Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review of the Miss Portland Diner

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Miss Portland Diner.

The Miss Portland Diner serves all you’d expect at a classic hash house, from scrambled eggs and pancakes to sandwiches and burgers. Ask for a booth in the restored 1949 lunch wagon, and try a traditional Reuben. Stacked with sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss and Thousand Island dressing, it’s a paean to all things deli. Burgers here are good, but sides are even better: ultra-bright and crispy coleslaw, thick-cut potato chips and sweet potato fries with a welcome snap. Definitely try dessert from one of the countertop cake stands. A single slice of homemade whoopie pie cake (a riff on Maine’s official state treat) is weighty and rich, with frosting enough for four.

Review of DiMillo’s

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

The Golden Dish has reviewed DiMillo’s.

The entrée menu is hardly ground-breaking, and all one can hope for is for it to be wholesome and tasty. Of the two local haddock dishes, I chose the more complicated one instead of the simpler broiled haddock with bread crumbs. I figured, try the more complex version.  So out came a giant piece of haddock stuffed with butternut squash and cornbread covered in a maple-cream sauce. It was so sweet it could have doubled as dessert. The baked potato was served without butter, and the little tub of sour cream with chopped scallions helped to moisten the dry flesh. With it were the predictable spears of broccoli, slightly overdone.

Review of East Ender

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Map & Menu have reviewed the new East Ender.

It turns out that all of our worrying was for naught because now that we’ve tried Karl Deuben & Bill Leavy’s reincarnation of the East Ender on our favorite block of Middle Street (read: one of the most delicious blocks in all of Portland), we realized that it’s not the truck that made the meal, but the chefs behind the grill.

Review of Sur Lie

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix restaurant critic Brian Duff has reviewed Sur Lie.

Sur Lie calls their very first category “to settle” and their dessert category “closure” (the latter features a pair of fantastic fresh donuts, with a tart blueberry filling). But the power of a well-designed list is to trigger what anthropologists call the seeking instinct — rooted in our brain’s most robust neurocircuitry — which never settles nor reaches closure. It’s what drives us through the Internet, click by click, and the rest of life, too. Sur lie’s best innovation might be making small plate dining seem affordable and accessible, but still intriguing and ambitious. It will leave you seeking another chance to visit.

This week’s edition also includes a visit to Lolita with Petite Jacqueline’s chef Fred Eliot.

A.C.: Now that you’re back on marrow, what makes this version special?
It’s super rich, but not an enormous portion. After a long day at work I like to have something that’s not too big because I want to go to bed. But I do like something rich like this or ramen noodles. What’s really cool here is they do it over the fire, so it adds this smokey flavor to it. It’s nothing intense but it’s woody. It’s messy, interactive. It gets everywhere. You need a lot of bread.

2015 James Beard Award Nominees (Updated)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

JBF_AWARDS_MEDALLION-BLOGJames Beard Foundation has announced the final nominees for this year’s awards competition. Of the 10 Maine-based semi-finalists announced in February, 4 are final nominees:

  • Best New Restaurant – Central Provisions
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley at Eventide Oyster Company, and Masa Miyake at Miyake
  • Rising Star of the Year – Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan

The award winners will be announced May 4th at the Lyric Opera in Chicago at the JBF Awards Gala hosted by Alton Brown.

Update: Both the Press Herald and Bangor Daily News have published reports on the award nominees.

Review of JP’s Bistro

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed JP’s Bistro.

If you’re looking for ease and comfort in a neighborhood bistro, JP’s fits the bill. The small dining room is appealing and the wait staff uber-welcoming. Dishes, however, can be overly complicated, and with prices north of $25 for steak and a few pasta-based entrees, it’s worth ordering with care. Keep it simple and try chicken, sausage and white bean soup, a flavorful starter filled with chunks of white meat, spinach and ditalini pasta. Ribeye is nicely marbled and competently grilled, but skip the bourbon sauce and enjoy it solo. Definitely get two spoons to share chef John Paul Gagnon’s excellent bread pudding for dessert. Made with slices of challah from Sorella’s Bakehouse, it’s surprisingly delicate and pleasingly sweet; you may find yourselves dueling over the last bite.

