Reviews: Roma Cafe, Island Creek, Bolster Snow

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Roma Cafe,

The Roma has become cozy and casual, almost homey. The same can be said of the food, which nonetheless remains true to the historic Italian-American theme. Some items still need tweaking…But standout dishes make the experience worthwhile. In particular, quick-sautéed calamari over thick spaghetti, tossed in Tallberg’s phenomenal marinara sauce; and spumoni: a triple-layered indulgence made from toasted pistachio, syrup-soaked Amarena cherry, and dark chocolate ice creams. When the new Roma Café is good, it’s very good – just not yet legendary.

the Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Bolster Snow, and

After my first full meal at Bolster Snow, I was impressed. They offer bold flavors, shining combinations, and take some simple contemporary items and add just a touch of their own hand in them. Basic deviled eggs with truffle? A total winner. Broccoli salad with a hit of lime? Stunning. A vodka lemon cocktail with hints of honey and ginger? An easy-going-down concoction. Try them for drinks and snacks if you want, but I think you just might end up staying for dinner.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Island Creek Oyster Shop.

So it feels right to eat like Louis in a nation ruled by his avatar. Island Creek’s pitchers of beer and wine connote abundance rather than déclassé abandon. The oysters themselves reward lordly attention. The Eider Cove from Brunswick are dark and mysterious looking, silky but salty. Winnegance from West Bath were pale, sweet, and meaty. Round little Moody Blues from Damariscotta were a creamy beige. Island Creek’s home oyster is thin and tawny with a mild salt and hint of mineral. They give you cocktail sauce and Tabasco, but unless you’re the type that puts ketchup on steak, ignore them. Salt and brine should reign over any other flavors.

Reviews: Cong Tu Bot, El Corazon, Rose Foods, Bayou Kitchen

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Cong Tu Bot,

Yet even as it makes culinary references to its peers, Cong Tu Bot manages to produce something wholly original. Take the pho ga ($13), a chicken-based soup bowl teeming with flat, fettuccine-like rice noodles and irregular shreds of tender chicken meat. Dobui and Zohn intentionally construct their version of this classic using techniques borrowed from Japanese ramen shops…It is both delicate and decadent – and phenomenally good.

The Bollard has reviewed El Corazon,

I ordered chilaquiles ($10.95), a once favorite dish I hadn’t eaten since leaving California. Piled onto a bed of crisp tortilla chips were two scrambled eggs simmered in a mild red sauce (a green sauce is also an option), topped with crumbly queso fresco and Mexican crema, and served with sides of beans and homefries. For an extra $1.50 the chef added a generous portion of chorizo on top. I had a few minor quibbles — using chips, rather than tortilla strips, made the dish messy and difficult to eat, and a hefty dose of hot sauce was necessary to provide sufficient heat — but otherwise it was very good.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed Rose Foods, and

The Uncle Leo was a hit. The bagel was crispy outside, soft and chewy inside… The frittata was perfectly round, obviously cooked in a mold, but had just the right amount of lox in it, so the flavors were well balanced – especially with the schmear of herbed cream cheese as a finishing touch. I would order this again…

the Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Bayou Kitchens.

Quick, easy, tasty, and reasonably priced, Bayou Kitchen hits all the marks. They make simple food including cajun favorites that consistently satisfy and also offer items that shock and amaze – particularly those specials – which might just throw a wrench into your usual brunch order.

Good Food Awards: 3 Maine Finalists

Congratulations to the 3 Maine food producers that have earned a place as Finalists for the 2018 Good Food Award:

The winners in all categories will be announced at the GFA awards ceremony and gala on January 19, 2018 in San Francisco.

Here’s some background on the Good Food Awards program,

The Good Food Awards were created to redefine ‘good food’ as being tasty, authentic and responsible. We aim to set criteria for entry that are realistic and inclusive of food and drink producers who have demonstrated a commitment to be part of building a tasty, authentic and responsible food system, going far above and beyond the status quo for their industry, while not making them so strict that eligible participants are limited to a small handful of products.

First Look: Bite Into Maine

Peter Peter Portland Eater has posted a first look at the new Bite Into Maine cafe in Scarborough.

For me, lobster only in the summer isn’t quite enough. That seems to be the feeling Bite Into Maine’s Sarah Sutton is looking to tap into as she opens Bite Into Maine Commissary at 185 US Rte. 1 in Scarborough tomorrow. The new counter service eatery with a dozen seats will be serving their very popular food truck rolls year round in addition to adding some novel items to the menu.

