January 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 January 2008 here.

January 31
Emilitsa, the long anticipated addition to Portland’s line-up of Greek restaurants, is having a soft opening tomorrow night with a limited menu.

This week’s issue of The Maine Switch has an article about ice wine—a wine made by pressing frozen grapes. According to the article, ice wine is on the menu at Five Fifty-Five, Hugo’s and Mims Brasserie.

January 30 PM
The Portland Phoenix‘s Brian Duff checked out North Star Cafe and Fat Baxter’s as part of an article on the sandwich options in the East End, “As the economy slides into recession it is time we started to think more seriously about the sandwich.”

The Maine Switch published two reviews. The first of Pom’s Thai Taste, “Everything we’ve eaten at Pom’s bursts with a perfect balance of sweet and savory and contains the crispy freshness that only comes from high-quality ingredients properly sauteed.”; the second on Spartan Grill, “while the menu may be Spartan, the flavor remains deliciously complex”.

The Bollard posted a review about the restaurant-turned-nightclub that is 51 Wharf.

January 30 AM
Today’s Portland Press Herald has an article about the impact being felt in the organic food industry with the growth in demand now far out-stripping the growth in supply.
January 29
Type A Diversions has reviewed Caiola’s. She comments that it is “one of the best examples of a neighborhood restaurant that I’ve encountered”, and that “I’d be hard pressed to go anywhere else if I lived nearby.”
January 28
Today’s newspaper has an article about John Bunker and his book Not Far from the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine 1804-2004. Bunker was in town last fall when he did a book reading and apple tasting at Rabelais Books.
January 27
Nancy English gives Sapporo, Portland’s original sushi restaurant, 3 stars in her review published on MaineToday.com. According to English, Sapporo “caters to a wide range of tastes, but its offerings themselves cover too wide a spectrum, some not as good as they should be.”

Winter Cache Project, Blueberries and Lobster, and Carolyn Stephens Handmade Desserts have been added to the site.

January 26
Francisco’s Blue House Cafe is going out of business. Brunch on February 3 will be the last meal they serve.

The Portland Harbor Hotel, home of Eve’s at the Garden, is having their annual Ice Bar this weekend. 7,000 lbs. of ice have been carved into a working bar which includes a “martini luge”. The Joan Kennedy Trio will provide music for the bar tonight.

The Portland Phoenix is gathering nominations for their annual Best of Portland reader’s poll. Go to the Phoenix’s website to nominate your favorite bars, restaurants, etc. You have until February 10 to get your nominations in. The actual voting on the nominations starts February 14.

January 24 PM
According to a report from Portland 207, the Spartan Grill has opened up a temporary location on the first floor of the Public House while the construction of their new digs on the second floor is underway.

Type A Diversions has published a review of Burrito!. “Burrito! is an affordable lunch spot for those who work in the vicinity, and probably a fun place to enjoy a pitcher of margaritas and a plate of nachos after work or before a movie. Cleaner and less grungy than Granny’s ever was, the decor is cheery with lots of color, though this time of year the small space heater is not quite enough to take the chill out of the air.”

January 24 AM
The Maine Switch has an excellent profile of Homegrown Herb Tea, a herbal tea shop located in the East End. Terra Cotta Pasta was featured in a review in today’s Go section on MaineToday.com.
January 23 PM
Brian Duff at the Portland Phoenix calls the Green Elephant a “big step in the right direction”. He goes on to comment that the restaurant is “Elegant but affordable, progressive but pleasurable, pan-Asian but not dangerously eclectic, a touch didactic (a glossary chalked on the wall defines tempeh and soy), but charmingly so, with affordable wine and interesting tea – Green Elephant is something Maine could use.”
January 23 AM
The Portland Culinary Scribbler, a cooperative food writing effort, launched this week. The first set of postings “all turn on a common theme: the various writers’ subjective reactions to a wine and cheese pairing.”

Local Foodie reports that a buying club is getting set-up for people to make purchases from alternative food suppliers like the Crown of Maine Co-op.

Novare Res, is the name of a new beer cafe that will be opening at 4 Canal Plaza this Spring. With all the recent announcements, we’re now up to a count of 12 food and drink establishments that are on the Under Construction list.

Chow Maine has shared some insight on Maine slaughterhouses and where their beef comes from.

