Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Food & Wine: Zimmern’s 10 Plates in Portland

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

fandwaug2014For the August issue of Food & Wine magazine Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern has assembled a list of 10 of his favorite dishes from Portland restaurants.

In my childhood, I passed through Portland every year on my way to Camp Moosehead. Since then it has become one of America’s great restaurant cities. My parents retired here years ago, and I’m hard pressed to think of a small town with as large of an impact on the country’s food scene. I am here often, baseball cap on my head, enjoying a great meal.

Featured in the article are the following:

  1. Meat Coma Platter at Salvage BBQ “best sliced brisket in recent memory”
  2. Seared Foie Gras at Central Provisions “the foie gras is superb”
  3. Crab Salad at Vinland “the Scandi-style fits the natural landscape of Maine perfectly”
  4. Steamed Lobster Roll at Eventide“the kitchen is jamming on all cylinders”
  5. Lobster Dumplings at Empire “This place is mobbed, even in winter, when other places aren’t”
  6. Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog at Blue Rooster “awesome sandwiches”
  7. Cheeseburger with Gochujang at Small Axe “from the playful minds of chefs Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy”
  8. Poutine at Duckfat “the menu is loaded with winners”
  9. Mussels with Almond and Garlic at Fore Street “the mussels…are legendary”
  10. Grilled Swordfish Belly at Miyake “the wait is worth it”

Update: The article is now online.

Review of Becky’s

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Living, Eating and Aging has reviewed Becky’s.

…For food, your basic breakfast is as good as any basic breakfast in town, better than many.  The menu contains all the essentials – eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit, etc. and not one word on the page is in French. I’m sure many respected foodies might now question my foodie bona fides but I’m gonna just throw it out there: it’s 6:30AM and I’m hungry, I’m going to Becky’s.

Review of Scarborough El Rayo

Friday, July 18th, 2014

The Golden Dish has published a review of the Scarborough El Rayo.

The salsa was made from fire-roasted tomatoes, giving it a rich burnished taste.  The chips were made  from Tortilleria Pachanga tortillas, the local artisanal provider from Bayside.  Also impressive was the restaurant’s listing on the back of the menu of local purveyors, something that you don’t often see on the typical Mexican menu here.

Tasting Table: Portland City Guide

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

tastingtableTasting Table has assembled an eating and drinking guide to Portland.

It might not have the cachet of a New York or Chicago, but Portland, Maine has quietly emerged as one of the country’s most progressive dining cities. Farm-to-table is a given here; chefs in this oceanside town savor access to regionally caught fish as well as sustainably raised meat and local produce. Wrestling for attention is the area’s vibrant drinking scene, which spotlights equally local beers and spirits. And it almost goes without saying, but bears repeating: Portland’s lobster rolls simply cannot be beat.

Highlighted are: Bite into Maine, Central Provisions, Duckfat, Empire, Eventide, Fore Street, Great Lost Bear, Hugo’s, Hunt & Alpine, In’finiti, K. Horton’s, Local 188, Lolita, Novare Res, Portland Lobster Company, Salt Cellar, Slab, Standard Baking, Street & Company, Sweetgrass, Vervacious.

Review of The Thirsty Pig

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Fill the Steins has reviewed The Thirsty Pig.

Also just right? The Pig’s commitment to fresh, local brews and housemade sausage. Two handfuls of taps pour out some of the best beer Maine has to offer, from Bunker to Maine Beer Co. and more. Because, what goes better with sausage than beer?

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

Blue Rooster Review: Erik Desjarlais Hot Dog

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Chubby Werewolf has continued his excellent coverage of the Blue Rooster guest chef series with a review of this week’s dog created by Erik Desjarlais.

I’m loving so many things about the Choucroute Dog. It is such a clever adaptation of regional French cuisine to what is arguably the most American of foods. And while nothing feels forced or out-of-place, the inclusion of the duck confit and the sausage imbue the hot dog with a sense of rustic decadence.

Desjarlais is the former chef/owner of Bandol, Ladle and Evangeline, he currently runs of Weft & Warp Seamester.

