Review of Empire

Portland Magazine has reviewed Empire Chinese Kitchen.

Inspired, she brought us her ingenious Empire Eggrolls (“local beef pastrami, asparagus, cabbage, honey Dijon”), a wondrous solution for East Meets West. Who knew someone could invent a way to enjoy a fried pastrami sandwich without the guilt? (A sharp knife is provided so you can share…) The Honey Walnut Shrimp are mouth-watering, the Spinach Dumplings in steam baskets so fun and tasty we were already planning our next trip back.

The December issue also includes an article about holiday food traditions of Portland’s hyphenated American communities.

Jay Villani @ 188

Chef/owner Jay Villani is back running the kitchen at his first restaurant, Local 188.

With the return to Local 188’s kitchen, Jay’s introduced a new menu. It’s a great menu of hot and cold tapas, raciones, salads and entrees. For longtime customers, you’ll feel like you’re reading a menu from back in Local’s old space, across the street.

Under Construction: Bissell Brothers, Austin Street & Foundation Brewing

Three Portland breweries under construction on Industrial Way are making good progress:

For some additional details on Austin Street and Bissell see the What Ales You column in today’s paper.

Review of Piccolo

Portland Phoenix has reviewed Piccolo.

Chef Samsionetti cooked French at Bar Boulud in New York, and with Piccolo returns to the cuisine of his childhood. The little child we all adore most is the inner child we never quite mastered. Piccolo comforts and indulges that child, but not too much. Thanks to a restrained approach, smallish portions, elegant wine, and subtleties of flavor, Piccolo asks us to grow up a bit.

25 Best: Eventide

Gear Patrol has included Eventide in their list of the 25 Best Restaurants in America.

New England oyster bar with picnic table seating and 1,200-pound slab of granite filled with ice and a few dozen oysters ranging from ultra briny Wild Belons to bright and creamy Blue Pools. You could be content (and perhaps a little fuzzed) throwing back a few dozen with a pair of dirty martinis, but it’d be a shame to miss out on a fried oyster bun and a bowl of porky New England clam chowder.

Bar Review of 555

The Press Herald has reviewed the bar at Five Fifty-Five.

If you’re looking for a different place to have a drink in Portland, and maybe you’re looking to treat yourself to a more high-end atmosphere, try Five Fifty-Five. Fancy with a laid-back mood, it would be acceptable to arrive in jeans and a nice shirt for a cocktail or a glass of wine at the bar.

Fire at Boone’s

There was a fire at Boone’s early Wednesday morning that resulted in some damage, but the restaurant expects to re-open on Saturday.

“Firefighters on the scene eventually discovered the source of the smoke in the facade surrounding the chimney and fireplace.” he said.

“Unfortunately, we had to completely remove the facade to the fireplace to extinguish the fire,” he said. “The good news is this fire could have been much worse had it not been for the functioning fire alarm system. It worked exactly as it should have.”

Allen’s Coffee Brandy

The Morning News has published an article about Maine’s top-selling spirit, Allen’s Coffee Brandy.

Portland (and the state beyond it) may have bars full of local taps; its brewers guild may be growing so fast that it actually needed to hire an executive director. And the state may even be moving past the micro-brew renaissance toward craft liquors made of nothing but Maine potatoes, but if there’s any drink that holds Maine’s heart, it’s Allen’s, a liquor made in Massachusetts.

Otto’s Big Opening

The Bangor Daily News has posted a report on Otto’s opening of their new restaurant in South Portland.

“This is wicked good,” said City Councilor Linda Cohen, grabbing a butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry slice at the soft opening Monday night.

Judging by the turnout, OTTO’s eighth store, in a renovated garage, and second new shop in two weeks, is in the right place at the right time.

“They wanted us here,” said co-owner Anthony Allen, mingling with customers and handing out free pizza. “It’s nice to be wanted.”

Audio Review of Eventide

Booze, Fish and Coffee has reviewed Eventide Oyster Company.

This dynamite seafood spot in the heart of Portland is perfect for lunch these days: not too crowded, serving up delicious oysters, lobster rolls, and other excellent stuff, at prices that won’t break the bank. Eat where the locals eat, and get to Eventide.

The episode also includes recommendations for feeding your extended family after they arrive but prior to Thanksgiving, thoughts on Bunker Brewing’s Hombre and shopping advice at Veranda Asian Market.