Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reviews: Shay’s, El Rayo

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

The Press Herald has reviewed both Shay’s,

A no-fuss, few-frills, all-American grill pub located right in Monument Square. An excellent place for people watching during the summer or cozy, chill happy hour drinks in winter. Good for casual dates or grabbing dinner before a show.

and the new El Rayo.

The food remains excellent with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a menu that offers tradition and adventure. I’m a traditionalist. My first visit I ordered the chicken, rice and bean bowl ($8.95). The chicken was lightly grilled with a smoky chipotle sauce and served among a generous portion of rice and beans topped with cilantro, avocado slices and cheese. I was a little surprised that it came in a cardboard bowl and with plastic utensils, but then I realized that this really is a take-out place, and much if not most of the food is prepared to go.

Reviews: Dirigo Public House, Portland Meatball, Union, Bonobo, Sinful Kitchen, Petite Jacqueline

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Dirigo Public House in Yarmouth,

The cider-glazed chicken wings and sweet-savory house salad with spiced almonds are both terrific starters that play well with beer. Don’t miss the eponymous burger, served with a sauce made from smoked onions and tomatoes, and be sure to order it with the onion rings, rather than the overbrowned, underseasoned French fries.

the Press Herald has reviewed the Portland Meatball Company,

Welcome to the Old Port, Portland Meatball Company. To quote “Casablanca,” “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Oh, and one more thing, the hours are incredible. Late-night noshers, this could be your new place.

and published a bar review of Union,

Hotel bars have their own magic, and Union is no exception. While the lobby bar, Inkwell, is decent (better for coffee than cocktails) the restaurant bar seating is much nicer. Reservations are suggested if you want a full dinner, but walk-ins are welcome at the up-market bar.

Portland Magazine has reviewed Petite Jacqueline,

Unable to resist authentic French fare on offer, we order the escargots as an appetizer to share. The snails do not come in their shells (a small disappointment soon forgotten) but instead bathe in a buttery garlic and basil concoction filled with tasty button mushrooms. Baked here (and replenished often by our attentive server), the bread is a traditional French baguette, perfect for dipping in the herbed butter sauce.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Bonobo,

We have no shortage of pizza in Portland. From the plethora of pies from Otto ovens all over Greater Portland to the appeal of the big blocks of luscious pies at Slab and lots of others in between, choices abound. One, though, is in a class by itself—and I don’t mean it stands above the rest but rather is one of those places where it’s all about the specialty pie.

and Run for Breakfast has reviewed The Sinful Kitchen.

 I ended up getting their last order of chocolate caramel stuffed French toast.  It was delicious and rich, and I only managed to eat about 1/4 of it.  My only complaint was that the chocolate overpowered the caramel.  The staff was super friendly, and we headed home with another few days worth of breakfasts.

Reviews: Ginza Town, Portland Meatball Co, Samuel’s

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Ginza Town,

And while you can get a perfectly adequate sushi meal here, along with decent pho and a great tempura, the real reason to pay a visit to Ginza Town is its excellent hot pot. That’s doubly true when the weather is cold, and a frothy pot of stock bubbling on a portable burner at the center of your table possesses a seductively warm and steamy allure.

both The 207 Foodie and The Golden Dish have reviewed the Portland Meatball Company,

Don’t’ fret. It’s not just a Garden of Eden of meatballs at The Portland Meatball Company that opened on the Upper Exchange Street restaurant row. Rather, there’s more than meets the balls of these eyes. High-brow pizzas, composed salads, inventive sandwiches and house-made pastas round out a menu of eminently casual fare. In fact, the room looks more like a bar that serves food rather than a restaurant with a bar license.

and the Press Herald has published a bar review of Samuel’s.

It’s not hip, it’s not trendy, and it’s not expensive. It is, however, a fantastic place to hang out with friends and linger over a pitcher of beer.

Good Food Awards: 3 Maine Finalists

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Congratulations to the 3 Maine food producers that have earned a place as Finalists for the 2017 Good Food Award:

The winners in all categories will be announced at the GFA awards ceremony and gala on January 20, 2017 in San Francisco.

