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Portland ME Restaurants


skeeter
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What's not closing these days? The winter doldrums is tough on restaurants and food shops, but it sure seems exacerbated in greater Portland. There are several websites still up and running with reviews of Aubergine, Rachel's Wood Grill, Meritage Wine Bar - I still learning that these places have closed over the last couple of years and trying to sort out what's left.

Esme, I just recently met your boyfriend Dave over at the Clown. Small town as I am learning. We talked about how underappreciated some Italian amaro is here in Maine, specifically Campari and Cynar. First time in the shop and think that its great. I will head over to the tasting this coming Thursday.

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What's not closing these days?  Rachel's Wood Grill,

Rachel's isn't closed, they just moved. They are now located on Woodford's Street near where it meets Brighton, almost directly behind Rosemont Bakery.

Esme, I just recently met your boyfriend Dave over at the Clown.  Small town as I am learning.  We talked about how underappreciated some Italian amaro is here in Maine, specifically Campari and Cynar.  First time in the shop and think that its great.  I will head over to the tasting this coming Thursday.

I won't tell Jon that you called him Dave. :raz: I'm sure that he told you about my love affair with Campari. The problem with drinking aperitifs is that you wake up hungover and starving. The Bar of Chocolate on Wharf Street serves Cynar; I like to go there for one after dinner sometimes. Jon and I are going to Italy in April for VinItaly, the Italian Wine fair in Verona, where I can hopefully do more "research" on the subject.

I'm glad you like the store. Their wine selection is great, especially when it comes to Italian wines. I also like the whimsical Michael Aram serving pieces upstairs and the Favorita Fish jarred foodstuffs, especially the sundried tomatoes in oil.

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Now I feel like an a-s-s, for Jon even gave me his business card. I cannot still wrap my head around why I called him Dave. I gave him a great Campari-based drink recipe for a Teresa, that mellows some of its bitterness with cassis and fresh lime juice. Don't worry, Campari's unique flavor doesn't get trumped but melds well for a play on sweet and sour.

He also mentioned Bar of Chocolate which I need to check out. I hadn't realized it was even there, for I thought that end of Wharf Street was all dance clubs and the like.

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Jon and I are going to Italy in April for VinItaly, the Italian Wine fair in Verona, where I can hopefully do more "research" on the subject.

Ooh I am envious.

If you should run into one Patricia Guy there - she & her husband live in downtown Verona, she is a wine writer & holds tastings, he is in charge of the wine cellar at an estate outside of Verona (unfortunately I don't recall his name or that of the estate right now), please say hi for me. I can't imagine that they won't both be heavily involved in this event.

D'oh! They won't recognize ghostrider. The name is Anton Tibbe.

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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He also mentioned Bar of Chocolate which I need to check out. I hadn't realized it was even there, for I thought that end of Wharf Street was all dance clubs and the like.

Sarah, the owner/proprietor, has held barkeep positions in some of the better old port establishments for many years. She started making superior chocolate on the side for friends but it got out of hand when the word got out. Bar of Chocolate has been on her mind for years and it finally opened last year. Wine Bar upstairs also contributes to the dessert offerings.

"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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Ok, the bars at the end of Wharf Street have now been brought up. What does everyone think of the cutting back of liquor licenses and the problem that supposedly is Wharf St. at night?

And, anyone have any new info on the bar going in on Congress St., on the corner of oak(I believe it's the white horse or something like that?)

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Now that were on to Councillor Gorham's crusade, I will throw my ten cents in. The approved legislation reduces the number of full spirits licenses in the delimitated Old Port from 27 to 22, the current existing number. On paper, this equates to having no new permits for future businesses and new establishments. i think that the Commission are slowly taking the high road to a mass gentrification of the Old Port - by not allowing any more bars and night clubs to open in the future. From what I have read and heard, Portland's leaders would prefer upscale retailers and boutiques to replace the seedy nightclubs that abound on the Union end of Wharf and Fore Streets.

What issues will arise in the future? Now that there are no more unclaimed licenses, the price of buying an exisiting one (assuming that the permits are transferable in Maine and not specific to a location, for thats how most other states operate) will increase dramatically. Five years ago, a full spirits license was over $50,000 for the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston along the Newbury Street and Bolyston Avenue corridors. There were only so many and this extreme cost would be a huge obstacle to overcome for those looking to open a new establishment - this is in addition to huge operating costs and insurances.

Portland and the Old Port need to re-examine what types of establishment foster the dangerous and undesired environment that the commissioners and average citizen are so fearful of. Everyone in my peer group and person that I know sees it plain as day and makes it a point not to patronize these establishments. But go out on a Saturday night and see that there is no shortage of willing participants, many underage and visibly intoxicated. Reducing the number of permits or even pushing back the hours of operation to a later last call, will not curb this behavior or chaos.