Review of The Porthole

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed The Porthole.

The chef has done with the menu what the owner did with the place—elevating things without changing them fundamentally. So despite the server’s predilections, it’s worth veering from the burgers and fried fish into the more interesting dishes. The fish tacos, for example, break from common practice by opting for a crunchy blue-corn shell rather than soft tortillas. There are lots of tender, blackened pieces of some whitefish or another. On top sits a pile of crunchy slaw and juicy-sour pico de gallo. The pinkish aioli has a kick of sriracha (a company whose factory was nearly shut down by a zero tolerance policy on noxious odors in Irwindale, California). On their purple plate, the blue goopy tacos look both messy and appealing—sort of in the spirit of the Porthole itself. 

Review of Dancing Elephant & News from Empire

Friday, July 11th, 2014

The Golden Dish has reviewed Dancing Elephant in Westbrook.

But here’s the good news: The food is actually pretty good and probably the best example of Indian cooking in Greater Portland.

The review also reports a bit of unrelated news about Empire.

Empire Chinese, known for its dumplings and Cantonese stir fry,  has  announced the hiring  of a new stir-fry master, Wei Sook, who hails from the world-class kitchens of Hakkasan MGM Grand in Las Vegas…New stir-fry dishes will be introduced in the coming weeks at Empire Chinese.  This is truly exciting to have such a master Chinese chef cooking in Portland.

Maxim: A Man’s Guide to Portlandia East

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

maximThe new issue  of Maxim includes an article about visiting Portland. It recommends Eventide, Fore Street, Hunt & Alpine, In’finiti and The Great Lost Bear.

Maxim also checked in with Joe Ricchio who suggested a day of noshing that starts with Saigon followed by stops at Miyake, Central Provisions, Hunt & Alpine and the Snug.

The article isn’t yet available online.

Blue Rooster Review: Vinland Hot Dog

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Chubby Werewolf has continued his excellent coverage of the Blue Rooster guest chef series with a review of the Vinland hot dog.

The surprisingly substantive corn tortilla—the first departure from a standard hot dog bun in the Summer Chef Series—gets points not only for being locally sourced, but also for originality. Bun substitutes can sometimes turn out to be gimmicky failures, but not here. As a vessel for transporting meat and toppings, it was more than up to the task, staying intact right up until the last bite. And while I love my hot dog buns, I’d argue that the tortilla functions better than the regular bun in that it lets the meat itself play a larger role in the sandwich, which is great when you’re using a premium-quality hot dog.

Saveur’s Portland Grocery Mile

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Saveur has posted a eating  tour of some of the author’s favorite Portland destinations.

You could (and should) plan a week-long itinerary around the city’s great restaurants, as many do. But the simple pleasure of selecting ingredients and enjoying them at their freshest shouldn’t be overlooked by visitors; whenever I have friends coming into town, I send them on my favorite Saturday morning grocery itinerary, to make like a local and gather the fixings for a perfect afternoon picnic. Because, after all, the same resources that attracted ambitious chefs to Portland—abundant seafood and an equal abundance of local produce—are available to you and me.

Review of Slab

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The Golden Dish has reviewed Slab.

Portions are huge. We shared a panzanella salad, more than enough for two.  It was a delicious mix of crusty caraway bread, which was actually too hard to cut using those wooden utensils.  Ultimately we picked it up by hand and dunkedf the bread in the sauce. The salad contained feta cheese, cucumber, an orange-dill sauce, olives and onions.  But it didn’t have the traditional cubes of tomatoes; instead it was slathered in a tomato vinaigrette.  It was very good, though too bready.

Review of Thurston’s

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Meredith Goad has reviewed Thurston’s for the Press Herald.

There’s a lot to like about Thurston’s, and I’ll probably go back. A decent burger and scoop of custard from a Maine-based restaurant beats fast-food burgers from national chains any day.

America’s 5 New Foodie Cities

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Portland is among Wine Enthusiast’s list of America’s 5 New Foodie Cities. The brief listing includes mention of Eventide, Opus Ten and Vinland.