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.

Reviews: Tempo Dulu, Portland Mash Tun

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Tempo Dulu,

Tempo Dulu does a good job making the case that it is worth the extravagance, with a menu that is notionally Indonesian, but after the arrival of its new executive chef, Michael MacDonnell, has begun to lean toward other Southeast Asian inspirations. Dishes like a Chinese-style chive cake with smoked scallops and pork belly, a lobster tail poached in Penang curry-infused coconut milk, and a crunchy sticky rice dessert with explosively fragrant sorbet are magnificent. A few small stumbles, mostly connected to seasoning, do not diminish the experience much. Nor do rare service problems, largely because they are so infrequent. When all the pieces fall into place, as they often do, it is easy to see why Tempo Dulu has earned its reputation as a destination for a little glitzy celebration.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Portland Mash Tun,

It had been a good meal, but what really stood out was how well everything there worked so well together – the neighborhood atmosphere and supremely awesome beer list, the grand bar and excellent service, the simple, but solid food.

Reviews: Bonobo, Katahdin, Abilene, Liquid Riot

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Bonobo,

For nine years, Bonobo has served pizzas, both classic and unusual, to customers in Portland’s West End neighborhood. Pizza might be what you see on the menu, but service is the restaurant’s strongest suit, with front-of-house staff who are warm and welcoming, whether you’re a first-time diner or a patron who has been eating their wood-fired pizzas for years. Both salads on the restaurant’s permanent menu are worth trying, especially the house salad, with curls of thinly shaven endive and sweet, house-made pickle slices.

The Bollard has reviewed Abilene,

I really wanted to love Abilene. I’d been meaning to check out the restaurant since it opened last year, the latest in a fits-and-starts culinary renaissance in Portland’s Woodford’s Corner neighborhood. With its upscale-comfort-food menu and welcoming, casual vibe, Abilene seemed like the kind of place I’d rate among the greats. But after a recent visit for brunch with friends, the highest rating I can bestow is “pretty good.”

and Liquid Riot,

So while the brewing and distilling have hit their stride, the resto-bar aspect of Liquid Riot is still lagging behind. I suggest they aim a little lower in that area, offering fewer dishes with, in some cases, simpler ingredients, and building upon that base. But, by all means, keep the bacon in those burger patties, and keep frying those frites till you get it right.

and the Press Herald has published a bar review of Katahdin,

Katahdin provides diners with exactly this sort of nostalgic experience. Even if you think of a sidecars as another brown drink in a martini glass, there’s something about Winnie’s bar that seems to invite memory and present moment to mingle. It’s more than just the décor. It’s an ineffable effect, created from music, art, taste, and location. Tucked away from Congress Street’s busy rush, the charming restaurant feels like a refuge from the daily life of the city. I can’t wait to return.

Additionally, the Austin Statesman has published a guide to eating in Maine, and the USM Free Press has posted a list of five “secret” places to eat and drink in Portland.

Review of Solo Italiano

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

The Golden Dish has reviewed Solo Italiano.

We agreed unanimously that we had just experienced  extraordinary dining, one of the finest in Portland.  The service was flawless, the restaurant space elegant but contemporary, and its vast space is finally mitigated with its three dining areas packed with patrons voraciously enjoying an astonishingly good meal.

Review of Foulmouthed Brewing

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Foulmouthed Brewing in South Portland,

And as you drink, be sure to sample chef Dan Lindberg’s sandwiches, especially the Spicy BLT, with house-cured pork belly. Lindberg’s bar snacks are also worth a try, particularly the Korean BBQ pork nachos, which are both a little unorthodox and completely addictive. But apart from an iffy Summer Harvest Salad, you can’t go wrong: Everything on the food menu – including desserts like a German chocolate cake sundae – is designed to pair well with at least one of the beers on the constantly changing brew schedule.

The Golden Dish has posted a report on a press dinner at Tempo Dulu, and Peter Peter Portland Eater has posted a report on the Pairings at the Point event hosted by Cellardoor.

