February 2008 Blog Posts

The process of converting all the past blog posts into the new system will take some time. I will chip away at it as time allows. In the meantime you can read the posts from February 2008 here.

February 29
Chow Maine has an article about how the current Maine shrimp season is going. It includes details on how some local restaurants are incorporating this seasonal ingredient into their menu. Gilbert’s Chowder House, Hugo’s, Sapporo and The Front Room are all mentioned.
February 28
Down East magazine has an excellent video profile of Tony’s Donut Shop and the people who work there.

If you’re looking for a way to stretch your bar budget, take a loook at PortlandOldport.com. The site lists daily drink specials at local restaurants and bars.

February 27 PM
Driving home tonight I noticed that the old location of Seng Thai at 921 Congress Street was undergoing renovation. There’s no sign to indicate who’s going to move in to the space but the interior design made it look likely that it will be a Thai restaurant.

The Portland Phoenix published a joint review of Rosie’s and Silly’s. The reviewer ties the two eateries together in his trademark style with a leap year/passage of time theme. “Leap year should remind us that the arbitrary and chaotic lurk even in the monotonous tick of the clock and turn of the calendar page.”

The Sun Journal published a review of Portland Pie this weekend. “This should be a story about pie . . . but it turned into an investigation of buffalo wings rather faster than I had expected”.

This week’s edition of The Maine Switch includes a review of Katahdin. “I swore off martinis a few years ago . . . and thank god my martini willpower gave out.”

Blueberries and Lobster reported that Becky’s Diner was included in Details magazine’s list of the best breakfast places in the country.

February 27 AM
Chow Maine has updated their calendar of wine tastings to include upcoming events in March. If you’re ready to try some new wines you now know where and when to go.

An overview of the burgeoning Westbrook restaurant scene appeared in today’s edition of the Portland Press Herald. Baker’s Bench, The Frog and Turtle, Burrito and Casa Novella were among the many places mentioned in the article.

February 26
G & R DiMillo’s Bayside, the sports bar moving into the old Bleachers location on Preble Street, was the focus of an article in today’s Press Herald.

The Press Herald also had an article today about a bill before the Maine legislature to legalize home delivery of beer and wine. Maine is one of a minority of states that makes this practice illegal. Blog About Beer just wrote about this issue yesterday and came out in favor of the law.

February 25
By a vote of 8-1, the Portland City Council voted tonight to approve a liquor license for Erik Desjarlais’ new restaurant Evangeline. Evangeline will be located at the former location of Uffa in Longfellow Square. Liquor licenses were also approved for the Cobblestone Grill and G & R DiMillo’s Bayside. Una was granted an extension to their existing license to apply to an expansion into an adjoining space. You can see details on this and other upcoming food and drink establishments on the Under Construction List.

The anonymous writer of Portland Psst! was outed this weekend. Erik Desjarlais had a cryptic post on his blog this weekend that read “Peter Smith, we know who you are!!!” Explanation came today when Psst! indirectly confirmed that he is Peter Smith. Psst!’s latest post explaining the “reasons Psst! exists” ends with “Thank you and goodbye.” This has led some to conclude that this may be the end of the popular blog.

February 24
Walter’s Cafe received 3 stars in a critical review of the Exchange St restaurant published on MaineToday.com. The review praises the oyster stew but comments that “other combinations and fusion dishes suffered from a muddle of ingredients and ideas. Brie and spinach-stuffed, bacon-wrapped trout, a special, was a meal that resembled a room with too many doors.”

Steve Corry, chef/owner of Five Fifty-Five, gives an interview on his life in 2007 (“It’s been a bit insane.”) as a new dad and being recognized last year by Food and Wine as one of the 10 Best New Chef’s in the country. Corry’s short list of favorite places to eat in Portland includes Back Bay Grill, Fore Street, Hugo’s, Bresca, Bar Lola, and Emilitsa.

Scarborough resident and founder of Kitchen Gardens International, Roger Doiron was quoted in an Associated Press article about the increased interest in home gardens that’s being driven by high food prices. Dorion recently set up a new website called Eat Maine Foods to support the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine.

February 23
Chow Maine has investigated the state of fine dining restaurants in Portland in light of the current economy and found that they’re faring well. Bresca, Fore Street and Caiola’s are all doing better than they were a year ago. The article also mentions that an essay by Sam Hayward on island sheep will be appearing in the upcoming issue of Art of Eating.

New2Maine.com has been added to our growing list of blogs that comment on food in Portland.

Type A Diversions has down a bake-off, or should I say bagel-off, comparing bagels from both Mister Bagel and Scratch Baking Co.

