Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reviews: Tomaso’s, Lolita, Terlingua, Zapoteca, Roustabout

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

The Bollard has reviewed Tomaso’s,

My husband, our friend and I ordered a bar-food smorgasbord. The cheese fries ($5) were salty and soft, buried under a pile of chopped bacon ($2 extra) and topped with a house-made cheese sauce. That same cheese sauce (a secret recipe, heavy on the Velveeta) is used to great effect in the decadent Southern BBQ–style mac and cheese ($5). We had a half order of chicken wings ($6) prepared “dirt” style: fried, dunked in some doctored-up Frank’s RedHot, and then fried again. This gave the wings a crispy, spicy skin that begs the question, Why would you order your wings any other way?

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed the happy hour at Zapoteca,

Zapoteca is known for its tequila and mezcal selection. They have over 30 tequilas available so their margaritas are definitely a step above your average bar. The special applies to ALL of their margaritas, not just a house mix with well liquor (not that there’s anything wrong with that), so it’s a great opportunity to sample what they serve. With the prices normally running between $9 and $13 it’s not the cheapest happy hour in town, the drinks are amply sized and delicious.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Lolita,

Sometimes the perfect dinner comes along unexpectedly. That was the case at Lolita. After trying to get into the latest sweep of new restaurants, finding each full to capacity, I headed out of the culinary congestion up to Munjoy Hill.

The Bollard has reviewed brunch at Terlingua,

Still, the best meal of the morning was our friend’s Pulled Pork Benedict ($13). The shredded pork was moist and smoky, and the green­-chile biscuit was fluffy and flavorful. If you’ve never had Tabasco hollandaise, hurry over there now and ask for a shot-glass full.

and the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Roustabout.

Roustabout was at its best with the arctic char picatta – a nice idea and well executed. The fish was moist and mild, served skin side up, showing off a lovely sear. It was animated by the sharpness of capers and a creamy, buttery, lemony sauce with a hint of spice. The broccoli raab was aggressively bitter, soaked in butter and spotted with parmesan.

Reviews: Rhum, East Ender, Crooked Mile

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Rhum,

The croque was made with two pieces of focaccia between which was the kimchi. On top were the American and egg. I sliced a piece and drove it at warp speed into my face. It was magnificent. Cheese and egg make anything better, but the soft bread and perfectly spicy veg gave me all the awesome I could handle. The egg was a little runny but not so much so that it was dripping everywhere, which was ideal. As I continued eating it, I just couldn’t get enough of the kimchi which permeated the dish with mild, but ever-present heat.

the Press Herald has reviewed the Crooked Mile Cafe,

I’m already hopelessly devoted to The Crooked Mile on Milk Street in Portland and so when I heard they had opened a second location on Brighton Avenue, going there was essentially like renewing my vows. Though I wondered, would the service be as friendly and speedy? Would the food be as good?

and The Golden Dish has reviewed brunch at the East Ender.

…East Ender uses grass fed sirloin steak procured from Rosemont’s butchery; they pound it thin and coat it in a batter that is deep fried to emerge as crisp as the Colonel’s finest. It’s cloaked in a dark sausage gravy that’s smooth and light. Adorned with two poached eggs and a delicious buttery biscuit that practically melts at first bite, it’s a fine dish with elegance and heartiness.

First Look: Drifter’s Wife

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

The Blueberry Files has posted a first look at Drifter’s Wife.

2016 Beard Award Semifinalists

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

The semi-final list of nominees for the 2016 James Beard Foundation awards were released today. There are 8 semifinalist nominees from Maine:

  • Best New Restaurant – The Honey Paw
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide; Erin French, The Lost Kitchen; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar; and Brian Hill, Francine Bistro
  • Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional – Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Fore Street
  • Rising Star of the Year – Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan

The final list of nominees will be released on March 15th, and the awards ceremony will take place on May 2nd in Chicago.

Related information:

Rhum First Look

Friday, February 12th, 2016

The Golden Dish has posted a first look report on Rhum.

Rhum is seriously fun. The food is creatively conceived, with highly sophisticated flavors that are lavishly delicious.  As a lounge, it’s the tops of tikidom!

Reviews: Evo, Union, Lois’ Natural, Congress Squared

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

The Bollard has reviewed Union,

The white bean soup ($10) was fine. Based on the menu’s description, I’d envisioned a hearty dish, but it was a thin purée, drizzled with black garlic oil and peppered with very hard, presumably pickled, lentils. The duck pâté ($14), topped with buttons of sticky marmalade and crisp frills of frisée, was a different story: opulent and rich. Two pieces of warm, ultra-crisp, deep-fried brioche compound the decadence.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Evo,

A softer flatbread accompanied the labneh, a simple yogurt cheese. It is smooth as can be, with an appealing brightness and tang. It was spotted with crunchy herbs and some sharp capers. Shakshuka, a hot dish made with crushed and stewed tomatoes and egg, is not exactly smooth. But it’s dippable in its cast iron bowl, and when the yolk from the egg runs into the herby tomato, things get plenty creamy. It manages to be rich but not heavy, with plenty of bite from garlic and some stewed jalapeno.

Peter Peter Portland Eater and The Golden Dish have reviewed Congress Squared,

Each dish—and there were many—were killer efforts that the kitchen team produced with suavity and assuredness.  The smoked duck breast, for example, over a cunningly devised puree of rosemary with dots of roasted grapes and garlic confit created an arsenal of flavor that put the whole chorus of fine cooking on a high note. The sweet-smoky duck breast soaking up the vivaciousness of the rosemary puree underneath was further complimented by the umami of  sweetly pungent pairing of grapes and garlic confit. [The Golden Dish]

and the Press Herald has reviewed Lois’ Natural.

