We were looking for an early dinner on Saturday and decided to stop in and have a quick bite at the bar at Wildwood. Our previous experiences at the restaurant have been varied, but never stunning (a very good meal 5-6 years ago, a decent dinner 3 years ago and a mediocre dinner last year), but we keep hearing that the bar food is good, so we thought we'd give it a try.
Carolyn ordered mussels, which were much better than our dinner here last year. Last year the dinner portion was about 15 mussels, and of those, one was dead and loaded with sand (which got in the broth) and mussel goo, and a couple more didn't open, so it wasn't a very good value. This time, the mussels were excellent, and there were at least 20 of them, in a broth with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and herbs that was very tasty and served as good dipping juice for the solid house bread. They were also cooked just right, being tender and not rubbery. These were some of the best mussels she's had in Portland.
My burger came on a nice onion bun with pesto spread and aioli, which made a nice match with the burger, which was nicely beefy and cooked medium-rare, which is exactly what I asked for. The patty itself was a little small, maybe 4" in diameter, on a 6" bun, and was probably about 3/4 to 7/8" thick. I'd prefer a slightly thinner patty that covered the whole bun, otherwise you get those bites towards the edge of the burger that don't have any burger in them. The fries were only mediocre, a nice thin cut, but a few were so greasy and limp that I had to put them off on another plate, and many of the fries simply weren't crisp or firm. Others were pretty good and a bit crisper, so I wonder if there were two batches mixed together? Even the best fries weren't a match for Cafe Castagna's, and while the burger was very tasty, I think it's just a notch behind the bigger (and maybe less expensive?) burger at the Cafe.
Overall, a very good bar dinner, bouyed by the strength of the excellent mussels, but the fries really need to be better.
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