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Everything posted by CSASphinx

  1. Hello Gang, I'll be in Chicago for a couple of days at a conference. I'll by flying solo, so if I don't meet like-minded food hounds during the day, I'll be venturing out on my own in search of tasty bites. What I'm interested in are good restaurants that provide the full menu at the bar and a restaurant where serving folks at the bar is a regular part of what they do, not an after thought. In New York, I've had great luck at places like Babbo, where once seated you can enjoy a good meal and make new friends on either side of you. One thought I had was to go to Avec, since the communal dining there would be similar, but any other suggestions would be welcome. Blue 13? Graham Eliot? Looking for vibrant bar scene and exceptional food. Thanks.
  2. Johnny, Am I seeing things, or is that a picture of Broadturn Farm in Scarborough?
  3. About 15 years ago, I went to a wedding in Friendship and the reception was held on an island a couple miles from town. Roughly 120 guests were ferried to the island by a couple of local lobstermen who secured floats on either side of their boat and bedecked them with lawn chairs for the ferry passengers. Piloting a lobster boat with wings and then landing it--twice (once on each side) was not a simple feat, but pulled off expertly. Once on the island, the back area of the house had been prepared by the local company putting on the lobster bake. Big pits of hard wood had been fired up and mounds of fresh seaweed lay at the ready. While the guests sipped drinks and had appetizers, the crew built the layers of seaweed, canvas, steamers, potatoes, corn on the cob and lobsters, finally dropping the last canvas on top and settling everything in for a good steam. When all was ready we lined up for our goodies. When I had finished, I naturally, when it comes to lobster and steamers, found I had room for a bit more. The SECOND lobster I had that day was the best I'd ever tasted. Perhaps it was the friends and perhaps I was a bit tipsy, but no matter. For this lobster, I think for having stayed in the pit for longer than the others, had developed a slight smokey flavor. Still moist, still sweet, with that little hint of smoke. Honest to God, I can still taste that lobster, reaching back all those years. Pure heaven.
  4. Ah, Hello Portland, egulleteers...it has been some time since I've posted, but I simply find that I must: For on Thursday night, my wife and I and two other couples made our first visit to Evangeline. Ummmm. WOW! We had a raucous and deliciously good time, thanks to the wonderful food and a couple stellar wines delivered by Joe, I think it is, whose hands we left it in to choose for the table. Two bottles of Burgundy (I WISH I could remember what it was) and one bottle of Spann Mo Mo. Only one of our party was drinking the Spann and was suspiciously quiet about it for some time, until someone snagged a sip and soon was pouring a taste for everyone while my friend complained that we were all drinking "his" wine. I was going to order the Cervelles de veau, but finally settled on duck foie (since I'm a foie maniac) served in a small Mason-type canning jar with toast points and pickled veggies. Very tasty, but the serving size was absolutely huge. I think I may have had a little more than a third of the foie. When I jokingly asked if it was served in the jar so I could take it home, our server said no, but she'd gladly pack it. For my entree, my wife and I split the poussin. Peas on one side, carrots on the other with a mustard sauce. Simple (but also not so simple, if you know what I mean) and perfectly cooked. Strangely, because it is not my habit, I was so involved in my dish, that I didn't shamelessly beg for tastes of other people's dishes, though the friend across from me had a near "Harry Met Sally" moment when she had her first bite of the duck and I was able to snag a couple of oysters on thing slice of cucumber from my neighbor's Skate dish. I think next time we go, I'll need to call ahead to get the folks to employ the prominently displayed duck press. For dessert, I had the strawberries and rhubarb. Crunchy. Creamy. Sweet and just a little tart. While I like my desserts I little less sweet, I know I'm not in the mainstream around here. Trust me, this is the tiniest of a complaint and based more on my preference than any flaw in the preparation. This had fantastic rhubarb flavor and made me miss the big rhubarb patch my parents had in the garden when I was growing up. Another at my table who also had this dessert, said that when he was a kid, they would take raw rhubarb, peel it and eat it after dipping it in a bowl of sugar. But I digress. Evangeline, is a very, very welcome new restaurant on the Portland scene. Congratulations to Chef Erik, his crew and everyone else who is involved. I can't wait to go back. Chris