January 22
Be sure to save a spot on your calendar this week for the Slow Food Portland Writers’ Night. On hand will be writers Margaret Hathaway, Sandy Oliver, James Peterson, Melissa Pasanen and Rick Gencarelli. More info on the event and the writers can be found on Slow Food Portland’s website. Portland foodies should also be aware that tickets are now on sale for the PSO Wine Dinner and Auction. The event usually sells out and with good reason: great wine and great food prepared by Maine’s top chefs.

Rachel’s L’Osteria is the focus of a new review from Type A Diversions. While she enjoyed some aspects of the meal, she sums up the overall experience this way, “It’s the kind of place that when you look in from the sidewalk, you are drawn inside. Once inside, however, it is a disappointment, with prices to match.”

January 21
Delivery service 2 Dine In and local menu library MaineTakeout.com were profiled in today’s Press Herald. Also in today’s paper, Don and Samantha Lindgren, owners of Rabelais Books, were featured in the weekly Favorites column. Portland Food Map was listed among their favorite websites.
January 20
The Maine Sunday Telegram has an interview with foodie and local food photographer Russell French.

The Bollard has a new article with the lowdown on changes in the Wharf St bar scene. “Five nightclubs and bars have either closed or will soon close . . . ”

Type A Diversions calls Scratch Baking Co. in South Portland “worth the trip” for their bagels and other baked goods.

January 19 PM
Wild Oats closed its doors for good yesterday and Whole Foods was packed today. The parking lot was so full it was like trying to find a space at the mall the week before Christmas.
January 19 AM
The Commercial St seafood restaurant formerly known as Crab Louie has re-invented itself as One Eyed Jacks Pizza. The menu includes meat and fish tacos, a short list of specialty pizzas, and a daily dinner special. Those of you who remember the Crab Louie sign will recognize the new one for Jacks—the boy is now grasping a slice of pizza instead of a fish.
January 18
Type A Diversions, a self-confessed “huge Five Fifty-Five fan”, raves about the brunch at the Congress St restaurant in her latest review. After polishing off a main dish of wild rice, Gruyere cheese, duck confit and poached egss she reports she “felt like I had died and gone to Heaven”.
January 17
Micucci’s in-house bakery get’s nothing but praise in the latest review. “Micucci’s Grocery in Portland has only one prepared lunchtime offering: pizza. But that’s all it really needs.”
January 16 PM
Cafe at Pat’s was reviewed in today’s edition of The Maine Switch. According to author, “The experience at Pat’s was much better than I imagined . . . and we’ll be back for the Sunday brunch, which I’ve heard is fantastic.” It’s a banner day for PR at Spelt Right. In addition to the article in the Press Herald linked to below, The Maine Switch has also profiled the local spelt flour bakery.
January 16 AM
Spelt Right, a Portland bakery that uses spelt flour in its cooking, was profiled by Meredith Goad in today’s issue of the Press Herald. Also from today’s newspaper comes news that Wolf’s Neck Farm is offering a four-part series of classes on local food; USM and Whole Foods are teaming up to offer a four-part series of classes on chocolate, cheese, and olives. The editorial page of today’s paper, comments on the results of recent research into the connection between price point and wine enjoyment.
January 15
With all the restaurants, bars and other food service venues in Portland for which there’s no review available online, local bloggers and food writers have a target rich environment to work in. Here’s my top 10 wish list of reviews I hope will be written in the new year:

January 13 PM
Erin at Type A Diversion has done a review of The Wine Bar, which takes it off the unreviewed list. Erin comments that When “fresh out of college” she and her husband thought the Wine Bar “was a cool place to spend a Saturday night”, but now finds that it’s not living up to those memories. My memories of The Wine Bar are also very positive . . . perhaps it’s time for me to make another visit.
January 13 AM
The Press Herald is running their 22nd annual reader’s poll. The poll includes categories for Best Restaurant, Best Cheap Eats, Best Lobster Roll, Best Coffee, Best Bakery, Best Pizza, Best Bar and Best Beer. You can participate in the poll by filling out the survey online at the Press Herald‘s website.
January 12
In response to the posting of the word Pastarazzi by From Way Away in the Uban Dictionary, Type A Diversions has explained the guidelines she uses to when taking pictures at restaurants.
January 11
Local blogger, From Way Away, has posted a new word in the Urban Dictionary: Pastarazzi. According to the dictionary, Pastarazzi are “Foodie bloggers who insist on taking pictures of their meal at nice restaurants.” I wonder if he had anyone in particular in mind?

