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Portland ME Restaurants


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#61 TPO

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 11:11 AM

I went to Katahdin this fall. The food was terrific and the most expensive entree (delicious scallops) was $22. While some people were dressed nice, we fit in fine in nice jeans.
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#62 Boo

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 07:00 AM

Well, we're heading up tomorrow morning. Any last minute tips or advice on new places, or particularly good brunch spots, and is it worth going to the Public Market or not? Thanks to all!

#63 johnnyd

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 07:13 AM

Hey Boo,
The Portland Public Market is definitely worth a visit. I am actually headed there in about an hour to pick up supplies for our NYEve, and have a capuccino. There is a new oyster bar at the far end which I haven't tried.

Maine Shrimp is in season and very good. Buy a pound (about 60pcs) and drop 'em in boiling water for no more than one minute, dip in melted butter.

There will be some festivities in town that wrap up about 9pm when folks spread out for a meal and meet-ups.

A good place with a view of Portland from the other side of the River is Saltwater Grille whom are famous for brunches. Menu available on website.

Have fun!
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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#64 ghostrider

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 04:41 PM

I second the Public Market, a great place to poke around & have lunch.

555 (at 555 Congress St) also comes well recommended, I forget by whom. They have their menu posted in their window, you can take a look & see if it appeals. It's only a couple of blocks up from Katahdin.

We dined at Katahdin last week & enjoyed it thoroughly. Fresh & reasonably inventive food, excellent service. Still working on the details of my writeup.
Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

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#65 Boo

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 07:30 AM

Here's my report on our weekend of non-stop eating:

Major disappointment at Uffa! We arrived on time for our 7 pm reservations Friday night and were greeted by a clearly upset host who informed us that we would have to leave because one of our party was a child, and Uffa! does not serve children. Now, I have no problem with this policy, but I would have appreciated if this policy was publicly posted on their website, along with the menu, directions on where to park, etc. I never would have made a reservation if I had seen that. Apparantly, this is the policy under the new owner. Last time we were at Uffa! was a few years ago and it was a more casual place than it appears to be now. Anyway, what bothered me more was that the host just stood there, staring at us dumbly, and did not even offer other suggestions on where to go. Just told us we had to leave. (I am thinking of writing a letter to the owner).

So, we walked back to the parking lot and the lot attendant pointed out that Local 188 was nearby, so off we went. I explained our situation to the owner, who greeted us, and he graciously offered us a table even without a reservation. We had a really enjoyable dinner. Garlic shrimp; a lovely, creamy potato leek soup; melt in your mouth beef tenderloin with blue oyster and chanterelles and potatoes au gratin; a Brazilian style mahi mahi with marinated cucumber salad and a very fresh salsa; vanilla cheesecake and flan. Also started the meal with a very acceptable little martini, and wine with dinner (don't remember which, I think one was a Mad Fish from Australia). I'd have to say the standouts were the soup and the tenderloin, but then chanterelles are one of my weak points. Loved the funky atmosphere and will definitely come back. (And there were other children there!)

Brunch the next day at the Friendship Cafe. Big points for the homemade corned beef hash! Also really enjoyed the toast made with hearty, chewy bread. Long wait to be seated (I think it was one of the few breakfast places open on NY), but cozy and a good deal.

Dinner Saturday at Thanh Thanh II. Standout was the caramelized salmon served in a pot, spicy and sweet at the same time, loved the sauce. Also enjoyed the pickled lemonade (sour and sweet) which I had never had before and the red bean shake with tapioca balls.

Lunch on Sunday at Scales. Red wine marinated bluefish with pan seared cabbage
was delicious. I normally dislike cabbage, but searing it brought out a sweetness that I really enjoyed. The oyster stew was reported to be very good, but I didn't taste it. Had a really good time walking around the Public Market and bought several diffferent types of smoked salmon and parmesan cheese. Was disappointed that we missed the sausage man, so we'll have to come back.

All in all, a tasty and enjoyable weekend. Such a great little city, I can't wait to come back to try more restaurants.

#66 johnnyd

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 08:33 AM

Nice review! Glad you enjoyed yourselves and were able to work around Uffa's sorry-assed policy, sheesh. :angry: I bet Local 188 will be thrilled to bust their balls! :laugh: I've never had a bad meal there. If the garlic shrimp were on the small side, I'd wager they were from local waters. As for Uffa, I had to wait an eternity for a mediocre meal so why bother. Too many other places in this town.