  5. I absolutely love this thread, as I've been a Manhattan advocate (literally converting friends and acquaintances to its wonders) for the better part of the last seven years. Unlike a lot of folks, this was not something handed down from an elder in my family, rather the starter (and ender many hours later) of a night out with some former publishing colleagues, one of whom was half a generation older than I. I occurs to me that discussing THE single best Manhattan, is akin to people discussing what their favorite colors are, and that, I think, is the beauty. A little more bourbon or rye here, more or less vermouth, two shakes, four shakes, six shakes (!!) of bitters all create a different dance among the flavors here. But make no mistake: As Sam pointed out in an earlier post, a Manhattan is bourbon or rye, Italian vermouth and bitters. End of story. Unfortuantely for me, being from Maine, we have slim pickings when it comes to good vermouth and that means I'm stuck with M&R Rosso which probably explains why I like my Manhattans heavy on the spirit side, 3 to 1 and even 4 to 1 spirit to vermouth. I found the note about the 2-2-2 Manhattan interesting as I have been blending bourbons for my Manhattans almost since the beginning, though to be truthful, this began as a way to economize getting some better bourbon into the drink without going broke ( I drink A LOT of Manhattans). My "house" Manhattan, currently, is equal parts Jim Beam and Knob Creek 3 to 1 ratio to vermouth, two or three shakes of bitters depending on how full the bitters bottle is. I like this better than an all Knob Creek mix, but I sitll keep the flavor profiles of the blend in the family, if you will. The idea of using Blantons never ocurred to me, as mentioned in an earlier post, but I think that is because it is one of my favorite sipping bourbons and has lots of different flavors all by itself that I wouldn't want to potentially hide. Still, I'm intrigued Like others, I have tried some variations, even adding a drop or two of Cointreau (since the only bitters I have is Angostura) and that made a great counterpoint, but it's not something I do on a regular basis. If I want orange flavors with my bourbon, I'll make and Old Fashioned, thank you very much. My biggest pet peeve about this cocktail, however, is how poorly they are made in restaurants and bars, where I would hope ANY kind of bar training would START with this as the cocktail to mix well. One night I stopped a rather young and mightily misinformed bartender with a loud "WHAT are you DOING?" as I saw him trying to pour some maraschino cherry juice into the mix. In general, the Manhattans I get while out are either too watery, too sweet or have not the slightest hint of bitters within miles--or any of the combination of the three. Enough of my rambling, I could go on for hours about this fabulous cocktail. And here's a nice BUMP to the topic.
  6. Sorry to be late to the party with this, but I'm not sure which thread you are referring to being a couple years old...There is the ongoing thread "Opinion of food in Portland, ME" (sorry, my hyperlink function doesn't seem to work rigth now). Which seems to flow with a lot of good information compiled over teh course of two years. Perhaps its a bit unweildy, now that it stretches 11 or more pages, but anyhow, here's a--by no means complete-- selection of places in town where I think you'd get good food. <deep breath> Hugo's, Cinque Terre, Vignola, Yosaku, the Front Room, Bresca, Duckfat (for lunch), Caiola's, Five Fifty-Five, Rachel's L'Osteria (insanely huge portions) and Street & Co. I'm sure I've overlooked some, and also didn't include others where we either haven't been, or haven't been recently (such as Back Bay Grill). Again, hope this doesn't hit too late.
  7. Sorry this is late, but I'd say that Juanita Bananas is your best bet for high-end food on Culebra. There's also not much chance of getting touristy food there, as the rest is pretty basic. I will say that El Eden is great place to go for lunch and a sandwich. I also like the burgers at the roadside bar El Batey. Friends ate last year at the Fox's Lair and said it was good, there's apparently a new Tex-Mex place downtown near Heather's pizza place and, even though it is not the best one you'll ever have, I love the Cubanos at El Patio (near the airport). There's something about making my way through a fresh Cubano on Flamenco Beach sipping an ice cold Medalla that's just feels so perfect.
  8. Just noticed that because we will be arriving mid afternoon Friday and leaving in the morning on Monday, Jean Georges is out (at least for lunch) for this trip SIGH...
  9. You're quick on the draw Nathan, thanks. Eleven Madison is one of our favorites but we haven't been in some time. So perhaps WD-50 (We've never been) Oh, and something I should have added. We are both very casual folks and prefer that places where we dine not to have even a SNIFF of attitude.
  10. OK...So I've accepted, grudgingly, that with our budget this year, Per Se is probably out, as it would take more than 50 percent of our alotted food $$. But seriously, I'd love to see how some of you NY e-Gers would design a three dinner, two lunch visit to your city. Extra points for not filling us up (too much anyway) on lunch. So, no holds barred, we eat pretty much anything. Or anything good.
