Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reviews: Bolster Snow, Chaval, Emilitsa, Petite Jacqueline, Tipo

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Bolster Snow,

Everyone in the room laughed, then unsurprisingly went back to focusing on their meals, which are generally excellent and showcase Verdisco’s skill at building structured, balanced flavor profiles. Don’t miss the pork terrine, served with an egg yolk gnocchi that Verdisco unabashedly cribbed from Los Angeles chef Michael Voltaggio. Also, make sure you don’t skip bread or dessert, both of which are made by rising-star pastry chef Sarah Miller. In particular, if there’s an éclair on the menu, order it; Miller’s choux pastry is out of this world.

Down East has reviewed Chaval,

Similarly, Lopez, who scored a nod as a James Beard Award semifinalist last year for her pastry work at Piccolo, always thinks about how her desserts — even the incomparable Spanish sundae — square with the rest of a meal. Indeed, the sundae reflects flavors that show up across the menu. It’s a standout, but the whole dessert list (churros! chocolate mousse!) is a revelation. That’s the most remarkable thing about Chaval: any number of menu items could, at a lesser establishment, steal the show. Despite their individual brilliance, Lopez, Sansonetti, and McDonald have figured out how to create perfect harmony among every bite and sip, one exceptional taste after the next.

Portland Phoenix has reviewed Petite Jacqueline,

For many diners, a meal at Petite Jacqueline will serve as their first foray into bistro-style French cuisine. To that extent, one could argue that the restaurant is right on-track and poised for years of continued success, providing a strong introduction to staple dishes despite some minor flaws in execution. There are certainly more creative takes on French food being cooked and served throughout town at similar price points, but sometimes you’ve just got to stick with the classics.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Tipo, and

I took a bite of the toast first and it was marvelous. It was made from fresh bread and crispy through and through; I found a satisfying crunch in every bite. I ate all the toast first, making room to dig into the egg. The chicken seed was cooked to medium and a smidge spicy. As eggs go, it was quite good. I finished that before moving on to the taters.

the Press Herald has reviewed Emilitsa.

A shining beacon of honest of fine dining in Portland’s Arts District, Emilitsa is perfectly suitable for celebrating an anniversary or similar milestone with a loved one. Thanks to a new bar program, it’s also an excellent option for anyone looking to duck away for a quick solo bite and a well-crafted cocktail or thoughtfully chosen glass pour of Greek wine.

2018 Beard Award Semifinalists

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

The semi-final list of nominees for the 2018 James Beard Foundation awards were released today. There are 11 semifinalist nominees from Maine:

  • Best Chef: Northeast – Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House; Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot; Erin French, The Lost Kitchen; Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Chase’s Daily
  • Outstanding Baker – Alison Pray, Standard Baking
  • Outstanding Chef – Sam Hayward, Fore Street
  • Outstanding Service – Back Bay Grill
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef – Ilma Lopez, Piccolo
  • Rising Star of the Year – Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan

The final list of nominees will be released on March 14th, and the awards ceremony will take place on May 7th in Chicago.

Related information:

Reviews: Rose Foods, Drifters Wife, Fore Street, Becky’s Diner

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Rose Foods,

The best expressions of his intentions are the Harbor Master, a kelp, collards and egg sandwich, and the Monday Morning, filled with rich chopped chicken livers and chicken skin cracklings. The Health Salad, a zingy, dill-and-caraway-scented cole slaw made with cabbage, celery root and shaved fennel, is excellent, as is the classic bagel-and-smoked-fish spread for two, the Fisherman’s Feast. Order it with horseradish cream cheese and a pumpernickel bagel – it’s worth writing home about, especially since you never call and you never write.

The Blueberry Files has posted a first look at the new Drifters Wife,

The new Drifters Wife is like the big sibling to the old space, its elegant menu and unique wines set against a cooler, sophisticated backdrop. As anyone who has visited the restaurant before knows its price point is high, so it’s not for the faint of wallet. But the new space elevates the experience, with more of the same expert natural wine picks and delicious small plates.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Fore Street, and

When you walk into Fore Street, you are immediately greeted by the smell of wood smoke, but the smells, colors, flavors, and textures around you will continue to provoke your senses throughout. Even the sounds of the kitchen will add to the experience. For me, this time at Fore Street was even better than the last. The meal was outstanding from cocktail to cake and while the boldest flavors came at the end, the palate throughout the meal painted a beautiful picture one happy, little bite at a time.

