Finch’s: a Falmouth dining favorite

I’ve dined at Finch‘s, in Falmouth, four or five times this year, the most recent being for Thanksgiving dinner. This little white-tablecloth restaurant tucked into a strip mall near Wal-Mart is a real find, delivering excellent fare complemented by excellent service at a fair price. And no wonder, owner Johnny Robinson is always, always, in the house.

Robinson, owner of the original Hugo’s, in Portland, opened Finch’s in 2003. It’s remained off the radar screen of many a Maine foodie simply because its sequestered in the suburbs. But I’ve yet to be disappointed here by the food. (Okay, he needs to upgrade his tea black tea choices, which are limited to Lipton (yuck) and Red Rose (eh), but we chatted about that, and I have little doubt that will change). Robinson, you see, doesn’t miss anything that goes on the dining room.

Helping him keep tabs on the tables are strategically placed mirrors. If he’s at the bar, and someone walks in the door, he knows. Ditto, if he’s on the far side of the room and your wine glass is empty, he knows. Plus, he’s an amiable sort,  who not only enjoys chatting with his customers, but also is keenly interested in what they say. That all adds up to one attentive host.

And the food? It opens with a serving of thinly sliced soda bread; light, delicate, delicious. Next, we opted for salads (each $8). The Caesar was perfectly dressed and topped with two white anchovies and shavings of Parmegiano Reggiano (It’s rare for a salad to be dressed so well; usually they’re either half naked or swimming in it). The local beet and pear salad, accented with blue cheese and roasted hazelnuts, was robust with flavor. Must say, I was tempted by the Moroccan chicken pie crispy phyllo triangles ($8), but will wait to sample those, and some of the other intriguing appetizers—easily could make a mix-and-match meal of them—next time.

Although we went for the turkey dinner, none of us ordered it yesterday. Instead, lamb shank ($19) and duck breast ($20) were the winning entrees, both cooked perfectly. The lamb accompanied by mashed potatoes and wilted greens; the orange-and beet-glazed duck by carrot and gratinee potatoes. Finch’s also has a nice selection of wines by the glass ($6-$11).

It’s all served in a pleasant dining room that’s elegant without being fussy. About six months ago, Robinson added a colorful mural depicting red poppies and violet iris on the back wall (replacing, if I remember correctly, an Italian-inspired one from when another restaurant occupied this spot). It adds a French bistro touch to the sunshine yellow walls, reddish carpeting, and burnished woodwork.

Do check out the web site and specials: Occasionally there are fixed price nights, such as a recent Spanish one for $35 for four courses.

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