Revisiting Sonny's

Editor's note: Sonny's has closed, but is run by the same restaurant group as Black Cow. Read my first look at Black Cow.

I say 'revisiting' because I went in the first month Sonny's opened and was not too impressed. We had some underwhelming entrees and service snafus, but I didn't tell you about it, since I figured they needed a while to warm up.

Photo by Corey Templeton, via Portland Daily Photo

But now they've been open for over a year, so I decided (based on my love of Local 188) to take M's sister and BIL there for dinner during their visit. Sonny's won out as the not-too-risky choice for dinner. We figured we'd get a solid dinner and hoped for something on the level of Local 188, Chef Jay Villani's other restaurant.

But in the end, we just got solid (well, the cocktails are stellar). And while solid is not bad, it's just not elevated to the quality of dining found at 188.

Like I said, the cocktails are excellent. We started with drinks (I recommend the 99 Problems- Cava, ginger, simple syrup, and lemon) and appetizers.

And aren't our appetizers pretty? We had the Maine shrimp tacos (or shrimpacos as the food runner said), seared scallops, and a fried avocado. The shrimpacos were the best- spicy, creamy, crunchy, with a bite from the pickled red onions.

M. and I shared their poblano pepper and Manchego cheeseburger with a side of yam fries. And we also ordered their Caesar salad.

The burger was good- the yam fries are great- but I really loved the Brioche bun the burger came on. The poblano peppers were a distraction for me, but the burger was cooked right (like, not much at all).

And the salad was awesome. J. said, why did you order a Caesar salad? and for a moment I was stumped. But, I love Caesars—they're a no-brainer for me. Though when they're bad, they're really bad. However, this one had lots of dressing, cheese, good croutons, and a topping of white anchovies. Delicious.

S. and J. took the same approach to their entrees- sharing the house salad and the fish special, mahi mahi with a curry spice rub and a ginger coconut sauce. It was awesome. I heard the house salad was great too, but didn't sample it myself.

I love Sonny's interior- the redesign really shows off the spectacular building with remaining elements of an old bank- and their cocktail list. And I struggle to put my finger on what is missing from their culinary offerings. But after this meal, there was nothing that stuck in my head. No, 'how did they do that,' no 'I can't stop thinking about...' So while Sonny's offers a great libations and is a fancy hang-out spot, I will be saving my appetite for Local 188.