Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reviews: Cong Tu Bot, Little Giant, Panda Garden, Ruski’s

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

The Portland Press Herald has reviewed Panda Garden,

The wings were golden and crispy and just mildly spicy. The chicken fingers were in a fluffy batter, the kind I remember jumbo shrimp being prepared in. The crab Rangoon were crispy wontons with a creamy crab mixture inside.

the Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Cong Tu Bot and Little Giant, and

As I walk away from Cong Tu Bot, I am left with delight. I like spicy food that is actually spicy and that’s what they serve. It’s all very tasty too; the spice is just an added bonus. If you don’t like heat, there are items for you – primarily the pho, but you certainly don’t have to avoid going. Add in the interesting ambiance and this is a place I’ll be visiting again in the near future. It will be a great cold weather hideaway this winter.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Ruski’s.

uski’s still makes a mean burger. A delicious half pound of beef is perfectly charbroiled and set onto a commercially made roll. The fries come from a freezer bag and the onion rings, too. Is this bad? No not really. But what really matters is the flavor of the beef and how it’s prepared. Ruski’s buys their meat from the Fresh Approach Market butcher who, I might add, sells the most economical pound of good ground beef chuck in town at $3.49 per pound (as of this week; the price fluctuates).

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

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

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

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

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.

Eventide on Eater List of 38 Essentials for 2017

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Bill Addison has included Eventide on Eater’s 2017 list of America’s 38 Essential Restaurants.

First Look: Bite Into Maine

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

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

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

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

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

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

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

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

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

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

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

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.

Reviews: Cheevitdee, Honey Paw, Little Giant, Ruski’s Little Bigs, Terlingua, Tipo

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Cheevitdee,

Chef/co-owner Jay Pranadsri uses riceberry to great effect in her ping ngob, a spicy, explosively herbal red salmon curry. Elsewhere, such as in the lackluster khao mun gai, it is not as successful…For the most part, dishes at Cheevitdee taste like they have been engineered to be wholesome first and foremost, usually at the expense of flavor or texture. Still, a rare few, like pla goong – delightfully spicy, tangy shrimp bites served in individual spoons – actually do make good on the restaurant’s promise that healthy restaurant dining is compatible with exceptional flavor.

The Bates Student has reviewed the The Honey Paw,

While at first glance this destination is a bit out of the price range of the standard college student (bring your parents!), The Honey Paw’s dining format makes it more affordable for a broad customer base. Like many Asian restaurants, servers at The Honey Paw suggest ordering a few plates and sharing them all with the table. This gives diners an opportunity to dive into multiple dishes and taste a greater range of flavors. While any one dish at The Honey Paw would be delicious on its own, sharing an array of dishes brings different flavors and textures to everybody’s plate.

Portland Magazine has reviewed the Little Giant,

Little Giant…has an appealing dinner menu for a neighborhood joint. Local bounty is showcased, and prices are reasonable. A ‘snack’ of Little Biscuits ($6) comes on a wooden board. Spectacularly flaky biscuits frame a smear of maple-whipped lardo topped with neon hot pepper jelly. You won’t leave a single crumb.

the West End News has reviewed the Ruski’s,

I liked the greasy egg rolls well-enough, though the sour cream on the side was boring. Portions here are generous, and I took home half my wrap, which tasted great the second time around, too.

the Press Herald has reviewed Little Bigs,

My favorite is the Thai red curry with chicken ($7.75), which is like eating an order of red curry from a good Thai restaurant in a pie crust. It’s filled mostly with huge chunks of white chicken meat, along with sliced carrots and bits of green beans, red peppers`and basil, all floating in a light red curry sauce, of course.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Terlingua, and

As Mrs. Portlandeater was downing her food, she inquired as to why we didn’t eat there more when it was so good. It’s a fair question. I think Terlingua is going to have to be moved up the list. I like their barbeque a lot, but the Latin American is also super tasty. It’s just really hard to go wrong with anything they serve. On my list of items to try? Brisket, chili, and the Mexican street corn.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed the Tipo,

A pair of ragùs offered different virtues. In one case dark mushrooms had been cooked to a delicious earthy tenderness. They mixed with creamy yolk on a square pillow of creamy and fluffy polenta. A pork raguhad a pleasantly slow-developing roasted pepper heat, that emerged as you chewed the tough little cavetelli made from rye flour.

Reviews: Mami, Roma Cafe, Island Creek, El Rayo, Congress Squared

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Mami, and

The new, exposed-brick space shares much in common with the truck, including many of its street food dishes, like crisp, golden okonomiyaki – decadent “pancakes” of cabbage, onion and pork belly, topped with a spiced soy sauce and lashings of sweet Kewpie mayonnaise. You’ll also find Mami’s signature grilled onigiri, rounded triangles of sticky sushi rice seared dark and crunchy on a flat, iron teppanyaki grill. If it’s on the menu, don’t miss the lobster nikuman, a dish Miller calls “a bastardized lobster roll” that, with a sophisticated balance of yeasty steamed bun, salty tobiko and flowering dill, could hold its own against any lobster roll in the state.