Portland (Maine) is the new Portland (Oregon). Here, a spate of new restaurants join burgeoning coffee and distillation scenes.

Reviews: Fore Street & Fishermen’s Grill

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Diningsense has reviewed Fore Street,

As a veteran Fore Street customer, I thought I knew what to expect but this meal blew us away. The ingredients were well-sourced as always, but this meal displayed a level of precision that I’ve never seen and so this was my favorite meal of the year to this point. Past favorites were perfectly executed, while new plates confirmed that the kitchen’s creative faculties remain intact.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Fishermen’s Grill.

I finished my wife’s meal and after spending close to 80 bucks on lunch, we were pretty full. I was happy. The lobster roll wasn’t what I was looking for, but fortunately, that was the outlier of the meal. I really wonder what the issue was as their other food was so good. I loved the diveyness of the place and almost everything about the place was really enjoyable. I would definitely go back, but unless I found out there were some changes to it, I’d avoid the lobster and probably choose something fried.

Reviews: El Tipico & East Ender

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

The Bollard has reviewed El Tipico,

All the main courses (platos principales) come with either the aforementioned yellow rice and black peas or white rice and pinto beans. I recommend the former. I also suggest you wash everything down with a cold beer (my friends and I drank Modelo), though Tipico also offers an enticing selection of natural fruit juices, including passion fruit and tamarindo (made with tamarind). Bring cash for a tip (the credit card machine isn’t set up to process tips), an empty belly and an open mind. You’ll leave a believer.

and the East Ender.

The other entrées, including a smoked brisket hash ($12) and a salmon gravlax plate ($13), were also good, though nothing topped the high bar set by the killer first course. We all left the East Ender happy and full. And really — can you put a price on that? Yes, of course you can. And it’s way less than dinner.

Review of El Rayo

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed El Rayo.

El Rayo was great and always is. Their prices are reasonable, their food is delicious, and the service is where it should be. The outdoor area is really fun and with umbrellas at the tables you don’t have to worry about getting scorched by the sun. For added outdoor cooling, the drink menu lists a host of refreshing cocktails. The bands that play there add even more happiness to your Mexican merriment and they don’t play at ear-bleed levels so you can actually converse with others at your table. I recommend El Rayo year round, but if you really want to party, head there on a sunny summer day and enjoy all it has to offer.

Uncle Andy’s Before, During and After

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Peter Peter Portland Eater has published a first person account of his time as a volunteer on the Uncle Andy’s Restaurant Impossible construction crew and impressions of the South Portland diner from  before and after the renovations.

I made a return trip to Uncle Andy’s shortly after the renovation. I really wanted to see how the place was holding up. I wondered if it was possible that they would just magically turn everything around as there were so many changes made which I’m sure included lots of happenings that I never saw including training of the staff and the like.

Reviews: Corner Room, Thurston’s & Blue Rooster

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Drink-up and Get Happy has published a bar review of The Corner Room,

Overall happy hour at The Corner Room was a great deal. Excellent prices on drinks and delicious, plentiful free food make it a great place to go for any occasion, though if you are going to be a larger group make sure to get there early or you may not have space for you. You’ll leave having enjoyed a great evening without shelling out much cash at all.

Chubby Werewolf has reviewed the latest chef series hot dog at the Blue Rooster,

The baked white beans (you can see a glimpse of them on the right-hand side of the hot dog in the masthead image) was almost like a bean mash. With the mustard, radicchio and the red onions delivering much more assertive flavors, I think that the idea behind the beans was to offer something texturally distinctive. For me, it worked. And, much like last week’s Mac & Cheese dog, the combination of “franks & beans” brought back childhood memories of summertime picnics and family gatherings.

and The Golden Dish has reviewed Thurston’s Wicked Good Burgers.

Ultimately fast-food burgers have a distinctive taste no matter what’s in them. Thurston’s offers a decent burger, great ice cream and a comfortable place in which to have a quick, inexpensive meal.

BFC: Blind Lobster Roll Tasting

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

For the latest episode of Booze, Fish & Coffee hosts Bo Bigelow and Brian Ericson conduct a blind lobster roll tasting.