Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

New England Regional 38

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Eater’s roving food editor, Bill Addison, has issued his list of the 38 essential restaurants in New England.

Included on the list are 10 restaurants from Maine: Drifters Wife, Eventide, Long Grain, Maine Diner, Mcloons Lobster, Palace Diner, Primo, Tandem Bakery, The Lost Kitchen, Tao Yuan.

Even five years ago, this list would have looked very different — or certainly less geographically broad. (As it is, Boston nabs a whopping 10 spots, but hey, it’s a metro area of nearly 5 million people.) Thanks to game-changers like Eventide in Portland, Maine, and Oberlin in Providence, Rhode Island, there’s now a breadth to the selections that shows off an upsurge in creativity. With its mosaic of risk-taking chefs and guardians of traditional foods, New England has never been a more varied or exciting culinary destination.

I had the pleasure of working with Bill on the list and wrote a few of the entries for Southern Maine in the article.

Reviews: Top of the East, Tipo, Isa, BRGR Bar, El Corazon

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Top of the East,

It’s almost as if there’s a conspiracy afoot to encourage patrons to look out the windows and ignore what’s inside Top of the East: décor, service and much of the menu. That stratagem works when it’s nice outside, but what happens when the weather does not cooperate? The solid cocktails are a good place to start, but it’s clear that stronger cooking is where the restaurant’s next evolution needs to be.

Down East has reviewed Tipo,

While many of the dishes listed on the menu sound like red-sauce-joint staples, their flavors are far more complex and intriguing than that. Gould’s meatballs, for instance, are a blend of pork and beef seasoned with North African spices and served in a harissa-spiked tomato sauce. They come with a creamy, cooling dollop of ricotta blended with lemon zest and chives. His version of cacio e pepe is a fresh black-pepper tagliatelle tossed with a rich brodo and a mountain of umami-laden Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Steffy Amondi has reviewed Isa,

ISA is a place of contrast. With an upscale ambiance, but very simple menu. The food felt like what you would find at your company CEO’s chef-enabled home for dinner. Sticking with the basics and authenticity of recipes, there is nothing pretentious about the food, yet worth the price tag. Service at Isa is just right as well. Making you feel comfortable while still maintaining the air of class. A quiet place that can get a bit loud later into the night as drinks take effect on larger groups. Recommended for a dinner party, date-night or even dinner with the kids when you can’t find a sitter.

Portland Press Herald has reviewed BRGR Bar, and

When said burger was delivered I shot my dining companions a look that said, “Don’t talk to me for the next 12 minutes, I’m about to enter the Devour Zone.” And, I must say, said look was warranted, as this burger was a righteous feast of multiple flavors cooked to perfection and good to the last morsel, because I, of course, ate the entire thing, which was no small feat. The fries were only so-so, but that hardly mattered, I wasn’t there for the fries.

The Golden Dish has reviewed El Corazon.

So far there’s a disconnect between food truck and restaurant at El Corazon. It didn’t happen with other successful trucks turning restaurant pro like Baharat, East Ender and Mami. Admittedly my meal at the restaurant was a one-shot deal–but judging a restaurant by its signature dish is meaningful. Yet, at this point I don’t feel like going back and leave it up to you to tell me if I should.

Reviews: Woodhull, Baharat, Tiqa

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Woodhull,

Instead, focus on the Mexican-inspired plates that husband-and-wife chef duo, Matt and Rachel Chaisson, prepare with considerable skill. Standouts are the roasted cauliflower taco on a fresh, housemade soft tortilla; the hearty, multidimensional Baja rice bowl; and the ambitiously named “fritter mountain,” a quick-fried patty of smoky roasted corn covered in red cabbage, corn salsa and cotija cheese. It’s good enough to merit a little voyage of your own to Yarmouth for a taste.

Press Herald has reviewed Baharat,

The Rad Mirage ($10) has already gained some renown in the short time Baharat has been open. It seems that, once you taste it, it becomes difficult not to recommend it to every person you see. Having had it myself now, I get it. Vodka, Lebanese yogurt, honey and mint, blended to perfection, it’s a unique cocktail that complements the food and the location perfectly. It’s nearly absolutely impossible not to have two, so I did.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Tiqa,

Tiqa was even better than I remembered. They were more than satisfactory in the past, but my meal this time might have been the best yet. The seafood, pork, and potato combo in cream was extraordinary with the app and dessert as excellent bookends. It left me feeling like I had eaten something very special. The restaurant is putting some high quality flavors out from their kitchen and a meal there is most definitely one you’ll enjoy.

