Shonna Milliken Humphrey visited Salvage BBQ, Jay Villani's third Portland restaurant, for this week's review in the Maine Sunday Telegram, awarding it three out of five stars. She writes that while she usually gives restaurants more time to settle in (Salvage just opened last month), the hype and Villani's success with Local 188 and Sonny's made this a unique case and her expectations were high.
Some parts of the meal lived up to expectations, while others fell short:
The St. Louis-style ribs, dry rubbed and gristle-free, had none of the giant salt lick sensibility that often accompanies dry rubs. Heavy with spice, these ribs were smoky and tender. Chopped pork was a little dry, but any dryness was addressed with a squirt from one of the two types of table sauces – vinegar and a mild tomato-based. Salvage BBQ brisket, the standout for me, comes in fatty or lean options at $17 per pound if bought individually, and was fall-apart tender with the bits of fat adding a succulent texture and rich flavor.
The chili "was loaded with meat chunks, but in a bland, mushy sort of meat stew way. It was not a table favorite." The mac and cheese, though, is "among the tastiest in town" and the collard greens "tasted like straight-up greens, and that is a good thing." Less successful are the cole slaw ("limp and the dish half full of liquid, rendering it a sort of watery cabbage soup") and potato salad ("potatoes weren't fork-tender but rather, crunchy and sour. I can't believe that's how any of these were meant to be presented").
Blueberry and pecan pies are both also flawed with "crust was so tough, we could not cut it with the plastic utensils."
I sincerely hope the three unsavory sides and the desserts were just a Wednesday night, midweek anomaly, because Villani's food is better than this. This is where managing expectations is so very important. Mine were too high
· Dine Out Maine: Salvage BBQ in Portland Lives Up to Many Well-Stoked Expectations [MST]
Salvage BBQ. [Photo: Facebook]