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Portland ME Restaurants


skeeter
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Any recommendations of what to order at Duckfat? I'm thinking of going for lunch on Saturday. Also, is the bruch at Bintliff's a buffet? I normally avoid buffets like the plague, unless there is an exceptional reason to go. Looking forward to heading your way this weekend!

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bintliffs is not a buffett.. and I would, honestly, recommend The Front Room on munjoy hill for brunch.

Duckfat? all day duck confit or tuna and fries...

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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Where would people suggest for an early dinner with four kids all under the age of 6? I'm thinking Flatbread Pizza Co. for lack of something more interesting. Definitely need the "tolerant" end of the spectrum in terms of kid-friendly. :rolleyes:

Dewey's? Something better and more interesting outside the Old Port? Anywhere around Portland is OK. Different is better!

Thanks!

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Not sure why I'm thinking of this right now, but I'm wondering whether any of the restaurant folk who frequent this thread have encountered a chef or a cook who spent a summer (at least) cooking at the Robinhood Cove Marina restaurant out Georgetown way (down the road from Bath).

This was probably in the 1980s, or perhaps early 1990s. We dined there one night just to try some place different, and discovered a room with a cornucopia of the most outrageous sauces. We went back a couple of times. The food was stunning. Whoever was doing the cooking had mastered the art of making reduced sauces and concentrating and balancing flavors. I literally had not tasted sauces like that outside of France. (You have to take into account my budget at the time.)

Of course, when we returned the next summer, the cook had moved on, and the food at the Marina restaurant had become ordinary.

I've often wondered who was in the kitchen that year & what became of him or her. Was it Rob Evans? Was it the lady who runs Primo in Rockland? Was it someone who's now in another part of the world entirely?

Whoever it was, he or she had The Gift.

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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Just back from a weekend in Portland and here is what we ate:

Dinner at Walter's on NYE because it was within walking distance of our hotel (the Regency - good spa and location). We ordered two starters: the carrot ginger soup and a serrano ham in filo with butternut squash; two entries: the macademia encrusted mahi mahi and the lacquered duck with crispy rice cakes and one shared dessert: a creme brulee. The big problem: our starters were forgotten and our entrees arrived about ten minutes after we sat down (I hate it when the server does not write down the order). But, it was NYE and the place was packed, so we let it go without a fuss and I never got to taste the soup (it was removed from the bill). The serrano ham arrived late. However, the mahi mahi was moist and flavorful, and the duck was also good (not at all chewy and in my carb-deprived state I loved the crunchy rice cakes). The creme brulee was warm with a satisfying crunch but not memorable. Staff were very accomodating to our 3 year old and offered pasta and ice cream off the menu without our needing to ask.

Brunch on Sunday was provided at our hotel with our room, and served at 20 Milk Street. The orange juice was fresh and not canned/bottled etc., a plus. Spouse had a positive experience with his lobster benedict. I don't think I would go there specially for their brunch, but it was adequate and service was attentive.

Dinner on Sunday night was at Fuji (it was cold, it was hardly a block from the hotel and many other places were closed). Best items were the fresh Maine shrimp from the sushi menu and a spicy ginger martini. Very nice, helpful waitress.

Lunch on Monday was at Duckfat. I thought I was forever ruined for all other fries after I tasted them at APDC in Montreal. But these fries blow those out of the water. They were SO GOOD I wanted to lick the paper cone. Got them with the curry dipping sauce, but they needed no sauce. Also tried the curry cauliflower soup and butternut squash soup with a swirl of balsamic vinegar. Both soups were creamy, smooth on the tongue and served hot. The curry cauliflower had a stronger cauliflower flavor than curry. Duck confit salad with a silky dressing was served warm and I wished it arrived with a piece of bread to wipe every last bit of dressing from the plate (ditto for the soup - bread would have been a nice touch). Cheese plate came with (my memory is a spotty) a Shropshire cheddar and New Jersey blue, onion jam (thick!) and grilled bread. Finished with two root beers (I wanted to try the ginger beer, hot chocolate and a beignet too, but was too full). A thoroughly good lunch, thanks to egulleters.

Unfortunately, didn't make it to Caiola's, Front Room or Dogfish Cafe, will have to add those to the list for next time.

