Review of Congress Bar & Grill

the Press Herald has published a review of Congress Bar & Grill.

I stopped in at this neighborhood establishment in the Arts District one day last week, desperate for something quick, tasty and not too expensive. Congress Bar & Grill fit the bill. It boasts hearty American fare — substantial, meaty food with robust sides.

This week’s What Ales You column is on fruit beers.

The two blueberry beers I had show the different styles. The Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Ale tasted like blueberries, with almost no hops and with the malt in the background. The Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale tasted more like a good pale ale, with just a hint of blueberries in the background.

Solo Dining

Vin et Grub has posted some thoughts on solo dining.

personally, i love eating alone.  there’s nothing more comforting than pulling up a bar stool and sitting in silence for an hour or two (generally two).  at the same time, i see and understand why people are afraid of dining alone.  in addition to the obvious reasons, there are more personal, subconscious and universal reasons behind the inherent intimidation that dining alone seems to have on the average person.

Expansion of the Original Otto

Tonight’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Board is reviewing Otto’s plans to expand into 574 Congress Street where Wild Burrito used to be located. Otto opened at 576 Congress in June 2009 and by the end of the year had taken over the space to the right to open Enzo. The vacancy left by Wild Burrito provides a natural way for the popular pizzeria to grow.

For anyone interested in architecture or the history of the building, the back-up materials for the meeting make for an interesting read.

Nontraditional Lobster Roll, Food Events & Towns in Food Revolt

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a search for nontraditional lobster rolls in Maine,

Suggest adding a little celery, some herbs or minced onion, and lobster roll purists look at you as if you just suggested painting the White House purple.

But after a lobster roll or two or 200, some people start longing for a roll that’s a little different.

a preview of the 8th Annual Vegetarian Food Festival,

Whether you want to try vegan food, learn how to make sprouts, remove sugar from your diet or just meet others who enjoy plant-based eats, you’ll want to check out this Saturday’s Vegetarian Food Festival. Now in its eighth year, the event takes place at the East End Community School in Portland and is organized by the nonprofit animal rights advocacy group Maine Animal Coalition.

as well as articles about the Taste of the Nation, the growing number of towns passing laws exempting local farmers from state and federal food regulations, and a reprint of the Maine a la Carte article about chef Tony Mantuano upcoming visit to Portland.

Maine Street Eats List

MaineToday has assembled a list of their top dozen options for street eats in Maine. Local Portland-area options included are: Mark’s Hot Dogs, Perry’s Sidewalk Cafe, Jen’s Hot Dogs, Crepe Factory and Eric’s Pizza Express as well as Bite into Maine and Gorgeous Gelato in Fort Williams Park.

For people who are dual fans of flea markets and tacos, I heard recently from Nathaniel Baldwin, co-owner of Flea-for-All, that Hella Good Tacos plans on operating outside the indoor flea market’s location in Bayside on the weekends for the remainder of the Summer.

Portland Pottery Cafe Now Open

The Munjoy Hill News reports that Portland Pottery has expanded into the adjacent and opened a small cafe and is now known as Portland Pottery Store & Cafe.

[John] Turner, a recent business management graduate of USM, said there is no set menu yet, because the Brunis are still trying to see what people want. “Eye catching specialities” are what they are looking or and only fresh ingredients are used. ( ate a delightful argulua salad which according to Turner contained walnuts, dried cherries, beets and goat cheese. It was fantastic and cost $5.00)

Marketing Soft Shell Lobster & an Editorial on Industrial Fishing

Today’s Press Herald reports on efforts by Maine’s Lobster Advisory Council to improve the perception of soft shell lobsters.

Soft-shells are lobsters that have molted recently, shedding their old hard shells so they can grow into new, larger shells. They have less meat per pound than hard-shells, but that meat is perceived as more tender and sweet. And they’re easier to crack and eat.

So what’s so bad?

Also in today’s paper is a Maine Voices editorial by the Kim Libby from Port Clyde.

The hundreds of fishermen in our region — the small, day-boat fleet that brings fresh seafood to your dinner table and the charter boat captains who take you out on the water to catch fish yourself — are paying the price for the mistakes of a few new-to-the-region industrial ships.

Burger Meister Meister Reviews: Becky’s, Cantina, Miss Portland, Rivalries, Rosie’s Ruski’s, Sonny’s

The team over at Burger Meister Meister has just posted a passel of new burger reviews for Becky’s, El Rayo Cantina, Miss Portland Diner, Rivalries, Rosie’s , Ruski’s and Sonny’s. For most restaurants their reviews have a wide variety of opinion but Sonny’s was an exception. Here’s an excerpt from their review of Sonny’s burger.

I was pleasantly surprised by this burger.  It had a lot going on!  The best part was the roasted poblano pepper on top.  It was smoky and just a little spicy – a really nice, unusual touch.  I don’t really remember what else was on the burger, because everything was outshined by that pepper.  I think there were some messy sauces, and some yummy cheeses, wait, there was definitely a burger patty… yeah.  It was worth eating, it would even be worth wearing a cute outfit for. 

How many hours would I work for this burger?  I’m just going to ask this burger to marry me.  That way, it will be at my house waiting for me everyday.

Burger Meister Meister is a collaboration among a set of friends who have as a goal to eat a burger from a different venue each week. They’re now up to week 44 and still going strong.

New Chef at Eve’s

The folks at the Portland Harbor Hotel sent out a press release yesterday to announce the new chef at Eves at the Garden. His name is Timothy Pierre Labonte. Here are some cv details from the release,

Labonte earned a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University in 1999 before beginning his career as a sous chef at the Key West Hilton Resort & Marina in Key West, Florida. The following year, he worked as Executive Chef for Bagatelle restaurant in Key West, and in 2003, he moved to Maine, where he spent the next four years serving as Executive Chef for three different restaurants, including the Bradley Inn in New Harbor. After a four-year stint back in Key West, where Labonte served as Executive Chef for two different resorts, he returned to Maine to work with the Portland Harbor Hotel…