Reviews: Chaval, Cheevitdee, Linda Kate, Cong Tu Bot

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Chaval,

Chaval, Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti’s new French-and-Spanish-inspired restaurant, is a delight. Sansonetti, the savory chef, has built a menu of rock-solid versions of Gallic and Iberian classics, like pa amb tomaquet (tomato bread), yieldingly tender duck confit on Puy lentils ($24) and some of the best pork terrine in North America. On the sweet side, Lopez, who this year was a James Beard Award semifinalist, serves her famous churros with chocolate sauce and sugar ($8), as well as more fanciful desserts like Bee’s Knees, a bombe Alaska made with lemon curd, soft meringue and Barr Hill gin-soaked vanilla cake.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Cheevitdee,

Cheevitdee’s menu isn’t for everyone, but it’s also not reserved solely for health-conscious diners looking for a night out on the town — this is not “diet Thai.” What it is has yet to be fully clarified or realized, but with bright flavors and an approachable atmosphere, this is a restaurant that may well come into its own over time.

Down East has reviewed Cong Tu Bot, and

Cong Tu Bot takes that traditional street fare and gives each dish a unique spin. The bún chá, one of four noodle offerings on the menu, is a perfect example: Dobui takes the Hanoi specialty of cold rice noodles and grilled pork and augments it with ground pork patties, smoky bacon, burnt caramel, and rich, earthy mushroom powder, seasoning it with fish sauce, garlic, shallots, and sugar. Charred bits from the patties enhance the thin but intense broth, which is finished with a dab of schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) and served with a side of cucumber, shiso leaf, mint, and lettuce.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed Linda Kate.

The roll was brioche and evenly browned, the meat piled high and dressed lightly in a citrus basil mayonnaise, with a dusting of minced fresh herbs on top, maybe parsley, possibly basil. Whatever it was, it didn’t interfere with the delicate flavor of the meat. This was a better lobster roll than I’ve had in some famed Portland restaurants. I didn’t love the shaved lettuce below the meat; it teamed up with the crumb of the brioche to seem slightly dry. This is a personal preference, though. In my kitchen, I’d never put lettuce on a lobster roll. Also, my own jury is out on brioche as a cradle for lobster; sometimes I think it sounds better on paper than it tastes.

Reviews: Lazzari, Yobo, Bolster Snow, Scratch Toast Bar, The Treehouse, Cong Tu Bot

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Lazzari,

The pizzas he creates in the copper-clad monster Le Panyol oven at the rear of the restaurant are excellent, with a lightly charred, gorgeously blistered crust and toppings that are – whenever possible – roasted in the fiercely hot wood-fired oven. His crowning achievement isn’t pizza, though. It’s his meatballs, served with a ladling of fresh marinara, a rough scoop of black-pepper-dusted housemade ricotta, and a slice of the bread he bakes himself…

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Yobo,

While Yobo is good at the light and bright, it’s just as good at the rich and hearty. A chicken confit, first braised then fried and coated in red chili paste, was double-rich and beyond tender. Potstickers are done in a thick, homemade-country style. The mung bean pancake combines the earthy and sweet, the garlicky and sour. Bi bim bap eschews crunchy vegetables for a version that is heartier, with wilted leaves mixing in among the yolk, sauce, crispy rice and tender seared beef.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Scratch Toast Bar,

What you get here is a line-up of toasts that come with various spreads…On my first visit I thoroughly enjoyed the cheese toast. I was expecting a glorified grilled cheese sandwich but was taken away instead by the house-made pumpkin enriched ricotta spread on a multi-grain sprouted bread. It was lightly toasted and the ricotta, laced with honey, was beautifully made.

Portland Magazine has reviewed Bolster Snow, and

We’re even more wowed by the day’s catch—sea bass on our visit—served as a whole, pan-seared filet in a sauce containing earthy chanterelles, pickled raisins, and subtle curry oil ($30). The fish is tender and sweet, and the skin crackles. Accompanying florets of cauliflower will convert even the staunchest non-believer.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed The Treehouse.

A great place to go for whimsical ambiance; get there soon before the weather chills too much to enjoy that patio.

Also this week, Down East published a review of Cong Tu Bot. The article isn’t online yet, but the magazine is available at your local newsstand.

Reviews: Yobo, Island Creek, Mi Sen, Boone’s

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Yobo,

Using traditional ingredients as well as fresh and foraged produce from his mother’s property in New Hampshire, Chung has created a menu focused largely on classic Korean techniques. Standouts include his rich, sticky galbi (beef short ribs) and exceedingly good banchan (side dishes) that take advantage of local vegetables like garden-grown perilla and wild fern bracken, while still hewing close to traditional recipes.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Island Creek Oyster, and

My lunch included a few oysters (Mookie Blues, Damariscotta; Puffers, Wellfleet, MA and Eider Cove from New Meadow’s River). The full can of sardines with the accoutrements is a pretty full meal for lunch, and I was eminently satisfied. If you like sardines, which I do, these are a fine example. Other choices include mussels, octopus and squid.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed Boone’s and Mi Sen.

