Appearances & Accolades

Several Portland and Maine food purveyors have been getting recognition and accolades recently:

Ice Cream: Beal’s, Bard, Gorgeous Gelato, MDI, Red’s, Smiling Hill, Willard Scoops

Just in time for the start of Summer the food blogger review crew is putting themselves through the drudgery [wink] of taste testing out ice cream and gelato shops across the city. As you’ll see for many of them it was as much about the ice cream as it was the nostalgia for summertime childhood memories of the local ice cream stand.

Appetite PortlandMDI Ice Cream

To a scoop, MDI ice cream’s best feature is that it’s not overly saccharine. Sweet yes, but not sugary. The company creates new flavors often – I hear tell of a Danish Blue Cheese Blackberry about to hit town – and avoids the “throw in the kitchen sink” fadiness of that mass-marketed chain from Vermont read the full review

Chubby WerewolfGorgeous Gelato

The strawberry was easily my favorite. Of the four flavors, it was the most fragrant and intensely flavored gelato. When I say “intensely flavored,” I mean it in all of the best ways. In other words, distinctly strawberry but not overwhelmingly sweet or sugary. Save for the occasional, tiny seed, it was perfectly smooth with a sorbet-like consistency read the full review

Edible ObsessionsBeal’s

While I thought my plan to order simple was fool proof, it turned out not to be. ‘Maybe I needed to give myself over to one of their dozens of mixed-up flavors for a better assessment of their ice cream?’ I wondered, knowing that it wasn’t true. It was another case of feeling that maybe I just didn’t see what others loved so much about a place. But, let’s be honest, their simple vanilla was…too simple. The next time a pang for Vietnamese hits and I find myself strolling over to their shop next to Veranda Noodle bar I think I’ll stick with my old stand by: Mint Chocolate Chip read the full review

From AwayRed’s Dairy Freeze

The classic frozen treats being passed out the window at Red’s every single night are only the first part of the story, however. Sure, it’s good soft serve. But it’s the people, in this case, that make the place: Customers who have been visiting Red’s their whole lives, whose parents have been visiting for their whole lives. A staff of kids who know everyone in the neighborhood, and who grew up just down the street, saving money for their first cars and chatting quickly with the occasional friends that appear in their line each night. Owners who have been in the soft-serve business from the beginning, who have seen their business falter when disaster struck, but who rebuilt better and stronger than before. It’s the people surrounding Red’s Dairy Freeze that make it so special: a rock-solid community, as well as a neighborhood ice cream stand read the full review

The Blueberry FilesBard/Gelato Fiasco

You can see the sea salt caramel on the left in the above photo, next to Grape Nuts (bleh, that flavor is lost on me).

But the salted caramel affogato was awesome. Caramel (salted or not) can be a little cloying, but the bitter espresso flavor balanced out all the sugar. Every now and then a little salt came through after satisfyingly crunching a grain read the full review

Vrai-lean-uhSmiling Hill

The thing is, though, the ice cream wasn’t super awesome. I got the coffee flavor, because I deeply dislike too-sweet ice cream (you did not think that was a thing, but it is, and I don’t like it) and some of the flavors seemed like they’d veer into too-sweet territory. The ice cream texture was a little icy, and there was a slightly gummy/chemical aftertaste.
But you know, it was sunny out and there were grassy pastures and even really mediocre ice cream is still, ultimately, ice cream. So I was happy enough
read the full review

Where is Jenner’s MindWillard Scoops

my favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee. at willard scoop their rendition is ‘dark roasted coffee’ and it was delicious! i got it on a sugar cone, which was the freshest cone i have ever eaten (i didn’t ask if they make them there but they do make their waffle cones) and it didn’t have any paper wrapped around it so you don’t have to worry you are eating glue with your ice cream. the ice cream was dense and creamy and very coffee-y! pretty much a perfect cone of ice cream in my book. read the full review

This Week’s Events: Infusathon, Kimchi Workshop, Farmers Markets

Wednesday — 6 restaurants are participating in the Infusathon, the Urban Farm Fermentory is teaching a kimchi workshop, and the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — the Great Lost Bear is showcasing brews from Redhook and Widmer Brothers.

Saturday — the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place, and Whole Foods is holding a VeganFest with store-wide sampling of vegan foods and a cookout to benefit Cultivating Community.

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.

Silly’s: a Phantom Gourmet Hidden Jewel

The Phantom Gourmet has published a review of Silly’s.

Located in Portland Maine, Silly’s is as wacky as it is tasty. Owner Colleen Kelley has decorated the restaurant with crazy lights, fun toys, interactive games, and hundreds of photos.

The menus are kept in lunchboxes. The water is served in wine bottles. The beer is poured into old fashioned tin cups. And when it comes to the food, anything goes.

Review of 15 Exchange

15 Exchange Grille received 2 stars from today’s review in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

The raw space is attractive, and this location is a high-traffic one. But Portland is a community of high standards of cuisine, and Mainers want their dine-out dollars to be well spent.

Simply put, the food here needs to improve in many respects. Management would do well to get professional advice on how to entice off-season locals as well as summer tourists to this enviable location in the Old Port.

Review of Sebago Brewing

The Golden Dish has published a review of the new Sebago Brewing location on Fore Street.

Yet it also offers Portland diners a much needed option: a casual dining spot with decent, moderately price food in a space that is modern, light and uplifting. None of this changes the fact, however, that the chain’s standard menu items that rely on phrases like “piled high” and “heaping” which are very accurate descriptions indeed.

John Golden’s food blog also recently posted a profile of Gingko Blue.

Cactus Club Sold

According to a report from the Portland Daily Sun, the Cactus Club has been sold to David Cram, owner of the Spring Point Tavern.

Cram said he has already hired a well-known local chef to run the new restaurant, which will serve “American gourmet” style food. On weekends, he’s hoping to have blues and jazz musicians perform.

“It’s something Portland needs,” Cram said of the new restaurant, “and it’s a step up from what I own now at the Spring Point Tavern.”