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Portland ME Restaurants


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We'll be arriving in Portland around noon next Saturday en route to South Bristol.  Thinking of lunch at several places - Duck Fat, Blue Spoon, Vignola. 

First off, thanks for this and the other great Portland topic. From all, I put together a list including: The Front Room, Hugo's, Duckfat, Street & Co, 555 + Cinque Terre.

I have a remarkably similar question to MMerrill's but with some added parameters: We will be coming in August for a Saturday sit-down lunch with wine and good grub, setting and location immaterial (in Paris those are oxymoronic). While we arrive close to noon, we do not need to leave Portland quickly. We will be between lots of French food at the source and lots of clams, lobstah and beer at their source (for a week), thus we need neither emphasized. And we will be three (haruumpf) mature adults who haven't talked in person since one of our spouses died, thus we'd like a place quiet enough to talk. A big order but we appreciate and count on the kindness of strangers and I'd be delighted to reciprocate anytime anyone visits Paris.

Thanks.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I would like to add three names to this list, especially taking into consideration the last part of your post. Those three places are:

Bresca at 11 Middle street, 772 1004. Jewel box space, seats maybe 20, menu is all the best of seasonal/local, chef Krista Kern has made a name for herself as a Pastry Goddess but is also the Queen of Savory. Say this only so you leave room for dessert, not to be missed. Lovely menu, wonderful wine list, fabulous atmoshere. Call for reservations, only because she is tiny and fills up fast.

Bar Lola, 100 Congress street, 775 5652. Up Congress street on Munjoy Hill, just across the street from The Front Room. Another intimate space, though a hair larger than Bresca, maybe 30 seats (in and out seating). Guy Hernandez makes great food. Lovely menu, also lovely wine list. Another contender for a delicious quiet meal.

Caiola's West End, 58 Pine street, 772 1110. Other end of town, former chef at Street & Co., Abby Harmon, opened her own place. Fresh food, fresh service (the good kind) and nice room, again intimate, a neighborhood place, but with world class food.

Three of Portlands smaller, yet no less formidable, restaurants. Food in this town is good on many different levels.

And if you need something to read while you're here, please stop in to Rabelais...

www.RabelaisBooks.com

Thought for Food

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Caiola's West End, 58 Pine street, 772 1110.
There is also an intimate patio/garden in the back that looks beautiful. I've yet to eat there but those who have say the meals get a shot of magic back there.

This review in the Portland Phoenix is a year old but paints a nice picture of Bar Lola, 100 Congress St. - Changes since include Christian Kryger's departure for new projects, Josh Potocki's focus is now entirely on OneFiftyAte, 158 Benjamin W Pickett St, South Portland, 207-799-8998 (saw him at a wedding this weekend and shot the breeze), and Guy & Stella have welcomed eG member erikd for a night or two in the kitchen so he can keep his chops honed.

For a great setting, consider Saltwater Grille on the other side of the river where the largish deck overlooks a marina and the city of Portland. The food is satisfactory, (see website for details) but the venue is worth the trip. Perhaps it will be the balm everybody needs?

"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

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Stuck my nose into the construction mayhem that used to be Chicky's Fine Diner today and had a chat with it's new occupant, James Tranchemontagne, chef/owner of Portland's Café Uffa. James plans to open The Frog & Turtle in this space around Labor Day. It will be an English pub-style place with burgers, bangers & mash, shepherd's pie and the like. It is possible there will be live music on occasion. James has had great reviews while running Uffa so I'd assume The Frog & Turtle will be just as dependable.

"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

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I would like to add three names to this list, especially taking into consideration the last part of your post.  Those three places are:

    Bresca  at 11 Middle street, 772 1004. 

    Bar Lola, 100 Congress street, 775 5652. 

    Caiola's  West End,  58 Pine street, 772 1110. 