Down East: Best New Restaurants

Friday, March 20th, 2015

The cover article of the April issue of Down East is the magazine’s list of the Best New Restaurants in Maine.

Portland area restaurants on the list are: Bao Bao, Blue Rooster, Bramhall, Central Provisions, Dutch’s, East Ender, Ebb & Flow, El Rayo in Scarborough, Elsmere BBQ, Empire, Enio’s, Hugo’s, Isa, Outlier’s, Lolita, Piccolo, Salvage BBQ, Slab, Sur Lie, Timber, Tiqa and Vinland as well as the upcoming restaurants The Honey Paw, MC Union, Scales and Tempo Dulu.

The article is not available online yet.

Bar Review of Petite Jacqueline

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The Press Herald has published a bar review of Petite Jacqueline.

In a city that becomes increasingly more popular for its bars and restaurants by the day, there are two reasons Petite Jacqueline stands out in Portland. The first is that this traditional French bistro is exactly that – traditional. Many of Portland’s newest dining additions feature trendy small plate menus, or experimental New American cuisine. Petite’s steadfast and classic French menu actually makes the restaurant more unique among an otherwise adventurous gastronomic town.

WSJ: Dynamic Food Cities

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Wall Street Journal published an article about the rise of the culinary scenes America’s smaller cities. It mentions Portland in passing,

And then there’s this: These are places where chefs can make a difference. The most dynamic food cities in the country right now are the two Portlands (Ore. and Maine), Nashville, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., Houston and Philadelphia. All took off in the past decade thanks to the arrival of a few gifted chefs who pioneered a new dining scene.

Review of Gilbert’s

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Gilbert’s Chowder House.

Gilbert’s is a no-nonsense chowder house set in a sea of upscale businesses on Commercial Street. Play to the kitchen’s strengths and order a cup of house-made clam or corn chowder; both are rich, peppery and full of flavor. Skip the specials on the blackboard and try a fried haddock sandwich from the standard menu instead: the coating is light and crunchy, and the fish it encases is juicy and steaming hot. Sandwiches come with chips, but you’ll want to order a side of French fries, which are among the best in town.

First Look at East Ender

Friday, March 13th, 2015

The Golden Dish has posted a first look review of the new East Ender.

At my next lunch I had to have the burger, made famous at Small Axe, a thick patty of local beef cold smoked and charred on the grill just right.  This version did not disappoint.  Though at $14 it’s pricey.   It comes lobbed with a shield of melted Stilton and a scrim of caramelized onions–mahogany-hued sweet onions slowly sautéed in balsamic and a touch of red wine.  The burger is accompanied by excellent batter-dipped onion rings.

Bar of Chocolate Cafe Review

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed the Bar of Chocolate Cafe.

We showed up at Bar of Chocolate around 4:30 on a Friday evening. It was very quiet but we were soon joined by more patrons as the evening wore on. We decided to sample some of the martini offerings. It’s not often that I can resist a good espresso martini and the one at Bar of Chocolate stands out among some of the best.  It’s not overly creamy but smooth and delicious all the same.

Review of The Grill Room

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed The Grill Room.

The Grill Room is a noisy, popular, casual steakhouse on one of the prettiest streets in the Old Port. The menu isn’t particularly innovative, but servings are large and the traditional fare is so filling you may want to loosen your belt a notch. Start with fried clams – small, sweet whole bellies served with a bright tartar sauce. Then try steak or fish from the wood-fired grill. (The salmon is downright delicious.) And make sure to ask about apple fritters for dessert. No one likes a leaden fritter, and The Grill Room’s are light, crunchy and irresistible with a spoonful of the cider syrup offered alongside.

