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Restaurants & Bars 17

Not So Wild About Wildwood...

Marshall Manning | May 25, 200412:29 PM

Last night was Carolyn's birthday, and we decided to go to Wildwood based on the fact that we hadn't been there in over 5 years and we wanted to see how the food was now. Plus, they're one of the few places open on Monday nights (G).

Carolyn ordered from the "Dine Around" menu, while I ordered off of the regular menu. We split the appetizers, which were pan baked mussels and goat cheese and spinach raviolis. The mussels were very good in general, with a very nice garlic and saffron broth. One of the mussels, though, looked a little chipped and beaten, and when Carolyn opened it (it was open, but just barely), there was no mussel, only a big brown, goopy glob of sand. Luckily it was the last one, but it didn't look right and shouldn't have been served in the dish. The goat cheese and spinach raviolis were good, but nothing exciting, and needed more goat cheese and a bit more flavor complexity. The goat cheese ravioli at Lucy's Table are far better and less expensive (only $3 if you go during happy hour, maybe $9 on the regular menu?).

For entrees, Carolyn had the chicken baked in tandoori, which was a very small portion, about half of the breast and only the first part of the wing, with no leg or thigh meat at all. Most restaurants give at least half the chicken, and if they're going to do less, it usually comes with the leg/thigh and a good portion of the breast. There was no mention of smaller portions on the "Dine Around" menu, and if this is the portion size on their regular menu, it's inexcusable for the regular $19 entree price. The texture and flavors on the chicken were good, but nothing better than we do with a roasted chicken at home every week. The fingerling potatoes with her chicken were very good, but the peas were a bit starchy and mushy, unlike the crisp, sweet peas served at Hurley's, for example.

I had the pork loin chop, which was a very nice piece of Carlton pork, cooked medium rare as I had requested (Carnitas is the only excuse for pork that isn't still slightly pink!). While the chop was of good size and cooked nicely, the red wine reduction sauce was a bit thin, simple and a touch bitter, and really didn't add much to the pork. A splash of Porto or good balsamico in the sauce would have both deepened the flavor and made it more interesting. I had a similar dish at Fife a month ago that was cooked just as perfectly but had better flavors. The sour cream mashed potatoes were excellent (oddly, the potatoes on both plates were our favorite items), with just the right amount of creaminess vs. chunks of potato and skins.

Instead of bringing a bottle from the cellar (the $20 corkage seemed high, and our palates were pretty much "wined out" after a long week at the Hospice du Rhone event in Paso Robles), we decided to order from the by the glass list, which turned out to be a mistake. While the wines were fine, they were served in very small, cheap, thick-rimmed glasses. So, besides being extremely small pours for $7.50-$9.50 per glass, there was also absolutely no room for swirling when the wines arrived. The reds were also served a bit on the warm side (A note to restaurants everywhere...the idea that red wines should be served at "room temperature" comes from people who lived in old English castles, which meant around 60-63 degrees, not today's 72 degree restaurant temperatures!). Honestly, with the price of Speigelau or Riedel glasses, there's no excuse for any restaurant using these awful glasses, especially one that considers itself to be among the city's elite. After we were into our entrees, we saw some other by the glass wines being poured into nicer stemware, so on the way out I asked the bartender what we had to do in order to get the better glasses. "Oh, just ask for them" was his answer. How do we know they have them if they don't offer them to you? At other places around town, even inexpensive restaurants like Cafe Castagna, you don't have to ask for good glassware, it comes automatically.

Our server was fine, although he seemed a bit aloof, especially considering that we mentioned that it was Carolyn's birthday. His assistant/busser was just as professional, while also seeming more interested in our dining experience and more friendly. The dessert, a butterscotch pot du creme, was also very nice.

Overall, I'd say we had a good, solid meal, with a few very good, but not exciting, dishes, and a few misses and service flaws. In the end, though, we left a bit disappointed and probably won't return. We've had much better overall meals over the past few months at Alba Osteria, Carafe, Tabla, Park Kitchen, Cafe Castagna, and Fife, and there are just too many excellent restaurants in Portland to bother returning to a restaurant that's not as good and that's more expensive.


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