These all sound terrific but I just called all three and none are open for lunch Saturdays. Other thoughts?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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By August, the new Local 188 will be open (I think they plan on opening next Tuesday). They are located at the corner of State St and Congress St (actually on Congess with ample parking out back) and will be serving lunch and dinner 7 days. The new space looks beautiful. Lunch is a new venture for them, so I can't report there, but they have a good Spanish influenced menu and a tasty wine list.

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By August, the new Local 188 will be open (I think they plan on opening next Tuesday). They are located at the corner of State St and Congress St (actually on Congess with ample parking out back) and will be serving lunch and dinner 7 days. The new space looks beautiful. Lunch is a new venture for them, so I can't report there, but they have a good Spanish influenced menu and a tasty wine list.

Thanks. I did some new research on Saturday lunch openings and found Blue Spoon on this and the "Opinions" topics. Anyone have an opinion on Local 188 vs Blue Spoon?

Also I found these open for Saturday lunch: Barbara's, Snow Squall, Bibo's, Great Lost Bear, Walter's, Boone's + Newick's. Thots?

Again the goal is good food and conversation with our guest. Thanks.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Local 188 - Plans to open August 1st according to Jay, the owner - the new location is in a busy part of town. No idea how it's going to be... especially open barely two weeks.

Blue Spoon - Has a small following. A couple doors up from Front Room

Barbara's - Barbara's Kitchen, 388 Cottage Rd SoPo has closed. David's of Portland took it over and I've heard nothing about it. It is a VERY small space, six or so tables.

The only other Barbara's (or "Barb's) is a b'fast and pizza corner place in SoPo. also very small - not known for culinary greatness.

Snow Squall - Went up for sale 7/18/07 on a local commercial realty site. I don't think they are open. Boring anyway, I heard.

Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe - I had an excellent lunch here three years ago. Excellent service, reasonably priced, simple creations using fresh ingredients. Just off the beaten path at 23 Forest Ave, off Congress.

Great Lost Bear - Vast selection of beers and barfood. Busy, hip place with an outdoor patio. Not a food destination but a Portland institution.

Walter's Cafe - is probably the best food on the list and right, smack downtown in the Old Port. Great food, nice ambiance. ** I just got off the phone w/Ginny and she said there can be a server in their upstairs alcove August 11th if you would like to call and reserve: 207.871.9258 - I'd say we have a winner!

Boone's - closed (Soon to be incorporated by the Comedy Connection/Porthole behemoth)

Newick's - closed (Soon to be new home of Beale Street BBQ)

"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

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#1 Union Wharf is smack-dab in the middle of Commercial St, right at the beginning of Union Wharf, in the Old Port district.  For years it was home to the Union Wharf Market and a real estate office upstairs.  The market finally closed and Black Tie Market & Bistro has moved in. 

Famous for their little Middle Street location (#188), they now have twice the space, lots more reach-in cooler space and a few tables to hang out at.  The space has been transformed from an aluminum & chrome, vinyl VCT flooring style, to lots of wood.

Regular fare includes 7 Panini (one is Black Forest Ham w/Provelone, Plum toms and Cilantro Pesto) and 7 wraps (Nicoise has Tuna w/choke hearts, capers, mesclun and red pepper mayo).  Take-out salad options are numerous and cost about $2/lb. Apricot, almond, rosemary chicken salad sounds good to me.  Gazpacho is among soups. Entrees and desserts available. There is a small produce section and plenty of good wine and beers. 

The point of all this is that I believe Black Tie Bistro has successfully filled the void that Portland Greengrocer left when they moved off of Commercial Street a year or so ago (and became Rosemont Grocery on Brighton Ave).  They may not have so vast a selection of oils, vinegars, legumes and herbs, but we were all imagining a while back what to do about the Greengrocers' absence and it's implications and I think it was Ellie that mentioned this location as a perfect solution.

Check it out when your in the Old Port.  Parking is right on the side.

This proved to be a great tip. Incredibly easy to pick up our rental car at the Jetport, zip down to the waterfront & slide into a parking slot by Black Tie just in time for lunch. Great food, tho those panini are gigantic! We could have shared one easily. I can also recommend the Rustico Lentil Salad if you like lentils. Excellent pecan squares too, pleasantly not over-sweet. They seem to have a fine touch with everything there.

