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Before it's over...your input on great spots for ME Rest Week

Bunnyfood Mar 4, 2009 11:25 AM

So I've loved Cinque Terre, and am looking forward to a dinner at 555 later this week...Heard great things about Back Bay Grill and Vignolia's as well...So time for your 2 cents!

Where have you been?
Favorite dish there?
Did you think the meal was a good deal? (i.e- great saving as compared to std menu, addt'l courses, etc)
Any place you wish was partcipating but is not?

Love hear what the experience of other was! Please share!

  1. inbox_blues Mar 11, 2009 07:19 AM

    I was so excited to hear about Portland's first Restaurant Week (esp. having recently moved from DC, which had two RW's a year), and I'm a big foodie and love eating out & trying new places! I hope they had a great turnout & will continue this each year -- I think it's a wonderful thing for Portland and the surrounding area since there are so many restaurants, cafes & bars!

    This week, my friend & I went to SEA GLASS at The Inn by the Sea and 20 MILK STREET at the Portland Regency Hotel. We went by which menus looked the best to us (he's a steak & potatoes guy & I lean toward rich seafood dishes), and we wanted to visit places that we have not been to yet (LOCAL 188 & FORE STREET, for example). I also LOVED that they posted the special menu for each restaurant online ahead of time, something DC never did. And both restaurants were very faithful to that menu...

    Sea Glass review:
    Our starters were the creamy lobster bisque, which really captured the lobster flavor & essence. A good sized portion, too. And I had the sauteed large scallop over parsnip puree. Very creamy puree, buttery & the scallop perfectly cooked & tender. I wanted more!

    The main course was a red wine braised bison shortrib & local seafood paella. Both has excellent presentation: a grilled half lemon with the spanish saffron rice under a variety of local clams, calamari rings & smokey chorizo for the paella. The rib was so tender it fell off the bone and came with a dollop of creamy mashed potatoes and sauteed chinese broccoli. Once again, perfect portions.

    For dessert, we both couldn't go with anything other than the flourless chocolate torte. It was larger than expected, which was a little unnecessary because it was so rich. It was topped with a scope of flavored ice cream (I can't remember which it was -- hazlenut?) and lightly drizzled with carmel sauce. Very refreshing ending to the meal & perfect with their coffee or cappuccino!

    The service & atmosphere were excellent at Sea Glass. Our waiter was attentive, but not overly so, and the courses did not come out too soon or overlapping. Nothing was cold either, so it was coordinated very well. They have a great & extensive wine list (the cheapest around $35). The room was small & dark, but very cozy & inviting. It would be perfect with a big fireplace. I would definitely recommend reservations, as the place can only seat probably around 50-60 people at one time. Not a jeans & t-shirt place either.

    PLUS: Great food, perfectly cooked & seasoned (no Salt & Pepper needed!). Perfect portions, great value for RW!
    MINUS: Slightly crowded room, some tables would be uncomfortable to sit at (too close to another table, etc. Would recommend a table by the windows or wall.

    20 Milk Street review:
    (I must admit, Sea Glass is a very hard act to follow. We really did try to keep an open mind...)
    To start, we had the baked escargot & lobster stew, which was really more like a creamy bisque than "stew." It was a touch more "milky" tasting than I'm used to, but it was peppered with chunks of lobster, which added a nice texture. My companion did not care for it, thought it was watery & wanted more "lobster essence." I can see that. Needed S&P. The escargot was a hit though!! How can you go wrong with 5-6 large buttered & parsley-covered snails with crispy baguette slices to soak up all that oily goodness!! Yum!

    Main courses were Maine shrimp & haddock and chicken marsala. The presentation of the dishes were strikingly similar, almost exactly alike -- both with a side of al dente waffle cut zucchini & yellow squash, a big dollop of cheesy mashed potatoes. The room was so dark, we first thought it was a side macaroni & cheese -- and was so dense & cheesy, it could have easily been! Our food was also a huge portion & served piping hot -- was it just zapped in the microwave?? I hope not!

    The first thing I noticed was that my chicken marsala was topped with mushrooms & baked cheese (yum!) & layered with.... prosciutto??! And so was my companion's dish! The flavor of the cured meat was so overwhelming & really made the dish way too salty. Eventually, it was hard to taste anything other than the ham, and I was really disappointed they placed it on an already rich dish. My dinner companion agreed the prosciutto was unnecessary but was more annoyed by the pale, tasteless Maine shrimp sprinkled over his really flavorful & perfectly-cook Haddock fillet. Flakey & tender, the Haddock was perfectly baked & a big hit!