There’s an excellent post on the eGullet Forums about four Maine farms that have banded together to deliver farm produced goods to Portland during the off-season of the farmers’ markets. The posting includes a list of all the items available which range from parsnips to moogurt. The four farms are Thirty Acre Farm, Freedom Farm, Goranson Farm and Townhouse Farm.

January 10
Silly’s is the focus of a review in this week’s issue of The Maine Switch. The article touts Silly’s universal appeal, “You can bring your 8-year-old nephew, your foodie aunt and your meat-and-potatoes dad and the whole crew will be happy (if a little bit silly).” Hard on heels of yesterday Portland Phoenix article on Rabelais and the Slow Food Portland Writers’ Night comes this list food book recomendations from TMS food critic Avery Yale Kamila.
January 9 PM
Today’s Portland Phoenix includes an article which is a mashup of Rabelais and Slow Food Portland. The result? Slow Food Portland Writers’ Night which is taking place January 24 in the SPACE gallery.
January 9 AM
Mesa Verde is the focus of an review published today by Type A Diversions. She sums up her impressions this way, “Mexican is not difficult to do well, but you won’t find it done well at Mesa Verde.” The Portland Press Herald is reporting that Bresca will be expanding its wine list with 40 new wines from Spain and that changes to the menu are also in the works. Additionally, the Press Herald reports that Hugo’s will be discontinuing its prix fixe menu in May in favor of “a more casual, a la carte style”.
January 8
Erik Desjarlais, has posted an update on his blog about the upcoming opening of his new restaurant Evangeline. With regard to what Desjarlais refers to as “The Magic Question” aka When will you be opening Evangeline?, all Erik has for answer is “soon”. In his words, “It will be 2 years in February since Bandol [Erik’s last restaurant] closed its doors. A few extra weeks won’t hurt.”
January 6
Nancy English gives Chabba Thai Cuisine II 2½ stars in her review of the Forest Ave restaurant published on MaineToday.com. According to English, Chabba II is “another good option on crowded Thai landscape”.

Accidental Vegetables has published a review on her New Year’s Eve visit to Fore Street. She sums up her experience by saying, “All in all it was a lovely dinner, and not outrageously priced. So why do I say we probably won’t be adding it to our rotation? I think, honestly, it’s the philosophy of the restaurant: simplicity . . . I really have no complaints about our meal, which was masterfully prepared within its merits, or the service, which was truly outstanding. It just didn’t excite the hell out of me.”

Type A Diversions has published another in her ongoing series reviewing Portland’s sushi restaurants. This time around she writes about Benkay, “The service is so-so – never stellar, but not poor enough to keep me from returning. I’ll hold out hope that Yosaku will get their act together in time for summer, when it is so nice to enjoy sushi on their patio. Until then, when I have a sushi craving, you’ll find me at Benkay.”

January 5
Today’s Press Herald is reporting that Bleacher’s, the Bayside sportsbar that closed recently, may reopen in the future in another location. The article goes on to report that another restaurant probably will be going in to the former Bleacher’s location on Preble St.
January 4
Bibo’s Madd Apple Cafe was rated 7 out of 10 by local blogger Chris2fer, and MaineToday.com has a review of Portland’s newest Thai restaurant, Pom’s Thai Taste.
January 3
Bleachers, a sportsbar located on Preble St, has thrown in the towel. According to Portland Psst!, StarEast Cafe had it’s grand opening today. The Maine Switch‘s Avery Yale Kamila has written a very good overview of the past year’s food highlights and upcoming changes in the Portland restaurant scene.
January 2
Passage to India has netted it’s second review in as many days, this one is from The Maine Switch. Nancy English has posted an article on her site Chow Maine Guide about bitters and bitter ingredients in food. Todd Richard at The Phoenix has written an article about shopping at Fat Baxter’s, a market located on Munjoy Hill.
January 1 PM
Blogger Type A Diversions has published a review of Passage to India, Portland’s newest Indian restaurant. This brings the count of restaurants and other food service businesses without reviews down to 80. Tic Tac O, Salads, etc., Clock Tower Cafe, and Five Seasons Cooking School have been added to the site.
January 1 AM
The top 10 restaurants viewed most often on Portland Food Map during the month of December are:

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

Bresca has remained in the top spot for the past 4 months running.