The Bollard has reviewed Becky’s Diner.

The diner’s popularity isn’t rooted in some provincial, uncritical enthusiasm. Becky’s is good — a certain kind of good, a cheap and filling, homemade and unfussy kind of good. And it’s not just the food. It’s the florescent lights, the industrial-sized coffee maker, the red vinyl stools along the counter. It’s the service, which is friendly in a Maine sort of way — which is to say, when you ask your server how things are going, she replies, “It’s goin’!”

IACP Awards: Barton Seaver

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

American Seafood by Maine author and chef Barton Seaver is a finalist in the IACP awards in both the Food Matters and Reference & Technical categories.

Reviews: Benkay, Tuscan Table

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Benkay, and

Despite the solid food and strong menu, Benkay now has a totally different aura specifically because the inside is much more upscale. It looks beautiful and feels very comfortable because of that. It’s not hard to imagine sitting at either bar and spending some time ordering lots of sushi or maybe a sampling of libations. It would be difficult not to have an enjoyable stay, especially if you want like to sprawl out in a place with some class.

the Press Herald has reviewed Tuscan Table.

If you can get over the idea of coming to the Mall for an incredible bar and dining experience (and really, you should get over that), Tuscan Table will be an amazing night out. The food extended beyond typical Italian fare, and the drinks are cleverly designed and expertly mixed. You will not regret your choice to drink or dine at this beautiful establishment.

PPPE has also posted a report on the new bar menu at Emilitsa.

NYT: Thompson’s Point

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

The New York Times has published an article about Thompson’s Point.

For decades, drivers in Portland, Me., sped by Thompson’s Point, a forlorn peninsula jutting into the Fore River just west of I-295. Described as “the biggest dump in Portland” in the local independent monthly The Bollard in 2011, the area is today the city’s most unlikely hot spot. In 2015, a new outdoor concert venue began staging shows on the riverbank; this past summer’s slate of 14 performances included Wilco, the XX and Alabama Shakes. And nearby, an abandoned brick warehouse has been transformed into an entertainment row, with food-and-drink establishments alongside a peculiar cryptozoology museum and a circus school. One more reason to stop: a new ice skating rink open through March 4.

The article highlights Bissell Brothers, Big J’s, Cellardoor Winery, and Stroudwater Distillery.

Reviews: Bolster Snow, Tuscan Table, North 43

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

The Portland Phoenix and The Golden Dish have reviewed Bolster Snow,

Verdisco’s talents are obvious right from the start in his beautiful food, making smart use of colorful garnishes like pink peppercorn, tobiko, and various herbs and microgreens to make each dish visually pop. The technique is there, too — sauces with lasting structure, foams that tantalize without being distracting, proteins approached with true care and cooked to perfection.

Steffy Amondi has reviewed Tuscan Table, and

Fluffy yet true to the definition of melting in your mouth we are served 3 medium sized meatballs sitting atop a deep-red sauce. For its rich color, you would expect rich flavor. Instead, you are met with a sweet and acidic sauce. I imagine that paired with the right wine would bring the fresh herbs to the forefront. The sauce is further sweetened by currants which cut through the acidity and almost make the sauce too sweet, but stops just short and instead, adds texture to the moist meatballs. A winner in my books.

the Press Herald has reviewed North 43.

A newly renovated space in a stunning location, North 43 Bistro is a modern, minimalist take on seafood. Even though the water views alone are enough to entice you inside for a drink (or dinner), what will keep you coming back is the food, service, drinks and ambiance that make for an understated, elegant experience.

Reviews: Yobo, Izakaya Minato, Bolster Snow, Maelily Ryleigh’s

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

The Blueberry Files has reviewed Yobo,

Yobo brings a delightful Korean option back to the peninsula, each dish solid in its preparation and flavor. While it’s on a relatively quiet block in Portland, I recommend you think of it next time you’re in the mood for some Korean spice.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Izakaya Minato, and

Izakaya Minato knocked it out of the park again. They create stunning dishes that always leave me in food-borne ecstasy, reinventing some basic Japanese to make it exponentially better, while also creating their own bold recipes that excite anyone looking for something uniquely delicious.

the Press Herald has reviewed Bolster Snow and Maelily Ryleigh’s.

The drinks are good, well thought out and made with care. However, the food here is where it’s at. Get the best of both worlds by sitting at the chef’s counter and watching the magic happen or, if you’re not eating, sit out in the front lounge by the fireplace and enjoy one of the fabulous cocktails.