Friendship Cafe is always packed, every day. Last time we went we saw the chief of police sneaking in for a mid-morning breakfast. Superb food.

Never tried Thanh Thanh II, so thanks for the write-up. Word on the street says they have great Pho.

Scales is a project of Sam Hayward (and friends) at Fore Street so it's bound to be good.

Come back soon :smile:
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
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#67 ghostrider

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 11:28 AM

Thanks from a Portland aficianado from away for the review. Local 188 looked like an inviting place, glad to hear that they delivered.

Makes me glad we missed Uffa over Christmas weekend (writeup hopefully will be up soon). In browsing their menu the day before Christmas Eve, I noticed the biggest damn fly I've ever seen in my life crawling on the inside of the window in front of the menu. Considering the season, that fly was clearly a survivor. And perhaps an omen.

I thought that somewhere, someone had posted that Uffa was vying with Fore Street as best in the city? I'm not sure if I read that on eG or that Portland review site (I don't rember it as a comment from any of the regulars here), and it really doesn't matter now. As johnnyd says, too many other places.
Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

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#68 Boo

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 01:37 PM

Yup. shrimp were on the small side. Good to know they are local!

Ghostrider - Euuew re: the fly!

#69 johnnyd

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 07:41 AM

In relating Boo's adventure over New Year's my wife, an attorney, took exception to Uffa's "policy" and thought she might take a casual look at laws governing this sort of thing. Seemed a bit fishy that a restaurant can discriminate among patrons with/without kids. :hmmm:

My guess is that the "Host" was in the weeds and took it upon himself to "manage" the traffic on the floor so the whole place didn't crash down around him, or he was partied-out and just couldn't deal with working that day, or if he was the new owner, he's finally coming around to the fact that running a restaurant is a lot of work. :blink:

Theories anyone?

Edited by johnnyd, 06 January 2005 - 07:43 AM.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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#70 Ellie

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 08:16 AM

I have been thinking about this. I would first say that I had a really good meal there a couple of months ago. We were really surprised with how good the meal was given the reasonable price and I had intended to return...

As far as this no child policy -- having no children, I've never really thought about it before. I could see if there was an expensive prix fix menu or really high end dining, accomodating a child foodwise could be difficult. (I worked at a Caribbean restaurant once where we commonly made scrambled eggs and bread for kids because that's all we had that they'd eat). Or a special holiday menu, perhaps.

But Uffa!, I thought was a neighborhood, "bistro" type of place (maybe that was the old owner). Perhaps they think of themselves as more fine dining than the customers do :) [Even 555 seats children, and they consider themselves the finest dining in town]

I just don't like this policy, it seems unnecessarily exclusionary for the place that it is.

#71 Boo

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 08:37 AM

Ellie, those are exactly my thoughts. I never would attempt to bring a child to a blatantly upscale restaurant like the White Barn Inn, for example. I considered Uffa! a neighborhood bistro and never thought that there would be an issue with bringing a child. Good to know that 555 seats children, for future meals!

Johnnyd - Coincidentally, I happen to be an attorney too! In MA. I have been wondering for a few days if there is some sort of discrimination issue as well. But, as I think about it, children are not a protected class, like the disabled or the elderly. I'd be interested in your wife's ideas on the subject. And, the host was young and seemed stressed out, although there were only a few tables filled at that time.

#72 johnnyd

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 09:07 AM

Perhaps my theory that he had been partying too hard last week and didn't want to be there is correct. Only a few tables filled? This guy is perplexing. Flies in January? :angry: :angry: :angry:

I say write that letter. If the new owners are with it, they will actually read it and maybe some good will come out of it. If they are disorganized or overwhelmed they won't read it, or will and not do anything about it, the place eventually goes down the tubes and hopefully into the hands of better managers.
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
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#73 fchrisgrimm

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 02:09 PM

Johnnyd - Coincidentally, I happen to be an attorney too!  In MA.  I have been wondering for a few days if there is some sort of discrimination issue as well.  But, as I think about it, children are not a protected class, like the disabled or the elderly. 

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So on one hand you don't object to the policy, but on the other hand you were pondering a lawsuit.

The fact that you weren't warned of the policy by the restaurant ahead of time was clearly unfortunate (and wrong), but the rest of the opining suggests a broader complaint about an honest free-market driven policy.

As someone who is child-free, I am just as bothered by those who inflict their offspring on the rest of the world, whenever they see fit. I have no problem with a restaurant's policy, one way or the other - just let me know so I can also plan accordingly, depending of whether I am eating with other guests who are bringing children, or if I don't want want to be subjected to the typical behavior of children in tow at a nice restaurant.