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Alright, it seems the last bit of thread and the argument about licenses in the old Port should be stuffed somewhere else other than this forum - realized it this morning after a good night's sleep.

One of the things that surprises me about Portland is the relatively lack of restaurants specializing or even focusing on fish cookery. Given the proximity of the Casco Bay, especially considering that I walk or run by it every day has me wondering why? A question I pose to those with more tenure here in Portland, what restaurants are known for fish? Hopefully, for the sake of discussion here, one can omit the floating barge and the glut of wharf standards that crank out food-service quality to teeming hordes of tourists. I am more interested in creative, inspired quality dishes emphasizing fresh, local product.

For example,

Bangs Island Mussels roasted in garlic and almond butter (Fore Street)

the aforementioned Codfish tasting plate served at Hugo's

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This has always bugged me. Having lived in coastal areas in other parts of the world, the lack of interest in seafood here is almost embarrassing. Rockland's Lobsterfest and Yarmouth Clam Festival aside, there are just so many ways you can fry fish.

I can only attribute it to the post-war american diet-of-convenience begat by canned and frozen food products (discussed at nauseating length elsewhere) that eventually hijacked any remaining respect for food among the immigrant population.

Back when I was diving for sea urchins I lived on an island for a few months one winter, right off Mt. Desert Island. I was headed home with a cooler packed with urchins for a sushi chef in Vermont but couldn't find any ice packs. Exploring the only store on the island, I ended up buying a couple slabs of frozen halibut from alaska for $5. Here I was in the middle of the breadbasket of the North Atlantic and this was the only fish for sale in the store. :huh:

Street & Co. on Wharf St. does a good job with their seafood-only menu.

"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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Wrong forum or not, the reduction in entertainment licenses available for bars needs some clarification. Nearly everywhere I've read coverage of the concil's last meeting, with the possible exception of the Bollard, has really misled readers about this issue.

Some history is in order, and I promise to be as brief as possible. In '96 the so called "Overlay" scheme was put into place. If an entertainment venue (coffee house, pool hall, arcade,bar etc) was located within an arbitrarily drawn portion of the Old Port, it required an entertainment license. 40 were to be established, with 28 set aside for bars. To simplify things--and it also seems to be the only category that the Council has kept its collective eye on--we'll deal only with bars. A bar needs an "Overlay license" if 50% or more of it's sales comes from Liquor, Beer and Wine AND it resides in the Overlay Zone. There is some pretty sound speculation that forcing a business to comply with a Licensing scheme over and above the State's requirements, is at best, barely legal. At the last council meeting, I watched as some councilors and Coporation Counsel contorted themselves and the proceedings so as not to trigger a legal challenge to one license that was up for approval.

The combination of the oddly drawn map and this 50% trigger creates for some head scratching when one looks at the list of Overlay License holders.

The Industry never needed the Overlay License since a majority of its income was derived from cover charges and the sale of energy drinks/bottled water.

Bull Feeney's doesn't have one. (presumably selling more food than booze?)

Jay's has one. (presumably selling more booze than food?)

Ri-Ra does not. (not in the overlay zone)

Porthole doesn't have one

When the Council voted to reduce the Overlay licenses to 24 from 27, (Gorham's original proposal did indeed call for reduction to 22; 24 was reached as compromise) there was some concern among councilors that a new multi-million dollar hotel proposed for the Jordan's property would require an overlay license for its lounge and there might not be one for them. "We're the council. With 5 votes we can create more" was the prevailing attitude.

There seemed to be a majority on the council that has realized that this scheme is not working and Councilor Leeman and Mayor Cohen have proposed a "Stakeforce" to examine and revamp the scheme. When the council agrees that permits that have quotas can be destroyed and created willy-nilly, you've lost the quota aspect which was the permit's raison d' etre in the first place. I'd say it's broken too.

So it's not Liquor licenses per se, that the council is limiting. That comes from the state and you can get as many as you want. Just don't expect to make most of your money with it. Unless, that is, the council says you can.

myers

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If you should run into one Patricia Guy there - she & her husband live in downtown Verona, she is a wine writer & holds tastings, he is in charge  of the wine cellar at an estate outside of Verona (unfortunately I don't recall his name or that of the estate right now), please say hi for me.  I can't imagine that  they won't both be heavily involved in this event.

