Has Anyone Else Grown Tired of Vignola in Portland?
Vignola, the new sidecar to Portland's Wharf Street staple Cinque Terre opened in late summer 2006 as a chic and stylish tapas bar. I've been there a few times - enjoyed the atmosphere, the cocktails and - to a certain extent - the food. That being said, there isn't alot there to bring me back. The menu is far too limiting and - as a result - has quickly morphed into "The Wine Bar II". It's funny, there really isn't a single entre item there geared to the male palate, its all niblings and gnoshings - the perfect place for the girls to get together after work.
The good news is that it appears to be doing a brisk business. It is what it is - a nice tapas bar. My advice - don't go there unless you plan on going someplace else for dinner ;)
Actually, I ate their last night. The onion soup was good, but nothing to write home about. It has a soft/thin flavor, nothing like the french onion soup envisioned. For my main course, I had the duck confit. A little fat but the flavors of argula, mustard, baked apples and walnuts worked really well togehter. I liked their good beer list...specialty imports, not just the local craft beers.
My wife and I also ate there last night, before the Bob Dylan show at the Civic Center. The room was pleasant and the staff was just right, but we were underwhelmed by the food. The salads were fine, although the little rabbit pastry in mine was cold in the center. We ordered pizza, as we needed to be out at a specific time. The two pizzas were less than good, with slightly underdone crusts, and indistinguishable flavors despite the fact that one was lamb sausage and the other mushrooms. The wine list was well thought through, but suffered from the usual problem of wine lists in Maine - too few choices because of wacky laws and distributor control. We did drink a bottle of a decent Sicilian red (name already forgotten). We'll probably try Vignola one more time, and if the food doesn't step up, consign it to the bin.
re: Keefer Lucas
Vignola is not a tapas bar as mentioned in the first post. It is modeled after Italy's casual wine bar culture and specializes in cuisine from a specific region of the country I believe.. Therefore it is most appropriate to leave the chicken cacciatore and lasagna to red sauce, checkered table cloth joints. I have dined there for brunch, lunch, and dinner on 8 or 10 different occasions. The restaurant certainly deserves to be mentioned among the top tier of restaurants in Portland's food scene.
I have eaten there many times. I think its excellent. It is not a tapas bar. I have eaten three excellent dinners there. You have to order your sides separate, thats all. Which I think does suckbut to be fair, I have also gone in there and just ordered a side of fingerling potatoes and a beer.
Its a bit too "scenester" for me, but if I was single and looking to hook up with a chick financially together enough to pay her light bill, I would definately lurk Vigs.
I kinda feel your pain about the small portions, but I am almost always hungry. Especially after sushi. I'm tempted to open up a chain of sloppy-juicy burger joints next to every sushi bar in the world.