Alas, you'll say the policy is okay if forewarned, but opine about a lawsuit, discouraging the option of child-free (just like smoke free) establishments. Your kids surely are angels, but unfortunately those who are subjected to bad behavior have no recourse. When little Jenny or Johnny screams and cries through our anniversary dinner, will you pick up my tab? Maybe I should sue!

And don't let all of your little ankle-biters pay for their coffee individually, while I am trying to get my day moving - keep things moving and don't slow the line, please!!

(Only half-kidding.)

#74 Ellie

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 06:12 PM

No one said anything about a lawsuit. There's nothing wrong with wondering about the legality or ramification of a policy. No one is out to ruin your dinner.

#75 fchrisgrimm

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 05:17 PM

No one said anything about a lawsuit.  There's nothing wrong with wondering about the legality or ramification of a policy.  No one is out to ruin your dinner.

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Wondering about 'discrimination issues' certainly hints to a considerationlegal action.

I'm certainly not a child hater, but child-free folks like myself are constantly asked to accomodate those who have children (trying to ignore the less-ruly ones in nice restaurants is the least of those accomodations). It's the whole Sex and the City Manolo Blahnik episode.

It would be nice if people didn't constantly have to have it both ways, when others are subjected to dealing with the situation.

#76 Fred

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 09:13 AM

Hey all I'm coming home (Boothbay) for about 48 hours next weekend and doing dinner with the parents in Portland Thursday night. What's new and a must try. I've done the following to death so I'm looking for something new and good.
Hugo's
Walter's
Street & Co
Forestreet
Back Bay Grill

Thanks in advance.

#77 johnnyd

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 09:58 AM

Fred,
Katahdin at 106 High Street is a local favorite. Here is an old review from a "Food in Portland" website that hasn't been updated in years, but still a source of good info.

Saltwater Grille is across the harbor on the South Portland side (see their menus) so it has a great view of the town. The food isn't bad and the wine list reasonable. Some things are quirky, like their goat cheese w/romaine (served as grilled wedges which I didn't like and confused my date) but you can't fault them for trying. The view is worth it.

I'll post later if anything else comes up. :smile:
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#78 ghostrider

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Posted 26 March 2005 - 06:07 PM

As a guy from away, I will second Katahdin, we had an excellent meal there with friends in December.
Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

#79 CSASphinx

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 08:57 AM

My favorite place in Portland right now is Five Fifty-Five at 555 Congress St.

Really top notch food and they have a new pastry chef, previously from Arrows.
"Democracy is that system of government under which the people…pick out a Coolidge to be head of the State. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies." H. L. Mencken

#80 Siren

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 02:06 PM

I have been living in Portland for the past 7 months and have been wowed more by the abundance of mediocre findings here. The best places I have dined have been Street and Co., Duckfat(I have not yet been to HUGO's, but it's next when I have some more disposable funds), Thian ThianII(I believe that's the name of the vietnamese restaurant we went to), Stir Crazy, Fuji, Marcy's and Bintliffs(though the holandaise for the lobster benedict was a bit too salty). But, more often than not, I am finding money wasted on food I could have been better off making at home.
I am just wondering, for the number of restaurants the city boasts, are they all just merely so-so? What are the opinions of the posters here who have been to or reside in Portland?
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#81 Ellie

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 07:08 AM

If mediocre food doesn't get to you, mediocre service or consistency will.

I've been here for two years and while there appears to be many restaurants, there are many that I don't go to because they just aren't good. Good service is quite illusive and I've learned to be a more assertive customer in order to get what I want. I almost never write a place off the first or even second time because there would be no place left to go. (exception being Ribolitta because I wrote them a letter of complaint and they didn't bother to respond!)

That said, in order to have a decent amount of variety, I work hard to find things to like about a place. For example, the Porthole stopped being good some time ago IMO, but the deck in the summer is a must so I go there for drinks, split the crab salad and sometimes Friday night happy hour at the Comedy Connection. At some time, I got sketched out by the cleanliness at Rosie's (don't know why) but like the place for a beer and darts (they play good music) so I'll get fried chicken tenders only. I much prefer Yosaku to Benkay, but Benkay serves escolar which I love, so I go periodically for that.

I guess you were more focused on food but my point is, find your good core places and then supplement with sort of strategic strike snacks to get variety.

