Wildwood: A bittersweet farewell

If you haven’t yet heard the unfortunate news, one of Portland’s landmark restaurants, Wildwood will be closing after two decades in business on Tuesday, February 25th.

Wildwood is undoubtedly one of the dining establishments that shaped Portland’s locavore scene with it’s emphasis on utilising seasonal ingredients from local purveyors to create innovative yet familiar dishes in a warm, homely atmosphere. The reason for the closure is related to a disagreement on lease negotiations and as forlorn as the Portland community is to see such a fine restaurant go- apparently Executive Chef Dustin Clark and General Manager, Cana Flug have plans to undertake a new endeavour.

As soon as I had learned about the closure this past week, I decided to partake in one last meal in support of this incredible establishment with my parents who are currently in town visiting me from the Middle East.

The menu for the evening

The menu for the evening

Ken's Artisan Bread with trapani sea salt, bamboo sea salt and butter

Ken’s Artisan Bread with trapani sea salt, bamboo sea salt and butter

Compliments of the chef: Crostini with chicken liver mousse and saba

Compliments of the chef: Crostini with chicken liver mousse and saba

We started off with the essential platter of fresh Ken’s Artisan bread followed by a pizza to share; since my parents do not eat pork we ordered it sans the prosciutto it typically comes with:

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This pizza was incredible. Chewy, glossy crust with piping hot stretchy mozzarella, charred scallions and a delectable arugula pesto. Sometimes I forget how satisfying a good pizza can be. My parents proclaimed this one of the best pizzas they’ve ever had- definitely a profound statement.

As for the entrees, I had been torn between the lamb or the chicken but since my mother decided on the chicken I chose to go with the former so that I can obviously experience both.

Mesquite Roasted Chicken: Yam, spinach, sauce au poivre

Mesquite Roasted Chicken: Yam, spinach, sauce au poivre

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Confit: Collard greens, green curry, smoked potato, fresno chiles

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Confit: Collard greens, green curry, smoked potato, fresno chiles

My mother’s chicken entree was absolutely impeccable; one of the best chicken dishes I have had in Portland; and the perfect comfort food dish- a take on mashed potatoes with juicy roasted chicken spiced up with a little pizzazz. My lamb was also delightful; surprisingly lean and complimented with smoky banana potatoes, and collards on a bed of green curry- a fascinating fusion of flavours for sure.

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My father went with the ravioli; a fantastic choice. I persuaded him to get it since I have an aversion to ordering pasta dishes when confronted with alternate meat-heavy choices (you all know how much I love my protein).

And of course, what would a family meal at Wildwood be without dessert?

Fromage blanc cheesecake: oat shortbread, citrus segments

Fromage blanc cheesecake: oat shortbread, citrus segments

Chocolate and Pistachio Layer Cake: Pistachio ice cream, pomegranate coulis

Chocolate and Pistachio Layer Cake: Pistachio ice cream, pomegranate coulis

The desserts were alright, I personally think Wildwood excels much more at their starters and entrees. However, they were still perfectly sized, not overly sweet and appropriate meal-conclusions. The cheesecake was a little soft in texture for my liking, but I enjoyed the slightly tarter flavour.

So there you go, if you’re having a meal out sometime between tonight and Tuesday, make Wildwood  a priority and cheers farewell to this landmark that helped form Portland’s dining heritage.

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