Hugo's in Portland: innovative, pricey, and still hungry
Went there last night for dinner, though sat at the bar...2 starters, 2 "entrees" 2 signature cocktails, 2 glasses of wine and 118$ (without tip) later, my dude and i looked at each other and said "do you wanna get a pizza?"
He: The smoked haddock (finnan haddock) carpachio and fried fishball with sourcream pannacotta and pickeled cucumbers
-Very good, though 3 small pieces of fish, ping pong ball sized fish fry, and die sized pannacotta, we were both wanting for more.
me.: pigs head terriene with fried pigs ears, fried cornichons, and slaw
-Good: Terrine was very meaty (i've never had pigs head before), though kinda tough in some spots (tough enough to need a knife to cut with). Pigs ears, though sounds kinda gross and pickles were my favorite part of the dish. Slaw needed a boost (salt and vinegar) and i sure coulda used a piece of bread, not a biscuit to go along with it.
he: Hanger steak with misuke mushrooms and broccoli
-Ok: underseasoned, though well cooked (medium rare) . 3 small pieces of beef, however, i do not think justify the $23 pricetag
me: artic char with red flannel hash, potato dices and saffron tobasco emulsion
Good: Fish was really good, skin very crisp, but the fish chef seasoned left to right, as the right side of the fish was underseasoned, while the left side was almost overly so. Hash was ok, potatoes were, well, fried potatoes, but the saffron sauce was excellent...only wish there was more.
My dude said his favorite part of the meal was his calvados cocktail sidecar, though my gingery signature drink was not the greatest.
Overall, we were both under-impressed and still hungry and the end of the meal. With all the options in the area, i will not contemplate returning.
Too bad. Can I be critical of your criticism? There are very few places in Maine where you could have had a dinner like the one you describe, plus $60 pp is par for the area. To me Hugo's is less consistent then some of the other fine Portland establishments but I think that is due to the volume of business they get. That said, on any given night Hugo's can rock your world like no other fine dining establishment in the area.
Funny, I worked with a chef who worked in this resto and emulated the portion sizing to a tee, resto closed after about a year, biggest complaint was great taste, not filling. Strike a balance, serve me something that makes me want to come back more, not get more to eat, great taste is only a tease if you are left wanting more in the context of that meal. Sounds like parts of your meal were worth tasting but it wasn't a tasting you were paying for......
We had a similar experience in our two times dining at the restaurant, the second time more so that the first. The food really is exquisite and I understand the idea of not walking out completely stuffed, but to actually need to eat more so that you won't wake up at 3 AM starving, is another. After our second meal at Hugo's we walked down the street and got fries from Duckfat to complete our meal. At least we kept it under the same ownership!
Thanks for your review. Most fine dining style restaurants goal is to leave you "wanting more". More of one overall dish, not one element of a dish.
I've heard good and mixed things about Hugo's so far.
Sadly this post will probably get deleted, since almost all of the "constructive criticism" posts I've read lately have not been there the next day. I've been visiting this site less and less because of this.