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Portland ME Restaurants


skeeter
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bibbo's madd apple, right next door, has some damn fine desserts.. or 555 a block or two up on congress..

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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Bar of Chocolate, 38 Wharf St. in the Old Port is a European style cafe with copper bartops, stools and Deco poster art in a brick-wall setting. Very nice.

"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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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?

Welcome to eGullet hungernot!

I'll look forward to seeing you on the 17th. I actually ate at Hugo's with my inlaws last weekend. My new favorite dish is the Chicken and Sweetbread fricassee.

I agree with Siren that Bibo's and 555 are good choices for the pre-theater. There are also two Norm's establishments around the corner. The bar and grill being more dinner oriented. The Chinese place there is iffy.

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

I agree with johnnyd that The Bar of Chocolate is your best dessert/brandy place, but if your in the more for just brandy, The Top of the East in The Eastland Hotel offers a great view.

I heard a couple of weeks ago that Bandol is moving to this part of Congress Street in a couple of months.

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That is new information on Bandol, but it sounds like Eric is definitely moving and possibly changing the concept. He must have deep pockets to have lasted as long as he has there with very few diners, despite great national media coverage and press. Last month, I had heard that he was considering opening "Ladle" a small take-away concept focusing on soups that was supposed to be located underneath Starbucks on the corner of Middle and Exchange. I actually did not know there was space there (along that back connecting passageway by Black Tie) but this came from a longtime resident and cook that was approached to possibly work there. It looks like Bandol is still open and operating, but that is always difficult to determine because there is rarely any patrons.

From what I gather and have heard from others in Portland, Bandol seems to have suffered from being to aggressive and too French-inspired. Portlanders seem to have much more middle of the road tastes generally speaking, although restaurants like Hugo's have done well. Perhaps, people have stayed away in droves for other reasons? Any comments or musings?

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When is Bar of Chocolate open? Is it a true café? I had the impression it was more of a higher-end bar that focuses on desserts. I had heard that it is one of the few establishments in Portland that stock both Campari and Cynar, so it is good to see that there is that element there and need to visit.

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I'm not sure about the hours for the Bar of Chocolate, but as to what they offer I can say that while I've seen a few savory choices (blackboard specials) their focus seems to be dessert-oriented. They do serve both Campari and Cynar and I also have tried and liked their Sangria (although it's not as good as Jenny's at Local 188).

Has anyone tried Duckfat dinners yet? They are only offered on Friday and Saturday nights, so I haven't tried anything yet, but I have typed up the menus a few times and they look great and are priced very affordably. Camille used to be the sous chef at Hugo's, we've already lost a regular bar customer to her. Oh, for Hugo's news; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in March we're offering a four-course potato menu for $44. I was hoping to post a link to the menu, but our weblady doesn't have it up yet. Off the top of my head it's Potato Consomme, Sunchoke Brandade with Potato Chips, Beef Crepinette with Carola Potato Butter(50% potato- 50% butter, yum!), and Sweet Potato Creme Brulee. Then we close April 2nd-28th for spring vacation.

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That is new information on Bandol, but it sounds like Eric is definitely moving and possibly changing the concept. He must have deep pockets to have lasted as long as he has there with very few diners,

Yes, we are closed, yes we are moving.....no, unfortunately, JackRose, i don't have deep pockets. But nice of you to assume so. Tell me what cook in town I "approached" to work at Ladle, or at bandol? I don't recall approaching anyone about cooking with me.

Bandol stayed open because I do what most cook/owners do. I adjust costs to the volume I'm serving.

I'm not changing any concepts...since when is simple french food a "concept"?

Also, no matter what, I'll never be TOO French or TOO agressive....

basically, when we re-open, it will be the same food, same cook, same theories. Just a new, beautiful, warm, sexy space....larger kitchen...simpler offerings in the bar area. I won't call the bar area a Bistro, because most folks wouldn't know what a Bistro was if it landed in their lap....more of a gastro-pub with Parisian food, and in the back, the same but "more agressive and more French" prix fixe menus we have been doing. New inspirations, same theories.