Good Food Awards: Allagash & Gold Star Honey

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Congratulations to Allagash Brewing and Gold Star Honey on their wins at last night’s Good Food Awards:

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.

CNT: The Lost Kitchen

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Condé Nast Traveler has included The Lost Kitchen on their list of the Most Beautiful Restaurants in the World.

Freedom, Maine: a quaint town located just an hour-and-a-half-drive from culinary capital Portland, and the site of self-taught chef Erin French’s The Lost Kitchen. Situated over a bridge, through the woods by a babbling stream, French has built a true fairytale story in a renovated 19th century gristmill building. The chef welcomes diners into her home, to eat at wooden tables (made from old barn boards) in her kitchen. And along with her all-female team she works with the produce (all sourced from local friends) that looks best each day.

Reviews: Tuscan Table, Maiz, Pearl

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Tuscan Table, and

In addition to the service, the meat and cheese plate – which I felt was both really delicious and a very fair value needs a couple of – I’ll call them logistical – improvements. And my haddock was good, but not the great, flavorful piece of art I’d look for in a perfect world. Still, Tuscan Table is off to a good start in their first weeks. In fact, good enough that my wife went back with a friend the very next night. I think it’s reasonable that you check it out at least once and see what you think.

the Press Herald has reviewed Maiz.

What I am saying is I’m glad none of you witnessed my consumption of this arepa. This delicious arepa, with its crispy (gluten free!) exterior and its messy interior. It comes with an optional sauce that varies from day to day. I chose chimichurri. Something made the arepa the tiniest bit greasy, and I think the chimichurri might have been the source. But it wasn’t enough to stop me from enjoying every single last bite.

Also, the Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Pearl in Kennebunk,

Some dishes, like golden shoestring fries, an overstuffed bouillabaisse and a meaty, lightly dressed lobster roll ($24) are twins of dishes she serves at Pearl Oyster Bar in Manhattan. Others, like a warm-spiced apple crisp and a crunchy, schnitzel-like pan-fried chicken breast served with creamy celery remoulade, demonstrate that Charles – who, unlike many famous chefs, frequently cooks on the line in her own kitchen – knows a whole lot more than oysters. You won’t be able to score a table here once the tourists arrive, so take advantage of the off-season and get here while you can.

MCD Fifty Stone

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The Whisky Advocate. has published a brief write-up on Maine Craft Distilling’s Fifty Stone.

Along with Westland in Seattle, Maine Craft Distilling is one of the few American distilleries using locally sourced peat to make single malt whiskey. Peat is an abundant resource in many parts of the world, reflective of the local plant life and terroir. We look forward to more distilleries experimenting with local peat—the taste profiles should all be quite unique.

Reviews: Esidore’s Bistro, Lazzari, Nonesuch River Brewing

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Esidore’s Bistro,

His eclectic, world-aware style of cooking borrows elements from several disparate cuisines – Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, just to name a few – while keeping everything he prepares gluten-free.

The Bollard has reviewed Lazzari, and

For a few hours each weekend, this new Congress Street eatery offers a short menu of outstanding wood-fired pies whose carefully chosen toppings bring “breakfast” and “pizza” together in sweet harmony.

the Press Herald has reviewed Nonesuch River Brewing.

I loved my burger, which was deceivingly simple. The bacon was charred to a crisp, as I like it, and the burger was cooked medium, as I requested. But what made it stand out was the sear that the chef achieved. The outer skin of the burger was slightly hard and charred, but the burger itself was pink and juicy. Those juices were full of smoky flavors, and they mingled with all the other elements to create a variety of flavors in each bite. The bun was grilled (or toasted) ever so slightly.

Best Meals of 2017

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross has assembled his list of the best meals he had last year.

Looking back, I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have lived in Maine over the past 12 months – fork (and occasionally chopsticks) in hand to fend off the world outside.

Reviews: Tuscan Table, Boda

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The Golden Dish has reviewed Tuscan Table, and

The restaurant is barely a week old, but it seems like it’s been there forever; the well-trained staff keeps it all going. This certainly is a restaurateur’s marvel of good work and efforts, and I’m glad that it has established itself so quickly.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Boda.

Boda createss Thai food that transcends typical takeout and makes the customer feel like they’re dining finely, but in a very casual, relaxed atmosphere at a moderate price. It’s one of the first places I bring guests when I have someone visiting. If you haven’t been there, you should probably go.