Russell Street Bar-B-Que

325 NE Russell St
(503) 528-8224
get there via trimet

Russell St BBQI'll admit, I've been a little, um, reluctant to try Russell Street BBQ, the barbecue joint where Doris Cafe was. I have all sorts of wonderful memories of meals at Doris, back in the olden days when Doris was good, and children respected their parents... My friends assured me that there was good fries, and a fried chocolate pie, and Citysearch assured me that the mac and cheese was good. So what was I waiting for?

Russell Street is all about the groovy ingredients and a dining room that's kinda kitchy-generic. Many smiling pigs. Rubbed, smoked, grilled tofu. They have Laurelwood beers on tap, as well as a decent list of bottled/canned beers. So we ordered our beer and an appetizer of hush puppies.

This is when I should have known that this was not going to be a good meal. Our waiter forgot one of the beer orders on the way from our table, right next to the kitchen, to the kitchen. Sweet tea, however, was refilled on a hourly basis.

We each ordered the meatapalooza, a selection of three meats and two sides. Between the three of us, we covered a bunch of the bases: pulled pork, pork ribs, brisket, beef ribs, and smoked sausage; macaroni & cheese, cole slaw, greens, fries and potato salad. In spite of asking for one plate saucefree, they all came doused in sauce when they came some 40 minutes after ordering. Maybe 20 minutes after ordering, our waiter came back and—wait for it!—asked what one of us had ordered. Which makes me think that perhaps he had forgotten to turn in our order.

While they gave us lots of food, this was nothing to write home about. The brisket came chopped—what is that about? The smoked sausage, a quarter pound link from Yoakum, Texas, tasted like a giant hot dog. I like hot dogs, but, umm.... The ribs, unexceptional. The sauce, eh. The fries were good, but not the best in the neighborhood. The mac & cheese was nothing to write home about. The greens were salty and had a bitter edge, almost an off flavor. The cornbread was southern style, and cakey. And where was the white bread?

I asked for a box, so the waiter boxed my food, then dropped the boxes on the floor, and asked if I still wanted them. I don't know why that bothered me so much. I ordered the fried chocolate pie. Yes, it's deepfried, so it ought to be good. And it's filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache. And it was deepfried, and it was filled, though it seemed filled with Hershey's syrup. I'm sure it was more than that, but that's what I tasted.

So. Food, okay though underwhelming. Service, laughably bad. Will I go back—nah.

filled under BBQ, southern, non-smoking, NE Russell, MLK Jr
March 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)


Heather said:

Wow, I find this this is sad and shocking. Since we've discovered this restaurant, we have been back 4 times. I suppose if you are from the NW, appreciating this food would be difficult. However, coming from Virginia or around those parts, it is a wonderful place to get your fix of the south.
The food was excellent and the service was good. It didn't get high ratings for nothin'!

Rebecca said:

I am surprised that you had such bad service at Russell St. BBQ. I recommend it to people because I find the service to be very good, especially for Portland where service is often laissez-faire when it's at its best.

I like the smoked turkey and vegetarian sides.

Jereme said:

I also am surprised you had such a bad experience at Russell St. BBQ. Russell St. easily comes in 2nd place for our favorite BBQ in Portland (behind Clay's Smokehouse). I'm a midwesterner and greatly appreciate both KC BBQ and Southern BBQ and I feel like Russell St. ranks right up there. I love the greens, meaty beans and the baby back pork ribs. I really think you should try going back at least once more.



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