an appetizer, although the pizza of fennel salami, dried tomato, green garlic, rapini, and soft pecorino was really calling my name. For my entree I ordered the mushroom and corn bread stuffed pork loin on braised Savoy cabbage with red wine butter sauce ($21). It came with a stack of matchstick-like french fries on top that were fabulously addictive. If McDonald's sold them, I'd have a hard time ever doing low-carb. They were salty and crispy. The loin itself was nicely seasoned (a big problem in even nice restaurants is under seasoning the outside of meats, poultry, and fish, but Wildwood always does this well) and cross-hatched with grill marks. The inside was tender and juicy, not overcooked at all. The stuffing was okay. The cornbread mostly added texture, while the mushrooms created the brown color and earthy flavor. I thought it needed something more, maybe chunks of bacon or seasoned mushrooms or even corn kernels or dried fruit. The cabbage was fine and the sauce was fine, neither especially great, but certainly nothing to complain about.
For dessert I ordered the banana and chocolate puff pastry with dagoba chocolate malt ice cream and oregon walnuts ($6.50). This looked great and sounded good and was recommended by the waiter. But I was disappointed. It was okay, but the bananas were fairly starchy, almost like really ripe plantains. I would have preferred them to be caramelized or maybe grilled and tossed in honey or something like that. With the starchiness of the puff pastry, the starchy bananas just didn't create a balanced flavor. The ice cream was excellent. And I'm not pre-disposed to like chocolate ice creams. The walnuts were roasted and good enough, but their bitterness, with the rather unsweetened chocolate sauce and the starchy banana pastry just furthered the problems I mentioned above. Candied walnuts might have been better. People who don't really like sweets might have liked this more than me. But I wished I'd ordered the panna cotta with dried cherry compote, candied almonds, and vanilla lace cookie.
We sat at the kitchen counter, btw, which is especially fun at Wildwood. The cooks will often interact with you.
I overheard one of the servers say that, "He said the quail is lacking a dimension."
"Who?" asked one of the line cooks.
"He's eating here tonight? Why didn't someone tell me?"
Cory, of course, is Cory Schreiber, owner and executive chef. I spoke up and blurted that, "Cory is wrong!" I thought the quail was very well balanced and didn't need anything more. (I did say the stuffing could have used something more, however.)
You can see over the counter pretty easily and they do most everything there in front of you. On the right is the wood oven and they'll hand stretch pizzas before you and fire mussels. On the left is the grill, typical ovens, and burners. The clay oven is pretty much in the center along with the pastry fixins.
The best looking dish of the night which I wished I had ordered was the Painted Hills flatiron steak with herb-parmesan dumplings, bacon braised greens and balsamic butter ($25). It also came topped with a morel and onion, I think, sautee and what looked like a beef/veal reduction possibly with wine. If the morels had been listed on the menu I would have gotten it. I cursed the customers who ordered it as I heard, "steak mid-well". Medium-well. Why not just order a hamburger you vile, vile people.
Anyway, great dinner as usual from Wildwood. Sit at the counter. Make use of 25 for $25 (er...19 for $25).