Two different takes on NW 23rd's Southland Whiskey Kitchen hit newsprint this week, most notably in the form of Oregonian critic Michael Russell's scathing take-down of the Seattle-based barbecue chainlet. The review's "D" grade marks the lowest in recent memory (even the Oregonian's infamous slam of Lucier back in the day merited a "C-"), and adjectives in the story included "vile" (describing a jalapeño cheese spread), "leaden" (referring to whoopie pie), and "mealy" (smoked ribs). Onion rings "accomplished the not-insignificant feat of being both overcooked (batter) and raw (onion) at the same time." But hey, there are positives:
A sandwich board outside advertises the bar's impressive selection of whiskeys, more than 100 in all, ranging from Scotland to Canada and back to Kentucky. It's a good thing they're there. You might need them.
Meanwhile, the Mercury's Chris Onstad also filed on Southland last week, taking a more diplomatic approach (i.e., he found a number of things to like): the spot's barbecue burger is a "strong offering"; wings "excellent." Assessment of side dishes, however, mirrors the O, with adjectives like "underseasoned," "undercooked," and "heavy with grease." Ultimately, "Southland Whiskey Kitchen's tricky corporate directive [is] to please all but offend none." [Mercury]
Moving on. WWeek heads up to St. Johns to check the "carnivalesque" atmosphere of food-cart-turned-restaurant the Baowry, where big flavors are a recurring theme (to both positive and negative effect). Pluses: hum bao (deemed "an all-boats-in-the-water approach to sandwich making") and sizzling rice soup. Minuses: the one-flavor-too-many mussels. [WW]
Finally, Russell's takedown of Southland wasn't the only pan of the week. At the Portland Tribune, reviewer Anne Marie DiStefano files on Vie, the French restaurant owned by one-time scandalmaker Beau Breedlove. A representative line: "The main inspiration here appears to be the prepared food section at Trader Joe's... In other words, it's not terrible." But not great, either. [Tribune]