Photo of Reverend's BBQ courtesy Avila/EPDX
Like WWeek before it, the Portland Mercury finds little salvation at Sellwood barbecue joint Reverend's BBQ, similarly using every opportunity to riff on its theological name (here, the headline is "Losing My Religion"). As in reviews before it, critic Andrea Damewood recounts Reverend's impressive pedigree and anticipated pre-opening frenzy, discovering that "Reverend's proves to be simply adequate. And it should be far better."
A few positives emerge: Fried chicken is deemed "delicious and crispy," banana pudding "hits the comfort-food spot," and a macaroni-and-cheese side "had good texture and cheese-to-noodle ratio." But the barbecue items themselves disappoint, from the "chewy" ribs to the brisket, whose "texture ranges wildly on the plate from too dry to too fatty" and arrives drizzled with sauce, which Damewood writes "is the definition of blasphemy." Ultimately, Damewood seems to have hope (she addresses the restaurant directly with a "You can do better!"), and the Reverend's experience can be summed up with just three more religious references: "Right now, Reverend's appears to be in purgatory... I'm willing to convert, but I'm going to need a much better sermon." [Mercury]
WWeek suggests you bring an army to Dan Hart's German beer bar Stammtisch, apparently finding enough to like on its menu that its review is structured as a how-to dining strategy. For larger parties/appetites, go the route of "big flavors and lots of meat" by ordering the jägerschnitzel (pork loin served with "crispy fried spätzle" and an "umami-intense" mushroom gravy), a sausage plate (on which the "juicy" bratwurst is deemed the highlight), or the "generously appointed" meat and cheese plate. Or, should you prefer, just order a half-dozen currywurst plates, impressive enough that Martin Cizmar writes "would be reason to drop in" alone: The sausage arrives with "extra crispy" fries and an "outrageously rich curry ketchup that I all but licked out of the paper serving boat on my first encounter."
It's telling that one of the two duds — the "underwhelming" burger — is a plate that's difficult to share. The Stammtisch experience, Cizmar writes, "feels so much more full when you're crammed between friends drinking an imported German hefeweizen," which is as true as possible to the clubby, German beer hall experience. [WW]
Also in WWeek: A trip to Montavilla's East Glisan Pizza Lounge, where "the pies are uniformly good, though they don't yet stand up to Apizza Scholls or Ken's Artisan." In bringing up Portland's two little-disputed pizza kings, Cizmar seems to suggest there's promise in the pizza, with its "simple, bright and fresh" sauce and sometimes-uneven toppings (at times, they're light, at others, "extremely rich"). The biggest thing holding the pizza back, he argues, is the crust: "well-made but indistinctive, thin, crackery and lacking elasticity and tang." Ultimately, two uneven but interesting menu items — pepperoni rolls (where "aren't great) and rice pudding (lukewarm but with an "ambitious and novel flavor combination") — could represent East Glisan's penchant for risk-taking. [WW]
Back at the Mercury, Damewood files her first dedicated cart review on Mama Chow's Kitchen, writing the downtown Chinese cart helps put a silencer on the ongoing argument that Portland has no good Chinese food. Cart owner Jeff Chow offers a limited menu, but it seems every dish is a knockout: Wonton soup is "seriously soulful," while chicken wings have a "savory-sweet profile" complete with "a hard punch of umami." The only thing to avoid is a kalua pork add-on ("it needs some serious doctoring"), but overall, "there are some well-balanced flavors coming out of Mama Chow's Kitchen." [Mercury]
· All Previous Weeks in Review [Eater PDX]