Reviews: Trattoria Fanny, The Honey Paw, Bayside Bowl, Scales

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Trattoria Fanny,

Among its best dishes are executive chef Sid Rumma’s superb rigatoni with cocoa-spiked oxtail tomato sauce; cauliflower served with capers, anchovies and nutty brown butter; and a faithful version of the classic dessert, torta della nonna (grandmother cake), a lighter, citrusy relative of cheesecake. Be sure to order contorni (side dishes) to accompany most entrees, as they are often served without any extras. Better yet, make an entire meal of pasta, little side dishes and a glass of wine from the all-Italian list. It might sound simple, but that’s the whole point.

Map & Menu has reviewed brunch at The Honey Paw,

If you’ve yet to experience brunch (or any meal) at The Honey Paw, we recommend remedying that as soon as you possibly can.

The Blueberry Files and the Press Herald have reviewed the new rooftop bar at Bayside Bowl, and

Pretty soon after we settled in we hit up the taco truck. Its menu has 5 kinds of tacos: two vegetarian (cauliflower and cactus), fried fish, pulled pork, and carne asada. I tried the cauliflower with sweet potato, sliced peppers, tomatillo salsa, and cotija cheese. It was delicious, as you’d expect from roasted cauliflower, but the hit was the fried fish taco. It was perfectly battered and fried, topped with crunchy pickled cabbage and red onion.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Scales.

This trip to Scales made me a believer. I left feeling full and like I got my money’s worth. Not only that, but the food was really, really good. The app was excellent, the lobster roll delivered everything I expected, and the dessert was deadly delicious. I can’t wait to go back now, knowing that I can go very hungry and still leave happy. Definitely stop by this summer when their water views will create some of the best eating scenery available anywhere.

Reviews: Izakaya Minato, A&C Grocery, Mash Tun, Mekong Asian Bistro

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Izakaya Minato,

If they are in season, the ramps with squid is a tender, briny delight. After all that, if you still need something to fill you up, skip dessert and head right for a bowl of Cooke’s Japanese-Italian fusion udon vongole ($13), full of fresh clams and peppery fire from citrusy yuzu kosho paste. It might also put you in the mood for just one more drink, the way great izakaya food does.

the Press Herald has reviewed lunch at A&C Grocery,

The salami itself was too salty for me, but that’s a taste issue, not a matter of quality, and everything else about the sandwich made me happy. It tasted like summer and couldn’t have been fresher, even pre-made. I’ll definitely stop again and keep trying whatever Fournier’s making.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Portland Mash Tun,

Once the cheese plate was gone, my burger and fries were already waiting for me. The burger, automatically cooked to medium, had tomato, pickled onion, and cheese between the grilled bun and half of a small sour pickle affixed to the top. A bite – actually two, because on the first I only got bun – verified that their burger was as good as ever. Nicely seasoned, hefty, and with minimalist, but tasty toppings, it was a pleasure to eat.

and the Kennebec Journal has reviewed Mekong Asian Bistro.

There were many tempting appetizer choices, but we finally settled on Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls ($4.95). I was happy to try the fresh over the fried version, as they were fresh and light. These were a gluten-free choice. Lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, carrots, vermicelli, scallions and cilantro were rolled in rice paper. It made a beautiful plate. The clear sesame peanut sauce for dipping added lots of flavor.

Reviews: LB Kitchen, Union, Francine

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

The Press Herald has reviewed LB Kitchen,

I ordered the Hell Yes Kale Caesar bowl ($11), filled with things I might usually pass on. It had chickpea croutons, kale and a mixture called “cashew obsession” on romaine lettuce. But it also had pieces of chicken poached in broth, so my whole lunch, which looked like a salad, smelled like chicken soup. And it tasted like a very rich chicken soup that had been poured onto a very fresh salad.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed a beer dinner at Union,

I really liked what UNION did with this meal. First of all, they put out some awesome food. Regardless of whether you order from the menu or eat a prix fixe meal, you’re sure to get something great. But the pairing with a top shelf local brewery is a long overdue endeavor. More restaurants should be doing this.

and while Camden is far beyond the bounds of Portland I can’t but include this review from the Maine Sunday Telegram of my favorite Midcoast restaurant, Francine Bistro.

