Wildwood Restaurant & Bar

March 12, 2011

We won’t deny it: We love going out to eat, and we don’t mind spending money on a nice dinner. We love cooking at home, too, but there is something about the anticipation of an evening out — whether it’s just the two of us, or with family and friends — that imparts a celebratory feeling. Tonight, we met James, Zandra, David and Karen at Wildwood in the Pearl District to celebrate David’s birthday, so the scene was set: delightful company, cool spring evening and a lovely high-end restaurant. David knows wine, we all love to eat and drink, not a picky person in the group. So, it was perfect, right? That we were disappointed came as a surprise.

The menu showcases local, seasonal ingredients, so in early March, we had a plethora of winter vegetables and hearty meats and flavors verging on Mediterranean. Appetizers were the night’s clear winners, in my opinion. Standouts in the starter arena included bright, fresh flavors of roasted parsnip and grapefruit salad with creme fraiche and a drizzle of aromatic truffle oil. And I’ll be honest: I would have kept the buttery pork belly and dungeness crab app to myself if I thought I could get away with it.

Among the six of us, we tried four entrees. Karen and Zandra both had the oven-roasted pork chop, a mammoth cut, nicely cooked, but topped with a preserved tomato sauce that seemed to overpower the dish. James and David ordered lamb which looked promising, but the meat was chewy. (Dare I say gamey? Yes, I dare.) My rib eye filet, the size of a small fist, was nicely browned on the surface, and a lovely medium pink inside, but the flavor was non-existent, and the meat … how could it possibly have been tough? J’s entree of crispy, flavorful duck confit with deliciously caramelized brussels sprouts and pancetta was the only redeeming plate.

First impressions are everything, especially when the competition is so strong. We might give Wildwood another chance, in another season. Maybe.

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