  11. Opinions are funny things...I like the space at 555 better than Cinque Terre. That said, they are somewhat similar--open kitchen a few tables downstairs and a few tables upstairs with a view to below. It's been some time since I've been to Cinque Terre, though I've always found the food there to be top notch. Many here know how 555 is my favorite place, all around, in Portland. It should be noted that if it has been some time since you came to Portland, that 555 added a lounge next door, where people can get small bites and a drink either before, or instead of dining in the main room. Also in the past year their wine list has greatly expanded AND (this is something I've wished for for some time) Steve, the chef, is branching out from the tried and true and is spreading his wings. Recently seen on the menu were wild boar, rabbit and char..OK I know char isn't ALL that different, but it's one of my favorite fish. The good news is, from the list of finalists, you won't go wrong. As others have mentioned, Caiola could easily be tossed into that list, as well. The only thing that stuck out to me was that if you will absolutley go to Street & Co., then Fore Street is eating from the same "family" of restaurants. Kinda like going to Manhattan for a few nights and only eating at Danny Meyer places...
  12. What a great thread! I'm afraid I've been tied to heavily to the Jim Beam faimly of bourbons and it's time for me to spread my wings a little. Unfortunately in Maine it can often be difficult to find what I'd like to. That said, I've been a big fan of Knob Creek for going on five years now. It's also my bourbon of choice when I want to knock someone's socks off with a Manhattan. There's just something about the spice in that bourbon combined with the sweetness of the vermouth and the the complexity of the dash of bitters that really turns my crank. When I'm mixing for myself i usualy go equal portions Knob Creek with Jim Beam white. What the heck! They're from the same family. I've also noticed many people mentioning how hot Bookers is. Well, it IS that. Perhaps I'm blasphemous for suggesting this, but I've often enjoyed glasses of Bookers on the rocks and I really enjoy how the taste changes and I can detect different flavor notes as the water increases in proportion to the bourbon. By the end, I feel like I'm drinking nothing but an alcoholic caramel drink. YUM. Basil Hayden's I wasn't particulary fond of. Enjoyed the couple of bottles of Woodford's I've had. But to me, the best borubon I've yet to taste was the bottle of Blanton's I got as a Christmas gift from my wife two years ago. Wonderful and varied spice notes. Alas, it was gone far too soon. But enough of that...time for me to find a source for some Eagle Rare. Oh, and for the record, though I know many people here put it in their top 5, I've never been a big fan of Makers Mark. A bit cloying for my taste.
  13. I think that pretty well sums it up You know an eon is only 7 hours? But seriously Ed, what's in the menu at Barbarosa? is it local fare? ← Well it's been a good four years since anyone has popped anything in this thread so this will give it a huge bump! ;-) Seriously, we will soon be leaving for our third year on Culebra and things sure have changed when it comes to food there even in that short time. Food is one of the things we always look forward to on Culebra (the fact that we share a house with the executive chef of Maine's Cape Arundel Inn, notwithstanding) A small store near the airport makes great Cubanos, El Batey has one of the best burgers anywhere (or maybe it just tastes great with the Heineken after a day at the beach). Now, just atop the hill near the ferry terminal is Juanita Bananas, a delicious high-end restaurant that plays on the island flavors and other cuisines. It would easily be a contender and successful in any city. For lunchtime fare Try El Eden deli, it has very good sandwiches, salads and the like. Or just try the foodstands at Flamenco Beach--a beach that will knock your socks off with its beauty. And yes, the aforementioned Barbara Rosa's is still in business, though now at a different location. Granted, Culebra is what many would consider a "downscale" island experience (which is why we like it so much), but as long as you don't expect white linen (or terribly prompt service) there is plenty of good food to be found. I'll report on my eatings there during my upcoming stay.
  14. Well if quantity is the deciding factor, then by all means Fore St. is the place to land. That said, I still believe the food and service are much more refined at 555 than Fore St., James Beard award notwithstanding. Similarly, I wouldn't use quantity as my judge when discussing the food at Hugo's.
  15. I did qualify my statement with plenty of fresh lobster! The lobster roll that isn't is certainly a disappointment. I wouldn't actually mind a croissant if it was a good one and, again, the lobster was fresh and plentiful. ← It must be my 40 plus years as a Mainer...but my lobster "roll" made with a croissant? That's simply....well...*misguided*
  16. Speaking of breakfast...is the second coming of The Good Egg operational yet at the Pepper Club? and if so, has anyone been? I still remember those delicious whole grain pancakes that would fill an entire plate, with a dollop of Maine blueberry compote. The Good Egg is also where, as a then mid-20-something person, I had my first cup of coffee. I figured it smelled so good I just had to try it. It's been two cups a morning ever since.
  17. Depending on your budget, I'd suggest Grill 23. Check out thier Web site Grill 23
  18. skeeter, the space where 555 is now (before it was the restaurant Aubergine) was called Raffles Cafe and Bookstore. I liked that place.
