Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Dine out for a doggone good cause

May 30, 2010

Dine out Thursday and help Pete and his pals, Humane Society of Knox County photo.

If you’re in the Greater Camden/Rockland region on Thursday, June 3, consider dining out at a participating Dine Out for Pete’s Sake restaurant (see participating restaurants, below) to help the Humane Society of Knox County.

This is a great organization that not only places local strays and unwanteds, but also takes dogs in from overcrowded shelters around the country. Its policy: Animals are not euthanized unless severe physical or behavior problems exist that cannont be resolved, they’re never euthanized for time or space

It’s success in its mission, so successful that it takes in dogs from more challenged shelters. Recently, 13 chihuahuas arrived from Los Angeles Animal Services, which receives over 300 chihuahuas a month but it doesn’t have enough homes for them all. (Adoption fee for these special dogs is $325. See more on the website.)

To help support these and other animals being cared for by the shelter, have lunch, dinner, or both at one of these participating restaurants (There are some excellent choices). FYI: My guys, Bernie and Dooley, give this event four paws up.


Amalfi on the Water
Big Fish
Blue Sky Cantina
Brass Compass
Harbor View Tavern
Home Kitchen Cafe
Prism Restaurant and Gallery
Thomaston Cafe


Amalfi on the Water
Athens Pizzeria
Badger Cafe and Pub
Big Fish
Blue Sky Cantina
Cafe Miranda
Harbor Gawker
The Haven Restaurant
In Good Company
Mc-Hales Restaurant & Pub
The Offshore Restaurant
Park Street Grille
Peter Otts
Pizza Hut
Prism Restaurant and Gallery
Rockland Cafe
Silver Lane Bistro

A Cold River night at Walter’s

May 29, 2010

I love the new Walter‘s, and I’m not alone. When I met a friend there on a Wednesday evening in early May, I didn’t expect to need reservations, but I should have made them. The place was mobbed. We were fortunate when a table opened in the lounge area, and we were able to snag it.

The old Walter’s feasted on the Old Port’s retro 1980s brick-walled  fern bar meets urban Victorian vibe; the new Walter’s redefines urban chic in Portland. It’s sleek, casual, comfortable, and decorated with contemporary flair; for once, brick is not the defining element.

What hasn’t changed is the food. Walter’s still turns out excellent fusion fare, melding Mediterranean, Asian, and Caribbean flavors with a Maine accent, and presenting them with flair.  (You nonfoodies need that translated? Damn good food crafted from eclectic ingredients you might not be familiar with but will come together in a happy dance on your tastebuds; not only that, but when it arrives, it looks too good to eat).

On Thursday, June 3, Walter’s is teaming with Cold River Vodka on a multi-course affair. It opens with a cocktail hour featuring Cold River drinks paired with passed appetizers, then continues with a four-course dinner ($75 per person, plus tax/gratuity).

Jeff Buerhaus, Walter’s owner and executive chef, is designing the evening’s menu to feature Cold River Vodka in select dishes, while Walter’s Bar Manager Steve Lovenguth will present attendees with a specially created array of Cold River cocktails.  One guest, drawn at random during the evening, will win a gift basket full of items from Maine Distilleries and Walter’s.

Menu highlights include:

• pastrami-cured duck breast appetizer

• roasted spring lamb chop

• vodka-based pasta dish with crumbled Greek farm cheese

• blueberry vodka cheesecake for dessert.

Cold River specialty cocktails include the Nor’easter, featuring Cold River’s Blueberry Vodka and HoneyMaker Blueberry Mead, and the Far East River, made with lemongrass-infused Cold River vodka and ginger liqueur.

In a nod to the evening’s culinary focus, Walter’s and Cold River Vodka will make a joint donation to the Maine Restaurant Association Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to deserving students pursuing post-secondary degrees in Culinary Arts or Hospitality Management programs. Nice touch.

And take it from me, when you go, whether for this event or on another night, do make a reservation.

