Archive for March, 2012

Reviews of Dobra Tea and The Porthole

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Instant Portland has published a review of Dobra Tea.

I have to confess that tea is my weakness. Not just any tea, mind you, but carefully brewed tea … it is the ritual of tea, if you will, that is my weakness. The teapot. The quiet moment of waiting while the leaves steep. The sound of the water pouring into the cup. The feel of the warm steam just before you take your first sip. If this is your weakness as well, then Dobra Tea will become your new favorite place.

Eat Here. Go There. has published a brunch review of The Porthole.

While the service was slow (it took 45 minutes to get our breakfast after we ordered), I have decided to give them a free pass since it was a holiday (and that place was being overrun by early morning drunk people). The Porthole is a great staple for a cheap brunch in the Old Port, and I have yet to be disappointed with their food. After we ate, we walked around, full bellied, and basked in the early spring sunshine. Who could ask for more?

Union Bagel, Farmers Market and 2012 Maple Season

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This week’s Forecaster includes articles about Union Bagel,

On the 18th day, the Kickstarter crowd spoke, and the word was “bagels.”

Paul Farrell, a burly boat-builder turned labor organizer turned bagel baker and the driving force behind the upstart Union Bagel Co., couldn’t be happier.

an effort by farmers to gain more direct control over the management of the Farmers Market,

Market coordinator Dan Price asked the city to give the Farmers Market Association the power to determine membership, enforce association rules, and collect fees from participating farmers, according to a memo from the city’s associate corporation counsel, Anne Freeman.

and the 2012 maple syrup season.

“It won’t be a banner year,” Gorham resident Lyle Merrifield said. “This may be a about half to three-quarters crop.”

Under Construction: Eventide Oyster & Speckled Ax Espresso

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

A pair of updates for the Under Construction list:

  • The new coffee shop under development on Congress Street by the owner of Matt’s Wood-Roasted Coffee is slated to be named Speckled Ax Espresso. A regular contributor to PFM wrote to inform me that Speckled Ax is a reference to a story from Ben Franklin autobiography. Speckled Ax is scheduled to open sometime in April.
  • The new owners of Hugo’s have leased the space formally occupied by Rabelais and plan on remaking it into a companion restaurant called Eventide Oyster Company. In addition to oysters the owners plan on serving a more casual menu of other items. Eventide will have a separate entrance but the two restaurants will be connected by sharing a common kitchen. It’s scheduled to open this Spring.

Catbird Creamery Opening Today

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Catbird Creamery is holding an hot chocolate ice cream social to celebrate the grand opening of their new shop in Westbrook at 2pm today. Catbird’s new shop is located at 846 Maine St.

2012 Beard Awards . . . There’s Always Next Year

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for this year’s JBF awards.

Sadly, none of the 8 semi-finalists from Maine made it through to the final list this year.

This Week’s Events: JBF Finalists, Gala for Gary, Maine Maple Sunday, Wine Brunch, Taste of the Nation Tickets

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Monday — the final list of nominees for this year’s James Beard Awards are scheduled to be announced. Check back later today for details on which semi-finalists from Maine made the short list.

Tuesday — Local Sprouts is hosting their monthly local foods networking breakfast, and the Urban Farm Fermentory is teaching a workshop on how to plan an herb garden.

Wednesday — The 7th annual Gala for Gary is taking place, and Wine Wise is leading an French Reds wine walk.

Thursday — there will be a wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House, and The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Harpoon Brewery.

Friday — there will be a wine tasting at Rosemont on Brighton.

Saturday —there will be a gelato tasting at Rosemont on Brighton and the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Irish Heritage Center.

Sunday — it’s Maine Maple Sunday, and BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe is holding a Wine Brunch (menu).

Taste of the Nationtickets are now on sale for this year’s Taste of the Nation fundraiser to fight hunger in Maine.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Review of Schulte & Herr

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Schulte & Herr received 4 stars from the review in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

Delicious, high-quality, homestyle German food, most of it made in-house, served in a storefront restaurant in downtown Portland. The proprietors bring skill, personal attention and passion to their small eatery, which fills an ethnic gap in Portland’s celebrated culinary scene and offers a very good value to boot.

Change in Ownership at Hugo’s

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

According to their liquor license application filed with the city, partners Arlin Smith, Michael Wiley and Andrew Taylor are in the process of buying Hugo’s from the current owners, chef Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh.

Smith, Wiley and Taylor are not new faces at Hugo’s. They’ve served as the general manager, chef-de-cuisine and sous chef at the restaurant for the past 2 years.

