You may have read the review of Southland Whiskey Kitchen in the Oregonian last week. Critic Michael Russell was not impressed, giving it one of the lowest scores I’ve seen in that newspaper – a D (I can only remember this happening once before, in a review by Roger Porter for Pinocchio a now closed Italian restaurant on the South Park blocks). The O review was followed a few days later by a another take by in the Portland Mercury by Chris Onstad, which wasn’t exactly glowing, but not nearly as bad as Russell’s take.
Some classic lines from the Oregonian review:
Mess-hall macaroni, boiled to shreds, was mixed with clumpy orange cheese. Lifeless gumbo hid shrimp and crawfish, squeaky andouille sausage and post-al-dente rice. Smoked ribs, cool and mealy, were served with two towers of panko-fried onion rings that accomplished the not-insignificant feat of being both overcooked (batter) and raw (onion) at the same time.
…any flavor once held by the pork shoulder was overwhelmed by a vile jalapeño cheese spread.
The review ends by strongly hinting you’d be better off by going to Smokehouse 21 which is up the street.
In the Portland Mercury review, Onstad ends by saying,
“Southland Whiskey Kitchen is a reliable source of fairly priced, accessible, archetypal Southern fare that satisfies but—with a few exceptions—does not wow. It is a place to enjoy good whiskey in a flawlessly attractive, upscale-casual setting, but not for those seeking food with a distinct personality.”
Not exactly glowing, but not particularly scathing either.
Folks are wondering how this could happen, but I have no problem believing they are both right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a glowing review of a restaurant based on my normal three separate meals, and then gone back a month later to be served mostly lousy food. Obviously I hate it when this happens: I end up looking like a schmuck.
Let’s face it, rare is the restaurant where every dish is good; ordering blind can be a crap-shoot. Sometimes you happen to get lucky, most of the time you don’t. These days I don’t believe most reviewers have as many meals at each restaurant as they did back in the halcyon days of hefty income from large classified ad sections, and most of the time it shows. I recently had a friend comment about a local review, saying “It reads like they only went to the restaurant one time.” Sadly, he’s probably right.
So there it is; it may be possible to go to the Southland Whiskey Kitchen and have a bad meal, or, depending on the things you order, a unmemorable meal. However, I have a question for both of them: why the heck did you review it in the first place?!
It’s owned by Casa Del Matador chain, establishments which are not exactly known for anything except a good drinking scene populated by young singles. With all the restaurants in town, you pick that one? Who cares?