Happy New Year all.

Chris

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Not sure why I'm thinking of this right now, but I'm wondering whether any of the restaurant folk who frequent this thread have encountered a chef or a cook who spent a summer (at least) cooking at the Robinhood Cove Marina restaurant out Georgetown way (down the road from Bath).

I've often wondered who was in the kitchen that year & what became of him or her.  Was it Rob Evans?  Was it the lady who runs Primo in Rockland?  Was it someone who's now in another part of the world entirely?

Whoever it was, he or she had The Gift.

Hi ghostrider. I'm originally from Boothbay, so my first grownup meals were at The Osprey (in the Robinhood Marina) and at 22 Lincoln (Sam Hayward's restaurant in Brunswick). I remember the cooking that you were describing, but unfortunately don't know the chef. Rob was probably still cooking on cruise ships at this time and Melissa Kelly (from Primo) was cutting her chops in NYC.

Boo - I'm glad you enjoyed Duckfat. It looks like you went for the full tasting menu. I've had to limit myself to only ordering the fries when I eat in (the Hugo's waitstaff are Duckfat's best customers as we regularly get takeout before service). I also recommend the Malted Black and White Milkshake. Although with the glass and the dividend, it's dessert for two.

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New Year's Eve dinner in Portland with four little kids - the Chowder House on Commercial. Nothing exciting, for sure, but everyone had plenty to eat and it all tasted pretty good. My wife had the largest fried scallops I've ever seen. I do so wish that they didn't feel the need to take their tasty chowders and turn them into wallpaper paste! Thickened doesn't need to mean spreadable like peanut butter, does it?

After finding Duckfat closed on New Year's Day (says on the front "Open 7 days a week" - except TODAY!) we were forced to look elsewhere. We ended up at Mim's Brasserie which was a nice surprise. Helpful service, nice environment and good food. Tasty Bloody Mary. My wife and I each had French Onion Soup which was good, though perhaps a little thin in flavor. The other grownups had Eggs Benedict, which looked quite good. My older son had their Pain Perdu w/pecan syrup - not a hit. Sickeningly sweet. Our younger one had fish chowder, which was quickly devoured.

Definitely looking to return to Mim's. How are their dinner dishes?

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Hi ghostrider. I'm originally from Boothbay, so my first grownup meals were at The Osprey (in the Robinhood Marina) and at 22 Lincoln (Sam Hayward's restaurant in Brunswick).

Yes, The Osprey, I'd blanked out on the name. Thanks. At least I didn't imagine the cooking. I guess the chef will remain another of life's mysteries.

Never got to 22 Lincoln.

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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I am new to both Portland and egullet but have have enjoyed reading the posts and trying to catch up what is happening here. It is good to see that there are members posting and following up with some frequency.

I am a chef who recently moved up this way and am still getting my feet wet here and eventually will be looking for work. Esme, you have some great posts and work at the top table here in Portland from what I can see. I have only had a couple of drinks at the bar with some starters, but am hoping to get back soon. Why doesn't the state allow cachaça? I brought back a couple of liters of Pirapora (one of the best, err smoothest since it is not the easiest going down - but great mixed in a caipirinha or batidas with fresh tropical fruit). I actually have an extra bottle that I might be willing to part with. It seems like the whole system of distribution is a bit ass backwards. Is it true that restaurants and bars buy spirits from other retailers (e.g. RSVP or Downeast Beverage) at the same prices as a regular customer? No wonder why it is close to impossible to get a decent cocktail at the average bar in the Old Port.

Anyone have any inside information on White Heart Cocktail Lounge? (That covered renovation project on Congress across from MECA and next to Olympia Sport - construction crews have been at work since I moved here in the fall)

When is it due to open? There is a website but not much is posted yet save for a logo.

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Hi Jack, welcome to Portland! About the cachaca, illegal and unallowed are my poor choice of words. Unfortunately, what is sold in Maine is controlled by a few people and these people tend to be busier making sure that they continue their gauranteed monopolies than finding new things to sell. Right now they have funded a lobbyist to make sure that there is no direct shipping in Maine, so that not only do they not have to carry anything that you want, you won't be able to buy it somewhere else either. (Not that I'm bitter or anything)

As far as what we pay for liquor, I think our only discount is that we don't pay sales tax as we are a reseller. Yes, we do buy from Downeast Beer and Beverage and also Bow Street Liquors in Freeport.