A letter filed with their application states,

Today Hugo’s is a restaurant with a firm footing, a national reputation and a loyal following of vacationers and locals alike. With continuity as its primary goal, AMA LLC proudly accepts the responsibility, passed down from Rob and Nancy, to lead Hugo’s into another profitable decade. We are confident that the transition of ownership will be seamless: employees, patrons and our purveyors will continue to enjoy their profitable relationship with Hugo’s.

For additional information, read this article from the Press Herald.

Under Construction: Sebastian’s

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Sebastian’s, the restaurant under construction on the corner of Fore and Silver Streets, has submitted a liquor license application which includes draft lunch and dinner menus (pages 76-77).

Crowdfunding: Union Bagel & Gelato Fiasco

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Owners of Union Bagel Company and Gelato Fiasco were interviewed for a story on MPBN Radio about how Maine businesses are using funding sources like Kickstarter to expand and establish their businesses.

Once you’ve got that, you post a video to the Kickstarter website and a pitch, set a minimum funding goal and a timeframe, then spread the word so that people go to the website to make a donation. Union Bagel met its goal of $7,500 in just 18 days, and donations are still coming in.

Rosemont Produce

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Instant Portland has published an article about Rosemont’s new produce store on Commercial Street.

Rosemont Produce Company makes me happy in a way I can’t really articulate. For someone like me, who can’t get to the Wednesday market at Monument Square, and who often has conflicts with the hours of the Saturday market, especially in the summer, having the opportunity to just pop down to Commercial St to pick up what I need for dinner, without battling the crowds at Hannaford or trying to park at Trader Joe’s … well, let’s just say that I’m sure I’ll be giving them a lot of business, one leek or a couple of onions at a time.

The Holy Donut Opening Friday Morning

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Holy Donut is scheduled to open Friday morning at 6:30. The new donut shop and production kitchen is located on Park Ave in the building that had been the long time home of Terroni’s Market.

Owner Leigh Kellis is planning on scaling up to sell 12 varieties each day. The menu for tomorrow’s grand opening includes sweet potato ginger, dark chocolate with mocha glaze, bacon cheddar, and an old-fashioned buttermilk with heath bar frosting.

Portland Coffee Shops

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Golden Dish has posted a survey of some of Portland’s better known coffee shops.

Reviews of Sabor Latino, Becky’s and Brian Boru

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Portland Phoenix has published a review of Sabor Latino,

The actual cuisine fits perfectly too. This is especially true of the fantastic pupusas — a Salvadoran specialty that is both the best and cheapest thing on the menu ($2!). These pretty patties of cornmeal and cheese are delicate to handle, rich with the aroma, and perfectly prepared in the classic style. The cheese pupusa, and a revuelta made with mix of pork, cheese, and beans, are both quite good. But the true revelation is the loroco — in which the soft cheese blends with a mash made of green flowerbud, which gives it a bitter-vegetal flavor in the family of green beans.

the Press Herald has published an Eat & Run review of Becky’s,

The second big reminder came when my hash arrived. It was the day’s homemade corned beef hash special, which included the hash, two eggs, home fries and toast for $8.25.

The hash had big shreds of tender corned beef, onions, potatoes and tiny flecks of carrots. On top was a wonderful dark-brown crust, keeping all the hash’s moisture and flavor sealed in.

also in today’s Press Herald is a bar review of Brian Boru.

Brian Boru on Center Street stands out from the crowd with its bright-red exterior and giant Guinness toucan mural painted on the side of the building. For as bright as the building is outside, the inside captures the essence of an Irish public house perfectly.

Blackbird & Two Fat Cats

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Forecaster has published an update on the purchase of Two Fat Cats by Blackbird Baking.

Regular Two Fat Cats customers won’t notice many changes because of the ownership swap. Begin said she has kept all the same employees – 10 bakers total – and will offer the same treats, plus more.

Chowder Reviews: Gilbert’s, Susan’s, The Farmer’s Table, Old Port Sea Grill, J’s Oyster Bar, Fishermen’s Grill

Monday, March 12th, 2012

For this months collaborative food blogging project the group decided to focus on a classic New England dish: Chowder. Not that clear seafood broth that Rhode Islanders claim is chowder or the tomato inflected concoction the they call chowder in New York but the real deal hearty New England chowder. The perfect comfort food for cold, wet and rainy days on the coast.

As you’ll read below the experiences ran the gamut from the chowder that should have been better but wasn’t (Gilbert’s) to the chowder that wasn’t expected to be good but was (Susan’s) and everything in between. Also this month we have a perfect illustration of how dedicated Portland food bloggers are to their craft, Anna @ Instant Portland risked anaphylactic shock due to a seafood allergy to contribute to this month’s topic.

