Posts Tagged ‘Maine dining’

Hungering for Restaurant Week

January 23, 2010

You’re not alone, and this year not only are restaurants participating (here a sneak preview of those registered by Jan. 7) in Maine Restaurant Week , but also lodgings. Even better, there’s more geographic representation. Would be nice to see some of the restaurants near the ski resorts participate–hint, hint…

Dine and wine by the sea

January 15, 2010

The Inn by the Sea has a few wine (and one beer) dinners scheduled and has released its Restaurant Week menu. The special dinners do sell out, so it’s wise to make reservations well in advance.

• Feb. 18: A Five-course Argentine Harvest Dinner paired with wines from the Andeluna cellars. Stern Greenwood, from the San Francisco Wine Exchange will describe the wines chosen. It’s worth noting that Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich was reared in Argentina, so he knows the country’s flavors. The courses:

1. South American seafood and lobster ceviche with yuca chips paired with 2007 Torrontes

2. Slow-braised chicken embanadas dumplings paired with 2004 chardonnay reserve

3. Sweetbreads Milanese style, with balsamic glaze and mushroom escabeche, paired with 2004 Malbec limited reserve

4. Entree: grilled grass-fed steak medallion with chimichurri salsa verde and smoked twice-baked potato, paired with 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon reserve

5. aalfajores com dulce de leche.

• March 11: Terredora Winery Wine Dinner

• March 25: Gritty’s Beer Dinner

Restaurant Week, March 1-10: The three-course dinner menu will offer a choice of three appetizers (cream of celery root soup, citrus marinated beets, pan-seared jumbo scallop), three entrees (handmade ricotta gnocchi, gulf of Maine lobster & cod chowder, red wine-braised beef cheeks) and two dessrets (profiteroles, carrot cake). Price will be $30.10.

Foodie news: Inn by the Sea

January 14, 2010

Kudo to Mitchell Kaldrovich, executive chef at the Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth. He’ll be cooking at the James Beard House on Feb. 27.

In light of that, you might want to check out the inn’s  Inncredible Foodie package:

• two nights lodging

• chef’s choice welcome amenity upon arrival

• meet Kaldrovich in downtown Portland to create a customized lunch menu and tour area specialty purveyors for ingredients together; during the tour, you’ll learn about product selection and preparation techniques

• invitation to join the chef in the kitchen to help prepare the menu. Afterwards, enjoy it with wine parings in the Sea Glass restaurant

• five-course tasting menu with wine parings for two for dinner

Rates begin at $1,015, including everything but food and beverage gratuities.

Bourdain in Maine 2

January 5, 2010

Yup, he was here (and he got a taste for a Maine winter in addition to Maine fare). Reports are beginning to trickle in: In Portland, he visited Street & Co., J’s Oyster, Duckfat, and one more, which one of my sources is trying to get today.

In Rockland, he spent Saturday at Primo, then spent all day yesterday in and around town. Early reports had him dining at Conte’s, but I’ve yet to have a confirmation on that (but he had to be somewhere on Sunday). Stay tuned….   UPDATE

Fancying Francine

December 19, 2009

Dined at Chef/Owner Brian Hill’s  Francine Bistro last night, and I liked it. Food is well prepared and innovative; service is very good. It is not, however, a fine dining restaurant; true to the name, it’s a bistro: loud, frenzied, fun. The prices aren’t exactly bistro prices (entrees $23-26), which is probably why I’ve heard mixed reactions to this little gem.

Nothing fancy in decor (wood floors, painted walls, mirrors to give the impression that it’s a bit larger than it really is–and also so the staff can monitor what’s happening). Although the din could be toned down with a bit of acoustical fabric wall hangings, but that would change the good-times feel of the place, even if conversation is a bit difficult.

I dined on braised local rabbit, grits, greens white asparagus, bacon miso. It was hefty portion, and I couldn’t finish it (yay, leftovers!). Next time I dine here, I’ll restrain myself for the day so I’m good and hungry. The appetizer courses looked wonderful, especially the Jerusalam artichoke soup with parmesan and fried garlic—mmmmm. I could easily have paired that with the skillet roast semolina gnocchi, country style ragu local pecorino and called it a meal in itself, perhaps with a salad, too. Next time.

Havana’s coming to Portland

November 10, 2009

I came across this news while doing the final fact check for the new edition of my Moon Coastal Maine guidebook. Havana, one of Bar Harbor’s top restaurants, plans to open on Wharf Street, in Portland in spring 2010.

In doing a bit of online research, it appears that Cassady Pappas, who participated in this year’s Harvest on the Harbor, will be the executive chef: “Cassady Pappas is the Executive Chef for Portland’s newest Latin fusion restaurant, “Uno Mas”, set to open in the Spring of 2010 at 52 Wharf Street.”

Yeah, yeah, the street number is different from the one on the Havana South website, but Cassady is a long-timer with restaurateur Michael Boland, so it makes sense. Boland, by the way, has a very successful track record with the restaurants he’s opened in Bar Harbor. He’s a savvy businessman. If this version of Havana is anything similar to the original one, it should be a nice addition to Portland’s crowded restaurant scene.


MDI foodie reruns

September 24, 2009

We finished our visit to Mount Desert Island with two returns, Mache Bistro for a dinner and Jordan Pond House for lunch.