That was the only time we had in Portland last week, but it was a great way to enter Maine.

We got together with an old friend of mine later in the week, his wife is co-owner of Edith & Edna on Exchange Street, they've all become fond of Black Tie too.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

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

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The new Local 188 opened on August 1st. I stopped in yesterday for a beer and to visit the indomitable Mr. John Meyers, aka fatdeko here on eGullet. As I suspected, the proprietors saw immediately the currency in a top notch barkeep.

The place is vast, resplendent in riotous decor (The gallery is curated by Garry Bowcott and Patrick Corrigan) and offers a killer menu. Stop in sometime at 685 Congress St, Portland ME.

"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

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Hello all!

I have a couple of things, I hope this is an okay thread to post to:

1) When you visit the fabulous new Local 188, don't forget to check out the Tapas list that is written on the big Mirror across from the front door. I thought it might be decoration the first time I went because no one mentioned it and there is no written reference to it. I've tried the livers and shallots, meatballs (the sauce is outstanding!) and the mushrooms.

2) A Bahn Mi shop has opened up on St. John's street. It's called Kim's Sandwich Cafe and is right across from Maine Hardware in that strip of storefronts. I haven't tried it yet, but heard a shredded pork sandwich was good. Interesting though, they toasted the bread -- not sure if they do always do that. Perhaps its typical, I've just never seen it. Price range appeared right on for Bahn Mi, $2.75 - $3.00.

3) Does anyone know anything about Commercial Street Pub serving Jamaican food? Passing by the other day, I saw that they have a chef named Stone who makes Jamaican food. The kitchen was closed when I was there, but the bartender said Stone has been cooking there since March (?). I mentioned it to a friend who quickly declared he would never eat anything from there, so I thought I'd ask a more adventurous, eGullet audience! :smile:

4) After some investigating, it appears folks around here do not like razor clams and so they are not available. I used to buy them regularly from the Portuguese markets in the Boston area. It occurred to me the other day, I see razor clams shells all over at the beach but never in the store. Thus the investigation. Just thought it was interesting.

Great summer, eh?

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congrats to bresca!!

Boston Globe - "A Chef's Vision Become's a Tiny Treasure of a Restaurant"

By Jonathan Levitt, Globe Correspondent | August 15, 2007

PORTLAND, Maine -- The six-month-old Bresca is really tiny. The whole place -- including the kitchen and privies -- would probably fit nicely inside your first apartment. This time of year, the kitchen is hotter than a closed car in the sun. That doesn't stop chef and owner Krista Kern from rolling out handmade pasta "kerchiefs" with brown butter and pine nuts; finely shaving Brussels sprouts to serve with pecorino cheese and toasted walnuts; and making a light rice pudding to garnish with perfectly ripe peaches.

The place is Kern's vision, something she imagined during decades of working for chefs in this country and France, cranking out plates late into the night, paying her dues. Now she's back home and cooking the food she loves. Eating at Bresca (the name means honeycomb in Catalonian) is more like going to a dinner party than a restaurant.

Bresca, 11 Middle St., Portland, Maine, 207-772-1004

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

-Jerry Garcia

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Many thanks ro all for doing the research on Saturday lunch openings.

The first Saturday, we followed JohnnyD’s suggestion and had a wonderful meal at Walter’s, upstairs by the window and were quite pleased. The host willingly turned down the music so we could talk with our guest. I had a North meets East bouillabaisse with ginger, lemon grass, lemon bok choi and foccaccia, Colette had a chicken with zucchini in a wrap with homemade potato chips and our guest had the salmon cakes with a creamy sauce and onion. All the dishes were inventive and tasty. The bill for three (mind you) = $54.57, including one bottle of wine, without tip.