Down East: Where to Eat Now

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

img_2521The new issue of Down East highlights to 20 restaurants and 1 town that are Where [You Should] Eat Now.

We’re not asking you to dine out at every amazing restaurant in Maine. Just these 20. Plus one entire town. Hope you’re hungry.

Mentioned in the article: Caiola’s, Drifters Wife, East Ender, Eventide, Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Rhum, and Woodford Food & Beverage.

The article isn’t online yet.

Reviews: Saltwater Grille, Vientiane, Terra Cotta, Rosie’s

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has  reviewed the Saltwater Grille in South Portland,

The mismatch in quality between the food and the setting is stark, but you can see flashes of genuine potential when you taste the tweaks McGuirk has managed to slip in, like a sharp and mustardy malt aioli that accompanies an otherwise one-note calamari dish. Or a crisp, crunchy, turmeric-flavored Guinness-and-panko breading on the fried haddock – the only good component of the shore dinner. Best of all is his take on seafood pappardelle, with plenty of lobster and a sauce that infuses every noodle with savory chorizo flavor. Saltwater Grille has all the pieces in place to make it the kind of restaurant where, even on a gray evening with fog obscuring the view, both locals and tourists would be happy to eat. But to get there and join the ranks of the region’s better restaurants, it needs to give itself permission to change.

the Press Herald has reviewed Vientiane

When I went for lunch on a recent weekday I got an order of pad see ew ($8.59). It was a flat noodle stir fry dish with scrambled egg, chicken, broccoli, mushroom and bok choy in a sweet Thai soy sauce. The portion was just about big enough for two lunches, though I ate more than half at my first sitting. The noodles were wide and thick, almost like mini lasagna noodles. The sauce was not too sweet and let the flavor of the broccoli and bok choy shine through. It was a nice change from pad Thai, though I love a good pad Thai.

and the Terra Cotta Pasta Company in South Portland,

If calories and nutrition weren’t a consideration, I could probably eat one of these every single day. In fact, my love for this sandwich is so powerful, it’s rare I try anything else from the Terra Cotta menu, but I can tell you that the Sicilian-style slab pizza ($3.50 per slab) is pure magic, as is the Stromboli ($7.99, there’s a daily meat and vegetable offering). If you order the Stromboli, you can either hang out and chat for the 15 or so minutes it takes to heat up or bring it home and warm it there. Either way, you win.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Rosie’s.

Rosie’s offers something you can only find at dive bars – an atmosphere where anything goes as long as you’re not causing a problem; where the food is always good, occasionally very good, and rarely great; and where you can get served with hardly any green in your pockets. I drink there more than I eat there, but when I do either, I always leave happy and feeling like I got more than I paid for. It’s a place where just about anybody can go and have the same experience.

Reviews: Drifters, Rhum, Schulte & Herr, Big J’s, Red Sea

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

The Press Herald has reviewed Big J’s,

I’ll just come right out and say it: Big J’s Chicken Shack on Thompson’s Point is one of the best casual spots to open in Portland in a long time.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Drifters Wife,

Jackson prepares much more modestly-priced fare tantamount to an artist’s easel of ingredients meant to tease and please with unusual combinations. Again consider the aforementioned radicchio salad, splayed on a bed of Jacob’s cattle beans—a true Maine bean—and its bold splash of  bacon vinaigrette that’s made with the rendered fat emulsified into Jackson’s homemade apple cider vinegar. Topped with a boiled egg, it’s a godly good plate of radicchio like you’ve rarely had elsewhere.

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed Rhum,

Walking into Rhum is like being transported into a vibrant, tropical fantasy. The large bar has ample seating. There are bright colors and grass accents a plenty. There are tables for groups and cozy rounded booths for larger parties. Lighting is a bit dim, but that only adds to the island feel of entering a shady, cool place as a respite from the sun.

The Bollard has reviewed Schulte & Herr,

Case in point: the schweineschnitzel ($18), a tender pork loin pounded thin and breaded. The earthy brown gravy adds complexity — flavors of meaty mushroom and red wine — but doesn’t weigh the dish down. In a portion of accompanying gratin, the potatoes were thin and perfectly cooked, laced with cream. The dish is robust, autumnal and hearty, but not overly rich or heavy.