Maine bits and pieces: news and chatter

May 3, 2010

Here’s a quick round-up of interesting news bits that have come across my desk:

Chebeague Island Inn reopening under new ownership

A favorite destination for travelers and day-trippers since the 1880s, the inn, restored in 2003-04, will re-open May 14 under the new ownership of the Prentice family of Yarmouth, Maine. With the May re-launch, the Prentices will be adding a more stylish, up-to-date ambiance.

One notable change is the inn’s restaurant, now under the direction of Executive Chef Justin Rowe, a veteran of 555 and Fore Street. The contemporary American menu, rooted in Maine and New England, will focus on locally/regionally sourced foods and beverages.

Here’s wishing the new owners success. I’m hoping to visit soon to see what’s happening.

• Unveiling of the Calves

You’ve heard of the Running of the Bulls, well Aldemere Farm, a 136-acres saltwater farm in Rockport, offers a far gentler experience. This Saturday, May 8, is its ninth annual Calf Unveiling Day. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. , you can  tour the Farm and visit with the newly born Belted Galloway calves (nicknamed the Oreo cookie cows for their distinctive white belt). Aldermere staff and volunteers will be on site speaking with visitors and providing information about the Farm and the herd.

Several other local farms will also be on site offering information regarding the goods they produce. These include:

• Sunnyside Farm with goats

• lueberry Farm and Blue Sky Farm with alpacas

• Ells Farm and Terra Optima will be selling meat

• Savage Oakes and Coastal Mountains Land Trust will have information about their operations

• Tanglewood 4-H Camp will present about their many agricultural offerings.

Other activities include the Rusty Hinges band performing (around 11 a.m.) and the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club working throughout the day with their animals.

• Best Chef in the Northeast

Tonight, the James Beard Foundation will name the winner of the coveted Best Chef in the Northeast award. Chef/owners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, have been nominated seven times. Here’s hoping that these perennial bridesmaids finally win; they certainly deserve it.

No. 10 Water Street opens tonight

No. 10 Water Street, the new restaurant at Brunswick’s Capt. Daniel Stone Inn, opens tonight, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Brunswick is getting to be an increasingly interesting food town, with a nice choice of inexpensive to moderate restaurants.

• Zip-line adventure park opening in Wiscasset

Monkey C Monkey Do, a Zipline family adventure park, is under construction on Route 1 in Wiscasset.

Grazing through Portland: Merry Table Creperie

April 28, 2010

Open the door to Chef/owner Jean Claude Vassalle’s the Merry Table Creperie, and step into an intimate country French bistro. It’s easy to be charmed here: Low ceilings, pine floors, and gold brick walls adorned with artsy posters provide a Provencal tone in the cozy bar and seating areas; soft music and French conversations linger in the background. It’s the perfect set for Vassalle’s fare.

True to the name, crepes are the specialty, although other items are available. Although tempted by the French onion soup, a standard on the menu, and the soup du jour, potato and leek, I skipped a first course and set down to deciding which crepe to order.

That’s not an easy task. After see-sawing between salade de crevettes (and open-style crepe with greens, shrimp, tomato, artichoke, bell pepper, asparagus, and house Dijon dressing), saumon (Boursin cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, eggs, capers), cordon bleu (chickent, ham, blue cheese, Bechamel), and poireaux (braised leeks, wild mushrooms, goat cheese), I opted for the latter. (Crepes run $9-13)

My poireaux crepe was elegant in its simplicity and absolutely divine. The accompanying small salad of greens, dressed in the house Dijon vinaigrette, provided the perfect counterpoint. While big eaters might find the servings on the small side, I found it to be the perfect proportion.

My tablemate had the jambon fromage (Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese), and was equally pleased.

And of course we split dessert. Dithering between the Suzette (made with sugar, butter, orange, and Grand Marnier) and the chocolate, I asked our waitress for her advice. “Chocolate,” she replied with decisive finality. One mouthful, and we understood why.

At lunch, sandwiches, paninis, salads, and a daily special (yesterday’s was coq au vin), are available, but not at night. When the weather cooperates, there are outdoor tables on Wharf Street’s cobblestones.