Tempo Dulu Pop-Up Dinner (Updated)

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Urban Eye has posted a report from Thursday’s Tempo Dulu pop-up.

But it was the diver scallop with beet jalapeño pineapple gastrique augmented with dollops of fermented soybean and seaweed from Malaysia that elicited the most swoons. The plump and sweet scallop reminded me of a perfectly executed souffle. Ethereal. Effortless. Impossible to pull off at home. And with Klang headed to town, why would you want to?

Though Portland would seem to have reached restaurant overload in 2015, there is always room for a well-executed, elevated dining experience. The time is right for Tempo Dulu. Tick tock!

Updated: Both The Golden Dish and the Portland Phoenix have also posted a reports on Tempo Dulu and the dinner.

IACP Nominations

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Press Herald reporter Meredith Goad has been nominated for a 2015 IACP food writing award in the Personal Essay/Memoir category for an article entitled Forged with an Iron Will about her great-great grandmother’s cast iron skillets.

Review of The King’s Head

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

The Bollard has published a brunch review of The King’s Head.

Although relatively new, The King’s Head has found solid footing among the brewpubs and gastro-bistros of the Old Port. We won’t rush back for brunch — at this price point, there are better options in town — but I look forward to returning to sample appetizers and more beers from their impressive tap list. I’ll probably visit later in the day, when I can enjoy a few pints free of guilt.

Review of Blue Spoon

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Blue Spoon.

Blue Spoon is a relaxed, neighborhood restaurant with a Mediterranean slant. Start with a mezze plate piled with cheeses, terrines and a selection of chef David Iovino’s pickled vegetables. If you crave comfort, ask about the braising pot – a seasonal ragu of slow-cooked meats served with house-made pasta. Or try the chicken under a brick: It’s crispy, juicy and accompanied by irresistible gruyere fritters. Just make sure to leave room for dessert. Blue Spoon may bill itself as a Maine bistro, but the coconut caramel flan is pure, unadulterated Cuban delight.

Reviews: Sur Lie & Otherside Deli

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

The Press Herald has published a review of the Otherside Deli,

I ignored my longing for breakfast when I saw the sandwich board and chose instead the pork schnitzel, a boneless, breaded pork cutlet paired with a tangy egg-and-caper relish, topped with mustard and served on a bulky roll. The pork was tender, the bread incredibly fresh, and the egg satisfied my craving for early-morning fare.

and a bar review of Sur Lie.

Babcock’s definition of a cocktail menu is a mix of pre-prohibition knowledge infused with a quirky modern-day palate. He whips up two or three drinks at once, and can talk you through your food choices as he goes – “start with one or two plates, and then order more from there,” he’ll say. He’ll offer tastes of whiskeys you’ve never heard of and tell you all about the distilling process for each. In other words, Babcock is the real deal. His Grey Ghost cocktail was recently featured on the happy hour menu (4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday) for $8 (usually $10). Dickel white whiskey is combined with house made apple and pear syrup, angostura bitters and pink peppercorn. This drink will hook you from the first sweet sip – savor it.

Review of Hugo’s

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Our Man on the Ground has reviewed Hugo’s.

Golden raspberries with a chocolate bark are the main ingredients of the next desert which includes a dollop of raspberry sorbet, tiny floral leaves and a smattering of crumble.  Both are displayed on the plate beautifully and tasted as good as they looked.

The imagination that goes into each individual portion of food is truly impressive. I would go to Hugo’s Restaurant again and again.

Review of Otto Pizza

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Otto.

The vibe is casual and the crust memorable at Otto Pizza on Cottage Road in South Portland. Embrace your inner glutton and order the 16-inch Pulled Pork & Mango: It’s sweet and spicy and ample enough to satisfy two or more. Craving classic comfort food? Try the Meatloaf and Mashed Potato, a filling take on a family favorite – minus the ketchup. Otto does offer cannoli for dessert, but it’s the pies that shine here. Consider skipping the sweets and saving room for an extra 12-inch pizza instead.