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skeeter

Portland ME Restaurants

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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?


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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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!

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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

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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

Portland Food Map.com

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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/


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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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 (log)

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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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.

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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.

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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 (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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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.

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

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That's what I figured.

Now I'm wondering if "celtic vinegar" is a made-up term. It qualifies as a "googlewhack" - a search yields only one result, which is, of course, the Hugo's menu page.

Edit: ooops, not a true googlewhack. That's two words which yield only one result without enclosing them in quotation marks.


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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That's what  I figured.

Now I'm wondering  if "celtic vinegar" is a made-up term.  It qualifies as a "googlewhack" - a search yields only one result, which is, of course, the Hugo's menu page.

Edit: ooops, not a true googlewhack.  That's two words which yield only one result without enclosing them in quotation marks.

Well they had locally churned butter, maybe he bought the vinegar from a Celt.

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That's what  I figured.

Well they had locally churned butter, maybe he bought the vinegar from a Celt.

Actually, It's an old French Canadian recipe for good cider vinegar with ground up leprechauns in it. :laugh:

Karen


All that is needed for evil to survive is for good people to do nothing

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I just realized I never actually posted back about our meals, but the whole time I was at Hugo's I thought about how you should be working there, Siren, even if only on your day off, because if you are in food, and hope to continue to make a career of it, you need to see what this place is doing--it's interesting, full of finesse, and its experiments with flavor, which might seem contrived or calculated on paper, actually work, all of them. I think they've gotten better, even with Chef Evans positioning himself as more edgy and eclectic, they've remedied the few minor concerns I had from the last time I was there--the main one being improving their dessert program, and frankly you'd have to say Hugo's rivals the best restaurants in the country now. (I had written on eG previously that it just might have become the most interesting restaurant in New England, pulling even with Clio.) I can't wait to go back in August, when I'll again be visiting the culinary wasteland known as the White Mountain Valley.

Everyone posting here either living in Portland or planning a trip to Portland, I hope you realize how lucky you are: Portland, already a dynamic scene, is still on the upswing, it hasn't reached anywhere near its full potential yet, there's this hip, edgy vibe that blends well with the tourists and the shopping and yet ties in the older neighborhoods--and that doesn't happen everywhere. This visit, it struck me there was a lot more development going on over on the East side near Hugo's--I wandered by a new bakery/patisserie space, not officially opened yet, maybe called Fat Cats--my memory now is really weak--but I think they sold some pies at Standard Baking. Going east down the Hugo's street there was this stuck-in-time Italian grocery--Grimaldis or Grucini or ? (a little help here...) I hadn't noticed before and a BBQ place and Ribollita and Duckat, which we did not get to go to after all for their fries--I misread when they opened and just couldn't wait an hour. This is going to be a happening culinary scene, a nice mix of old and new, high and low. And you can park right out front.

Also, I noticed a few other changes down in the touristy waterfront: wasn't Mim's once a tapas bar--and now it's a brasserie? What happened--ownership change or concept change? Has the food here ever lived up to its location? And what happened to that gem of a place: the Portland Greengrocer? It looks prettier but it's a shell of its former self in terms of depth and selection of products. Still, I like their wine buyer's taste--when I'm visiting in NH I always come over here to buy wines for the week--but so much was lost with their remodel.

What we ended up doing was 555 for brunch one day and Hugo's for dinner on another. I've had so many perfunctory brunches in NH that I was determined not to have another one, so we took a gamble, and a drive, to Portland. My impression of 555? Very committed, very professional, very strong service that wasn't rushed--in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere--I was impressed they had 4 cooks in the kitchen for brunch even though only that little area on the ground floor was open--and everything we had was perfect, especially the hangar, the grilled caesar, and a bunch of cheeses, my favorite a double cream quebec cheese. I can't recommend this place enough, it's less expensive than you'd expect, it's welcoming rather than stiff, and I'm definitely going for dinner next time. I drank a nice microbrew at this brunch but peeked at the wine list: first impression it didn't seem anywhere near as interesting or well-chosen as the Hugo's list.

Back to Hugo's and Siren, sneak into there by hook or by crook for inspiration: if money is an issue, don't hold out for the full multi-course tasting: you should just go in to the bar, sit at those cafe tables along the window and spend $9 on a different single dish whenever you can, it'll be worth it for any budding cook.

