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Two Stars for American Local; Is Khao Man Gai Enough?

Photo of the American Local courtesy Avila/EPDX

The Oregonian's Michael Russell is the latest critic to weigh in on SE Division's eclectic the American Local, offering the following descriptor of the restaurant's two-star menu: It "bounces between left-, center- and right-alignments more frequently than an E.E. Cummings poem." Among the highlights on chef/co-owner Chris Whaley's menu: guanciale-wrapped rice cakes ("my favorite yakitori skewers in Portland"), grit cakes topped with a "velvety" salmon tartare, and vegetable dishes (like a mushroom-topped flatbread) that "get just as much respect as the meat."

A few dishes get dinged for their overwhelming (or "gut-busting") qualities: grilled asparagus with egg and poutine are both deemed overly rich, the latter "might be better served on an all-American late-night menu." But in a Portland rarity, service provides a "consistent highlight", making the spot one Russell is rooting for: It's "the little restaurant that could." Ultimately: "Over several visits, I found few explosively great dishes, but almost no duds, either. In other words, I'd happily order most of the menu again." [OregonLive]

Portland Mercury's Andrea Damewood asks the following of Nong's Khao Man Gai's brick-and-mortar restaurant: "Do we need more?" Damewood praises the obvious advantages of Nong Poonsukwattana's SE sit-down space — beer, plates, and the fact that "quality does nothing but improve with the fuller-sized kitchen area" — but wishes Poonsukwattana's kitchen expansion would translate to "put[ting] more dishes on display": "The website says there are pork feet at the restaurant. They're not there... There used to be wings on the menu; why not at least bring those back?"

And there are some flat-out duds. The vegetarian tofu and rice "makes me weep for non-carnivores," as does its side of "totally unseasoned" steamed broccoli. The chicken-and-rice is still a "bundle of joy," though, so the question remains: "Should her next foothold be more locations churning out that same glorious khao man gai? Or should she reach for more, expanding her expertise to other Thai standards?" [Mercury]

WWeek slams Sellwood's new barbecue joint Reverend's BBQ, declaring the alter to meat to be a "false priest." There are exactly two positives: the fried chicken and sausage plate, both borrowed from the owners' other restaurant, Laurelhurst Market, but Martin Cizmar discovers that meats smoked in-house leave much to be desired. Pork ribs are deemed "decent but unremarkable," while a plate of deviled eggs are "tasty enough" but unnecessarily messy. Things get harsh from there: radicchio salad is simply "terrible," chopped pork "bland and not smoky enough," and the brisket "unsatisfying," presumably for different reasons on each visit. Writes Cizmar: "I found the slabs of brisket on my last visit so smoky the meat suffered."

Ultimately: "While this nearly two-month-old barbecue joint might yet ascend that golden staircase, it's got a tough climb ahead." [WW]

· All Previous Weeks in Review [Eater PDX]

The American Local

3003 Southeast Division Street, , OR 97202 (503) 954-2687 Visit Website