Portland Magazine has reviewed Red Sea, and The 207 Foodie has posted a run down on a few options for wings in Portland.

Reviews: Yosaku, Roustabout, Hot Suppa

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Yosaku,

Some of the restaurant’s very best dishes are seafood-based, like marvelously sweet grilled unagi (freshwater eel), and creamy, translucent raw botan ebi – jumbo shrimp tails served alongside their deep-fried heads. When combined with rice to make sushi (nigiri and maki alike), the quality falters – blame rice that can be a little undercooked and overly vinegared. Non-seafood dishes at Yosaku are hit-or-miss. Skip the udon, tempura ice cream and avocado salad, but don’t miss the long-braised kinpira gobo (braised burdock root) salad and the delicate, generally well-fried tempura vegetables.

Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed Roustabout,

Roustabout also has you covered in the snacks department. You can order up things from marinated mushrooms to a panini. We decided to try the chips and dip ($4), which were house made paired with homemade clam dip, and the house ricotta with crostini and pepperonata ($5). These were great pairings to our drinks and very satisfying. They would make great appetizers to dinner or awesome after-work snacks.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Hot Suppa.

Here’s the scoop on Hot Suppa – they’re absolutely awesome. The combination of service at the bar, cozy atmosphere, and really excellent food undoubtedly made this one of the restaurants I will return to regularly. Everything was so good, I have no doubt I could eat their chicken, mac or pretty much any of their food all day long without trouble.

Gold for Blue Current

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Blue Current has been awarded a gold medal at the London Sake Challenge for their Junmai Ginjo sake.

Reviews: The Corner Room, King of the Roll, Dutch’s, Binga’s Stadium, Sapporo

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed The Corner Room,

I imagine it’s possible to create a road map to help diners navigate The Corner Room’s extensive menu and weather its inexplicably off-putting service stumbles – problems that made us feel as stressed out as our servers on a Saturday, then practically disappeared when we returned on a Tuesday. But I don’t need to. Squint your eyes just a little, and you’ll see the outlines of a fantastic Italian-American joint that serves great simple food: pizzas, seasonal pasta and a first-rate Caesar. Just ignore half (two-thirds, really) of the unnecessarily complicated menu and pray that you’re not in the dining room on a busy night.

The Bollard has reviewed Dutch’s,

OK, let’s pause for a moment and talk about those hash browns. Pillowy soft on the inside, perfectly crisped and seasoned on the outside, these cube-shaped hash browns were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever eaten. Seriously, I would gladly eat them every single day for the rest of my life.

The Bollard has reviewed Binga’s Stadium,

Though I’d been daydreaming about pastrami, and Binga’s offers their own house-smoked pastrami and Swiss sandwich ($8.99), I opted instead for the Jewish Texan ($8.99), partly because the odd name made me momentarily wonder, Is that offensive? It’s not, and neither was the sandwich: house-smoked brisket in a brioche bun, topped with slaw, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing. The brisket was tasty, and overall I’d declare the sandwich decent, though nothing to write home to your bubbe in Houston about. I would’ve preferred a chewy marbled rye to the soft brioche bun.

the Press Herald has reviewed King of the Roll,

It’s nice to know, just as duck gravy poutine hasn’t eradicated the french fry or brown butter lobster rolls made null the mayonnaise kind, a regular old sushi restaurant still has its place in Portland. In benefit-cost ratio, its lunch menu is hard to beat. The options are abundant, all under $14 and many under $8.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater reviewed Sapporo.

Sapporo has been around for a while and there seem to be a steady stream of patrons rolling in. I think they could improve a few minor items, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. I felt they had a solid menu, good food, and a pleasant atmosphere. Go grab some rolls or a teriyaki of some kind and report back.

Speckled Ax Medals at Golden Bean

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Speckled Ax took home 3 bronze medals from the Golden Bean coffee roasting conference for their natural Hambela, Corduroy espresso blend, and classic Bird Dog espresso.