Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reviews: Saltwater Grille, Vientiane, Terra Cotta, Rosie’s

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has  reviewed the Saltwater Grille in South Portland,

The mismatch in quality between the food and the setting is stark, but you can see flashes of genuine potential when you taste the tweaks McGuirk has managed to slip in, like a sharp and mustardy malt aioli that accompanies an otherwise one-note calamari dish. Or a crisp, crunchy, turmeric-flavored Guinness-and-panko breading on the fried haddock – the only good component of the shore dinner. Best of all is his take on seafood pappardelle, with plenty of lobster and a sauce that infuses every noodle with savory chorizo flavor. Saltwater Grille has all the pieces in place to make it the kind of restaurant where, even on a gray evening with fog obscuring the view, both locals and tourists would be happy to eat. But to get there and join the ranks of the region’s better restaurants, it needs to give itself permission to change.

the Press Herald has reviewed Vientiane

When I went for lunch on a recent weekday I got an order of pad see ew ($8.59). It was a flat noodle stir fry dish with scrambled egg, chicken, broccoli, mushroom and bok choy in a sweet Thai soy sauce. The portion was just about big enough for two lunches, though I ate more than half at my first sitting. The noodles were wide and thick, almost like mini lasagna noodles. The sauce was not too sweet and let the flavor of the broccoli and bok choy shine through. It was a nice change from pad Thai, though I love a good pad Thai.

and the Terra Cotta Pasta Company in South Portland,

If calories and nutrition weren’t a consideration, I could probably eat one of these every single day. In fact, my love for this sandwich is so powerful, it’s rare I try anything else from the Terra Cotta menu, but I can tell you that the Sicilian-style slab pizza ($3.50 per slab) is pure magic, as is the Stromboli ($7.99, there’s a daily meat and vegetable offering). If you order the Stromboli, you can either hang out and chat for the 15 or so minutes it takes to heat up or bring it home and warm it there. Either way, you win.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Rosie’s.

Rosie’s offers something you can only find at dive bars – an atmosphere where anything goes as long as you’re not causing a problem; where the food is always good, occasionally very good, and rarely great; and where you can get served with hardly any green in your pockets. I drink there more than I eat there, but when I do either, I always leave happy and feeling like I got more than I paid for. It’s a place where just about anybody can go and have the same experience.

Reviews: Drifters, Rhum, Schulte & Herr, Big J’s, Red Sea

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

The Press Herald has reviewed Big J’s,

I’ll just come right out and say it: Big J’s Chicken Shack on Thompson’s Point is one of the best casual spots to open in Portland in a long time.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Drifters Wife,

Jackson prepares much more modestly-priced fare tantamount to an artist’s easel of ingredients meant to tease and please with unusual combinations. Again consider the aforementioned radicchio salad, splayed on a bed of Jacob’s cattle beans—a true Maine bean—and its bold splash of  bacon vinaigrette that’s made with the rendered fat emulsified into Jackson’s homemade apple cider vinegar. Topped with a boiled egg, it’s a godly good plate of radicchio like you’ve rarely had elsewhere.

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed Rhum,

Walking into Rhum is like being transported into a vibrant, tropical fantasy. The large bar has ample seating. There are bright colors and grass accents a plenty. There are tables for groups and cozy rounded booths for larger parties. Lighting is a bit dim, but that only adds to the island feel of entering a shady, cool place as a respite from the sun.

The Bollard has reviewed Schulte & Herr,

Case in point: the schweineschnitzel ($18), a tender pork loin pounded thin and breaded. The earthy brown gravy adds complexity — flavors of meaty mushroom and red wine — but doesn’t weigh the dish down. In a portion of accompanying gratin, the potatoes were thin and perfectly cooked, laced with cream. The dish is robust, autumnal and hearty, but not overly rich or heavy.

Portland Magazine has reviewed Red Sea, and The 207 Foodie has posted a run down on a few options for wings in Portland.