Maybe it was an off night, but Boone’s was a surprising disappointment with a happy hour that left me less happy and more frustrated. The drinks were fine, the oysters were carelessly shucked, and the nacho portion was measly. That being said, what shines here is the space. It is a beautiful dining area, a lovely open-air bar and the perfect date night ambiance. And what I had of the food was quite tasty, leaving me curious what the rest of the menu is like. If you go, I suggest skipping the food on the happy hour menu and ordering the full portions.

Reviews: Liquid Riot, Smiling Hill, Little Tap House

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Liquid Riot,

But thanks in large part to new Executive Chef Joshua Doria, who took over the kitchen in July, Liquid Riot’s food deserves its own top billing. On the menu are fresh-tasting dishes like a tarragon-and-mint farro salad with goat cheese and an almond-and-hard-cider vinaigrette, and a sensational (and practically carb-free) brothy seafood bowl flavored with kimchi, lemongrass and cilantro – not your typical bar food. But Doria is also skilled at more traditional snacks that pair well with booze, like “Chinese” chicken wings that prickle with peppery heat, and Maine potato french fries that are, quite simply, exceptional.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Little Tap House, and

I thought the burger, soup, and taters were all well done. Nothing was particularly unique or over the top, but they were solid standards. Next time, I’ll get a little more adventurous though. Little Tap House has a strong menu with lots of enticing options and I like what they’re doing there. Head there when you want a solid meal, a great selection of Maine beers, or a combination of both.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed Smiling Hill Farm.

Since then, I’ve paid two visits, and I’ll cut right to the chase, neither meal was life-changing. But I’m still going to send you there because sometimes good enough is just that: good enough. The menu is fairly simple, sandwiches like a BLT ($5.25), tuna melt ($6.75), PB&J ($3.50) and other standard-issue varieties. This place is not trying to reinvent the wheel, although some of the wheels of cheese I saw in the dairy cases looked amazing.

Reviews: Rose Foods, North 43, High Roller, David’s, Rhum, Hot Suppa

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed Rose Foods,

Those famous bagels really shine in sandwich form, offered either open-faced or closed in ten different varieties. The “Classic Nova” is a solo diner’s answer to the Appetizing Platter, stacked with nova lox, cucumber, onion and capers over a base of plain cream cheese. The “Luxe Lox” — salmon cream cheese, nova lox and salmon caviar — is nothing short of self-love in sandwich form. Even the egg sandwiches won’t be found elsewhere in town, like the unapologetically old-school “Monday Morning,” layered with chopped liver, egg, pickles and gribenes (read: crispy chicken skin).

the Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed North 43 in South Portland,

The menu, on the other hand, is anything but, thanks to Stephanie Brown’s eclectic culinary perspective – one that tries to bridge French, Italian and Asian influences. When it works, her dishes are a joy to eat. Don’t miss the apple cider-brined rack of wild boar or the curly kale salad with chiffonaded ribbons of greens and a tart-and-spicy peanut dressing. If you visit when there’s a chill in the air, the apple cake with cinnamon-flecked roasted apple ice cream and tiny cubes of white cheddar cheese ($9) shouldn’t be skipped, either. Do skip the signature cocktails – they’re not as adventurous as they appear to be – and gird yourself for noise, especially if you’re seated downstairs.

The Bollard has reviewed Rhum,

Rhum’s version of the classic sampler plate includes hot mango chicken wings, veggie eggrolls, General Tso’s chicken skewers, short rib skewers, and a deconstructed take on crab Rangoon: crispy fried wontons with a side of crab Rangoon dip. This ingenious innovation allows you to finally get the perfect filling-to-wonton ratio with every bite!

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Hot Suppa,

Their food and drink isn’t fancy, but it tastes like magic with flavors that take you on a journey through the south and back, stopping at all the very best locations. I only have two recommendations. First, eat at Hot Suppa often. Second, eat the Nashville chicken, but order some mac and cheese to go with it. That’ll keep your meal a little more chill than mine was.

the Portland Press Herald has reviewed David’s, and

David’s is a staple in the Portland ecosystem, and it’s hard to imagine the city without it. While the presentation of the food and drinks was a bit lacking, the flavor did not disappoint.

the As the Lobster Roll has reviewed High Roller.

My first few bites were just the shell because oh my god, crispy fried CHEESE! But then I decided to just dive in. I couldn’t imagine how all these flavors were going to work together – especially since I’ve spent basically the entire summer preaching traditional lobster/bun/light mayo/butter/no lettuce. I’m here to tell you that this was one of the most delicious things I’ve stuffed into my face hole. I can’t compare it to any of the other lobster rolls because it’s in a delightful, cheesy class all by itself.