Before anyone assumes anything about either Ladle, the new Bandol, or the old Bandol, PLEASE just post something, or e-mail me...or call...anything. Just never assume anything. It makes an ass out of me and U. (actually, that would be "assmeu", but you see what I mean, right?) I promise, I will keep everyone updated on the openings of both Bandol and Ladle. Nothing will be heresay. And, I will be taking friendly suggestions on soups folks love.

regards,

Erik Desjarlais

Bandol

ladle

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Well, it is great that you have decided to participate in the forums Erik. I mustassume that you have browsed or looked in from time to time, but it is positive to get more active members offering thoughts and opinions. Being new to Portland (since September), I have not had the opportunity to try every restaurant here in town, but thought highly of Bandol's decor and menu. In my opinion (only an opinion) here, I thought the prix-fixe format was an obstacle in getting potential clients inside. As you mentioned, Erik, you said that your restaurant was only for "the top 5%" and you hoped to attract just that. But in being here for six months, I would often peer inside when passing and look to see what changes were made to the menu, yet noticed very few customers even on weekend nights. The expression "deep pockets" is a relative one but needless to say a certain amount of money was needed to remain open the last two years. Realistically, I hope that any establishment that is making creative and inspired food would prosper and become a success. I think that it helps the emerging food scene as a whole and introduces new elements to the general public.

If I run into the aforementioned cook again, I will be sure to ask his name, but rumors and mentions are how one stays abreast of the Portland restaurant scene. If no one cared about Bandol and wanted to see what happened next, it is unlikely that anything would be written at all - view it as interest and that people are following you in anticipation.

"Simple French food" is more of an approach to cooking, utilizing codified techniques and methods but with a less elaborate end result - one that would be more accessable to a prospective client, perhaps who does not have much experience with French cuisine and is a little intimated. It is also the translated name of a cookbook by Joël Robuchon and Patricia Wells (1991), in which the master chef illustrates a number of classical French dishes using a relatively small number of ingredients and eschews the lengthier processes that one would associate with an Escoffier-era brigade format.

As far as assumptions, I think that is the general nature of people. For instance, one may assume that the food would be good at XYZ restaurant and that is the reason for trying it out. The simple fact that anyone made an assumption or made a mention of the future of Bandol should be positive enough. If you read earlier posts, you will see that I actually defended you and the restaurant and was very arbirtrary in comments and made sure not to put in any pejorative comments for I have never eaten at Bandol.

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Welcome to eGullet hungernot!

I'll look forward to seeing you on the 17th. I actually ate at Hugo's with my inlaws last weekend. My new favorite dish is the Chicken and Sweetbread fricassee.

I agree with Siren that Bibo's and 555 are good choices for the pre-theater. There are also two Norm's establishments around the corner. The bar and grill being more dinner oriented. The Chinese place there is iffy.

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

I agree with johnnyd that The Bar of Chocolate is your best dessert/brandy place, but if your in the more for just brandy, The Top of the East in The Eastland Hotel offers a great view.

Sweatbreads are my favorite! We are doing the Chef's menu at Hugo's. I hope they show up somewhere!

We ate at 555 a year or so ago and it was on top of the list. I think we will end up there again.

We always stay at the Eastland Park because the rates are so good (more money to spend on meals!) and we can walk just about everywhere we want to be. The view from the bar is great but the drinks list seems lacking. If the weather holds out, we will try to make the trek back down to Bar of Chocolate after the play. I do want to make a visit.

Now, can I impose upon you folks for another recommendation? My company is doing it damnest to screw up this weekend for me. I will be flying in on the red eye from San Francisco into Portalnd on the morning of the 17th instead of a nice leisurly drive my my house in central New Hampshire. Let's just say I might look a little scary at that point. Is there someplace in the neighborhood I can drag myself to grab a bit of lunch that won't throw me out for looking like a derelict?

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Jack, if you've never eaten with us, then how can you have an opinion? You certainly can't base an opinion on word of mouth. Keep your opinions of my business to yourself until you actually eat with us. Until then leave me out of it, OK? Some people get it, some people dont. prix fixe is nothing new and is definately not an obstacle. Your ramble about simple french food seemed well memorized from text as well. Every dish I have ever put out has been simple. Nothing masked. No "trick food". just 4 or less components on a plate. Most of which take a few days to create from start to finish

I really don't need your defense in past posts. Those who love us, love us. Those who like us, like us. Those who don't understand us never will unless they come in. Those who hate us are probably the ones who don't understand, and I honestly don't want them around anyway. I enjoy my food and cooking too much to waste it on naysayers who are trying to find something wrong with it and bitch about it to their faux-foodie friends. Have you ever been under a microscope?

