2 .5 out 5 for Wilko. We can’t recommend the food but we love the space and the bar of this Tucson restaurant. Nonetheless we actually hope they make it and stick around.
After a couple of visits to Wilko, our feelings on it remain mixed. We will return for drinks because the bar, ambiance, and service are far above-average. But the food left us twice WTF’g out the door.
It’s located in the heart of the University area, near Frog n’ Ferkin, shopping, etc., and the parking deck makes access pretty easy, as long as you don’t drive a motorcycle.
One taste of Wilko’s food and you might imagine a vegan cooked your meat and a carnivore prepared your vegetables. Either way, nether is willing to taste their own cooking before sending it to the tables. So that which is ill conceived in the first place, is going out as intended. Not good. The majority of the problems could be solved by simply teaching the cooks the rudiments of how to not overcook some things, and properly season others. We draw from our experience of eating here twice, and both times, the food left us perplexed, and not in the twisted “gastro pub” unexpected and pleasant way.
On our first trip I ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich and the Vietnamese meatballs. The chicken sandwich was unforgivably dry. It was the first time I’ve ever thought about sending back a chicken sandwich and asking the chef to shoot for rare on the next one. And although I love Vietnamese flavors, the meatballs were off-putting as they carried a flavor I’ve never experienced before and if I could go a life time and never experience it again, that would be OK with me.
There were some good items brought to our table. The cheese and meat board is really nice. Their fries are of the crispy thin variety and would satisfy the most discerning of medical marijuana cardholder munchies. The burgers were reported as pretty good, and the pizza was good/average. But these items, none of which are anywhere close to the best in Tucson, cannot make up for the rest of kitchen’s mistakes and are frankly available on every corner of this town.
On our second visit about a month later we sat at the bar. Oh, let me just stop and say the bar, drinks, and the staff are all awesome. I’d also like to say that the ambiance of Wilko is modern, industrially soft and one of those most inviting restaurant spaces in Tucson.
We ordered the salty yet somehow under-seasoned steak fillet which managed, for all its local-sourcedness and grain feeding, to be just plain disappointing. Coupled with their overcooked to the consistency of mashed potatoes white bean ragout, and I was thrown back to the days and flavors of Chef Boyardee. The net affect was bizarro world gastro pub. Beautiful on the plate, plausible and slightly exciting as a concept. But a total miss from the kitchen. As in a swing and a WOOOOOOOOSHHHHH – miss.
On a related note: Mrs. Kitchen Liaison had to send back her Asian salad as she asked me. “Does that seem off? Taste that.” Yes it was off, as it seemed to contain a rare and exotic ingredient which was not unlike the taste and texture of blackboard chalk.
For Wilko, it’s back to the drawing board on the menu and the talent for the kitchen. I’m sorry to say, unless they get a grip on the kitchen, it’s a pass on the food for Tucson dining. But we highly recommend the bar for a date night and a really well made drink. The burgers and fries, along with the meat tray will get you through
Food 0.5 – that is a zero point five.
Price 4 – moderate but not cheap
Kitchen Liaison’s Overall rating 2.5
Everything they want you to know about them is here http://www.barwilko.com/
On our own words- Audio review ( We are still working out the kinks for non Flash device audio)