But my tofu sandwich was so good – fresh and gently spicy – perhaps I’ll stick with it. A bargain at $6.90, it was generously stuffed with lettuce, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots and baked, peanut-butter-spiced tofu. It handily avoided the two cardinal sins of commercial sandwich production – the (French sourdough) bread did not get soggy, and the stuffing was not piled up in the center of the sandwich leaving the edges bare and bready.

Reviews: Slab, Top of the East

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Run for Breakfast has reviewed Slab,

I love Slab as a lunch/dinner place, and it seems like restaurants like that often do breakfast/brunch as an afterthought, but definitely not so with Slab. It’s unusual for me, but I think I actually prefer their brunch menu. (But definitely don’t skip it if you’re not here on a Sunday. Go! And, if nothing else, get the classic namesake Sicilian Slab.)

They serve brunch until 8:00 tonight. Would it be weird to go twice in one day?

and The Golden Dish has reviewed brunch at Top of the East.

The brunch flatbread, which I chose, was a fairly large piece of housemade flatbread topped with apple-wood smoked bacon, Gruyere, baby arugula and a pair of organic fried eggs. The bread was buttery and crisp like a thin-crust pizza and the simple layers of ingredients were delicious.

Review of Custom Deluxe

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

imageThe Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Custom Deluxe in Biddeford.

Malz’s tribute to his New England roots – a bean supper ($14) – may be his best entrée. At first glance, it looks ordinary, with a few alarmingly crimson chunks of Maine Reds piled into a bowl with a spoonful of baked beans. But looks are deceiving. The beans are earthy, sugary, complex. And no wonder. Malz cooks them with turnips and carrots and – get this – bottles of Moxie and root beer, then finishes them with miso, the traditional Japanese seasoning made of fermented soybeans. As for the Maine Reds, they’re boiled in dashi, a Japanese broth flavored with fish flakes and seaweed. Underneath the beans, dogs and a few fatty chunks of ham, is a mound of sticky rice showered with sesame seeds. Though a crazy cross-cultural mashup, the dish is as comforting as a warm blanket. I loved it.

This is restaurant critic Jame Scwartz’s last review before stepping down from the job. The paper has begun the search for a candidate to fill the position. If you’re interested in the job contact the paper’s food editor, Peggy Grodinsky.

Review of Pizzaiolo

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Golden Dish has reviewed Pizzaiolo.

The pesto was not overly garlicky and topped with plenty of melted mozzarella cheese.  The porko had lots going on.  The sausage was well spiced and the meatballs and pepperoni were compatible additions. The rich tomato sauce and mozzarella added great texture and taste.  As pizza goes both were admirable.

Restaurant Design

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Grace was recently highlighted by Tabelog on their list of America’s 10 Most Beautiful Restaurants.

Grace in Portland, ME. inhabits the old Chestnut Street Church and painstaking measures were taken to bring the building to its original glory. Most of the building is original, but any new work was meticulously done to match or tie in with the existing architecture.

On a related note, the James Beard Foundation awards committee is soliciting suggestions for the 2016 restaurant design awards. Visit the JBF website to submit your recommendations for best restaurant design of 2015. The deadline is this Friday.

Review of the Green Elephant

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Green Elephant.

Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro serves Asian-inspired cuisine “for vegetarians and carnivores alike.” Go early (the restaurant has 17 closely spaced tables plus two booths, but they fill up quickly) and start with the Brussels sprouts. One of the most popular appetizers on the menu, they’re fried until crispy then glazed with a mixture of tamari and brown sugar. Skip the Roti Canai Indian-style flatbread – it’s oily and bland – and move right to one of the house curries: The peanut curry is loaded with chickpeas and potatoes, and the milder Panang has Thai eggplant and zucchini along with a long list of other vegetables. Fried rice dishes are reliably good, as are noodle entrees.

Sunday Telegram restaurant critic James Schwartz is stepping done from the job. The paper has indicated that they will publish his last review next week and the column will be suspended while they search for his replacement.

Down East: Maine Breakfast & Vena’s

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

imageThe new issue of Down East includes a guide to the best breakfast dishes served by restaurants from all over the state (e.g. the Deluxe breakfast sandwich at Palace Diner, and the fried chicken and waffles at East Ender) as well as an article about Vena’s Fizz House.

The articles aren’t yet online but you can pickup a copy of the magazine at your local newsstand.

Review of Woodford F&B

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

The Golden Dish has posted a first look review of Woodford Food & Beverage.

The menu offers a good diversity of dishes.  In the two visits I’ve been able to get to know the kitchen’s abilities.  And prior to this posted write-up I paid a third visit to sample the WFB’s  Thursday plat du jour, quahog chowder.  And it was a marvelous brew, very bacony, creamy, a meal unto itself. I snacked on the onion dip and Kennebec chips to start, a glorious beginning.  A glass of Silvaner Halbtrocken paired quite well indeed.

First Takes on Woodford F&B

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The Blueberry Files and Urban Eye have posted their initial impressions of Woodford Food & Beverage,

Those who live in the surrounding neighborhood are sure to be thrilled with this comfortable restaurant that boasts good food, cocktails, and a family-friendly atmosphere. And those of us who are stuck in our peninsula bubbles will want to shake up the routine by heading out Forest Ave. to check out Woodford F&B.  [Blueberry Files]

Here’s a link to the full Woodford F&B menu.

Review of Ramen Suzukiya

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Ramen Suzukiya.

Suzukiya is a tiny, family-owned Japanese noodle shop with enormously satisfying ramen bowls filled with house-made noodles, slices of pork or tofu, and fresh vegetables. The menu may be limited (you can order one of four noodle bowls and two accompanying mini-rice bowls) but the flavors are impressive and those noodles profoundly comforting…