"but needless to say a certain amount of money was needed to remain open the last two years. "

How would you know? Do actually see my numbers? My bank account? Should I publish them to make you happy? Sorry to say, but the business is doing just fine. We are moving because I'm sick of the space. I can afford to close for two months and invest money in a new space. It doesn't mean I have deep pockets. It means I ran my business right. Again, keep your insights about my business to yourself.

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Ok, everyone... deep breath.... go to your happy places... imagine yourselves eating your favorite dish.... *exhale*

We good now or, at the very least, a smidge better?

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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Honestly, I tried taking the high road and even took the advice of a fellow e-gullet member to sleep it off, not rush to judgement. Done. I am not surprised but his recent outburst and attack, for it seems to really illustrate what kind of person were dealing with. Surely, having zero customers and having your entire kitchen walk-out on you in August were not reasons for Bandol not being successful - it was that you were bored and sick of the space. Not that you are a pompous sot that one would be hard pressed to find a single person in Portland to say a kind word about you (mothers don't count, but hooking her up to a polygraph would likely rule that last straw out as well), not even the owner of your neighbor, Simply Scandinavian, who is one of the nicest people in the world.

As far as Ladle goes, really save some time and money in don't bother moving and opening a new place - the format change is no going to attract the customers that have been staying away in droves. I have met several ornery and egotistical chefs who are literally really disliked, but their cooking and restaurants still pack them to the rafters inspite of their personal traits. So this is a first to see someone who has managed to alienate practically ever single person in a city - but I am sure that you still don't believe it and saved you some time in drawing up a list of excuses for your easy use.

Top Five Reasons Bandol Had No Customers and Is Closing

5. Customers are always wrong and ignorant ("because most folks wouldn't know what a Bistro was if it landed in their lap" your words maestro)

4. You are infallible (yet cannot write a hundred word response without numerous spelling errors - quick revisions, aggressive has two "g"s, and the word is hearsay, not that you would ever stop massaging your ego to listen to what other people may be saying.)

3. People have realized that you are about as French as the Durkee Fried Onions that are used as the topping for Green Bean Casserole. I actually went to school in France, speak the language, and have worked in restaurants there but still do not feel the need to be condescending to everyone who walked through the door and to write the titles of menu dishes in French.

2. You did not get enough press. Two nationally distributed cooking magazines with favorable comments were not enough to get customers in the door. I am still trying to figure out how someone can mess such good press up. But you are correct, I have never eaten at Bandol and like never will, much like throngs of Portlanders passing by your door on a daily basis and patronizing every other restaurant on the peninsula. I hope you find it comforting, when you realize there are corner stores reheating soup from a can and easily selling it, with a genuine smile and that the customer knows they are getting a good value for their money.

1. Bandol is a widely-known to the general public - enough to name my restaurant after an obscure wine-growing village in the south of France. Hopefully, you haven't fallen in love with Ladle for I have a couple of fifty cent words that you can easily use and to illustrate your pomposity. How about hubris or peripateia (change dictionaries for a second and look up that last one, for I think it really hits home here) You can easily find more ostentatious names to further alienate customers.

Erik, do you know who I am now? Call me, I can let you borrow an extra French dictionary that you can help you write up the menu for Ladle. BTW, mainstream America is not ready for cervelles de veau , or calf's brains, so you may want to omit that from your new menu. I suggest any further rantings should be done by PM this way you can save any remaining face. Really, I should have sent this directly to you and kept it out of the forum, but had to respond after last night's posting. I am now going to walk up to Congress to see the crowds already lining up for your new restaurant.

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Is there someplace in the neighborhood I can drag myself to grab a bit of lunch that won't throw me out for looking like a derelict?