I'm moving this week, so any unresponsiveness on my part is due to not being able to find the computer.

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I actually have an extra bottle that I might be willing to part with.

[jumps up & down]

:rolleyes::laugh:

[/jumps up& down]

Welcome to Portland, Jack!

I've only found PITU cachaça for sale at RSVP on Forest Ave. Pete, the owner says it is the only brand allowed to be sold at the moment and it's a waste at $25 or so.

What I'm seeing here is that there is not enough demand on the waterfront to stock the stuff but I bet that could change. Una is a place that prides itself on precision cocktailing and I've found a couple good Poire Eau de vie there. As you apparently know, making caipirinhas take a little time and no one around here knows enough about them to take the plunge. However, esme mentions that it is not available to her through her approved distributor and is therefore probably out of reach to anyone including Una.

In the mean time, we'll just have to manage at home. PM me when you are ready and I'll start cutting up a few limes! :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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Esme and Johnnyd, thanks for the responses and warm welcome. It is a bit discouraging to find the State of Maine being so backward with regards to the Wine and Spirits industry and distribution. The vast majority of states (at least where I have lived and worked in the industry - NY, CT, MA, FL, GA) have wholesalers that offer the product at roughly 60% of the retail market and without tax. This margin is what allows you to make enough profit and operate as a business.

Is it great to see some interest in cachaça here in Maine. Pitù is one of the most widely distributed aguardentes nationally but also one of the lowest in quality. For 750ml, the price should be closer to $18 and RSVP is not likely to sell many bottles at that price.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different cachaça in Brazil.

Other cachaça brands available in the US (decreasing level of quality in my opinion) include Pirapora, Toucano, Ypioca, and Pirassununga "51" - the last being the most common. "51" is average and a good value ($20-21). All of these are sold in New York City and Miami, where latin cocktails are extremely popular.

Aguardente (de cana), as cachaça is more commonly called is not great on its own and needs to be mixed in a cocktail. It is also called pinga and parati, though interestingly enough the latter is also slang for penis. My level of Português was that great and now rusty at best, so I never did completely comprehend the subtle difference on what sense the word was being used as. This may explain a number of smaller cachaça brands having pornographic labels. Caipirinha, "peasant farmer", is the most popular and similar to a cuban Mojito, omitting the mint and increasing the lime. Coarse cane sugar (a large crystal turbinado in the US) is used in high end restaurants and bars, to muddle the lime quarters for it literally rips into the flesh and extracts a good deal of flavor (six quarters per glass) with about two and a half to three ounces of the spirit. A full glass of ice and absolutely no soda water, unlike the common practice for "lengthening" a mojito, which really is only a splash in Cuba.

Cachaça is also widely drinken in a variety of batidas, which is fruit puree or juice mixed with the base spirit and some sugar syrup if there is not enough naturally in the fruit. Abacaxi (pineapple) is excellent as is coco (fresh cracked coconut, although yellowish ones are used and they are not all hairy). My favorite is melzinho, which is pinga mixed with a tropical honey and usually served up.

As far as the bottle of Pirapora, I am willing to settle it. It really is excellent and is unopened 1.0 liter. I can even pass on my drink recipes from Sao Paolo and can write down the proportions. I even have specialty glasses (13 oz chimney) that I used at my restaurant bar in Miami Beach for caipirinhas that are available and at least one unused muddler if that is needed as well. I guess I am a collector of sorts with regards to spirits and cocktail paraphenalia, so if anyone is looking for something hard to find, I likely have it or know where to source it (e.g. Cuban rum).

Since I am new around here, so I am not really sure on how the bells and whistles work. What is PM? Private messaging, how does one do that? Also, how do you add the graphics, quotes, and home city to the member ID on the left margin?

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Johnnyd, kudos on the food blog from this past year - I just spent the last hour reading the entire thread. Great job and your pictures were really demonstrative of your efforts. Seeing that you lived in Brasil, my caipirinha post may see a little redundant. I have never seen limes cut into such small pieces, always quartered and really forceably muddled so that beat up husks remain. That is an enormous pestle/muddler.

