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Primo

h
hdb Sep 17, 2007 04:04 PM

We had dinner at Primo on Thursday night. Having dined there numerous times for many summer-fall seasons, I have to say that it is resting on its laurels. The service has really slipped and the food while inspired is certainly not what it used to be.

We did not receive a bread basket. After a 20 minute wait, we asked for one and the waitress said she would get one for us. Our entrees arrived -- monkfish with spinach angel hair pasta. They were good, not great. My sister commented that they always used to bring out an amuse bouche prior to dinner. We asked the waitress whether they discontinued doing this. She said that was not the case and brought one to each of us - lobster bisque with a corn fritter. The lobster bisque was lukewarm and very bland. After dinner, they always brought over a plate of small sweets. We received nothing.

I dined there in July on two occasions. Both times the service was as described above. Each time we had a different waiter/waitress. We had to ask for bread twice before it was served to us on one occasion in July. The waiter forgot our cocktails and we had to remind him on the second occasion in July. Etc. etc. I think this is what happens when a restaurant receives so much good press. It no longer strives for excellence. It is always crowded and I think it is relying on name recognition. After these three recent very disappointing experiences, I don't think I care to return. I have enjoyed dining at Natalie's and Francine's several times this past summer and think both outshine Primo in terms of service and cuisine.

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  1. n
    Noreaster Sep 18, 2007 07:48 AM

    Primo has always been may favorite restaurant in Maine and I make no bones telling people this. I don't get there very often, usually for my birthday in the summer. I have been apprehensive to post anything but I have to admit, while our service was fair, the food seems to have slipped a notch. The new bar area was very attractive but the bartenders were somewhat clueless if the drink doesn't appear on their menu. We did receive a tidbit sweet with the bill but, now that you mention it, no amuse. My risotto dish was somewhat bland and dessert was good but not memorable enough to remember what it was. I'll still go back once a year but I will have a hard time giving it the accolades I once did.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Noreaster
      h
      hot tamale Sep 18, 2007 08:51 PM

      We went once and that is all I ever say about it.

    2. MFoxM Sep 19, 2007 01:52 PM

      Wow. That is really hard to hear. I was there right after the July 4th weekend and it was a really great meal. We sat at the bar (just because) and got our amuse (same as yours only they said it was a lobster fritter w/the bisque) right away. The food was fresh and beautifully prepared. I had the oysters 5 ways for the starter and my wife had the watermelon salad - both were well prepared and full of flavor. For the entree I had the lamb 2 ways and my wife the black cod - again both wonderfully prepared and very tasty. We also did get the plate of sweets at the end.

      I really hope they haven't gone down hill- I love Melissa and Price. *fingers crossed*

      *note: Our bartender was a bit clueless. I believe he was Price's brother and not the usual bartender.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MFoxM
        h
        hot tamale Sep 19, 2007 07:30 PM

        We had always heard such fabulous things about Primo so were excited when we went 2 years ago. After our meal we thought "eh" not bad but hardly equal to the hype. 2 other couples went on our recommendation and when we mentioned it, they just looked away and sort of mumbled "yeah, well..." I don't think ours was an isolated experience.

        1. re: hot tamale
          aynne35 Sep 22, 2007 07:06 PM

          Well, we live in Rockport and have been oh maybe 6 or 7 times, 2 since the remodeling. My husband has never been a huge fan, the crowded little rooms, no music, the hit or miss, but the last 2 times killed it. The first was a client's choice, so we went. After waiting 20 minutes because of a res screw up, we were seated. The mojito was like a jolly rancher, my martini with Tanqueray 10 was warm, truly, and no amuse either. Indifferent waitress, Food was so so, I had skate, hubby had monkfish, overcooked, I am done with Primo and I hate saying that, I really do.

          However, even prior to this experience, I have always thought Francine Bistro in Camden was far better and more "funky". What food!
          Still have not made it to the new Natalie's, heard good things, maybe next weekend.

      2. JMF Sep 24, 2007 02:21 AM

        I have been to Primo several times a year for quite awhile. I have to agree that they have slipped quite a bit, especially during this year. Maybe the renovation last spring and serving more diners a night is the problem. I went four times this season, basically once every three weeks, and decided that enough was enough. There are several fine dining places in the area, Francine's, The Edge, Natalie's, and many more; and casual but high quality like In Good Company, that I don't have to settle for the occasional tired service (although usually the service is excellent, but as the summer progressed it slipped a bit) and even more awkward, ill designed, and tired dishes. The food at Primo has dropped considerably, my last two visits I actually didn't like my entree at all and that is exceedingly rare. I have now put them onto my "B" list and have no problem saying so.

        1. f
          Feastradio Sep 25, 2007 02:03 PM

          Oh drat! I've just read all these posts and it seems like my incredible experience eating there isn't the norm. I was there right before Fourth of July this summer, 2007, and it was incredible. The food, the friendly service, etc. The lobster amuse thingy was astounding and it tasted like sucking on a freshly perfectly boiled lobster - astounding.

