Offering a variety of crowd-pleasing foods with wood-fired twists, there’s a lot to like at Wild River.
It had been a while since I visited the Medford eatery, at 2684 N. Pacific Highway. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The first thing I noticed as I walked in the restaurant is the kitchen and its wood-fired oven. I liked the spacious restaurant’s homey and Northwest-inspired environment.
For an appetizer, we started with the restaurant’s cheesy garlic bread ($5.95). The bread is baked in the restaurant and topped with mozzarella cheese before going back in the wood oven and served with marinara sauce. The platter was piping hot with nine hearty pieces to share. Ranch dressing is available on request.
We each sampled something different from the menu. I went for the Imperial Stout Burger ($11.95), a half-pound, Angus beef patty on a house-baked roll topped with caramelized onions, roasted cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, aioli dressing and spicy mustard. Our server recommended Wild River's onion cheese roll to top the burger, but other choices include white or peasant bread, all baked in-house.
The burger’s portion was satisfying, and the mustard worked well with the garlic and grilled onion and cheddar cheese flavors. It also came with a generous portion of the restaurant’s unique pub fries.
One of my friends went for the Cajun Penne ($13.95). This dish takes the restaurant’s house-made pasta and adds blackened chicken and cajun-style ham in a cream sauce with gouda cheese and spinach.
I took a bite, and appreciated the way the fresh pasta, spinach and spicy cream sauce worked together. The creamy dish is rather rich, but the combination of flavors seemed rare, and it’s definitely on my list to order again.
My other friend opted for a small “Spirit of America” pizza ($15.70). The all-meat pizza featured Canadian style bacon, pepperoni and linguica on a thin wood-fired crust with marinara sauce. To my mind, the way a pizza is cut shouldn’t affect the way it tastes, but somehow the criss-cross grid pattern Wild River uses better complements the pizza, particularly at the crust’s edges.
For dessert, my friends split the Kona Coffee Mud Pie, and I went for the bread pudding.
The mud pie was a generous slice perfect for sharing with an Oreo crust, rich coffee chocolate cream filling and topped with whipped cream.
My bread pudding was a smaller portion, served warm and topped with a buttery whiskey sauce. The sauce itself was rich and sweet, which was fine for the first couple of bites. Our server noted that there was more sauce on the pudding than usual, and took the dessert off of our bill.
We had a great experience at Wild River. Between the friendly service and large portions of fresh food, there’s plenty to recommend.
— Nick Morgan