What didn't change from previous visits to Hugo's? Service was still superb, and very good food wines can still be had for $24 to $30 or so. What did change? I thought his plates were even more beautiful than before, it seems to me he's made more of a conscious effort to appear experimental with exotic or seemingly disparate ingredients, and while that can come off as too precious in the wrong hands, it doesn't here. He's learned his lessons well, and he's a good judge of himself: everything he and his team had on the menu holds up taste-wise. The desserts on previous visits were always weakpoints and he's straightened that out, too: all of the current desserts are excellent (and I hardly ever say that, even about my own stuff.) We had everything on this menu when we dined except the trout, and though the menu has probably changed by now, I would order everything again--and share less with others:

F I R S T C O U R S E

Maine Raised Rabbit Charcuterie

grainy mustard mousse . pistachio . celtic vinegar. salted lavash

Shiitake Mushroom Terrine

locally foraged vegetables . parmesan ice cream . stinging nettle coulis

Chilled Melon Soup

imported prosciutto . hand dipped ricotta . grilled watermelon gelée

Cold Smoked Hamachi

sushi style potatoes . key lime compote . sweet soy

S E C O N D

Flash Fried Scottish Salmon Cake & Carpaccio

cucumber & radish . cilantro emulsion . sesame

Warm Asparagus & Sunnyside Duck Egg Salad

white anchovy . pasta . puffed lobster cracker . orange-coriander vinaigrette

Red Beet Risotto

tempura pickled fiddleheads . westfield farm capri . grapefruit hibiscus soda

Honey Mead Glazed Pork Belly & Baby Back Ribs

rhubarb relish . cocoa nibs . chipotle emulsion

T H I R D

Chorizo Crusted Atlantic Halibut

potato brown butter galette . multiple onion preparations

Sous Vide Lamb Loin & Caramelized Shoulder

savory buckwheat carrot cake . vanilla walnuts . birch essence

Maple Glazed Tasmanian Sea Trout

fennel & pineapple cannelloni . tomato salad . horseradish . smoked trout roe

Crispy Skin Duck Breast & Slow Cooked Leg

licorice stick bread pudding . bing cherry relish . orange emulsion

L A S T

Mita Cana Spanish Sheep’s Milk “Cheese Cake”

golden graham tuile . poached grapes . tarragon syrup

Rhubarb & Yogurt Panna Cotta

deconstructed strawberry pie

El Rey Dark Chocolate Fondant

tonka bean milk shake . chocolate crisps. cherries . long pepper

Foie Gras Ice Cream Float

orange infused saba soda . foie gras beignet

I especially liked this last dish, the foie gras in dessert concept. Liked it more than merely a concept, though, it was delicious.

I'll hit Duckfat in August. Oh, another thing I was impressed with: I pulled the above menu off their website the day before we arrived, and it actually reflected what was being offered in the restaurant, with a very minor tweak here or there once the dishes were served. That demonstrates a commitment from beginning to end, and it's something that small restaurateurs sometimes overlook as they get a little fame, a little media, and begin to grow their empire. I'm happy to say that hasn't happened yet.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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that is a great piece, steve. This weekend is 'campers weekend' in portland---which means that the parents are dropping their kids off at camp and the parents are enjoying the town... needless to say, I drove by HUGO's tonight and there was a line out the door. Same with 555 and duckfat. Made me smile. I know where I work, we were booked up as of last week for the weekend. Not a place in the city will be spared from the crowds, so you were wise to come up earlier.

2 fat cats is owned by dana street--of street and co./fore st. fame... and it's gotten amazing reviews. Mim's I haven't been to yet, but I always recommend it when people are looking for a lunch place when they come into our restaurant(which is only open for dinner). But, yea, it's a bit different from what I hear it was(i've lived in portland for about 9 months now).

I think we're looking @ late august to try hugo's--anniversary dinner thing.. his menu really blows me away and I was in awe of chef evans when he was in @ duckfat one day when my gf and I were there.


Edited by Siren (log)

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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Steve:

Thanks for your apropos props to Portland, particularly it's "neighbor-hood-ness". A former DC'er myself, I was struck by the same thing when I moved here 3 yrs ago. Give us a shout when you come up in August and let's get a drink. I'd love to hear what Chris Vazguez is up to and where Kevin Delaney is now etc, etc.

It just occured to me: Of course you "get" Hugo's. Everytime I've eaten there, I was reminded of Cafe Atlantico's deconstuctionist sort of innovations. Different, of course, but similar. And folks just look at me cross-eyed when I tell them to grind Altoids and sprinkle them on their oysters. But then again, I looked at Thrasher cross-eyed when he told me the same thing. :rolleyes:

The name of the Italian Grocery is Miccuci's. It's awesome. The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the smell! It absolutely reeks of cold cuts, cheeses, olives,and on and on. Plus, they carry SanBitter.

Prtland Green Grocer had an issue with a new neighbor who has rights to their right-of-way in the back alley. They forbade Green Grocer from accepting deliveries to their back door so they've truncated their offerings and their space. No more greens at the Green Grocer, but good wines, good deli and some specialties.

myers

PS: Siren: your avatar reminds me of NatalieDee.com


Edited by fatdeko (log)

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Cafe Atlantico, one of DC's best restaurants, used to grind up altoids into fine powder and sprinkle some on raw oysters. Weird, but wow!

myers

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Everyone posting here either living in Portland or planning a trip to Portland, I hope you realize how lucky you are: Portland, already a dynamic scene, is still on the upswing, it hasn't reached anywhere near its full potential yet, there's this hip, edgy vibe that blends well with the tourists and the shopping and yet ties in the older neighborhoods--and that doesn't happen everywhere. This visit, it struck me there was a lot more development going on over on the East side near Hugo's--I wandered by a new bakery/patisserie space, not officially opened yet, maybe called Fat Cats--my memory now is really weak--but I think they sold some pies at Standard Baking. Going east down the Hugo's street there was this stuck-in-time Italian grocery--Grimaldis or Grucini or ? (a little help here...) I hadn't noticed before and a BBQ place and Ribollita and Duckat, which we did not get to go to after all for their fries--I misread when they opened and just couldn't wait an hour. This is going to be a happening culinary scene, a nice mix of old and new, high and low. And you can park right out front.

