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Portland ME Restaurants


skeeter
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That sounds delicious. I'll definitely work on getting there. I guess I was expecting more of a Spanish maybe Italian bent after her work at Street (okay, maybe I was hoping for a kickass Spanish restaurant in Portland), but it sounds like it is worth the trip.

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I know there's a boulibase(sp?), but off hand I don't know of anything particularly spanish on the menu. It's definately home cooking w/a tweak that both abby and her sous chef, who also worked at street and is amazing, can add just enough of and completely blow you away with.

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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I know I am way overdue on this (and, of course, I can hardly remember what we ate), but...

After (I believe) a three-year break, we resumed our tradition of annual Fall weekends in Portland. It was the weekend with the torrential rain (sigh).

The two dinners were at Hugo's (greatly impressed with the place that is new to me) and Street & Co. It wouldn't be Portland without Street & Co., if you ask me. My only thought of any value is that it is interesting to have seen the changes (increased formality) at Street & Co. over the last ten years - maybe reflecting some changes in Portland, too?. Nonetheless, I find the place terrific and maybe even under-rated (I've always preferred it to Fore Street - though Fore Street certainly grew on me).

Also, had a fun brunch at Duck Fat. Ate way too much and had quite a nice time. Frites, shakes, etc. Nice breakfast at Mim's, too - terrif omelets and eggs of every sort.

Bottom line - I can't fathom folks who suggest that there isn't a load of terrific food in Portland. Could easily eat well for a week, without duplicating a restaurant. I go home every trip regretting where we didn't eat (but I'll always go in Street & Co. - as one who constantly plays Rotisserie (or, maybe in this case I should just say 'Fantasy,' to avoid any confusion) Restaurant, it is the restaurant that I would want mine to look like).

Also brought home sausage, cheese, and fresh fish from the Portland Public Market. Hoo-hah!

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Welcome to eGullet esme. Your boss is a hell of a cook! Nice props in wednesday's new york times this week too, wow. I hope you have time to come around here often. Tell Rob he rocks.

johnnyd

PS:

I was hoping for a kickass Spanish restaurant in Portland

You said it! I am disappointed every time someone says "tapas bar", it just isn't going to be real. Let's just keep hoping, okay?!

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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Thanks for the welcome johnnyd. Not to brag on him too much, but I agree, Rob is brilliant. I've been fortunate enough to have been working there from pretty close to the beginning (I started with Rob and Nancy about three months after they bought the place) and every time I think I'm jaded he comes up with something that astounds me. The Times mentions the inside-out French fry. I'm the wine buyer at Hugo's, so Nancy and I got to eat the entire Potato Dinner a week before the event to pair wines and when I was served it, I asked, "What does he mean inside out?" Neither the server nor Nancy knew the answer, so I bit into the fry and truffle ketchup was the filling. I just cracked up. It was so whimsical and tasty that you just have to wonder where he comes up with this stuff.

I've read your food blog as well. Great stuff. It made me chastise myself. One of my favorite summertime things is to roast fresh picked mussels on the beach and the red tide scare this summer kept me away. And Jordan's has the BEST corn. When Daniel Boulud cooked at Hugo's last summer, we served picked that day Jordan's corn. And where'd you get the Cachaca? That stuff's not legal in Maine and it's hard to find good friends to send it to you (about as hard as getting as good grappa). We have got to compare black market notes.

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It was so whimsical and tasty that you just have to wonder where he comes up with this stuff.

Some people have vision, a restless perspective that says "why can't we do it like this?". Without them (ahem, I mean us!) the world would lack some of our more clever inventions. Hat's off! :smile: I would have loved to been in on that Potato Love Fest!

The aquaculture raft was hit really hard during the red tides. They didn't sell a single critter during July4 weekend. Do know, however, that the DMR tests key points on the coast twice a week to monitor the situation. My foodblog was around AUG 28th, six weeks from the last alert so I was confident Craig's mussels were up to par. Sadly though, Craig, the fellow in the picture, standing in the boat, has decided to sell his share a month or so ago to the other two owners as it was just too much. He'd put in ten years.