Reviews: Yosaku, Roustabout, Hot Suppa

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Yosaku,

Some of the restaurant’s very best dishes are seafood-based, like marvelously sweet grilled unagi (freshwater eel), and creamy, translucent raw botan ebi – jumbo shrimp tails served alongside their deep-fried heads. When combined with rice to make sushi (nigiri and maki alike), the quality falters – blame rice that can be a little undercooked and overly vinegared. Non-seafood dishes at Yosaku are hit-or-miss. Skip the udon, tempura ice cream and avocado salad, but don’t miss the long-braised kinpira gobo (braised burdock root) salad and the delicate, generally well-fried tempura vegetables.

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed Roustabout,

Roustabout also has you covered in the snacks department. You can order up things from marinated mushrooms to a panini. We decided to try the chips and dip ($4), which were house made paired with homemade clam dip, and the house ricotta with crostini and pepperonata ($5). These were great pairings to our drinks and very satisfying. They would make great appetizers to dinner or awesome after-work snacks.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Hot Suppa.

Here’s the scoop on Hot Suppa – they’re absolutely awesome. The combination of service at the bar, cozy atmosphere, and really excellent food undoubtedly made this one of the restaurants I will return to regularly. Everything was so good, I have no doubt I could eat their chicken, mac or pretty much any of their food all day long without trouble.

Gold for Blue Current

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Blue Current has been awarded a gold medal at the London Sake Challenge for their Junmai Ginjo sake.

Reviews: The Corner Room, King of the Roll, Dutch’s, Binga’s Stadium, Sapporo

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed The Corner Room,

I imagine it’s possible to create a road map to help diners navigate The Corner Room’s extensive menu and weather its inexplicably off-putting service stumbles – problems that made us feel as stressed out as our servers on a Saturday, then practically disappeared when we returned on a Tuesday. But I don’t need to. Squint your eyes just a little, and you’ll see the outlines of a fantastic Italian-American joint that serves great simple food: pizzas, seasonal pasta and a first-rate Caesar. Just ignore half (two-thirds, really) of the unnecessarily complicated menu and pray that you’re not in the dining room on a busy night.

The Bollard has reviewed Dutch’s,

OK, let’s pause for a moment and talk about those hash browns. Pillowy soft on the inside, perfectly crisped and seasoned on the outside, these cube-shaped hash browns were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever eaten. Seriously, I would gladly eat them every single day for the rest of my life.

The Bollard has reviewed Binga’s Stadium,

Though I’d been daydreaming about pastrami, and Binga’s offers their own house-smoked pastrami and Swiss sandwich ($8.99), I opted instead for the Jewish Texan ($8.99), partly because the odd name made me momentarily wonder, Is that offensive? It’s not, and neither was the sandwich: house-smoked brisket in a brioche bun, topped with slaw, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing. The brisket was tasty, and overall I’d declare the sandwich decent, though nothing to write home to your bubbe in Houston about. I would’ve preferred a chewy marbled rye to the soft brioche bun.

the Press Herald has reviewed King of the Roll,

It’s nice to know, just as duck gravy poutine hasn’t eradicated the french fry or brown butter lobster rolls made null the mayonnaise kind, a regular old sushi restaurant still has its place in Portland. In benefit-cost ratio, its lunch menu is hard to beat. The options are abundant, all under $14 and many under $8.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater reviewed Sapporo.

Sapporo has been around for a while and there seem to be a steady stream of patrons rolling in. I think they could improve a few minor items, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. I felt they had a solid menu, good food, and a pleasant atmosphere. Go grab some rolls or a teriyaki of some kind and report back.

Speckled Ax Medals at Golden Bean

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Speckled Ax took home 3 bronze medals from the Golden Bean coffee roasting conference for their natural Hambela, Corduroy espresso blend, and classic Bird Dog espresso.

FT Review of Drifters Wife

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

The Financial Times has reviewed Drifters Wife.