I would be happy to pass along your message, but I should explain that VinItaly is attended by thousands every day. The last time we went it was 16 airline hangers filled with wine. We were tasting 50-100 wines a day for five days and never scratched the surface of what was there.

fatdeko- thanks for your concise explanation of a very convoluted system

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I would be happy to pass along your message, but I should explain that VinItaly is attended by thousands every day. The last time we went it was 16 airline hangers filled with wine. We were tasting 50-100 wines a day for five days and never scratched the surface of what was there.

Wow! I hadn't quite grasped the scale of the event. And I somehow figured that my friend's name would be prominent in whatever program or guide they publish & that everybody would be bound to run into her. I really don't have a clue sometimes.

If I can scrounge up her husband's name &/or the estate where he works before the event, I'll pass them along, those might be more useful.

Hmm, just decided to google her, she's been busy, here are some links:

Her "Wines Of Italy" book

A brief bio

She is an old friend from NYC in the 1980s, we visited her & her husband in Verona about 10 years ago. Needless to say, they know all of the great obscure restaurants in the area.

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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Anyone hear about the break-in at Fore Street? There was a blurb in today's Press Herald, saying that the robbery involved taking out the entire floor safe - guess they didn't have the key!

What's the odds it is an inside job?

Anyway, Portlanders and anyone in the surrounding areas, please take a second to post in the 'Cocktails in Portland' topic. I am trying to get some good feedback and maybe some suggestions. If not, just to laugh a bit. Please stick to the general vicinity. It is great to find out about a spot in Boston or Vancouver, but I would tend to care more about what's in the neighborhood.

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Someone forced an office window open and broke into Fore Street restaurant at 288 Fore St. late Saturday or early Sunday. A heavy floor safe with about $1,000 was stolen

Well, what do you know! I just happened to have Sam Hayward's secret recipes!!! Now where did they come from?! :raz:

"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 out there heard or talked to Siren? She has curiously been absent and not participating since prior to New Year's. Probably upset that egullet took down a couple of her posts. Hopefully she can and will come back and add her opinion, for I know I miss her perspective. Pass on the message if anyone knows her personally.

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Oh, jack.. wow.. thank you... My father has been in and out of the hospital for the past month, so I've been focusing a bit on that. Outright banning is the only thing that would keep me away ;) But, I have been keeping abreast on egullet and this thread.

But, back to food, right?

Fransisco's, out by Mardens on Brighton, was visited on v-day. Absolutely amazing food and experience.

the menu selections were:

Amuse Bouche

Chilled Steamed Asparagus with Chervil Dressing

Soups and Salads

Lobster Vahine on a bed of Mixed Greens with a Lemon Vinagrette

Appetizers

Arborio Encrusted Oysters

Menage a Foie ( A threesome of seared foie gras, port, and figs)

Intermezzo

Pink Grapefruit~Champagne Sorbet

Entrees

Petit Filet Mignon Au Poivre with a Sherry Lobster Sauce

Pan Seared Breast of Duck with a Brandy~Maple Pecan Sauce

Dessert

Tropical Fruit Spring Roll with a Ginger Chocolate Sauce

Classic Tiramisu

It was my 1st foie experience, which will probably be my last. Too gamey of a choice for me. The filet w/lobster sauce was absolutely mindblowing. The tiramisu, which was not boozy or heavy like traditional preperations tend to be, was divine. And the chef came out at the end of the evening to check on everyone which will always garner points from me..

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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Holy Hannah, that's a hell of a menu. I've never heard of this place...

I got an eMail from Chicky's Fine Diner who is holding a once-a-month super fine dining experience. This month they are having a single malt scotch sampling with dining match. Those guys are terrific. I'll have to clear my schedule. :smile:

Our V-Day (also wedding anniversary and my birthday) was spent at Yosaku, site of our reception 2yrs ago. Sublime sashimi and sushi, as always.

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 guess Fransisco's opened back in August.

http://www.franciscosportland.com/

They have a 3 Course/$20 deal on Wednesday and if you sign up for their list, then you get a coupon for a free 4th course.

We also had brunch there on Sunday, when it's just the Blue House Cafe and my partner dined on the best benedict I've had in a while. Absolutely textbook hollandaise.

Johnny, we had Yosaku on new years day and it made me think of you. I'm getting into the sashimi dining, if a bit slowly.

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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Wow, my first post to egullet. I hope I get it right. :biggrin:

I have tickets for the Portlands Stage on March 18 (Saturday) for an 8:00pm performance. We will be having dinner at Hugo's on March 17 so we don't want come down to hard on Saturday for a pre-dinner meal in the neighborhood of the theater. Anyone have suggests?

We have been in a bit of a rut when we make our trips to Protland. I am not complaining mind you but it is nice to try something new and interesting. Our only requirements is that we can get a decent bottle of wine.

Also, any post-theater brandy/desert place suugest are also welcome.

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