Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review of Tiqa

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Tiqa.

Bright, attractive and busy, Tiqa is a large “pan-Mediterranean” restaurant on the western edge of the Old Port. With dishes and recipes inspired by the foods of southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, there’s a broad range of lunch and dinner options, from flatbreads and skewered meats – the chicken merguez kefta is excellent – to pan-seared Egyptian-style fish and memorable braised oxtail from Sicily. Avoid the fried food: fried broccolini (fritto misto) and chickpea fritters (falafel) here both fall flat. And take advantage of the free valet parking (after 5 p.m.), the opportunity to sample wines before ordering and the superb fruit sorbets made daily. Those sorbets blend silky texture with intense flavor for a deeply satisfying finish to a meal.

Review of Sur Lie

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

The Golden Dish has reviewed Sur Lie.

Everything was so good that I felt no need to end the meal with a final sweet, of which there are some tempting choices on the menu.  But one fact is certain.  Sur-Lie has hit its stride since it opened in October of last year.  Now it’s right up there with the best in town and should be indubitably on the top of your list to enjoy fine dining in Portland.

Bon Appétit: Tandem Bakery

Friday, April 24th, 2015

ba_briana2The May issue of Bon Appétit features Tandem Bakery in their article Will Fly for Food which highlights 29 locations worldwide “to get lost and fed”.

A cool coffee bar tucked inside a brilliantly restored old gas station? This is Tandem Coffee + Bakery in cozy Portland, Maine, where you’ll find some of the most impressive and innovative baked goods this country has seen in years. Here’s why we’re heading north for our sugar fix.

The article includes a sidebar which lists a few other venues in town: Bao Bao, Bissell Brothers, East Ender, Maine & Loire, Slab, The Danforth Inn, The Press Hotel.

The magazine should begin arriving in mailboxes and on newsstands in the next few days.

Review of East Ender

Friday, April 24th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed the East Ender.

So the low-key remake of East Ender offers a boost to a block now packed with good restaurants. It is quite a change from last year when the bright orange Small Axe Truck stood loud, proud and alone in Bayside or Congress Square Park. The truck was named for the Bob Marley song about the power of small efforts to result in big change. Perhaps in abandoning the truck for the East Ender, the chefs hope to follow the path of their new neighborhood’s anchor — Hugo’s, which chef Rob Evans similarly bought and remade under its original name. It was a subtle change that gave birth to a food empire. The truck-magic often results in something significant and long lasting — teen-pregnancy and parenthood, for example, or a Clinton presidency, perhaps. The new East Ender should be around a long while, too.

Bar Review of JP’s

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The Press Herald has published a bar review of JP’s Bistro.

JP’s Bistro is a small neighborhood restaurant specializing in Italian dishes and craft cocktails. Capacity is about 50, but the bistro doesn’t leave much room left over. Reservations are recommended, even at the bar on weekend nights. The bar is snug, but comfortable, and you’ll likely strike up a conversation with the friendly staff as you enjoy expertly made cocktails, craft beer on tap and a solid wine list.

Yankee’s Best of New England

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

yankeeSeveral Portland area food enterprises have been recognized by Yankee magazine in their annual Best of New England list:

  • Maine Brew Bus for Best Brewery Tour
  • Vinland for Best Locavore Restaurant
  • Li’s Chinese Express in Freeport for Best Chinese Food Cart
  • Bresca and the Honey Bee in New Gloucester for Best Lakeside Snack Shack


Zimmern’s Top BBQ

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern has included Salvage BBQ in his list of the top barbecue spots in the country.

I ate here a few months ago and demolished a platter of pork ribs and a pile of some of the best sliced brisket in recent memory, and I still managed to roll over to the counter and eat a quarter chicken because I couldn’t leave without ingesting more smoke and sauce. Food geeks will be inspired and—dare I say it?—barbecue freaks will travel here and be made happy, despite their contrarian, contemptuous hang-ups about geographic authenticity.

Bar Review of Vena’s Fizz House

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

The Press Herald has reviewed the bar at Vena’s.

Vena’s Fizz House is the cutest soda bar in existence, and it just got a lot cuter with its recent addition of alcoholic beverages. Owners Johanna and Steve are incredibly welcoming, creative and seem to genuinely love what they do. The cocktails and mocktails are nothing you’ve ever tasted before and are served in vintage glassware found by Johanna. Vena’s is a must-visit.

Bar Review of El Rayo

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Drink Up and Get Happy has posted a happy hour review of El Rayo.

El Rayo Scarborough is definitely a stand-out on Route One and is a great spot to catch a delicious drink without having to venture in town. Give it a chance if you live or work nearby, it’s worth the visit. They also have daily specials Sunday – Wednesday if you can’t make their happy hours or need something more substantial to accompany your drinks.

Review of Eve’s

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Eve’s at the Garden.

Located on the second floor of the Portland Harbor Hotel, Eve’s at the Garden is a quiet, club-like space with a predictable hotel restaurant menu – and a penchant for over-embellished food. Skip the more complicated starters (such as “pickled beet salad with verjus vinaigrette, goat cheese, speck ham and broiled grapes”) and try a simple plate of creamy burrata. Then enjoy the flavorful stuffed Cornish hen served with polenta. And definitely ask about dessert: There’s a revolving list of specials and the maple panna cotta introduced by the executive chef is a sweet, ethereal standout.

Bar Review of Vignola

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Happy hour specialists, Drink Up and Get Happy have posted a review of Vignola.

Overall we had a great time at Vignola Cinque Terre despite the short amount of time.  We all managed to fit in a couple of glasses of wine, eat, and hang out. Matthew was fun and talked with us about wine and happy hours in general…Vignola is definitely a great place to meet for drinks with family or a date. Show up for the wine, stay for dinner. It’s a Portland experience that should not be missed.

Review of Big Sky

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The Press Herald has reviewed Big Sky.

The egg salad has just the right balance of tarragon, enough to scent it but not overwhelm. Big Sky doesn’t go overboard on the mayonnaise either, so what you get is the sense of say, a good deviled egg stuffed into a sandwich instead of yellow mayonnaisey glop. It comes on wheat bread unless you ask otherwise, with lettuce and tomato (not too bad for out of season) and sprouts. If you like egg salad – it’s one of those foods people run very hot or cold on – Big Sky’s is delicious.

Best American Food Cities

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Portland tops the Daily Meal list of Best American Cities for Food.

If Portland (the other Portland) doesn’t immediately make you think of food, you might need to rethink your assumptions. Recently included on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of Best American Cities for Foodies, Portland has come a long way from the lobster roll (though you can still find those, too). The city is currently offering up some of the country’s best and most innovative seafood.

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.