February 22
A new sports bar called G & R DiMillo’s Bayside is planning on opening in the former location of Bleachers on Preble Street. You can see details on this and other upcoming food and drink establishments on the Under Construction List.

Una, the tony Fore St cocktail lounge, is expanding into the space vacated late last year by Portland Pie. The additional space will be used to expand the bar and make room for a dance floor.

February 21 PM
Portland 207 and The Forecaster are reporting that Portland is one of three finalists in the Twin City of Bushmills in America contest being run to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. Visit the Bushmills site to vote.
February 21 AM
Hamdi Restaurant and Grocery, a small Somali establishment on Washington Ave, netted its first review today and so has been taken off of the list of unreviewed Portland restaurants and bars.

The Portland Press Herald had a front page article today about the 23% decrease in lobster landings in 2007. One possible explanation is the increase in Cod and Striped Bass which are predators of the tasty crustaceans.

February 20
StarEast Cafe the new Middle-Eastern eatery located in Woodfords Corner, was reviewed by Brian Duff in this week’s edition of the Portland Phoenix. Brian was complimentary of the food and summed up StarEast by saying, “overall the experience at StarEast was more a pleasantly odd surprise than a disappointment. If the space were busier some of its quirks would become less glaring.”<br
The Maine Switch this week includes an interview with John Regas, the owner of Emilitsa, the new Greek restaurant in town, and a review of the Brazillian steakhouse Gauchos Churrascaria. Reviewer Karen Beaudoin advices, “When it comes to the food at Gauchos, you need to come hungry to get your money’s worth . . . The food was good, but maybe not $240 for four people good (including drinks and tip). You pay for the variety (there are 12 meats in all, including chicken hearts – we passed – lamb, flank steak and sirloin) and the experience which is like none other in Portland.” </br
February 19
“As a loyal Pom’s fan” Type A Diversions was looking forward to visiting Pom’s new restaurant Pom’s Thai Taste on Congress St in Portland. Type A wraps up her latest review—a mix of praise and criticism—by asking “Is Pom’s spread too thin? . . . To be the best, or the biggest…that may be the question for Pom as she grows her Thai restaurant empire in Maine. I vote for quality over quantity.”
February 18 PM
Chris2fer and friends visited Katahdin where they found everything from the decour to the drinks to the food to their liking. Chris2fer sums it up this way “Katahdin is one of the best restaurants in Portland. I have never been unhappy with what I have ordered. It is always cooked perfectly, and seasoned expertly. The wait staff is charming and they pay attention, but they don’t hover, which is a pet peeve of mine.”
February 18 AM
The Bollard has a new review of Brea Lu Cafe. “It’s a marriage of convenience. Brea Lu has decent food and it’s a nice, friendly place. If the greater-USM area happens to be your neighborhood, it’s a perfectly good spot to call your own. But if you have to get in your car to get there, as we do, there are plenty of better breakfasts in town.”
February 17
The Frog and Turtle received 4 stars the Taste & Tell column published on MaineToday.com.
February 16
Portland 207 wrote up a review of his visit to Empire Dine and Dance, noting that the “food needs few improvements” and that the “slider-style mini-burger received rave reviews and the veggie lasagna was over-sized but damn delicious”.

The 15th annual Great Chili and Chowder Challenge was held last weekend. The Atrium at The Cedars, a retirement community, won top honors from the judges in both the Best Chili and Best Chowder categories.

February 14
Thanksgiving’s, a Thanksgiving themed restaurant in Westbrook, was reviewed today in the Go Magazine section on MaineToday.com. “Almost everything on the menu is built around rotisserie turkey meat. In addition to several turkey sandwiches, most of them $7.99, there are entrees of turkey pot pies, turkey croquettes, turkey stir-fry and – of course – a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.”

For those of you who have delayed buying your significant other a Valentine’s Day present comes some advice from The Maine Switch and Type A Diversions on purchasing Valentine’s Day chocolates.

February 13
Brunch at The Frog and Turtle was reviewed by Accidental Vegetables. While not a big fan of their Bloody Mary “I kept sipping it, hoping the flavor would grow on me, but no dice”, she was quite taken with the freshly made doughnuts, “They were, quite simply, incredible. It’s worth the drive just to try them”.

This week’s edition of The Maine SWitch includes a review of The Front Room. “Though it may be crowded, the Front Room’s good reputation is well-deserved. On the slightly expensive side, the food was well-worth the cash, and the waitstaff and customers are so friendly that it’s easy to forgive the noise and accept it as a part of the neighborhood feel that the East End does so well.”

