Reviews: Independent Ice, Cheese Shop, AC Lounge

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Independent Ice Co.,

But its newest tenant, The Independent Ice Company, has transformed it into a sophisticated and – believe it or not – cozy whiskey bar with a surprisingly broad menu of casual dishes. Don’t skip the signature cocktails, all slightly tweaked versions of classics served with (naturally) their own specially formulated shape of ice. The rosemary sour is a zingy pleasure, and the Rufus Page Black Walnut Old Fashioned might well be my favorite autumn cocktail this year. While you’re sipping, order a pair of outsized, bacon-wrapped meatloaf sliders; a cone of Belgian-style, house-cut fries or even a kale-and-arugula salad. Yes, you read that right: a salad… on Wharf Street.

The Golden Dish has reviewed The Cheese Shop, and

The focus of the Cheese Shop is, of course, cheese curated from top European and local creameries as well as a fine selection of vinegars, olive oils, charcuterie, coffees, pastas and preserves.

Press Herald has reviewed AC Lounge.

The wine selection is impressive, offering 6-ounce or 9-ounce portions of one rose, five white, and six reds, all ranging from $8 to $10 for the smaller and $12 to $14 for larger pours. There’s also an $8 sparkling wine and a $7 sherry. In keeping with the hotel’s origins, nine of the options are from Spain. The 15 beer choices range from $5 to $8; I didn’t see any Spanish options, but there are lots of local ones. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are espresso martinis on tap. Burp.

Palace on the Eater 38

Palace Diner has been named to Eater’s 2018 list of America’s Most Essential Restaurants.

In 2014, Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell took over a decades-old, 15-seat restaurant housed in a Pollard train car built in 1927 and turned it into the ideal realization of a daytime Americana diner. Eating here haunts me: I can’t find better light, lemony, buttery pancakes, or a more precisely engineered egg sandwich, and theirs is the only tuna melt I ever hunger after.

Reviews: Blue Spoon, Eaux, Bonobo

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Blue Spoon,

Occasionally though, everything comes together as it should, and it’s possible to see Lavey’s skills in full flight. Take the grilled Broad Arrow Farm pork loin served with bacony white beans, roasted Brussels sprouts and a creamy dill-and-mustard sauce ($28). It’s a precisely balanced plate, with lightness from sherry vinegar and a breadth of textures and flavors that draw you back until suddenly, it’s all gone.

The Bollard has reviewed Eaux, and

It’s not strictly traditional; the chicken is boneless, which I know is blasphemy to purists. But from the spicy, crunchy coating — fried just to the brink of burnt — to the moist and succulent meat inside, this is damn near perfect. The waffle is just as good. Crisp on the outside, impossibly light and fluffy on the inside, the only thing these beauties need is a smear of the sweet, earthy cane syrup that’s gently drizzled around the edge of the plate.

Portland Phoenix has reviewed Bonobo.

Let’s talk about that pizza. Fired in a wood oven at lower temperatures than the standard 700-800°F range, the dough gets a bit more time to set before exiting the heat, resulting in a thin, slightly chewy and pleasantly sweet crust with just a touch of smoke and sourness to it. Perhaps most akin to the end product served at Lazzari, the pizza at Bonobo — more restrained in toppings and thus lighter in feel — is unique to itself and without any true analogs in the area

Also, the Press Herald has published an article about Baxter Brewing new pub in Lewiston.

2019 Good Food Award Finalists

Congratulations to the Maine food producers named finalists in the 2019 Good Food Awards:

  • Beer – Liquid Riot for their Blushing Star Barrel-Aged Lager
  • CharcuterieA Small Good for their Cider Brined Coppa
  • Cider – Portersfield Cider for their Ridlon 16/2
  • Coffee – Bard Coffee for their Organic Costa Rica La Mirella
  • Spirits – Liquid Riot for both their Old Port Straight Bourbon Whiskey & Fernet Michaud

The winners will be announced January 11 at a gala in San Francisco.

Reviews: Bob’s Clam Hut, Pizzarino, 3 Poké Restaurants

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Bob’s Clam Hut,

When you’ve finished that, move on to any of belly clam dishes. Sure, you could stick to a remarkably tender clam strip roll ($15.95) and not be disappointed, but the goal here is complete satisfaction – you’re in a fried seafood shack, after all. So head right for the Clams 2 Ways ($24.95), a generous basket that lets you pit Lillian’s puffed, crispy version of fried whole-bellies against Bob’s, which is a shade or two more caramel in color, with a fuller salinity. The two preparations differ by just a couple of ingredients and an extra minute in oil, but the difference in taste is striking.

the Press Herald has reviewed Pizzarino, and

Located in Zapoteca’s old space, Pizzarino is owned by three Milanese friends, one of whom also started Paciarino, a pasta-centric restaurant down the street. Opened in August, this place focuses on pizza, rice-based dishes and gnocchi. The bar area is lovely, with comfortable wooden barstools with backs and purse hooks underneath the bar. There’s even a tiny outdoor seating area. One of the owners greeted me and my two friends when we arrived and clearly wanted to make sure we enjoyed ourselves.