Note: Twice a month, Merry Table hosts French language tables, a wonderful way to learn, practice, or brush up on your conversational skills.

C’est bon!

Grazing through Portland: Nosh Kitchen Bar

April 7, 2010

First, apologies for the long absence. Since returning from Churchill, Manitoba (and gaining more than 100 degrees in the process, from 44 below to 70+ above), I’ve enjoyed a couple of days of stellar skiing at Sugarloaf (yes, there’s still plenty of snow in them thar hills), and working on a few assignments. Which is how I found myself in Portland for a few days. I’ve been grazing my way through the city, so I’ll begin to catch up on lost time and lack of posts with some quick restaurant notes. For the record, I’m currently on a Concord Coachlines Boston-bound bus that’s outfitted with power outlets at ever seat, has free Wifi, and is showing a movie (yes, free pretzels and water, too).

Nosh: A delicious new Congress Street addtition to the Arts District. Very relaxed atmosphere, long slate bar on one side of the room, copper-topped tables on the other. Entry wall of windows opens to a small seating area with leather couch and chair grouping. Open prep area with blackboard menu at the back. Very contemporary vibe. Oh, and free Wifi, too.

Now let’s talk food: menu comprises sandwiches, burgers, and salads, then expands at night with themed plates. And let’s not forget the fries–I had the salt-and-vinegar version accompanied by the very chunky blue cheese sauce. Yup, these will definitely suffice if I can’t get to Duckfat. My sandwich, confit tuna with an avocado/red onion/tomato/caper spread, and a cuke, served with half a snappy dill pickle, was quite tasty and extremely filling. Service was friendly and efficient (really, what more does one want?) I can see this will be an especially popular spot during First Friday Art Walks. Prices begin around $8.

Restaurant Week Maine continues for some

March 11, 2010

A number of restaurants are extending their Restaurant Week Maine specials. These are listed with links on the Restaurant Week Maine site.

Anglers Seafood (3)




Five Fifty-Five Lounge

Harraseeket Inn

Johnny’s Bistro & Bar

Pepperclub/Good Egg Cafe

Slate’s Restaurant and Bakery

Thomaston Café

In addition, Natalie‘s, at the Camden Harbour Inn, just announced that it plans to continue its $20.10 bar menu and its $40.10 fine dining menu through March.

For all, be sure to call first to confirm availability and details.

Grazing through Portland: Susan’s Fish & Chips

March 11, 2010

What’s not to like about Susan’s Fish & Chips? This garage-turned-fish shack evokes the sea, from the mermaids and fish painted on the exterior to the netting hanging over the counter inside. But don’t expect a fishy odor, Susan’s is clean, efficient, and dishes out some of Portland’s best and cheapest fried seafood. Order at the counter, snag a table, booth, or seat at the counter, and a few minutes later, the order is delivered.

Service is speedy, but while waiting for your order, peruse the photos on the back wall or the wall of fame, decorated with plentiful Best Of awards.

The dinnahs, which come with choice of fries, potato or pasta salad, and slaw, are the big-sellers here, ranging from fish-n-chips ($7.99) to a seafood platter ($18.99). But check out the daily specials, and consider the made-fresh-daily chowdah ($2.99-$4.99). Trust me, everything’s mighty good, fresh, flavorful, crispy, yet moist.

Some folks think Susan’s is the best lobstah roll ($10.99, with fries) around. And, should you manage to land a whopper of your own, Susan’s proclaims “You catch it, we’ll cook it for $5, with a two-pound limit.”

And, if traveling with folks who don’t eat fish, there are options, including fried veggie boats, burgers and dogs.

Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn reopens, launches new menu

February 10, 2010

Natalie’s Restaurant at The Camden Harbour Inn reopened tonight, after a seasonal siesta, with a LOVE-themed party featuring tastings from its new menu. Suffice to say, one bite was nowhere near enough. Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn makes Camden a winter dining destination, a fine choice for a romantic winter escape.