Only being here for a few months, I cannot do some of those recommended activities but was lukcy enough to have a private tour at Geary's and have discovered One Fifty Ate in Willard Square - great baguette when they are hot from the ovens. I also noticed that I am not the only one who saves the NY Times Dining In/Out sections and my food magazines. I look forward to seeing what you do next - as far as a blog or more daily musings.

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I have never seen limes cut into such small pieces, always quartered and really forceably muddled so that beat up husks remain. That is an enormous pestle/muddler.

It's really the crowd that we ran with in Brasil. Cut 'em small and leave the peels so the oil gels with everything else. Smaller sizes mean less time to marinate and less wait before the resulting nectar reached our lips.

Here is a link to the Caipirinha thread in the Fine Spirits forum. There is a mindset among us that feel de-skinning and de-pithing the limes is best, but I disagree.

The muddler was brought from Brasil in 1972 and will probably be making caipirinhas for my grand-kids! :wink:

I look forward to seeing what you do next - as far as a blog or more daily musings.

Thank you! eG has been my home of sorts for almost 2yrs. Now that you have joined, you are just as able as I and the rest of the crew to post your own musings and opinion on what strikes you as interesting in our little corner of epicurea.

welcome! :cool:

"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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johnnyd, thanks for that link to the cachaça thread and it was great to see the amount of interest. Looking forward to the next food blog done locally here in Portland or in southern Maine - so that I can learn more about my new surroundings.

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The Portland Green Grocer on Commercial Street is closing it's doors for good next Friday the 20th.

Wines are 10 - 20% off. Other goods sold at regular retail.

"It's been a good run, but it's time do something else." said the voice on the phone this morning.

:sad:

"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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Sad to hear the news of the Greengrocer closing. There location was great to pick up some cheese and a bottle of wine while cavorting around the Old Port. The prices on their cheese were much more reasonable than Hortons in the Public Market and other larger-format stores, Wild Oats and Whole Grocer.

I had heard that it really wasn't the same after the snafu about the loading entrance and been limited access. Well, the landlord wanted to make more money and this forced the establishment to adapt and eventually go out of business. Rosemount is always an option for those with a car to make the trip out on Brighton and as I understand is operated by a former partner (employee?). Alas, it takes away options and who knows what will settle in the former space. Another high-priced women's boutique or a high-end dog store that offers embroidered personal pooch pillows?

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Another high-priced women's boutique or a high-end dog store that offers embroidered personal pooch pillows?

...no, wait! how about:

"Maine-ly Marzipan" - featuring lighthouses and lobsters

"Brass, Brass and Faux Brass"...

"Cap'n Finestkind's House of Kitsch"...

:rolleyes:

"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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Anyone with comments and insight on some of the newer restaurants in Portland? Caoila's on Pine Street and the Front Room and Blue Spoon on the Munjoy Hill end of Congress.

Also, any suggestions on restaurants that are open for Monday dinner? Now that it is the middle of winter, it is close to impossible to find anything open on a Monday.

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I saw a few older posts regarding the Portland Public Market and wanted to comment and learn more about it considering many of you have lived in Portland many years.

I was there yesterday morning walking around with a friend who was visiting. El Mirador (mexican stand) has indeed closed and it looks pretty bad having two completely empty stalls in addition to a what amounted to a handful of customers. Who actually owns the Market, the City of Portland? I asked some friends and heard that countless stores and vendors have come and gone from the market in the past 7-8 years. Is it that residents view it as being a tourist trap and too expensive for what it is. The building and structure looks a lot like the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but why wasn't a second floor built. The high-vaulted ceilings and beams look visually outstanding but there is over thirty feet of unused space above the vendors.

My assumption is that the various merchants sign on and open with the promise of being the only option in a certain category - in effort to avoid direct competition but it leaves the consumer with no real options with regard to selection or quality and by and large the market as a whole is overpriced.

I think that the beer and wine shop, Breaking New Grounds, Horton (cheesemonger), and the outlet for Big Sky bakery are likely the only vendors that may last in the long run. The two vegetable and fruit stands seem to have the same produce for weeks on end (meaning the same, exact old peppers and squash) and Scales is so expensive it has me wondering if anyone actually buys from them.

Any comments or information...?

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