Portland Phoenix has reviewed Big Fin Poké, Poké Pop and Crunchy Poké.

And what you get is pretty good, especially if you don’t choose yourself. While Crunch and Pop emphasize the house’s pre-designed combinations, Big Fin’s chalkboard is dominated by a “build your own” section, nudging you to select from dozens of “mix-ins” and toppings and proteins. Inevitably you choose too many, and the toppings pile up in the wide paper bowl. What are you gonna do, not get more stuff? If we had that kind of restraint we would not be in this mess.

Reviews: East Ender, Roots Cafe, Dunstan Tap & Table

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Dunstan Tap & Table,

Offerings at this stylish, modern restaurant echo familiar tropes – burgers, tacos, a few dozen beers and ciders by the can, bottle and on tap – but DT&T, as the Brenermans have nicknamed it, is different from its Scarborough peers. In no small part, that’s because Tenney prepares components for his eclectic menu largely from scratch, from fiery habanero sauce to pastrami. Worth a try are his take on pub classics like hand-cut fries, vibrantly herbal chicken tacos and Asian-esque Brussels sprouts

thePress Herald has reviewed Roots Cafe, and

I ate an excellent vegetable quiche – the filling was delicate, the homemade crust tender – and a pretty, seasonally apt salad with roasted butternut squash, apples, almonds, quinoa, dried cranberries and crumbled feta, all arranged atop a bed of baby spinach. My quiche, salad and complimentary cheese puffs, served on stylish white china, came to just $10.25, which felt like a deal. And the portions were so generous, I lacked the stomach space for the chocolate ganache and banana crepe I’d been coveting as I watched the staff make sweet and savory crepes to order.

Portland Magazine magazine has reviewed East Ender.

We order the pâté-like Chicken Leg Rillette ($7), served on lightly toasted Pain de Mie (a French pullman bread loaf featuring very little crust). The rich meat, graced with savory seasonings and a light-handed touch of house mustard with a very good pickle (neither sweet nor sour), enhances our bread. Not a crumb remains on our plates.

Reviews: Poké Pop, Izakaya Minato

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Portland location of Poké Pop.

Named for chef/owner Anusat “Pop” Limsitong, the restaurant is a confusion of fusion, with cross-cultural elements intended to enliven bowls of cubed protein, vegetables and rice. By and large, these tweaks are unnecessary and involve sickly sweet sauces that make Poké Pop’s signature dish a huge letdown. If you must order poké, stick to the tofu bowl and customize your order with a squirt of the soy-based shoyu umami sauce, the least sweet of the restaurant’s offerings. But if it’s sweetness you’re after, Poké Pop has you covered. Its bing soo shaved ice, which is really a Filipino halo halo parfait made with fruit ice cream, shaved milk ice and about a thousand other ingredients, is terrific, even though it takes 15 minutes to prepare each one.

Down East magazine has reviewed Izakaya Minato.

Every dish brings a fresh set of tastes and textures: smoky bacon-wrapped rice cakes, melt-off-the-bone Korean-style barbecue short ribs, spicy kimchi fried rice. The broiled black cod, marinated in sake lees, is nearly the consistency of butter. Fried tofu squares, with jalapeño, soy sauce, and bonito, addictively marry spicy and salty — I suspect I could snack on these all day.

Marie Claire

Marie Claire has published a travel guide to Portland.

A trip to Portland, Maine, is much more than flannels and Subarus—although you’ll come across plenty of those, too. Maine’s largest city, surrounded by water, is as picturesque as they come, with quaint cobblestone passageways and Victorian dream homes. Breathe in the fresh New England air while exploring the Old Port, sift through treasures at the vintage shops, and eat your way through the city’s award-winning restaurant scene. More oysters? Don’t mind if I do.

Review of Elsmere

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Portland location of Elsmere.

While the menu is letter-for-letter the same at both restaurants, and although several dishes and two of the sauces remain too sweet, the food is a bit better on the north side of the bridge. An extra few square feet of cooking space on Elsmere’s new, as-yet-unnamed, custom-built smoker gives its BBQ meats a little more depth and a lot more smoke. Stick to juicy and fall-apart-tender pulled pork, barbecued chicken thighs and burnt-end chili ladled over a mound of always-crispy tortilla chips as part of the chili nachos appetizer. When you’ve dug yourself out from under all the meat, order a house-made brownie with ice cream and a snow drift of whipped cream. You won’t regret it.