The Blueberry Files has reviewed the Island Creek Oyster Shop, and

I love the simplicity of The Shop and its menu. While many restaurant and bars opt to attract customers with complex concepts and elaborate dishes, The Shop goes stripped down with a sunny patio and cheap oysters. Works for me.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed the Roma Cafe, and

Unfortunately, entrées of Bucatini Amatriciana and Chicken Marsala also failed to impress, the former characterized by a thin, watery sauce and saved only by the inclusion of smoky guanciale. While unoffensive enough, the Marsala — flanked by a sauté of summer squash and side of pasta that felt like afterthoughts — somehow lacked flavor despite also being seasoned with a heavy hand. Though a saving grace could be found in a side of meatballs (plump, yielding and unctuous), my dining partner and I both agreed it was too little, too late.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed El Rayo,

I’ve always enjoyed El Rayo and I’m glad I finally returned. Their food is good, and while I wanted more salsa in the tacos, they were so big that I think it might be just the salsa to other stuff ratio that caused the issue. I recommend you go there and try the nachos, tacos, pinapple, and whatever else you like. And don’t forget some tequila, because they’ve got plenty and it’s sure to make you smile, even if you’re not there at happy hour.

the Press Herald has published a bar review of Congress Squared.

Quiet, upscale cocktails and a contemporary setting makes for a refined, upscale evening. Congress Squared isn’t breaking any molds but is putting its own spin on some classics in a memorable and well-crafted way.

Reviews: Eventide, Pai Men, Big Fin Poke

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Big Fin Poke,

If you go to Big Fin Poke – and you should – feel free to get creative with your bowl. I went a little light on the add-ons this time, but you’re able to get as crazy as you want. Load on the goodies and enjoy your work in creating a masterpiece. That’s half the fun of going. Of course, the food itself is also awesome. Stay tuned for more awesomeness as a new Big Fin comes to South Portland soon too.

As the Lobster Roll has reviewed Eventide, and

And did I mention those miniature steamed buns are stuffed full of lobster which has been skillfully sauteed in the brown butter? I have no idea what else they add to the mixture and honestly, I don’t care… because it’s so decadent and delicious! The price is $15 for one lobster roll (no accoutrements included) and whoever can go there and just eat one is a bigger person than me.

the Press Herald has published a bar review of Pai Men Miyake.

The food is what truly shines at Pai Men Miyake. If you’re a fan of sour flavors or drinks with heavy lime/lemon flavorings, then this is the cocktail list for you. Otherwise, sticking to their beers (a large, exciting selection of both local and Japanese brews), wine or sake is likely the way to go. A loud, casual and hip atmosphere make this a fun place to grab some food and a drink with friends or a date.

Reviews: Bayside Bowl, Local 188, Little Giant, Yobo, Tipo

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Bayside Bowl and 33 Elmwood,

Its new outdoor rooftop deck is an absolute stunner, with a bar and an Airstream trailer that serves as a taco truck. Unfortunately, the food seems occasionally like an afterthought, lagging behind the standard set by the modern, often elegant spaces that make up the business. Among the better dishes are the tender cactus taco and Bayside’s vegan interpretation of a Reuben sandwich, the Rachael, made with smoky tempeh and tangy sauerkraut. Steer clear of the gloppy, oversauced tot poutine, which our server described as “unforgettable.” She’s not wrong.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Little Giant,

The LG Burger & Jojos (read: burly, delicious steak fries) served as the evening’s entrée, a no-frills take on the diner staple topped with American cheese, pickled grilled red onion, iceberg lettuce and BBQ mayo. Though a bit on the small side, the burger’s sheer and undulating juiciness made up for any perceived size discrepancies demanding bite after blissful bite. I left full and happy.

The Bollard has reviewed Yobo and Tipo,

The classic bibimbap ($15) is a solid choice — a combination of beef or tofu with rice (fried to a delicious crisp on the bottom of the hot stone bowl), veggies, a runny egg yolk and gochujang (red-chili paste) that you mix yourself. If there’s a taco special, order that too. The pork belly and local uni (sea urchin) tacos ($12) were the tastiest dish on the table one Thursday night.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Local 188,

On the other hand, the mushrooms had me at “hello”. One bite of the voluptuous oyster shrooms was enough to know I was in fungal heaven. I noticed the pickled shallots immediately and then a little romesco. My next bite added a couple slices of almond and there was something about the nut flavor that covered the mushrooms in a calmness, muting a little of the vinegar and blending everything together. I found it entrancing.

Vogue: A Perfect Weekend Away

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Vogue has published an article on where to eat, shop and stay in Southern Maine.

Portland was once thought to simply be a small, weather-worn coastal city playing second fiddle to big shots like Boston, but this has thankfully changed. This gem of a city is now a major destination for those looking for incredible food, small-batch breweries with cult followings, and amazing independent shops that will tempt you to blow your weekend budget in a ten-minute period. And if Portland isn’t enough, the rest of southern Maine presents ample attractions like cute coastal towns and hikes offering vistas that make breaking a sweat very worthwhile.

The article mentions Central Provisions, Little Giant Market, Fore Street, Drifters Wife, Urban Farm Fermentory, and Allagash, Foundation, and Austin Street breweries.