          And then, I had what I've been calling my 'ratatouille moment' in which I had a bite of clearly homemade mint ice cream and suddenly remembered being a little girl playing in the field behind my house down by the stream and realizing that I could chew on the mint leaves.

          ... sigh ... So I guess I'm just chippin' in, 'cause for me it was one of the few places that DID live up its hype.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Feastradio
            w
            wintersummer Sep 25, 2007 02:27 PM

            Feastradio - I'm so glad you had a good experience at Primo. I'm visiting Maine next week and have had reservations for ages and really, really want to enjoy my good meal. I've eaten at Primo in Orlando about 4 times and have never been disappointed. However, I know that they are not the same place...I guess I always expected the original to be better than the little sister restaurant. I'll report back when I return.

            1. re: wintersummer
              f
              Feastradio Sep 27, 2007 02:10 PM

              Good wishes wintersummer and do report back. I think that you should also mention that "you know, I've eaten Primo in Orlando 4 times and this is the first I've been able to get to the 'mothership" -- maybe that'll get some competitive spirit going ...

              Also, I'm convinced that sitting at the bar led to our outstanding experience. We were chatting with everyone (we were next to the wait station). We were chill, clearly going to be there until the end of the night, and come to think of it, we ordered something we didn't get (maybe pizza?) but we were having such a good time and all the food was so good that we waved it off - leading to, I think, a free glass of wine.*

              *there was a lot of wine, that's why I've got so many 'I thinks' above.

            2. re: Feastradio
              n
              Noreaster Sep 25, 2007 03:50 PM

              I'm really hoping my experience was a simple blip on the radar. I've been going to Primo annually for 6 years and this year (as noted above) was quite the disappointment. I think based on hype, prior experiences and comparisons to any top restaurant one's enjoyed, we ( the collective diner) sets the bar so high that it is extremely difficult to satiate our entitlement and expectations that goes hand in hand with dining at a restaurant that is considered high caliber.

            3. w
              wintersummer Oct 18, 2007 04:31 PM

              We ate at Primo several weeks ago. This was our first visit to the Maine Primo, although we've eaten at Orlando Primo 3 or 4 times.

              We didn't encounter some of the issues related in earlier reviews. For instance, service was good, amuse was served, bread was served. However, food was not equal to what I've had at Primo Orlando. First, it was too salty! I like food when seasoned appropriately, but all courses were just a bit over the limit with salt. I had Zeppole for dessert and there's no comparison to the Zeppole in Florida. The ones in Florida are delivered straight out of fryer...in Maine, they were about 3 minutes old. Big difference for those great Italian doughnuts.

              1. j
                JBoogie Jun 2, 2010 08:35 AM

                This idea sums up my recent experience (May 29, 2010) at Primo in Rockland: Big fish in a little pond. If the restaurant was in Boston, New York, Washington, or any big city, it would be a little above average at best.

                While the food was good (not great), the attitude and service was well below what one would expect given the laurels that are heaped on this place, and the price.

                Attitude: This is Maine Ms. Kelley, your staff should not act like they work in some stuck up New York City restaurant. It doesn't work here. The attitude of the staff that greeted us was cold and rude.

                I made reservations months in advance, as we were having a special honeymoon dinner here, and asked that we get a special table. They completely ignored our request, seating us in the noisy upstairs, next to a very loud party.

                We dine in the area often, but will not be coming back to Primo.

                2 Replies
                1. re: JBoogie
                  h
                  hicow Aug 7, 2010 01:24 PM

                  I have never been to Primo but Anthony Bourdain raved about the place and said the chef would be a top chef anywhere in this country. He couldn't say enough good things about her.

                  1. re: hicow
                    JMF Aug 8, 2010 08:13 AM

                    Well, of course Tony would get the A game. I have been friends with lots of the line cooks there and the staff moves around quite a bit. And Melissa oversees Primo in Orlando as well. So you get the luck of the draw. When I was living nearby the only reason I went as many times as I did that it was the closest restaurant to my home. I could walk there in just a few minutes. Then it got to the point that it wasn't worth it, what with so many great places in town.

                2. MidCoastMaineiac Jan 3, 2011 05:33 AM

                  A spectacular end to the season last night. The place was BUZZING! After pulling into the parking lot at 6:30 with no reservations and seeing the lot full, I was afraid I wouldn't get my last fix of the season...but it worked out nicely. Waited maybe 15 minutes upstairs before a spot opened up in the corner of the bar. Once again, the staff was very accomodating and helpful...even in the stressful situation of the last night of the season. I've said it before in other posts, but Primo is hands down head and shoulders above the rest...in Maine and beyond. The ONLY downside is that there were a few key things left off the menu...but to be expected. The rigatoni with hot sausage was the standout for me this particular evening. Oh Primo...until we meet again after the long winter hibernation.....

                  1. e
                    ElizabethReed Jan 9, 2011 10:47 AM

                    Never been to Primo in Maine but ate at the Orlando location last week of December and had a wonderful meal. We each had the saltimbocca and the wine steward came up with a great Super Tuscan to pair and it was superb. Ordered desserts and all were fantastic.

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