PM me on the cachaca connection, it's idiot proof thanks to an eG contact. We'll have to work on the grappa though. There is a thread somewhere about interstate liquor/wine sales somewhere. I am not under the impression that it's illegal, but you are in a far better position to know than I. :unsure:

"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 am not under the impression that it's illegal

Sorry, illegal is bad word. All liquors sold in restaurants have to be registered with the state liquor bureau and sold through a distributor that has a guaranteed monopoly in his area. It often seems that none of the good stuff (artisan producers of Cognacs, Armagnacs, Grappa for instance) is ever brought in to the state. Fortunately, it's not contraband yet. I used to work for David Grant of Aubergine, who once told me of his illegal wall of digestifs at the original Aubergine (in Camden in the 80's) Liquor inspectors would always mention to him that they could be used for display only.

That is a shame about your friend. Aquaculture is a tough life. He must be a local pioneer as well, I don't recall hearing much about Casco Bay mussel farms more than ten years ago.

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Ten years ago, Craig and I were diving for sea urchins off Fort Gorges. That was the big gold rush in the nineties. When it dried up, a lot of guys didn't want to leave the water.

When we fished out of Jonesport and Stonington back then we saw the salmon pens about a hundred yards off-shore. I think that was the first stab at aquaculture in these waters.

Bennie and Tolof are still manning the mussel rafts. They have wonderful product as you saw in the foodblog. They sell to all the restaurants who care about good seafood.

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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I think this is still on topic...

Harbor Fish has the holiday "tank of eels" and I'd really like to try my hand at making some sort of traditional Xmas Eve eel dish (except it would be this week).

I'm just wondering if anyone has any insight into the difficulty of cleaning said eel ($9.99/lb or $15.99/lb cleaned) as well as any recipe suggestions. I'm thinking a soup or stew would be easiest but I really want to highlight the flavor of the eel. Does anyone else around town sell eel -- retail or restaurant?

This snow we're getting is gorgeous! I'm thinking of roasting a chicken for supper this evening. Normally that would be Sunday night fare, but I can do one stop shopping at the Public Market (I really like the chickens that Maurice sells) before heading home to shovel!

Let it snow!!!!!!!

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Went to Shahnaz Persian Grille this weekend and had a feast. Shahnaz ran a hair salon for ten years then the building was sold. Married a local guy with ten years of kitchen experience and the two of them opened the Persian Grille in October.

I have to say their meals taste wonderful. They use dried lime, pomegranate, sumac and all kinds of stuff I'm new to. Their kabobs are stellar. They spend a lot of time guiding customers which I think they enjoy.

See my on-line review: "Persia Meets Portland", here.

I dropped $20 on some nice looking Saffron (container covered in farsi? arabic?), some pomegranate syrup and some crushed dried lime pieces. Couldn't resist!

795 Forest Avenue. A little tough to find - look for the weird Dunkin Donuts across the street from Shahnaz Persian Grille. Plenty of parking.

"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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Former Exec Chef of Mims and Back Bay Grill opens The Front Room on Congress Street.

Found some conversation about it here (registration required). Comments included driving by and seeing the chef get a standing ovation. Menu includes Chicken Liver Pate, Gnocchi with Crab, Steak with Blue Cheese, a la carte vegetables and starches, sandwiches and salads nearly identical to the Mim's menu and a VERY aggressive wine list.

I can't find it on any lists so it's quite new. Don't even know what number it is on Congress St. yet.

"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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Went to Shahnaz Persian Grille this weekend and had a feast. Shahnaz ran a hair salon for ten years then the building was sold. Married a local guy with ten years of kitchen experience and the two of them opened the Persian Grille in October.

I used to live in Chicago where Persian food was a weekly meal for us and I really miss it. That review sounds like they may offer some of our favorite dishes. I can't wait to check it out.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I ate at the Front Room last Sunday. The food was really good and really affordable. The room is very attractive. They are doing breakfast, lunch, and dinner with breaks in between services as there is no prep kitchen. They are located about four doors down (closer to the water) from The Blue Spoon (which is still open), directly across from the Saint Lawrence Church. I would definitely go back.

I also tried Caiola's last week, just for apps. It was great. On your recommendation Siren, I had the caesar with fried oysters. Wow! They are definitely the best I've had since Aubergine closed.