It’s simple, but exceedingly good. Very much like his local, skillet-roasted chicken ($25), braised with in-season artichokes, leeks and Fiana wine, then basted with butter and thyme. Served with a crunchy slice of lemon ricotta-brushed toast, it’s classic French comfort food executed perfectly – the kind of plate that highlights Hill’s talents and reminds you how even a modest dish can manage to conjure a little springtime magic.

Reviews: Sichuan Kitchen, Woodford Lunch, Bayside Cafe, Crepe Cafe, Union

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Sichuan Kitchen,

 Ignore the décor; the restaurant’s space is a work in progress. Instead, focus on the menu’s extravagance of flavors – everything from pungent and sweet doubanjiang paste painted onto the double cooked pork, to shamelessly garlicky noodles with wok-fried minced pork loin. And yes, you will find spicy dishes, like bone broth-poached Swai fillets slicked with chili oil and showered in crispy, numbing Sichuan peppercorns. But it’s not all about heat. Perhaps the restaurant’s best dish is neither elaborate nor spicy: a simple plate of cabbage slices sautéed in a luxuriously savory sauce of soy, sugar and black vinegar.

The Blueberry Files has posted the first review of lunch at Woodford F&B,

I had to try the crabcake sandwich ($15), and while I always prefer a blue crab cake, this one had great flavor, with a crispy exterior on a buttery, soft bun. The jicama slaw with pungent red onion was a nice alternative to coleslaw. 

The Bollard has reviewed Bayside American Cafe,

Nostalgia aside, this was an excellent brunch, on par with many of the newer, “foodier” places in Portland. I’m sorry it took me a decade to return to this old standby. I won’t make that mistake again.

the Press Herald has reviewed Crepe Cafe, and

I chose the Billy Goat ($8), with herbed goat cheese, roasted red peppers, spinach and a balsamic glaze. It was terrific. Satisfying and substantial.

The Golden Dish has reviewed Union based on a preview of the upcoming MBC beer dinner.

My favorite dish–if not an unexpected pleasure–was the braised local rabbit, which was the second course. It was set within a delicate mash of of green curry sauce with a punch of kefir lime and beautifully roasted and caramelized local sweet potatoes. It was served with Maine Beer’s “Another One,” a complex brew that married well with the dish.

Huff Post: Portland Travel Guide

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

The Huffington Post has posted a travel guide to Portland by visiting chef Jenny Dorsey.

NYC: I swear I’m not cheating on you, but I’ve found a second love on the East Coast. I was recently up north in Portland, ME for two weeks through a work-study grant with Browne Trading Co. and the James Beard Foundation. It is the perfect mix of a friendly, New England “small town” feel with all the convenience, culture, and good food & drink as a bigger metropolis.

Featured in the article are: Allagash, Benkay, Boda, Central Provisions, Drifters, Eventide, Holy Donut, Maine Mead Works, Mini Mogadishu, Red Sea, Standard Baking, Tipo, Urban Farm Fermentory, Vena’s

Beard Award for Taylor & Wiley

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Congratulations chefs Andrew Taylor an Mike Wiley from Eventide on being named the 2017 Best Chefs: Northeast by James Beard Foundation.

Yankee’s Best of Maine

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Yankee magazine has released their 2017 Best of Maine list.

The Well, Nosh, Coffee by Design, Piccolo and Miyake all made the list.

Reviews: Tipo, Mami, Stroudwater, Hot Suppa

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Tipo,

But if you order nothing else at Tipo, be sure to try the pizza, baked in a Hephaestian wood-fired oven whose ceiling temperature tops out at over 1,000 degrees F. It’s here, on the most dangerous piece of equipment in the building (or perhaps the neighborhood) where Gould’s single-minded focus yields its greatest dividend: a perfectly blistered, crisp and char-marked crust – good enough to make even a Neapolitan jealous.