High-ceilinged and spare, it’s the most European restaurant in scale and approach that I’ve seen in the US, with just 20 seats at tables and eight at the bar. You have the reassuring feeling that the proprietors are not only working but also quietly surveying every detail. The wine shop is now confined to the rear half of the room, yet filled with more bottles than ever. All the wines are from organic, hand-harvested grapes fermented with indigenous yeasts. It’s the best shop in Maine.

Best Restaurants in the World: Eventide

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Condé Nast Traveller has included Eventide in their list of the 207 greatest restaurants around the globe.

…[W]e enlisted and cross-referenced the impassioned guidance from the real experts, our network of chefs, food writers, and most-in-the-know travelers. What follows is a print-it-out, laminate-it, take-a-screenshot-of-it, globe-spanning hit list so you will never waste a meal again.


Reviews: Solo Italiano, Brian Boru, Milk & Honey, Salty Sally’s

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Solo Italiano, giving it 3½ stars,

Solo Italiano is full of surprises. Ignore its Commercial Street location and its very chic, newly recast interior, and you’ll discover a restaurant that cares about simplicity and tradition. Paolo Laboa, executive chef and part-owner, is behind the restaurant’s focus on Northern Italian dishes, in particular food from Liguria, where he was raised. By and large, the dishes he and his team prepare are successful ones, most especially a yellowtail carpaccio in a sultry, savory “gazpacho,” and a stupendously good dessert interpretation of a Caprese salad. Laboa’s homemade pastas, like orechiette and papardelle, are also very good, if occasionally let down by seasoning problems.

The Press Herald has reviewed Brian Boru,

A local hang with an Irish flavor, Brian Boru brings in visitors of all ages, from 20-something brunchers to 60-something retirees. Drinks are strong and inexpensive, and the beer list features plenty of local craft brews alongside national staples.

The Golden Dish has published the first review of Milk & Honey,

It was her take on a Reuben done in the manner of a Monte Cristo, with corned   beef, beet pesto (out of this world delicious), with ricotta salata–all of which is layered onto the farm’s whole-wheat bread and put on a panini press until everything melts into incredible flavors.  Served with a zucchini saladslaw and ice tea, it was a lunch of perfection.

and Future Fun Stuff has published the first review of Salty Sally’s.

The environment is decidedly casual, in a good way. It feels like a neighborhood bar. They have fun things like a tabletop arcade game with the classics, boozy milkshakes, and a sweet slogan. They also have a gluten-free fryer and say that most menu items can be prepared gluten-free.

Wild Terrains Guide to Portland

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The Wild Terrains travel site has published a guide to Portland.

Come for the small town charm, stay for the food. This travel guide is going to sound like a fat kid wrote it and we have no shame. Portland is a foodie wonderland – it’s filled with award winning restaurants all within walking distance of downtown, and they do not disappoint. Get ready to gain a few lbs because you’re about to pack a lot of eating into a quick weekend trip.

The restaurants featured are Bard, Central Provisions, Duckfat, Eventide, Hunt & Alpine, Piccolo, Scales, Street & Co, Tandem and The Honey Paw

Reviews: Bill’s Pizza, The Armory

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

The Press Herald has published a bar review of the Armory Lounge,

The dark, cozy and classy hotel bar keeps locals coming back with its iconic décor, well-made martinis and free snack plate. Equally good for date night or for after-work drinks (particularly if you’ve been binge-watching Mad Men and want to enjoy some throwback thrills).

and a review of Bill’s Pizza.

But sometimes you want, as my daughter Sophie calls it, “pizza” pizza. We’re talking about good, basic, time-tested pizza. You know, the kind where the crust is not too thick and not too thin, the sauce is red and the cheese is abundant.

Bill’s Pizza, a venerable pizza place on Commercial Street in Portland, sells exactly that kind of pizza.

Food Republic: Eating Incredibly Well in Portland

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Food Republic has posted their recommendation for the 7 Places to Eat and Drink Incredibly Well in Portland.

