Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Southland Whiskey Kitchen

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Portland, OR. Serving up "savory home cookin' and brown liquor libations" says Southland's website, and oh how true does this ring. Among many food-centered strengths, the city of Portland has a happy hour culture that should be the envy of larger metros. However, it isn't the drinking that becomes the focus, but the heavily discounted high-quality food. What does this mean to its happy hour patrons? It allows a sampling of a larger cross-section of a menu of farm-to-table, even within the gluttonous comfort that is Southland Whiskey Kitchen.

Southern decadence in its truest form: deliciously made comfort food. The venue is designed like many pubs: large bar, heavy wooden tables, in a large open space. Sound carried from booth to standalone tables, but conversations weren't disrupted.  As a last-minute dine before heading to the airport for my return to Los Angeles, there was still ample seating and it was still happy hour. Clearly, my friends and I were going to go big, for the last meal of the city (and as memory serves, southern was my last-minute fix when I left Portland previously...hmm, I'm noticing a pattern).

Fried Green Tomatoes


We ordered Fried Green Tomatoes in unanimous agreement, something I've heard of but have never eaten (and it was the only plate we actually shared). The tomatoes were crusted with cornmeal for a gritty crunch and flash-fried, holding the heat like a batch of fresh onion rings. Careful on the tongue, the neatly packaged tomatoes popped with juice when bitten! Tomatoes are a neutral fruit, but the introduction to a known staple was the point, and point greatly taken! 

Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese


Cheesy, gooey, and topped with crisped bread crumbs in a personal ramekin was the indulgence in BOTH of my Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese orders (by mistake another was added to one of the other plates). Well-done, though I wished I could've discerned the individual cheeses. I used the steaming concoction as a "palate cleanser" between the heavier dishes. That's how it works right? Well, maybe it was just another excuse to eat even more, and with no gravy to dip, I had few alternatives.

Smoked Cheddar + Tasso Grit Sticks


A good batch of grits was last had in San Francisco, so how would this thing called a 'grit stick' hold up? Well, imagine the excitement tearing into your breakfast order to get at the handheld hash browns. Ever had fried polenta? These Smoked Cheddar + Tasso Grit Sticks were similar to both of those dishes. The cheese grits were fried to a flawless crunch, but where does the Tasso play in? Were they fried in Tasso? I couldn't answer that question either, but as the server expressed when I ordered it "Trust me, you'll like them." The dish was paired with a slightly spiced, creamy onion dip. Call me simple: ketchup worked just fine. 

Pulled Pork on Buttermilk Biscuit


"Do you have buttermilk biscuits? Can you make it on a buttermilk biscuit?" Luckily the answer was a solid YES to both, and my Pulled Pork came just near perfect. The shredded pork was tossed in a smoky barbecue sauce, topped with a horseradish slaw and sandwiched between two warm halves of a buttermilk biscuit. Can you blame me? The combination suited the flavors and the soft and flaky, biscuit that I ordered. I also put in for a batch of Collard Greens, softened and seasoned. My grandmother wouldn't be proud, but she's known for her collards with ham hock. Nothing speaks southern to me than a good ole batch of biscuits and collard greens, oh and of course: fried chicken.

Fried Chicken Wings

Fried Chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken! If I could have an expression with amorous eyes, that would most closely equate to my satisfaction with this version of one of my favorites. A lightly peppered breading encased each wing to that much sought-after gold. The meat fell off the bone with each bite and I probably grinned a few times as I continued eating. Ah, yes, good fried chicken is known to do that. There were no complaints on my end, I only wanted more!

There weren't really any let-downs as I patted my belly and sipped the last of my water. Southland Whiskey Kitchen delivered what they boasted - definitely something to be proud of. Southern cuisine was a prime exposure in my youth and carries into adulthood as one of my top cravings. I'll be back, and I'll be eating even more next time!

Southland Whiskey Kitchen
1422 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 224-2668

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