Week in Reviews: Two Takes on Son of a Biscuit; Simplicity at Pizza Maria

Eater Portland

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Photo of Son Of a Biscuit courtesy Avila/EPDX

Last week, Portland'a two alt-weeklies tackled Micah Camden's hotly anticipated fried chicken restaurant Son Of a Biscuit. Both start their reviews by acknowledging the early media frenzy: The Mercury's Andrea Damewood cold-opens with the phrase "the headline," which "set my stomach to gurgling right then and there." Both love the biscuits: WWeek's Martin Cizmar calls them "plump and buttery, with dense flesh and a crusty skin." But the similarities between the reviews end there.

With the namesake biscuit out of the way, both reviewers tackle the regular fried chicken: While WW praises it as "pretty good," with "golden and crispy" breading that sometimes arrives over-salted, The Mercury, has an opposite-but-visceral "NOT OKAY" reaction to sweet instead of salt. Honey that arrives on the chicken hits Damewood's "low tolerance for the combination of salty and sweet," and with that in mind, the regular chicken earns her promise of "never again." The Nashville-style hot chicken, meanwhile, gets Damewood's approval (one bite of the bird "slid spice-side-up down my throat") while Cizmar "got Popeyes spiciness" and calls out the dish for its lack of authenticity. "Biscuit's 'Nashville-style hot chicken' is the equivalent of 'New York-style pizza' at an East Tennessee gas station."

The duo also kinda agree on the sides (both consider them largely unremarkable), but while Cizmar deems the mac-and-cheese "wonderful," Damewood calls the same dish "most in need of a makeover... it is gummy and heavy." Ultimately, both takes argue that Popeye's may in trouble now that Son of a Biscuit is in town. Says Damewood: "With a few more adjustments, Son of a Biscuit will be a weeknight option I'd be happy to add to the rotation." [WW, Mercury]

Just a few blocks away from Biscuit, WWeek files on baker Sean Coyne's neighborhood pizzeria Pizza Maria, where a "standout" marinara pizza immediately vaults the restaurant's menu into "the scrum for third-best in town (Scholls and Ken's remain untouched)." Martin Cizmar's experiences seem to be consistent: "good pies" that "tend to be dark and leopard-spotted on the bottom, with blackened air bubbles and just enough sauce to cover the dough." There's praise for the ricotta and crostini appetizer (the cheese boasting a "fluffy mouthfeel of whipped cream"), and a pesto pie with "cured pork jowl so tender and sweet you might mistake it for caramelized onion." But the highest marks are reserved for the marinara pizza: "It's pretty much perfect as it is." [WW]
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