February 12
The Frog and Turtle was featured in a review appearing in the latest edition of Portland Magazine.
February 11
MaineToday.com blogger Jim Britt published a post today about his recent interest in single bean chocolate. The article includes a list of some local chocolatiers and chocolate vendors. I’d also add Haven’s Candies and Dean’s Sweets to the list local chocolatiers, and Old Port Candy and The Cheese Iron to the list of local stores that sell good chocolate.

Portland 207 wrote a review comparing his experiences Sunday at two “2 hip Congress Street eateries”, Local 188 and Downtown Lounge.

February 10
Ri-Ra Irish Pub received 3 stars today in the review published on MaineToday.com. According to the review, at Ri-Ra “Sturdy, straightforward dishes discover the right compromise between mother Ireland and the modern America, nourishing diners both substantially and well.”
February 9
Type A Diversions paid a visit to Emilitsa, the new Greek restaurant on Congress St that opened just last Friday. She had this to say about the experience, “Our expectations were exceeded on the night we dined; we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, the exceptional service and the upscale decor. We look forward to our return.” It looks like Emilitsa is off to a good start.
February 7 PM
Accidental Vegetables has posted her impressions of a revisit to Empire Dine and Dance. While the space still felt ” a little ‘off'” to her, she did say that “All in all the food at Empire is fine. If you’re out and about and want to grab a bite, you could find something pretty tasty at a pretty reasonable price.”

After a long hiatus while he remodeled his Portland home, StephenCooks.com has returned to life with two recipes: one for Moroccan-style Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Orzo “Risotto” and a second for Scallop and Pancetta Pizza.

February 7 AM
The burgers at Vivian’s Drive-In were called “moist and juicy, fresh and succulent” in the review appearing in today’s Go Magazine section on MaineToday.com.

The Bollard has an update on the changes taking place on Fore and Wharf Streets, including more information on the Oktoberfest International Taphouse and Club Onyx, and news that Cobblestone Grill will be going into the spot formerly occupied by Cake. You can see details on these and other upcoming food and drink establishments on the Under Construction List.

February 6 PM
This week’s edition of The Maine Switch includes a review of Uncle Billy’s Resto-Bar and an article about the CSA Fair taking place this weekend.
February 6 AM
Today’s Press Herald includes an article on the CSA Fair being sponsored in Freeport this Sunday by Slow Food Portland, MOFGA, and the Maince Council of Churches. There’s also news that SMCC will be hosting a five-week wine appreciation class.
February 4
The City Council voted tonight to grant a liquor license to the Oktoberfest International Taphouse. The taphouse will be moving into the location formerly occupied by Diggers/Liquid Blue. Consideration of the liquor license for Evangeline was deferred until the meeting on February 25. You can see details on these and other upcoming gastro-business on the Under Construction List.

Market Street Eats will be moving a few doors up the road to 36 Market St. They plan on moving to the new location on March 3.

February 3
Nancy English gave Beale Street Barbeque, 3½ stars in the review published today on MaineToday.com. According to English, at Beale Street the “tender ribs and melting pulled pork and brisket, even the crab cakes, are barbecue classics, but some of the other dishes seem off-track.”
February 2
Portland Food Map now has a page for all the brunchaholics out there. It’s a list of all the places listed on this site that are open for Sunday brunch. It’s still a work in progress so if you know of any place missing from the brunch list, then please email me at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com and let me know.
February 1 PM
Chris2fer has reviewed Spirited Gourmet giving it a rating of 3 out of 10. He found it sadly lacking in both spirit and gourmetness and wrote “I will not be going back.”

The Good Egg Cafe, the breakfast avatar of Pepperclub, was reviewed by Type A Diversions. Type A calls The Good Egg a “vegetarian-friendly version of Becky’s” and declares that, “it fits the bill for a casual and affordable breakfast spot with friends.”

Blog About Beer, by Portland resident Luke Livingston, has been added to the site’s list of local food and drink blogs.

The Press Herald ran a story today about the collection of ethnic restaurants located on Forest Ave opposite Baxter Woods.

February 1 AM
The 10 restaurants viewed most often on Portland Food Map during the month of January were:

  1. Bresca
  2. Caiola’s
  3. The Frog and Turtle
  4. Five Fifty-Five
  5. Green Elephant
  6. Gauchos Churrascaria
  7. Fore Street
  8. Back Bay Grill
  9. Blue Spoon
  10. The Front Room

According to the Portland-based Blog About Beer a second high-end beer cafe is planning on opening in Portland. The establishment will be called The Pannepot Brewpub and Cafe and is hoping to open in the March/April time frame near the intersection of Forest Ave and Congress St. This comes hard on the heels of news last week that Novare Res Bier Cafe will be opening this Spring in the Old Port.