Try the The Dogfish Cafe on the corner of Congress and St. John. A solid menu of favorites taken to a higher level. Went in this week and had Haddock chowder that was EXACTLY the way I like it: broth, not glop, and I saw a couple fresh thyme leaves float by; then a Turkey Cobb salad that had a substantial loin grilled perfectly accompanied by cranberries, crumbled bacon, egg, avocado a bit of feta (I think), all over lightly dressed mesclun. Delicious. $20 with a gingerale.

Their mussels are legendary. Dogfish also was a participant in The 11th Annual WMPG Fat Tuesday New Orleans Cuisine Cook-off which they won last year but came in second in 2006. Their entry, a seafood gumbo, featured mussels, Maine Shrimp and a killer tomatoey broth that was hard to pass up.

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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johnny... sigh... i need to shut off my phil lesh sbd's(I blame Joan Osborne singing with him) and need to listen to more WMPG..

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 I wasn't taking 5 days off to get back to NY, then I'd be able to swing this..

Francisco's at the Blue House Cafe

1081 Brighton Ave.

Portland, Maine 04102

207.347.6196

Visa and MasterCard accepted!

" Around the World in Ten Dishes"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

5:30 and 8:00pm Seatings

For this event, each course will be a smaller, tasting sized portion. Because of the vastness of the menu we cannot

offer choices for each of the courses. This is a great opportunity to try new things!

Amuse Bouche

Poached Lobster with Blueberry Salsa - Maine, USA

Soup, Salad and Appetizers

Empadinhas (Mini Pies) - Brazil

Portagee Sausage and Bean Soup - Hawaii

Cucumber and Micro Green Salad with Wasabi Dressing - Japan

Kangaroo (Yes, kangaroo!) Kebob with Smoked Eggplant Puree - Australia

Intermezzo

Lychee Sorbet - China

Entrees

Persian Fesenjam ( Pomegranate - Walnut Chicken) - Iran

Medallions de Veau en Croute ( Veal medallions in puff pastry) - France

Desserts

Pönnukökur ( Ligonberry filled pancakes) - Iceland

A scoop each of Maple~Lobster and Blueberry Ice Cream - To complete your roundtrip, back to Maine

We will have a 5:30 and 8:00 Seating for this event. You don't want to miss out on this experience!

We have alot of fun surprises planned for you that evening that will truly make this

a once in a lifetime dining experience.

The price is only $50 per person plus tax, gratuity and if applicable BYOB corkage.

By Reservation Only!

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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For this event, each course will be a smaller, tasting sized portion.

So, by the time you get to the ice cream trio, the "scoop" = maybe 1/64th of a teaspoon?

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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For this event, each course will be a smaller, tasting sized portion.

So, by the time you get to the ice cream trio, the "scoop" = maybe 1/64th of a teaspoon?

No, I think it was more in reference to the V-day menu, where it was full meal portions. I think this is to be more in the line of a Hugoesque meal..

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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  • 3 weeks later...

actually, looks like after 2 weeks of being closed, it's back open.

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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That is good to only get a scare about Honey's closing. I never got a chance to try it, even though it is in walking distance from my neighborhood. You had mentioed a while back that you were fond of it. Any suggestions or recommendations to try out, Siren?

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Just called Sharon at HONEY's and got her on board the WMPG-FM restaurant donation list for our spring Fundraiser next week. Thought she could use the promotional boost if things were getting rough. Turns out there was a death in her family so she took two weeks off.

-snip-

What a wonderful woman! Not only is there a sparkle in her eye and a helluva smile, she's one determined lady. She's definitely back in business and changing her menu next week. I hope she keeps the oxtail, hamhocks and pigfeet - I'll have to ask later...

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a call from Dan, chef at Shahnaz Persian Grille who said a customer drove down from Bangor to dine there but got lost looking for it. Apparently he was looking for them opposite a Dunkin Donuts. Dan tracked it to this post that I made in December so the good news is that someone in Bangor reads eGullet, but for future reference, Shahnaz Persian Grille is directly opposite the new Maples Organics which serves certified organic baked goods and ice cream... and they are right next to a DOMINOS pizzaria.

oops :unsure:

Shahnaz Persian Grille

795 Forest Ave (Liberty Plaza)

Portland ME 04103

207-879-2400

"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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