4458 California Ave SW
Why did they name this place “Shadow Land?” Seriously. It sounds like the title of a mid 80's sci- fi thriller, like Dreamscape or Runaway. Runaway is so fucking rad because it's got Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, and POISONOUS ROBOTS. How random is that? Answer: as random as Shadow Land's menu. But not even poison robots could get me to eat at Shadow Land again because it sucks.
Everyone has seen menus at restaurants where below each menu item is listed a key ingredient or two, so you know what's in each dish. But Shadow Land ridiculously apes this practice by listing irrelevant ingredients. For instance, I don't need to be informed that fried Marcona almonds ($5) have sea salt and olive oil in them. Salt? and Oil? on something FRIED? No shit, Sherlock. Likewise, if I was on the fence about ordering the hummus ($7), I doubt that letting me know that the hummus contains PAPRIKA would be a definitive selling point. And why mention that the pulled pork sandwich ($7) has pickled red onions on it? Is it because they think pickled red onions is the BEST ingredient of the pulled pork sandwich? Why not print “A Bun” below the listing for the pulled pork sandwich? After all, a bun is clearly a crucial part of a sandwich. Or “Pulling,” which I would argue is the most important ingredient besides the pork because without any pulling it wouldn't be pulled pork.
They also name drop exotic ingredients. I know this is in vogue right now, ever since the beginning of the arms race about who has the oldest balsamic vinegar, or the most rustic bread, or the ham which came from the breed of pig which is the closest to becoming extinct, but as usual Shadow Land takes this already ludicrous conceit to an even more ludicrous extreme. The carpaccio ($6) has truffle oil on it, and the seared Ahi tuna comes with a boiled quail egg, but I guess that isn't fancy enough because the management of Shadow Land would like to inform you that the marinated Crimini mushrooms ($7) have black LAVA SALT in them. Perhaps most pretentious of all is the nebulously named ”Cassie,” which is ostensibly macaroni and cheese but which for the low low price of only $8 comes with the rarest and most intangible ingredient in human existence, LOVE.
The weird fucking menu isn't the only thing wrong with Shadow Land. I could forgive a quirky, poorly written menu if the food was really good or really cheap, but unfortunately it's neither. Some things seemed irrationally expensive: pork chops cost $28, while the ribeye is $32. For $12, the rare seared ahi tuna is a very tiny portion (about the size of the slice of tuna you would get on top of a piece of nigiri sushi, maybe a half ounce) and comes with a gimmicky cylindrical mold of green beans topped with the aforementioned boiled quail egg. The flavors here are light and well balanced, but 12 bucks is too expensive for a tiny fleck of raw fish. And while the carpaccio is a large portion for the price, the crispy fried squiggles of potato that top it are WAY too salty. The salad costs $9 and yeah, that's all it's called, “salad,” like the old black- and- white label generic grocery store products, and it seems like when they made the “salad” they just threw leftover shit together. Soggy mixed greens were topped with sunflower seeds and orange zest, which was completely and utterly overwhelmed by a massive dose of tarragon, of all things. Tarragon is not a salad herb. It's best suited to a dense or creamy substrate like roast chicken or an egg salad or in a bechamel sauce. Lettuce and orange zest are just too ephemeral to stand up to tarragon's muscular flavor assault. And don't get me started on the abomination that is poutine ($7). Poutine is a bowl of French fries with cheese curds and GRAVY on it, and in case this dish isn't funny enough, you should know that it's the NATIONAL DISH OF CANADA. I'm tired of bitching so feel free to insert your own joke about Canada here: . The fries were okay, and Beecher's cheese curds are always delightfully creamy and nutty, but the gravy was (surprise!) too salty and gloopy and tasted canned.
Anyway, Shadow Land is at a shitty nexus where the food is too shitty for it to qualify as fine dining and not cheap enough for it to be good bar food. The service is absent minded at best. The drinks are expensive. The menu is really, really pompous, and like every other goddamn shithole new bar the plasma screens are always tuned to ESPN. Even Shadow Land's fake movie title name is shitty. I'd rather have one of Gene Simmons' poison robots from Runaway inject me full of H2SO4 than go back there. If Shadow Land really WAS a movie it would be written by Kevin Smith, which means it's shitty, unrealistic, trendy, and tries way too hard. Can I say the word “shitty” once more in this review? Sure I can.
Rating: 0.0001 poisonous robots out of 10