The spots they highlight are: Drifters Wife, Hunt and Alpine Club, Rhum, Roustabout, Scales, Tempo Dulu, The Honey Paw.


Reviews: Five Fifty-Five, Tiqa Cafe

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Five Fifty-Five received 3½ stars from the review published today in the Maine Sunday Telegram,

At its best, Five Fifty-Five produces sublime dishes like seared New England scallops with a grilled corn sauce and a warm vegetable accompaniment that distills everything magical about summer onto a single plate. Its steaks, like a chimichurri-sauced Pineland Farm striploin, are simple, yet superb. (Poor grill ventilation, on the other hand, is a problem, allowing an unpleasant, irritating haze to spread across the dining room when several diners order steaks simultaneously.) Other dishes, like bland spinach fettuccini, a too-ambitious grilled watermelon and baby kale salad, and a botched local blackberry salad demonstrate how conceptual and execution issues keep the menu from being as stellar as its reputation suggests. Service can also be spotty – sometimes revealing impressive competence, and sometimes neglect or a total lack of situational awareness. None of these problems in and of itself is a catastrophe, but each is a small setback, and in aggregate, they keep Five Fifty-Five from shining quite as brightly as it should.

and the Press Herald has reviewed Tiqa Cafe.

I started out simple with the grilled cheese, since this is a column that loves a good deal, and you can tell a lot about a place by the care and attention it puts into its simplest fare. I chose cheddar over provolone, and the cheese oozed out of the freshly made focaccia bread. There were a couple of sliced, seasoned tomatoes in the sandwich as well. Not much to say; it was neither the best nor the worst grilled cheese I have had, but it was perfectly fine for a casual take-out lunch.

First Reviews of Big J’s

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The 207 Foodie, Peter Peter Portland Eater and The Golden Dish have posted their first impressions of Big J’s Chicken Shack.

The chicken is super crisp— “extra crispy” in KFC lingo.  The coating is beautifully seasoned because the chicken—white or dark—is salt/sugar brined that makes it so forward tasting.  The flour must be highly seasoned, too, because the crispy coating is really tasty, not bland.  The brined chicken is dipped in buttermilk, dredged in flour and deep fried in special kettles…I loved the chicken and the cheese biscuit was good. [TGD]

Reviews: Frog and Turtle, Vignola, Little Tap House, Solo Italiano

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

2 Brunch Girls has reviewed Little Tap House,

Rustic, local, farm-to-table freshness in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. LTH also offers outdoor seating. Great option as the weather begins to cool…Sharing dishes was fun – we we’re able to satisfy all our cravings – but certainly not necessary as the portions are filling on their own. We also suggest the homemade corned-beef hash…Judging by our experience though, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

the Press Herald has published a bar review of The Frog and Turtle,

A quintessential neighborhood pub with a knack for quality and affordability, Frog & Turtle has defined a loyal following over the last 10 years. With nightly specials and weekly entertainment, this is a place to eat and drink well and gather with friends.

Portland Magazine has reviewed Solo Italiano,

Next, we try Vitello Tonnato ($14), braised veal bathed in velvety tomato sauce (made with tuna, though you’d never guess), paired with baby kale, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. The meat is as tender as it gets. You won’t want to miss out on the fresh house-made pastas or the prize-winning pesto–a recipe made in collaboration with Paolo Laboa, winner of the World Pesto Championship. We pair both of these by ordering the Pansotti alle Noci ($18), meaty tortellini stuffed with ricotta, walnuts, spinach, chard, kale, and borage, and topped with a spell-binding walnut pesto.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Vignola/Cinque Terre.

We enjoyed our food, and though we didn’t get particularly adventurous with our choices, I think it’s safe to say that Vignola has their ducks in a row. Our relatively simple food was prepared well and with a little extra style that made it worthwhile in a city of fantastic food. Though I’m basing it off a memory which hardly exists any longer and despite our orders, it seems that their menu has more exciting choices than they did back in the day and they definitely have superb cheese and charcuterie options.