    Dessert was a peanut butter chocolate bundt cake and cranberry bread pudding. The cake was very pedestrian, and I've made better desserts at home. It was slightly dry & not very tasty. It was by far the worst course! My cranberry bread pudding was the same, a HEAP of dry, tasteless bread chunks, held together by so many cranberries and cranberry sauce it was ridiculous! It was way too tart & not a good balance of bread & fruit. The bread was dry & had none of that cinnamony-goodness or moistness that bread pudding usually has. I hate to say it, but this is probably THE worst dessert at a restaurant I've ever had -- and we left (literally) with a bad taste in our mouths. What a disappointing ending to what would have been an otherwise decent evening and meal.

    PLUS: The lounge downstairs & dining room upstairs were very lovely! Cozy rooms & very friendly staff.
    MINUS: The food was either over salted & seasoned or completely the opposite! No need to cover everything in salty ham. And the kicker: worst dessert we have both ever had at a restaurant, haha. That's pretty sad. :-(

    1. jspear Mar 5, 2009 09:21 AM

      Here's my 2 cents, leave Portland and travel to the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown for their special Me Rest Week.....definitely worth the trip....

      4 Replies
      1. re: jspear
        t
        Tipatina Mar 5, 2009 09:31 AM

        OR go to the Thursday Night Theme Dinners. Fantastic. www.robinhoodmeetinghouse.com

        1. re: Tipatina
          t
          Tipatina Mar 5, 2009 09:34 AM

          SORRY! The above should read www.robinhood-meetinghouse.com

          1. re: Tipatina
            jspear Mar 6, 2009 04:05 AM

            Glad to get some support for this resto here.....I visit there everytime we are in town and have rarely been unimpressed.....their taster's are great and the wine pairings, out of this world.....

            1. re: jspear
              Bunnyfood Mar 7, 2009 07:01 AM

              I gave up car this past summer, otherwise RMH would have been on my list!

              555 last night- excellent food and service(although the waitstaff seemed to be under the influence of sedatives, they were attentive if not prompt...it was fairly busy though.) Really went out of their way to accomodate a "change" to our reservation(someone in my party needed to elevate their bum knee for the whole meal, which required a lgr table...the staff didn't even blink an eye!). Wish they had been in the $30.09 range, but the scallops were great...

      2. t
        Tipatina Mar 4, 2009 02:21 PM

        Cinque Terre - Capon Magro and Carne Crudo
        Sea Grass Bistro - Braised White Beans and Grilled Radicchio Bruscetta

        Not a huge savings, but the best was a good reason to go! Service amazing in both places.

        Would have liked Street & Co. to participate.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Tipatina
          Bunnyfood Mar 5, 2009 05:32 AM

          Good call on Street & Co...

          Also curious- were the dishes advertised the same way they were served- i.e same prep as on the menu/rest weeek website???

          1. re: Bunnyfood
            t
            Tipatina Mar 5, 2009 05:54 AM

            Same dishes, for sure, at Cinque Terre where the Restaurant Week items were on the regular menu and asterisked.
            Pretty certain they were the same at Sea Grass where you're given a regular menu and a 'week' menu. At Sea Grass, all the regular desserts were included.

            1. re: Bunnyfood
              t
              Tipatina Mar 5, 2009 05:55 AM

              And, oh, PS, the menu at Sea Grass is different from the one on the restaurant week website.

              1. re: Bunnyfood
                m
                mainemal Mar 5, 2009 06:06 AM

                Definitely the same as advertised at Vignola.

                1. re: Bunnyfood
                  n
                  Noreaster Mar 5, 2009 08:29 AM

                  Local 188 on Monday-menus were same as advertised. Terrific food, same portion size as regular menu. Had Serrano salad, paella and tres leche for dessert. $28 bottle to share for four, one sherry, one espresso-$60 bucks after tip

                  Vignola on Tuesday. Sorry to say not the same menu as they substituted short rib for the pork belly that I originally chose them for. So that was disappointing. Also disappointing was the portion sizes that appears obviously smaller. Short rib was 3or 4 oz max, the salumi app would have been acceptable had I not seen another one a la carte that was massive. Lemon tart for dessert with grapefruit segments and ginger ice cream. Well made but I thought it an odd taste combination. One glass wine, $55 after tip.

                  Cinque Terre last night. Excellent meal, menu as advertised. Cappon Magro, Monkfish, a very tasty cheese course and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta. All were excellent. One martini (does anyone else think $14 is a bit much for a standard Tanq 10 martini?), one wine, one espresso, $65 after tip

                  1. re: Noreaster
                    m
                    mainemal Mar 5, 2009 08:58 AM

                    Yikes, sorry to hear about the substitutions after I was so complementary following our trip Sunday. I would not have been happy w/ short ribs instead of pork belly.

                    1. re: Noreaster
                      t
                      Tipatina Mar 5, 2009 09:29 AM

                      OH! Now I remember seeing something about a special cheese course for Restaurant Week at Cinque Terre. Didn't get it on Sunday.

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