The Golden Dish has posted a first look at Mami,

I considered several of the snack plates for lunch, dishes like a steamed bun filled with lamb, a hot dog with nori and scallions or grilled octopus balls. But I opted for the standard bearer of izakaya fare, okonomiyaki—the pancake spread with cabbage, seasonal veggies, katsuobushi, benishoga, okonomi sauce and kewpie. Since I was by myself I didn’t have the option of sharing the plate-size pancake, the thing to do with a dish that large. But I wolfed it down anyway to the last drop and crumb and loved it.

the Press Herald has reviewed the bar at Stroudwater Distillery,

Head down to Stroudwater Distillery if you are in the mood for something different. Whether you’re looking for a tasting of spirits or something from the carefully curated selection of cocktails, Stroudwater is all about high quality, so you really can’t go wrong.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Hot Suppa.

If you head over for brunch, the options are practically limitless. Among the choices are French toast, waffles, burgers, and eggs benedict. They’ve truly got something for all tastes. Their sprinkling of southern flair in Maine creates food that sounds great and eats even better. I challenge you to go to Hot Suppa any time of the day and not absolutely love it.

Phoenix Best of Portland Results

Friday, April 28th, 2017

The Portland Phoenix has published results from their annual Best of Portland readership poll.

There are dozens of food and drink categories represented long time favorites such as Allagash (Best Brewery, Best Maine Beer) and newcomers like Woodford Food & Beverage (Best New Restaurant).

OAD Top Gourmet Casual: Eventide, Central Provisions

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Two Maine restaurants are on the Opinionated About Dining list of the Top 200 Gourmet Casual restaurants in the US.

Eventide is #46 and Central Provisions is at #86.

Reviews: Becky’s, Silly’s, Bramhall

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

The Golden Dish has reviewed Becky’s,

But let me tell you about the clams.  The batter coats these meaty local clams quite delicately and not the least greasy.  The Cole slaw is creamy with just the right vinegary-sweet Mayonnaise dressing.  This is excellent slaw.  The fries are well done, crunchy on the outside and creamy within.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Silly’s and Bramhall.

Bramhall isn’t always my go-to for a dinner, but when they are, they’ve got what it takes to satisfy. With a bit of a dark, brooding atmosphere set below ground, they create a feeling like few places can. I recommend trying anything that suits your fancy, but be sure to order the Loaded Crisps.

Reviews: Otto, Baharat, LB Kitchen, Boone’s, Sonny’s, Minato

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

USA Today has reviewed Otto Pizza,

The pizza that wowed me was the three-cheese tortellini, common as a standalone pasta dish but almost never seen as a pizza topping, where it works really well. The top of the pasta gets just a bit crisped in the oven adding a great textural element, and it is all coated with a thick, old school red sauce like your Italian American nonna would make on Sundays.

The Blueberry Files has reviewed Baharat,

It’s exciting to watch food truckers grow their business into something that’s familiar and yet grows the concept of the original truck. Baharat takes the bright, unique flavors of CN Shawarma and gives them a home in East Bayside, where you too will be “all in” at first sip and bite.

The Golden Dish has reviewed LB Kitchen,

My favorite dish besides the Figa bowl is the egg sandwich. It’s made with lightly toasted white bread from Standard, with a really tasty turmeric fried egg with kimchi and cashews, another crunchy element that imparts great flavor and texture.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Boone’s and a mezcal dinner at Sonny’s, and

Despite my one criticism of their menu, I always enjoy Boone’s. I’ve tried a number of different items there and have never been disappointed. They serve solid food, good drinks, and if you go between 4 and 6, you’ll be able to take advantage of some pretty decent happy hour specials. I’ll be keeping them on my list of restaurants to visit, especially in the warmer months when I can sit outside and eat close to the water.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Izakaya Minato,

Perhaps most pleasing and comforting of all is the okonomiyaki. The pancake was pleasantly light on egg and flour and the cabbage had a bit of crunch. Kewpie mayo offered some tang and spice, and a brown sauce some sweet. Flakes of bonito, which curled and swayed eerily as the steam rose from below, joined seaweed in lending some salt and funk.