New to the Map: Cannoli Joe’s, Chubby Werewolf, Expanding Horizons Food and Tandoor Bakery

I’ve posted four new additions to the Food Map:

Bollard: Chinese Buffets

The Bollard visited the Super Great Wall Buffet, Lang’s Express, Jan Mee, Asia Restaurant in South Portland and Tin Tin Buffet as part of a tour of local Chinese buffets.

Walking into an all-you-can-eat Chinese place is like walking into an adult bookstore. You feel the same sort of self-conscious shame, particularly if you are dining alone. You don’t make eye contact with the hostess as you say, “Yes, one for the buffet, please.” She knows why you’re there, you know why you’re there: to stuff yourself to the point of immobility.

The March issue of The Bollard also includes (all in one article) some thoughts on bread as a luxury item, a recipe for Poke and an experimental poetic anecdote.

Fine Dining Burger Reviews: Back Bay Grill, David’s, District, Five Fifty-Five, Frog & Turtle, The Grill Room, Walter’s

For March the O-Rama review group returned to that emblem of American fast food, the hamburger–this time with a twist. Seven food bloggers visited a mix of Portland’s fine dining establishments to find out how well white table clothes and burgers mix.

Appetite PortlandWalter’s

Called the 2P2 Burger (no, I didn’t ask why and I’m apparently not clever enough to figure it out), this joyously constructed and luxuriously generous sandwich filled me up fast and left me happily humming. I jotted a few notes before I collapsed into a blissed-out fugue state. read the full review

Chris2ferFrog and Turtle

The burger was awesome. First off, the bun was grilled lightly brown. It was buttery and crispy and soft. The bacon was deliriously crispy. And there were 3 whole pieces! The Gruyère was melted and drippy and savory. The onions were brown and sweet. And the burger? It was cooked perfectly medium rare. Pink in the middle. Mmmm. read the full review

Edible ObsessionsDistrict

House cured bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato confit and the ever popular brioche bun combined with a huge 1 1/2 inch thick patty cooked to a beautiful–just slightly over rare–medium temperature and a whopping side of fries. I assume, because so much of what District offers on it’s menu is house made and local, that the beef was ground on site and traveled less than 100 miles to get to their door. Beautifully marbled meat made for an interesting time of trying to out pace the juices that ran down my chin. Though, I must admit, it was a bit odd to be wiping it away with a crisp linen napkin instead of a throw away paper one. But, it was worth the effort as the burger was beautifully seasoned and the full review

From AwayFive Fifty-Five

The first thing you notice about the burger, is the thick slice of Gruyere that positively enrobes the burger in earthy deliciousness. The brioche bun is a very soft, buttery, braided roll, almost like a slightly more dense croissant. While delicious, the bottom half tends to fall under the weight and juiciness of the burger itself, after the first few bites. It all but disappears into a gratifying wash of butter flavor and hot, running beef blood. The top half stays strong, continuing to provide structure as you keep the full review

Soooo . . You Really Like Cats, Don’t YouBack Bay Grill

The house made patty was a semi-coarse grind, just slightly crumbly as I bit in. The patty was seasoned simply, but nicely, and the most enjoyable part about the patty was the subtle sweetness of the beef that can really only be tasted if correctly cooked. The brioche bun was a wonderful, evenly proportioned pairing – the bread was deliciously buttery and crisp from the cast iron skillet. The shredded romaine offered a tangy crunch with every the full review

Vrai-lean-uhThe Grill Room

The burger is really good. It is a thick, juice-running-down-your-hand type of burger. It comes on a relatively unobtrusive, soft, squarish bun, so you’re not battling a mouthful of bread to get to the meat. The cheese was fully melted and relatively subtle. The tomato tapanade and roasted red onions enhance the burger taste without being intrusive, and the toppings and cheese are distributed evenly across the burger. My only complaint was that it was difficult to impossible to fit into my mouth in a single bite, but I also don’t think I can subtract points for a thick burger.…read the full review

Where is Jenner’s MindDavid’s

large thick angus beef patty was perfectly cooked at medium rare. the double bacon is really a double wide sliced of bacon. it was unsurprisingly delicious as bacon tends to be. it was served with cheddar cheese, ice burg lettuce, thin slices of red onions, and sad looking tomatoes. the truffle fries with truffle ketchup were each very good but together, the truffle flavor was overwhelming.
overall the burger was good.…
read the full review

I can’t claim to have tried all of the gourmet burgers in town, but among those I have Caiola’s is certainly my favorite.

