I had a couple extra photos from last week's review of Southland Whiskey Kitchen, so here they are, with some additional commentary that couldn't fit in my weekly allotment. My photos, as is tradition, are terrible; they are stolen during nervous moments, they are badly lit, they are poorly composed. That's fine, because Nolan Calisch's photos for the article are beautiful. Go look at them, they are the best thing to come of this visit.
More photos and pithy reviews after the jump!
I had high hopes for this $8 salad of "Spinach, house-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cherry tomato, mushrooms, chÈvre, almonds, sherry vinaigrette." Doesn't that sound wonderful? In the right hands, it could be a cracking combination. Too bad here it was just angrily swirled in a bowl and artlessly dumped on a plate, salad-by-numbers style.
A dinner guest quibbled that the fried chicken lacked power in the seasoning department, but the skin was crisp, held tight, and the fat underneath had melted away. The meat was moist and hot, cooked right to the bone. You get three great dark meat pieces, mashed potatoes with gravy, and some really forgettable slaw for $16, and I have to say that if it were available a la carte, I'd wander in and get a walkin' around plate of it.
Noah's photo of this burger makes my photo look like something out of a Sasquatch sighting, but this one has far fewer little American flags in it. It was great meat, dressed handsomely with powerful toppings that did not hide the flavor of the patty.
The waitress told me that a baker comes in the morning and makes these pies. Whoever it is knows what they're doing; it was a textural masterpiece, from the light, foamy meringue to the tender graham cracker crust.
These sausages needed another think-through. Jalapeno flavor was barely detectable in the mild link, but it was, if you're into that sort of thing, very, very cheesy. The hot link was spicy in a one-note kind of way, and both benefited greatly from the house-pickled chow chow (cabbage). As with the burger pickles, someone there is doing good work with their brining.
It's just too bad that so much thought and money went into this shrine to barbecue, and very little into the barbecue itself. It loudly communicates an unfortunate message. Look at that brisket. Think about the brisket at Smokehouse 21, Podnah's, or MEET. For this to show up in a six-figure dining room—or even come out of a cart—just isn't right.
There were several decent things on offer at Southland, but on the whole, if someone came to Portland looking for good Southern food, I couldn't in good conscience direct them here first.