The following Saturday, coming back through Portland we stopped at Duckfat and I can see why everyone loves it so much. It really does present different food, at reasonable prices and is “fun.” I had the special panino with shredded duck confit and blueberry preserves and goat cheese: everything but the blueberries was wonderful; they just didn’t work though. Colette had the ratatouille panino with mozzarella, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, tomato and basil pesto that I though was nickel but she didn’t think had enough pizzazz. The Belgian fries were terrific (lots better than at the new place La Frite Bruxelloise in Paris) and the truffle catsup very assertive. Our bill = $33.71 (including wine but before the tip).

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 3 weeks later...

The last thread on this subject is a couple years old. Any recommendations? We ate at Fore Street a couple of years ago and it did not live up to our expectatiions. We love Duck Fat for lunch, so maybe Hugo's?

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at 110 Exchange Street will be vacating the premesis soon and be replaced by a food-related enterprise. All I can say at this point is that funding has been realized and a lease has been signed.

All those lovely windows...

"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

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The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at 110 Exchange Street will be vacating the premesis soon and be replaced by a food-related enterprise.  All I can say at this point is that funding has been realized and a lease has been signed.

All those lovely windows...

Aww johnnyd, you are such a tease! Nothing else you can reveal? Anyone we would know or are familiar with behind this new enterprise?

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The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at 110 Exchange Street will be vacating the premesis soon and be replaced by a food-related enterprise.  All I can say at this point is that funding has been realized and a lease has been signed.

All those lovely windows...

Aww johnnyd, you are such a tease! Nothing else you can reveal? Anyone we would know or are familiar with behind this new enterprise?

Yup!

Nope!

Maybe... But I will seek permission and post as soon as I can even if it gets out before then. I still don't know whether it's service, retail or something else.

"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

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  • 3 weeks later...
The last thread on this subject is a couple years old. Any recommendations? We ate at Fore Street a couple of years ago and it did not live up to our expectatiions. We love Duck Fat for lunch, so maybe Hugo's?

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.

"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

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Local News and Arts publisher The Bollard has issued it's autumn quarterly (PDF) with an article called "Whole Foods Markup" written by Stacy Mitchell, author of "Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses."

What began as a series of grumbles from local food producers eventually merited a front page spread showing local products getting marked way above the WF In-House brand "365" product line. Seems to counter WF "support for small-scale growers." and hard-working local producers are not happy.

One supplier described offering the Portland store several hundred pounds of a spring vegetable, but the wholesale price was higher than that of a California-grown product, and would have cut the store’s gross margin from about $3 to $2 per pound. The buyer declined.

“The control is not at the local level. The produce buyer can’t decide, ‘I’ll live with a lower margin,’” this farmer said. “If someone in Texas sees his numbers, they are going to say, ‘You better hire a new produce buyer.’”

-------

The very nature of these mega-markets —with their centralized decisionmaking and chain-wide policies—often puts small-scale growers and producers at a disadvantage. The chains’ operations mesh more easily with those of mega-growers like Earthbound Farm and Cal-Organic, agribusiness behemoths that supply the bulk of Whole Foods’ produce under guidelines that stretch the definition of “organic” to the breaking point.

When author Michael Pollan took Whole Foods to task for this in his 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Whole Foods ceo Mackey responded with a forceful defense of the chain’s buying practices and support for small-scale growers. But Mackey also acknowledged that his corporation has to do a better job working with local farmers, and pledged to make improvements.

reprinted by permission from www.theBollard.com

Edited by johnnyd (log)

"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

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Bonobo - 46 Pine St Portland, (207) 347-8267

A couple wednesdays ago, three of us went to the bar at this new pizza place, famous for their thin crust and ordered one of three specials called "crema". This had basil, spinach, leeks, caramelized onions, pine nuts and ricotta. As it was the end of the evening a manager, Ashley, was at a barstool ordering up the same but with mozzarella and prosciutto. Never to miss a hint from the staff I ordered the same. Since that night I have had a really hard time even looking at other pizzas in this town. It was probably the best pizza I have ever had. If you go, wash it down with a pint of Brooklyn Lager - they are one of two places in town who pull this excellent beer.

Pic of the Bonobo Oven at work

Edited by johnnyd (log)

"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

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