I don't know if you tried these -- Tu Casa, Asmara or Nile (warning, very new)? Also there is good fried chicken and fried pork belly at La Bodega Latina (haven't been in quite a while, and haven't tried too many things there) I think Rachel's is a very good dinner spot, good food good value. Uffa is really terrific! Oh and don't forget to try Fully Belly Deli if you like deli. I could go on....

Sorry for the ramble!

#82 Siren

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 07:19 AM

no, don't apologize for the rambling... I haven't been to Nile yet, but probably will in the coming week. And I agree w/Yokusa over Benkay--for generally just about everything.. But, prefer the sakitini's @ Sapparo.

I've heard that the service over at Fore st. is obnoxious, but haven't been there myself. I definately enjoyed it @ Street and Co., which was probably the best experience I've had in Portland. That thought was even greater confirmed when a friend who dined with me, and is 'one of those' patrons(ie, highly critical)... but, by the time we left, she was ready to propose marriage to everyone from the busser to the exec. chef. But, the exec. chef is now gone... so, it will be interesting to see if they make it through their growing pains..

As far as the Old Port, I've tried not to eat there too often, because I've found so much of that mediocre food there--Rira's, aside from the Potato Cakes and the very nice waitress, Una, i wasn't too fond of it. The salmon was overdone and insanely salted. And, even at a place like Dewey's, it's hit and miss on even the most general of pub foods.
Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, *really* like licorice!
-Jerry Garcia

#83 johnnyd

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 05:54 AM

Siren,

Thought I'd serve up a couple older posts for your reading pleasure. this report from New Years and ghostrider's Christmas Visit are informative, as well as CSASphinx trip to 555 Congress . There were copious reports on Fore Street, still a favorite of mine, but I can't find them. Apparently the bartender gets the most negative comments re: service, but I've always had a good experience there especially the food.

Thanks on the tip on Benkay. I love escolar and Tak stopped serving it at Yosaku last year. A weekend(?) barkeep there by the name of Lauren worked at Sapporro back when it was on Fore Street and he makes a perfect Saketini. Tak also seems to be the only sushi chef here who goes for the unusual items, which I look forward to when I visit. This summer should be no exception.

I also found this blog: "From Away; A Portland Travelogue" which is an interesting take on the town from a guy who's been here a year. He mentions the Brit/Indian take-out Haggerty's and the fabulous Chickey's Fine Dining in Westbrook among other low-key options.

I have heard great things about Dogfish Cafe (see review here) especially their mussels. I read recently that they are doing something with the Free Street Taverna soon, which will certainly put this hot spot in a better location.

Others worth looking at is Mim's and Back Bay Grill. I just found another thread on Portland places but it is about a year old.

Have fun, and don't worry: Portland seems to get a bit better every year.
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
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#84 Steve Klc

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 08:11 AM

We're in New Hampshire for a week, and since there's very little good food where we are, we'll be driving to Portland. Alot. First up dinner at Hugo's tonight (we've been there 2 or 3 times in the past 2 years), then at least a dinner at Five-Fifty-Five and a lunch at Duckfat (our first, since they weren't open the last time we were here.) When Hugo's was $44 prix fix, that was very special, that was also pre-Food & Wine mag discovering them. I'll followup with a report, especially on the fries:

http://www.duckfat.com/
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#85 Siren

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 12:13 PM

oh Duckfat is AMAZING!!!! I'm a huge fan of the 'all day' duck confit and tuna melt... the cheese sauce for the fries is ok, though a lil skimpy of a portion. The truffle ketchup was blah.. Duck gravy, curry mayo and garlic were great... have fun and enjoy. I would also recommend their home brewed Ginger Beer... very refreshing.

and the fries.... well, you decide for yourself... they've ruined all other fries for me...

Edited by Siren, 10 June 2005 - 12:15 PM.

Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, *really* like licorice!
-Jerry Garcia

#86 dinwiddie

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 08:20 AM

My wife and I are going to be in Portland for a Monday thru Friday in a couple of weeks. I'm looking for suggestions for places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. We plan to do day trips from Portland, so lunch places outside Portland and must sees are also wanted.

Fred has been kind enough to recommend 555 and Duckfat. I ate at Fore Street the last time I was in Portland (a couple of years ago) and enjoyed it. I want to try Hugo's too.

My criteria, good food, nice atmosphere, not too much "touristy", price is not a problem. We enjoy seafood, but want to try the best Portland has to offer, regardless of type. I'm not interested in bars per se, but if there is someplace where I can get a good glass of wine (or a bottle) and listen to music, I'd love to know about that too.