  19. Ok...so it's been a while since I've been here. But I can't resist adding a couple the "Steak and Cheese" app. at 555 A still-warm molasses donut from Tony's Oysters with cream and Pernod from Michaela's (I miss that place) creme brulee from Back Bay Grill Fried clams from Susan's Fish and Chips and My wife's Lemon cheesecake with animal cracker crust and topped with lemon curd
  20. Well, I love Manhattans and it's gotten to the point for me that I don't order the drink out anymore, since I can make it much better myself. Drives me crazy when they ask "Do you want bitters in that?" It's like when I'd find myself at a friend's house years ago and I'd ask what he could make, and he'd tell me he had stuff for a Gin & Tonic, then would bring me gin, tonic and ice. No lime. Argh! That said -- and it WAS a while ago -- I had a great Manhattan prepared by a woman bartender at the Portland Sea Grill a year ago Christmas. She even left the shaker and strainer nearby for me drain out the overpour...
  21. Olive oil....you should have popped into the above-mentioned Miccucci's and you would have had your pick of sizes....we get the big tins, but there are plenty of smaller-sized bottles. Spanish, Italian, some Greek too, I think. Ah, blueberries. I, too, used to pick great big buckets at my grandparents place in Bridgton, Maine out in the field. Lots of them...this a few months after we ventured out for wild strawberries (enough for my grandmother to make a couple dozen jars of wild strawberry preserves -- YUM!) She'd serve these over plattar, a crepe-like, thin, eggy pancakes. She'd also make blueberry preserves and we'd have it on the plattar when the wild strawberries ran out.
  22. Steve, Thanks for this. I haven't been able to check the site for some time and was getting a bit cranky with the tone of the early posts in this thread. The Italian grocery you're thinking of is called Miccucci's. Great place. We make special trips there just for the deli counter (Reggiano is a staple for us at home and it's the only realiable place in town to get it -- cheese offerings at the Public Market notwithstanding. Still it makes me miss Models Market, a real old world place I visited as a kid at Christmas time....I think it probably closed 10 years ago. Anyone who watches local news should note that it was owned by the father and grandfather of Channel 6 sportscaster Lee Goldberg. Also, while I understand how with only one night in town you would choose Hugo's, please do yourself the favor of getting to 555 for dinner next time you are here. I know I'm an old saw regarding them, but Hugo's aside, I think they do the best job overall in town. My only complaint recently would be that the menu seems a little stagnant. But I believe that is due to the fact that repeat business in Portland is even more important than in other cities, most people here tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to challenging their palate (my wife included), and heck, if you have an entree that consistently sells well, it doesn't make that much sense to take it off for something else....one of the realities of Portland. That said, I still think the chef, Steve Corry, is talented enought to stretch his wings a little more than he does. But this is a very, very small complaint. It is still my favorite place to go in town. As for Mims...yes, that used to be a lot of different things and I can't rmember the name before it changed, but the focus was Caribbean food, I believe. But I haven't been to Mims as I've heard mixed things. Of course this is all hearsay. Other places of note, and I think some have already mentioned them: Uffa; Katahdin; Local 188; Dogfish is interesting but more as a lunch place, I think; Pepper Club; and an odl favorite Back Bay Grill, which honestly we haven't been to all that frequently lately, though my impression was the menu was becoming less staid and more ambitious. Chris
  23. I'm desperately tired of the pitiful selection of jarred cherries here in Maine. Nonetheless, I slip one nasty red cherry into my Manhattan each time I make one and always wish I had something better. Now with fresh cherries arriving daily at the local farm stands and supermarkets, I've decided I will make my own. The problem: I haven't the slightest clue what to do. So anyone who has cured their own cherries for drink garnishes, please feel free to share your ideas. Extra attention will go to those that include some kind of bourbon in the recipe. Thanks, Chris
  24. A few of the restaurants in the about.com page johnny listed no longer operate and while it gives you an idea of a few places to try in Portland, it misses a lot of interesting places....like Local 188 or the newly-revitalized katahdin or my personal favorite, Five Fifty-Five. For lunch, I'd go for something out of the way, Like the Dogfish Cafe on the corner of Congress St. and St. John. Out of the way, but a good little spot. Not exactly sure how far North (or Downeast) you are planning to drive, so I guess timing is everything.
  25. A good place to both see AND eat is found at TWO LIGHTS, just outside of Portland in Cape Elizabeth. When you see the entrance to Two Lights State Park, bear left and head to lands' end where you'll find another light house and the estimable Lobster Shack for food. Also, closer to Portland is the Portland Headlight at Fort Williams Park. A picture postcard Maine scene, made famous by early 20th century painter Edward Hopper, the vantage of the mouth of Portland harbor from here is stunning. I hope the weather breaks for your trip.
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