What we ended up doing was 555 for brunch one day and Hugo's for dinner on another. I've had so many perfunctory brunches in NH that I was determined not to have another one, so we took a gamble, and a drive, to Portland. My impression of 555? Very committed, very professional, very strong service that wasn't rushed--in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere--I was impressed they had 4 cooks in the kitchen for brunch even though only that little area on the ground floor was open--and everything we had was perfect, especially the hangar, the grilled caesar, and a bunch of cheeses, my favorite a double cream quebec cheese.  I can't recommend this place enough, it's less expensive than you'd expect, it's welcoming rather than stiff, and I'm definitely going for dinner next time.  I drank a nice microbrew at this brunch but peeked at the wine list: first impression it didn't seem anywhere near as interesting or well-chosen as the Hugo's list.   

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


"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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eGullet member Aquitaine popped into town yesterday for a look around, so we went to my favorite sushi place YOSAKU. The chef/owner used to buy big tuna from day boats in the harbor here and ship them off to Japan. He knows fish. Now he is holding court in a terrific location (#1 Danforth St) next to the statue of Portland Native, film director John Ford.

We sat outside by the little Japanese garden under a pink umbrella. On the way out to the deck I asked Tak if he had any Mentaiko, a spicy cod-fish roe, and indeed he did. It's a challenging flavor, but one of my favorites. Aquitane and I had never met before but quickly lost ourselves in conversation. This was the first time I had met an eGullet member so there was an instant bond of recognition and familiarity.

We had Maguro Sashimi, Toro Sashimi (and Sushi!), Hamachi Sashimi and Sushi, Bonito, Bincho Maguro, Beni-Sake, Ika with Shiso leaf, and Mentaiko Sushi. We took a bite of toro and glanced at each other, both nodding our heads, struggling to smile with our mouths full and going "...mmmmm!" There wasn't a bad piece in the bunch. Aquitane decided the Ika was a bit too much but was game to try a tiny bit of mentaiko in spite of her avoidance of all things egg-y (and roe-ey). We can agree that eGers are more likely to try something new than the masses at-large. Bravo!

We also had some nice cold sake, a first for Aquitane. I don't remember the brand but it was crisp and just right. I confess I ate the lion's share of our beautiful plate of tasty morsels and we split the bill, but if Aquitane decides to move here I'll have lots of opportunity to help her sort out the "good places" in return. Portland has recently been named among the top 20 places to live by Outside magazine. I was living in Burlington VT when that town got listed in Outside and within a year the place transformed itself.

I dropped Aquitaine off at the Portland Public Market as she was searching for some decent olive oil. Could have been a mistake: with so much to see, she might still be there! :unsure::wink:


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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Boy, SOME people are just way too quick with their posts! :raz: to Johnny D....

Yes, indeed enjoyed my lunch with JohnnyD yesterday -- he very graciously accepted the spur of the moment invite, I braved the Maine Turnpike and parking in the Old Port, and we met up about 2 hours later. We had a lovely setting and scrumptious dead aqua creatures (I did voice my ecological concern about tuna and salmon being overfished, but maybe for an occasional treat?:hmmm: ) and I received enlightenment re Portland. Very much looking forward to future explorations and pal-ing around. Nicely detailed report, JohnnyD...

OK, call me a spoiled, fussy New Yorker, but am I missing something about the Public Market? It really seems oriented to tourists, like Faneuil Hall, et al. No olive oil for me.... I'm going to have to bite the bullet and drive to a Trader Joe's for my olive oil....or shlep it up from New York on Amtrak and hope the bottle doesn't break en route... I grew up in Seacoast NH and have returned here for the nonce, but I DO struggle with not being able to find certain *basic* food items around here, either easily or at reasonable prices. It SHOULD be a tradeoff easily made -- beautiful environment trounces all....

CSASphinx, glad to hear about Five Fifty-Five -- it's a place I've been wanting to try out.

Well, I'm off to pick blueberries, one of my favorite summer things to do -- although these are cultivated -- at a farm. (When I was a child, we used to pick lowbush berries near the neighboring town's dump, our poodle traipsing along and enjoying every nibble. But one picks blueberries wherever one finds them -- particularly nice surprise when hiking. Good blueberry picking in Rhode Island, too, somewhere near Essex, I believe; a well known farm stand there also has blueberry fields.) Shortcake on the menu tonight!

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