But let me tell you more about the new menu.

While listening to a Beatles tribute band, I tasted a sampling of appetizers:

• house-cured salmon gravlax, poached quail eggs, white dressing, endive ($12)

• crispy veal sweetbreads, rosemary, Aleppo pepper aioli, serrano ($10)

• seared diver scallops, scallop and spinach springroll, reisling saffron limeleaf nage ($14)

and entrees:

• grilled double chop rock of lamb, stuffed piquillo peppers, coffee cumin lamb just ($32)

• seared duck breas and leg confit, red wine braised porcini mushrooms, potato souffle, sauce salmis ($30)

• slow poached Maine lobster, whipped cauliflower, bacon, black truffle ($market)

So, you probably want to know which one was best. Truth? I can’t decide. Each time I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. If I had to pick faves, hmmm, I guest the sweetbreads and the scallops appetizers, followed by the duck breast, although that lobster was damn good.

Bottom line: Lawrence Klang has turned out a fabulous seasonal menu worth a special visit to Camden.

Damariscotta River Grille’s Chef Rick Hisch named Chef of the Year

February 6, 2010

The Maine Restaurant Association has named Rick Hirsch, chef of the the Damariscotta River Grill, in Damariscotta, and The Anchor Inn, in Round Pond, as its 2010 Chef of the Year. Hirsch owns and operates both water-front or -view restaurants on mid-coast Maine’s Pemaquid peninsula with his wife, Jean Kerrigan. The duo opened the harborfront Anchor Inn in the mid 1980 sand opened the downtown Damariscotta River Grill in 2004.

Anchor Inn

We became fans of the Anchor Inn back in the early ’90s, while living in what passes as downtown Round Pond, an aptly named Bristol village on the east side of the Pemaquid Peninsula. Round Pond is one of those coastal gems you hope to stumble upon when noodling about Maine’s back roads, a postcard-perfect town with artisan’s studios, two lobster-in-the-rough shacks, and  a store selling ice cream, penny candy, doodads, and whatchamacallits.

Smack dab on the waterfront, overlooking the round-shaped, boat-filled harbor protected by Loud’s Island, is the seasonal Anchor Inn. Neither fussy, nor fancy, the inn serves damn good food, especially seafood, with a bit of creative flair and a sense of humor (especially when Bobby Whear is tending bar).

Damariscotta River Grill

When Hirsch and Kerrigan opened the Damariscotta River Grill, locals rejoiced; finally a place to get Rick’s fab food year round. I’ve made many a meal off the appetizers alone (the artichoke fondue is alone worth a visit). The Grill is less rustic in decor than the Anchor. The menu focuses on fresh and local (okay, really, this is Maine, what restaurant doesn’t these days?), and it’s wine list has won an award from Wine Spectator.

Bottom line

Many restaurants achieve longevity with mediocrity, not so for these two coastal Maine restaurant gems. Although The Anchor Inn is closed for the winter, this time of year at the Grill, you’ll find such enticing entrees as duck confit risotto, Thai fish stew, and lobster cakes on the menu. Don’t miss the Pemaquid oysters as a starter. And by the way, the Grill is also open for lunch and Sunday brunch.

Pies and poutine

January 23, 2010

First, Pies on Parade, tomorrow, in Rockland is sold out, so don’t make a special trip. Just ink it on your calendar for next year and purchase tix in advance.

Now about that poutine. I think I’ve found some that rivals Duckfat’s. Yessirree, folks, the poutine served at Lily Bistro, on Rockland’s Restaurant Row, is divine. Rich, full of flavor, and made with homemade gravy. Oh my, damn, it’s delish. Ordered it as my appetizer, and barely had room for the lamb shank, another tasty dish. Excellent meal. My friends began with the onion soup (classic, traditional, and superb), then one had the steak and frites (not a morsel left on his plate) and the other the night’s special, pan-seared salmon with butter-poached Maine shrimp (she’s a food writer, and the grin on her face said everything you need to know).

Now must put in a few laps before Pies on Parade, tomorrow.