Restaurant Review: The Valentines Day Dinner Murder Mystery

Ah, restaurants. We love them. Especially now that Portland Oregon has become some kind of food mecca. At best you can go to a restaurant, get great service, eat good food, relax, enjoy a conversation, discreetly watch people at other tables, maybe have dessert (or not,) settle the bill, and walk off into the night – perhaps to another destination.

At times we become sure that this is the way the world should be all the time, and an inexplicable break from this norm can make us question ourselves, our neighbors, and the very relationship between restaurants and humankind. Sometimes a night at a restaurant goes so wrong that we end up discussing the events of the night almost as if we were discussing a murder mystery.

Was it Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen?

Was it Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen?

We wonder:

Could the murderer of our dinner have been the snooty and downright unfriendly waiter who was evasive about the special Valentines Day menu?

What did it mean when a second waiter showed up at our table after we had ordered drinks and, nonplussed after he found out we had already been served by our snooty waiter, fled to the other end of the room? Did a soured relationship between the waiters murder our Valentines Day meal?

Did the waiter, simply through his own inaction, leave our entrees in the kitchen long enough that they got cold?

How could a waiter, when he was told that both our dishes were brought out cold, simply nod his head and walk away?

Or maybe it was the kitchen who murdered our Valentines Day dinner?

Did the kitchen finish our entrees too promptly and then fail to notify the waiter that they were ready, thus resulting in cold dishes? Our wait seemed overly long, but somehow not long enough for a pair of entrees to be that cold. But then that points to a conspiracy. Which we find unthinkable.

Would the food have tasted like a real $25-per-entree meal if it had been the right temperature? (No.)

How could a $25-per-entree restaurant dare to serve such dull food? (The chicken marsala was flavorless, my potatoes were overdone to the point where they were dry like toasted bread crusts. The mashed potatoes tasted mostly like salt. It was mediocre bar food dressed up to look like fancy dishes.)

Celiac-friendly? Yes. Scruptious? No.

Celiac-friendly? Yes. Scruptious? No.

Was it just our bad luck?

Do all these people frequent the place for the glorious ’70s chandeliers? In other words, does a regular stream of customers with complacent bad taste keep this place afloat?

Did the strangely silent couple next to us, who seemed to be doing the opposite of enjoying themselves, contribute? Had they done something that made our waiter avoid our area for all but the most necessary of functions?

In cases like this sometimes I wonder if there’s something I did wrong.

Maybe we should have sent the food back immediately.

When our salads came out and hers was too dull and mine too dry, did we get a bad attitude that poisoned the rest of the meal?

Maybe I unknowingly committed such a grievous offense that our waiter was holding back tears of outrage and that was why he was so brief with us.

Picking up the pieces.

At times like these, we are left with troubling questions. How could a restaurant that won so many awards (five years ago) commit such a heinous crime? Are all these people who are giving this restaurant five star reviews on City Search unknowing victims, dupes, paid stoolies, or co-conspirators?

And as reviewers we are left with a troubling question: Did we go on an off night?

We felt like we should give them another try before naming the place, but we changed our minds after checking other reviews online and finding enough people who had basically the same experience to decide there was a pattern. Also we feel like the place is so expensive and the food so bad that we just can’t chance it again. So, sorry Wild Abandon, we have to give you a bad review and say we won’t be back.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free-friendly romantic spot in Portland Oregon? Have you had a similar experience? Let us know!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price, but expensive.

Wild Abandon
2411 SE Belmont St. Portland, Oregon 97214 / 503.232.4458


  1. chani says

    FYI if you choose to ignore this review and find yourself at Wild Abandon anyway for weekend brunch, be advised that there are NO gluten free offerings in the way of pancakes, waffles, toast, pastries, etc. Do yourself a favor and don’t visit Wild Abandon!

  2. says

    I’m not sure if you’ve been yet, but The Farm Cafe is my absolute favorite romantic restaurant in Portland. They are GF-friendly, and the staff is extremely accommodating and knowledgeable. Their food is half the cost of Wild Abandon and 20x as good. I highly recommend them!

  3. Hmm says

    I’ve had great dining experiences at Wild Abandon on a regular basis. (I have had one or two off-experiences.) I’d try them again.

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