Is there a fine dining restaurant in Portland who’s burger you think is especially stellar? If so, post a comment and tell us where to find it and what you like about it.

This Week’s Events: Cajun Cookin’ Challenge, Slow Food Writers Night, Etouffee-Off, Maine Restaurant Week

Monday — The 3rd Annual Maine Restaurant Week continues through the rest of the week.

Tuesday — WMPG is hosting the 16th Annual Fat Tuesday Cajun Cookin’ Challenge; last year’s competition resulted in a tie between Silly’s and Bayou Kitchen. Old Port Wine Merchants is holding a (wine tasting and) Etouffee-Off between OPWM owner Jacques de Villier and Doug Watts from SoPo Wine. Here’s the latest from the OPWM Facebook wall, “Make sure you come by and watch the debacle as Doug from SoPO learns that like his ponytail his Ettouffe is old and long gone and while talk is cheap it takes money to buy land and he’s broke.”

Wednesday — there will be a wine tasting at RSVP.

Thursday — The 6th Annual Slow Food Portland Writers Night is taking place at SPACE Gallery. Speakers include Melissa Coleman, author of This Life Is In Your Hands, One Dream, Sixty Acres and a Family Undone; John Mariani, author of How Italian Food Conquered the World; and Manny Howard, author of My Empire of Dirt. There will be a cupcake baking demonstration at LeRoux Kitchen and Th Great Lost Bear is showcasing beers from Victory Brewing.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Irish Heritage Center.

WSET Wine Class — The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, will be offering their Intermediate Level 2 certificate class in Portland March 26-27. The class is being taught by Adam Chase from Grape Experience. The program is aimed at anyone “who works in wine, wants a career in the wine industry or has a serious interest in the subject”. See the WSET website for a more detailed explanation of what the course covers. For more information contact Adam Chase at or Marc Doiron the bar manager at Street & Co.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Cuban Sandwich Smackdown

Nosh beat out 158 Pickett Street Cafe, District, Duckfat, East Ender, El Rayo, Havana SouthSonny’s, and The Cheese Iron to win the Cuban Sandwich Smackdown held Sunday afternoon. This is the first of what Cheese Iron co-owner and Smackdown organizer Vincent Maniaci (shown above) hopes to be a regular monthly event. Next month the Smackdown participants will convene at Nosh to determine who can gets to take home the trophy for the best Taco.

First Review of Aroma

The new South Indian restaurant in South Portland, Aroma, has received 4 stars from the Taste & Tell review in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Wonderful spices cloak the tender lamb, chicken, fresh shrimp and delectable eggplant on the fascinating menu at Aroma; with its tender fresh bread and perfect desserts, this is a restaurant worth trying again and again.

While it’s the first review for Aroma it’s the last one from Nancy English. English has been writing restaurant reviews for the Maine Sunday Telegram since 2005. Her predecessor was C.Z. Kramer. According to the article, Nancy Heiser will be taking on responsibilities as the Sunday Telegram restaurant critic moving forward.

There are so many things I learned writing this column, as I chose menu items I’d never heard of and never tasted. Since the kitchens of Maine are inventing new things all the time, we all can encounter new things worth tasting. We are so lucky.

My readers’ curiosity has inspired me, and their expectations have kept me on my toes. Thank you all so much for reading about so many of the meals I have eaten since 2005.

Red’s Opening Day

Today’s Press Herald includes a report on the opening day of Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland. Red’s was originally opened in 1952 by Leonard “Red” Bolling as a Tastee Freeze franchise and in 1965 he went independent and changed the name to Red’s Dairy Freeze. The business has been offline since last May when a fire severely damaged the building.

First in line at the walk-up window was South Portland firefighter Chris Swenson. On the morning of the fire, he and firefighter Josh Perry broke in the back door of Red’s and entered the hot, dark and smoky space.

On Friday, Swenson ordered a triple-chocolate Boston, one of Red’s signature shakes topped with ice cream and sauce.

Red’s Dairy Freeze Reopening

The Forecaster reports that Red’s Dairy Freeze will reopen soon.

Laura Bolling, the owner’s daughter, is coy about a specific date. Rather than dishing out the information, Bolling this week offered nuggets, like the little pieces of candy in Red’s’ tasty Nor’easters.

The countdown can be measured in days, not weeks, she said. And, the total number of days is less than seven.

…and according to an article in the Friday Press Herald, Red’s will open at noon today.

The family that owns Red’s Dairy Freeze confirmed late Thursday night that it will begin serving soft-serve ice cream at noon today.