I actually signed on to post about Rosemont Bakery. So, I got the best mushrooms there on Tuesday. Just plain ol' buttons, but I sauteed them in oil with onions (for lasagna that I apparently promised my bf, even though I was dreaming of shrimp risotto), but they were so succulent. I pulled them out of the pan just as they were starting to drop water and they held up perfectly through the baking. And last night, Jon roasted me some sunchokes from there as well. Just delicious, I love that place :wub: .

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The pastry chef for Cinque Terre told me that I desperately needed to hit up the Rosemont Bakery and my gf informed me last night that we were going to the Front Room tomorrow morning for breakfast. And Caiola's definately seems to be the major source of buzz around town and i'm already anticipating our NYE dinner there. I've been craving oysters and the chocolate pudding since my first visit.

I almost feel that I need to edit the post that started this thread because in the 5 months since it was posted I feel like I've eaten, well, a whole new Portland. Even though I still have yet to eat @ Bandol, Hugo's, Fore Street, 555, Cinque Terre--I feel like I've found many more enjoyable restaurants that won't break my budget.

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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You certainly can, but you don't have to break the bank to eat at Hugo's. The bar menu is reasonable. My favorite dish right now is the cod dish: Crispy cheek, tempura tongue, brandade cake, and house-salted cod for $10. There are some really good wines in the 20-30 dollar range.

The best thing about Rosemont is that for the most part you can get fresher, better tasting produce for less than Hannaford. They also have a really good cheese selection with a good turnover, so while it is more compact than Horton's, I've rarely seen overripe cheese there.

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Rosemont is one half of Portland Green Grocer since it's renovation last winter. I've heard many raves but have yet to go.

"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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Sort of, John was the general manager of the Greengrocer and his partner in Rosemont, Scott, was the baker there as well, but Nick who has always been the sole owner of the Portland Greengrocer has no interest in Rosemont.

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Thanks for sorting that out esme.

I understand Chef Rob Evans is throwing "A Gastronomic Revelry" at Hugo's on New Year's Eve.

The seven-course meal, which costs $120 per person, is "for the person who wants their last bite of 2005 to be memorable."

Innovative New England Cuisine sez the local daily.

"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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Thanks for sorting that out esme.

I understand Chef Rob Evans is throwing "A Gastronomic Revelry" at Hugo's on New Year's Eve.

The seven-course meal, which costs $120 per person, is "for the person who wants their last bite of 2005 to be memorable."

Innovative New England Cuisine sez the local daily.

"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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If I have properly posted this link it's the menu:New year's Eve menu at Hugo's

Innovative New England sounds kinda cheesy I know, but people always ask what type of restaurant Hugo's is, so we had to come up with something. While we make our own pastas and risotto or risotti, we're not Italian, while the guys can put out a mean sauce, we're not French, and while we sort of slide in as modern American, we have a real focus on local foods and regional cooking which requires a refinement of that label. I guess we define ourselves as applying these worldly techniques to the local ingredients and dishes we grew up with. Rob is of Irish descent (Potato dinner on his birthday every year) from Southboro, MA with many of his formative years spent in Newfoundland (hence the "Love Affair with Cod").

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Holy Hannah! Nice Menu!

I had a pile of Matsutake from Belgrade Lakes region a couple years ago that were spectacular. Glad to see Rob has found some. And How About Them Apples?! :laugh: I assume the first course uses freshly-caught, Gulf of Maine Shrimp???

Esme, have fun that night if you're on the clock. Wish I could join you.

Cheers!

John

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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I had a pile of Matsutake from Belgrade Lakes region a couple years ago that were spectacular.  Glad to see Rob has found some.

Unfortunately, this dish was replaced with Porcini Risotto for New Years, but the matsutake risotti is still on the bar/dining room menu for now. We have a local forager named Rick Tibbets who supplies us. I think these are from New Hampshire.

I assume the first course uses freshly-caught, Gulf of Maine Shrimp???

There are other shrimp? :raz:

Esme, have fun that night if you're on the clock.  Wish I could join you.

Thanks! I am working and it looks like it is going to be a fun night.

bobmac- Honey's, The Front Room, Shahnaz's, Scales, Duckfat, Sophia's, and the sushi restaurants are all open for lunch. 555, Bandol, Caiola's, Cinque Terre, Fore Street, Hugo's, and Street & Co. are only open for dinner.

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