If anyone has suggestions for that hidden, must see place or town, and someplace that I just have to go to have lunch, I'd love to hear about them.

#87 dinwiddie

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 08:20 AM

We just got back from 5 days in Maine. Beautiful weather, drove a lot, and had some great meals in Portland.

One night we at at 555. It was very nice, but the Grilled salad (greens with roasted peaches, bing cherrys, and pecans) was over sauced and the scallops were a little salty. However, the rest of the meal, mussels and a hanger steak, was excellent, the service very good, and the price not unreasonable. The wine list was fun, but I've seen bettter (well maybe not in Portland)It is a pretty place and they were very friendly. Excellent resteraunt. I was a little concerned when they brought the 2002 vintage of the Fess Parker PN I ordered when the 2001 was listed on the menu, but they were quick to point it out before I read the bottle and explained that they were out of the 2001.

However, we had two better meals while there. My first choice would be Cinque Terre (right across from Street and Co)on Wharf Street. We had the 6 course tasting menu for $55. Excellent. It started with oysters two ways (a Darmisgrotta raw and a Prince Edward Island fried) then crab and fresh peas risotto with white truffel oil. Next was the lobster tail with bread crumbs and basil oil. It was followed by a perfectly cooked hanger steak with chantrelle mushrooms. The next course was cheese, pecorina and toma with peanut jelly and an italian baggette. Last was the dessert, lemon grappa panna cotta and maple gelato with biscotta. Service was exceptional and the wine list, while all and only Italian wine, was reasonably priced, very extensive and long, and very representative of Italy. They also had a nice selection by the glass. I had a 2000 Antinori Toscana Tignanello which was exceptionally well priced at $100.

Our other great meal was at Hugo's. A four course meal for $60. The food was excellent, very well presented (maybe a little over the top, but really pretty), and the service very good. I ordered two half bottles (a 2002 Daniel Dampt Cablis and a 1996 Chateau Meyney St. Estephe) since it was only the two of us. For our first courses I had Maine raised rabbit chartiterie with grainy mustand mousse, pistaschio, and celtic vinegar. My wife had the smoked ****ake mushrooms and asparagus with capri pasta, milk foam and lily buds. The second course for her was the crispy skin loup de mer (rockfish this time) with artichoke en croute, basil seeks and warm olive oil panna cota. I had the honey mead glazed pork belly with sweet potato tot, tomatillo relish and ginger red pepper coulis. Third was the pan roasted tasmanian sea trout with fried fennel, pineapple salad and smoked trout roe. I had the Sous Vide duck breast and leg with golden beet, kola nut pudding and pickled plum. For dessert I had a superb Mita Cana Spanish sheeps milk cheese cake while my wife had the Maine rhubarb and pineapple with Greek yogert panna cotta and Thai basil. The plates may have looked skimpy, but we left stuffed. Very pretty place, but unless you want to sit in high bar type chairs, don't take a table in the window.

A third excellent meal was at the Roma Cafe on Congress Street. Excellent Italian food. We just walked in late (at about 9:30 and they stop serving at 10) but we were treated extremely well and the food was delish. Nice place, white linens and soft music, excellent service. I started with the fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes with roasted peppers, pesto and garlic crostini. It was out of this world. The pesto was some of the best I've had in a long time. My wife had the calamari and it was perfect. For entrees we had the pasta de mer, perfectly prepared and full of lots and lots of seafood (I got to eat the mussels since she doesn't like them) and a wonderful duck breast rubbed in jerk spices and served in pan juices. Very enjoyable but we felt guilty about keeping the staff there just for us as everyone else had finished and gone by the time we started our entrees.

All in all, Portland has some execellent places to eat, and we didn't even try them all.

#88 johnnyd

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 08:28 AM

Wow, what a report. Thanks so much for these updates. You hit almost all the jewels in Portland's crown. Do come back soon!
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#89 ghostrider

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 12:38 PM

What the heck is celtic vinegar?

Nice to see the automated censor hard at work on those shitakes. :laugh:

That's weird, why didn't I get censored when I typed shitake? Ah perhaps dinwiddie does his typing elsewhere.

Edited by ghostrider, 16 July 2005 - 12:39 PM.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

#90 dinwiddie

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 01:17 PM

What the heck is celtic vinegar?

Nice to see the automated censor hard at work on those shitakes.  :laugh:

That's weird, why didn't I get censored when I typed shitake?  Ah perhaps dinwiddie does his typing elsewhere.

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Yep. I copied it from a post I did elsewhere, and they have an automatic censor.