Edible ObsessionsGilbert’s Chowder House

It’s disappointing because I’ve had some wonderful chowder on past visits to Gilbert’s. Perhaps the high turnover in the summer months just makes for a better, and fresher, chowder. Either way, this one fell short of my expectations and failed to impress V. on her first visit in. read the full article

From AwaySusan’s Fish and Chips

Sure, it’s a little grimy, with about as much ambiance as you’d find if you decided to eat a seafood dinner in the back of a bus station. Where Susan’s surprises, however, is in its expertly-fried seafood and chowder which has no reason to be as fresh and expertly prepared as it is, served at a price point that seems like a holdover from the 1980s. I’ve paid easily twice as much for a fried clam or haddock dinner at other, perhaps more scenic establishments, and been much, much less pleased with the overall experience than I was with the food served at Susan’s Fish & Chips. read the full article

Instant PortlandThe Farmer’s Table

The haddock chowder was perfectly cooked – each ingredient had achieved a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness while still retaining their basic structural integrity and individual flavor profiles. The dish was amazingly rich, and half-way through the bowl the flavor became almost too buttery, but the judicious application of a little pepper brought everything back into balance and left me warmed through and satisfied. read the full article

The Blueberry FilesOld Port Sea Grill

Being that A. is actually from Maine (woooo), and therefore an expert on chowders, moose, and the ocean, I grilled him on his definition of a good chowder. He said, lots of seafood, thick (like can stand a spoon up in it), and a good tasting broth. While this chowder didn’t meant the density criteria, it stood up on all other accounts. The broth was nice and flavorful, it had lots of bacon and clams, cute little slices of fingerling potatoes, and a nice little mince of carrots and celery on top. read the full article

Vin et GrubJ’s Oyster Bar

I ordered two different chowders on my most recent trip to J’s. Their version of clam chowder and a fish chowder. I didn’t like either. The clam chowder, which was supposed to have bacon, was incredibly bland. It only took three or four readjustment of seasoning for me to be relatively pleased. Here’s what was upsetting– the clams were small, the potatoes were overcooked, and thus the chowder fell short. It was one note to say the very least– definitely not horrific, just incredibly mediocre. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uhFishermen’s Grill

Happily, the chowder was amazing. I honest-to-God did not think this was going to happen. I thought it would be mediocre and I would write a long thing about how chowder from restaurants anywhere is terrible and extoll the benefits of cooking from scratch. But it was really, really good chowder. The top was sprinkled generously with black pepper and minced parsley and there were tons of big chunks of not-overcooked clam. The chowder was thick, but creamy and smooth, not starchy or gluey and wonderfully flavorful. The marble rye was amply buttered. It was so good. I instantly regretted not ordering a bowl. read the full article

As for my recommendations I’d suggest you try the haddock chowder at Caiola’s or if your looking for something a little different the haddock and rice soup topped with celery leaves on the specials menu at Boda.

Opinionated Top 100: Miyake & Hugo’s

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Miyake (#54) and Hugo’s (#60) are included on the Opinionated About Dining 2012 list of the top 100 restaurants in the United States.

This Week’s Events: PSO Wine Dinner, Bourbon Dinner, Stout Bout, St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Monday — Dobra is holding Japanese Tea tasting.

TuesdayVin et Grub is hosting a dinner club.

Wednesday — The annual PSO Wine Dinner & Auction is taking place, Bunker Brewing is holding a launch party for their newest beer, and Wine Wise is leading an French Whites wine walk.

Thursday — The Salt Exchange is hosting an Ides of March bourbon dinner and The Great Lost Bear is holding their annual Stout Bout.

Saturday — Brian Boru is opening at 6 am for an Saint Patrick’s Day breakfast, and the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Irish Heritage Center.

Sunday — the Urban Farm Fermentory will beaching a shitake mushroom growing workshop.

All Month — Starting on Thursday and running throughout the month of March, Grace, Miyake, Pai Men Miyake and the Foreside Tavern in Falmouth will make a donation to fight hunger in Maine for every 3- or 7-course meal you order. “The idea that there are children in our state the are hungry is simply unacceptable to us. When we learned that each dollar raised connects a child with ten meals we knew we could make an impact right here in our own community.” said Anne Verrill, owner of Grace & The Foreside Tavern.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Under Construction: Y-Limes & Maine Squeeze

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Three new updates for the Under Construction list:

  • Y-Limes Gourmet opened their new shop in the Public Market House this weekend. They’re located on the first floor adjacent to K. Horton’s cheese shop.
  • The restaurant under construction on Fore Street will be called Sebastian’s at Boothby Square
  • Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe has announced that they’ll be opening a second location on the 2nd floor of the Public Market House.

Coffee Fest NYC: Shana Natelson

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

In her first year in competition Bard Coffee barista Shana Natelson made it to Round 4 of this year’s Coffee Fest Latte Art Championships in New York City this weekend before loosing to competitor from Hong Kong.