Once again, Mache did everything right. Chef/owner Karl Yarborough knows how to put out excellent food and how to keep the front of the house running smoothly. Our table of six ordered two cassoulets, two salmon specials, one scallops, and one mix of appetizers (calmari salad and the lobster/crab cakes), and none of us was disappointed in any way. We each kept raving, and for the most part, refused to share. One friend, a regular at Hammersley’s in Boston’s South End, proclaimed this cassoulet better, quite an accomplishment. The only complaint at our table was the need for a bit more light (and perhaps larger print on the menu—yeah, we’re all in denial about the glasses thing). You definitely want to make reservations; this place is very small and very popular.

Visiting MDI without having lunch at Jordan Pond House is like visiting the park without touring the park loop. Four of us went, and while we each had at least one popover, or lunch choices were varied. One cranberry island salad, made with greens, dried cranberries, pecans, and apples tossed with the house vinaigrette. Two orders of the soup of the day, a golden pea with butternut squash that was rich and delicious and quite flavorful. And one order of the lobster stew, served with big pieces of lobster meat. Now all that’s quite fine, but for me, it’s the popovers that make this place sing. Call me a sucker for tradition, but I just love ’em. And here’s a hint, if you’re not offered the blueberry jam, ask for it—it’s thick and rich and tastes just like fresh-picked blueberries. So good, you might just want to skip the popover and just eat it by the spoonful.

Restaurant Week in Boothbay Harbor

September 1, 2009

Just back from a day trip to the Boothbays, and the buzz is about the upcoming Restaurant Week, Sept. 19-25. Participating restaurants will be offering three-course meals for $22.09 (+grat., tax, booze). Details are hard to find, as there’s nothing yet posted on the Chamber of Commerce’s web site.

IMG_4210But, I can tell you the Topside Inn is promoting it, and I can’t think of a nice or more convenient place to call it a night…or a morning. It crowns that intown knoll, and the views extend over the harbor and bay and beyond. Very private, yet a two-minute walk to all intown activities.

Rooms, spread out between the main inn and two motel-style annexes are all decorated in handsome B&B style (nothing frou frou here), and most have at least a glimpse of the water. But frankly, I think I’d spend most of my day in one of those Adirondack-style chairs, placed just so on the lawn, mesmerized by the views.

Splurgeworthy: Camden Harbour Inn

August 13, 2009

IMG_1918Once a classic summer hotel, over the years, the  Camden Harbour Inn had morphed into a B&B, sprouting wings and adding private baths, and gone Victorian to the hilt, with ruffles, and flowers, and layers of clutter. Not anymore.

Partners Oscar Verest and Raymond Brunyanszki have infused this genteel lady with light, opened walls and windows, and brought it fully into the 21st century with vibrant color, comfy furnishings, and all the whistles and bells that a four-aiming-for-five diamond property requires. It is most unVictorian inside and yet, there are faint echoes of that era. Those echoes, however, are dulled by the purples, silvers, and reds of the upholstery, the minimalist gas fireplace, and the Asian and African accents. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound soothing, but it is, and it works.


IMG_1962Now add a fabulous restaurant, Natalie‘s, decorated to evoke a Parisien brasserie on the Seine in the 1930s—think stop red chairs and fringed lighting—again, it works.  Better yet, Chef Lawrence Klang is turning out fabulous food that’s gaining attention far beyond Maine’s borders.  He offers not only a la carte (entrees $28-44), but also a six-course tasting menu and a four-course lobster-sampling menu.

Settle in for a leisurely meal, with well-trained servers who are friendly, but not gushy, in a setting that invites relaxation and is not the least bit  stuffy. Dine inside or on the porch, with views of Camden Harbor from many tables. Dining here is  splurge-worthy, but if your budget isn’t flush, consider  the lounge menu, $8-14, instead. It offers a world of flavors, and Damariscotta oysters are $1 each.


IMG_1804Every guestroom has a water view and a stocked mini-bar. Beds are comfy clouds of down; chocolates and a quote note, along with slippers, are provided at turndown. Some rooms have fireplaces or whirlpool tubs, some have balconies, a few are suites with separate sitting areas. All refrain the inn’s decorating theme: White walls offset by reds, silvers, and purples and accented with worldy art and antiques.


Now this is where the inn really adds value. Guests are welcomed with a glass of Prosecco. Snacks and treats are always available. Breakfast includes not only a European-style buffet with fruits, cereals, baked goods, meats, cheese, even smoked salmon, but also a choice-of-menu entree, and those choices include lobster benedict (oh so good!).


The inn also is now offering lifestyle packages, with fanciful extras from chauffeur service to dining tours to lifestyle coaching.

Rob Evans of Hugos wins Beard Award

May 5, 2009

Woohoo! Rob Evans, chef and co-proporitor of the four-diamond  Hugo’s Restaurant, in Portland, won the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast.

Evans, who won the distinction of being named by Food & Wine as one of the top new chefs in the country in 2004, has previously been nominated for the Beard award in 2007 and 2008.  Evans is also the mastermind behind Duckfat, which should win Beard for best fries in the country.

Evans bested another Maine team, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, of Arrows, in Ogunquit; Michael Leviton, Lumiere, in West Newton, Mass.; Tony Maws, of Craigie on Main, in Cambridge, Mass.; and Mark Orfaly, of Pigalle, in Boston, to win the coveted award.

Another feather in yet another Portland chef’s toque.