Trip Report - Portland, ME (sorry it's long!)
Just back from my Portland weekend. Here is where I ate, what I ate and what I thought of it.
Sat Lunch - Duckfat
My chocolate milkshake was awesome but I thought the duckfat fries were a little too greasy. The duck confit panini were good but needed more sourness/tangyness on the sour cherry to cut through the richness of the duck. However, my DH loved the fries, he ate most of it and he also enjoyed his goat cheese panini.
Sat Dinner - Bresca
My appetizer of egg, kale and pancetta was excellent. DH raved about his pecorino romano with local honeycomb... said he's never had a cheese+honey dish as good as that. We both ordered the porkchops - massively huge chops, perfectly cooked medium and delicious! Fatal mistake though was we both cleaned our plates and had no room for dessert! You can see the technical cooking was spot on and the service was faultless but the atmosphere felt a little too hushed. It was the most expensive meal of our trip.
Sun Breakfast - served by our B&B and it was the worst breakfast we've had in all the years of staying in B&BS. Bananas with ice cream and chopped almonds???
Sun Lunch - White Mtn Cider deli in Conway, NH
I had turkey sandwich with nice tangy cranberry sauce containing whole cranberries and proper stuffing.A long time since I'd had a turkey sandwich as good as this. DH had the Italian sub and also gave it a thumbs up. Their cider doughnuts were not so good - dry and stale, probably made the day before.
Sun Dinner - Local 188
This was our favorite restaurant/meal. Nice casual vibe. We shared the grilled moro flatbread with black olive tapenade -perhaps a touch too much olive oil drizzled on it. House paella was delicious with plump Maine mussels, chicken, jumbo shrimp and chorizo. Minor criticism was it came out so piping hot so I almost burned my tongue and had to let it cook a little bit. DH ordered the hangar steak and said it was very good. We split the apple/berry cobbler which was delicious.
Mon Breakfast - Hot Suppa (yeah, we're skipping the awful breakfasts at our B&B)
Corned beef hash with poached eggs - excellent hash but it was suppose to also contain potatoes, onions and carrots. Couldn't find any potatoes or onions and I only got 5 itty bitty bits of carrots. DH had the omelet and said he wished he could make omelets like that.
Mon Lunch - Bonobo
A slice of pepperoni and a slice of cheese - pepperoni was a bit too oily but I loved the thin, perfectly cooked crust. This crust is as good/better than ones in NYC or New Haven. DH agreed about the crust.
Mon Dinner - Evangeline
Sous chef was cooking the prix fixe dinner and that may explain the uneven meal we had. DH did not like his cod fritter appetizer - wet, mushy and underseasoned. My tete de cochon w/ house cured pickles was lovely... nice bits of meat, tangy beets, radishes and pickles to complement. DH absolutely loved his entree - braised lamb shoulder with potatoes and carrots. I did not like my entree of swordfish in fennel broth with mussels and tomatoes. Broth was too buttery/rich and although swordfish and mussels and tomatoes were good on their own, together the dish did not work. Needed more acidity to balance that broth and not enough tomatoes.. tasted like a big bowl of protein sitting in a butter broth. Dessert was pot de chocolate - it was fine, a bit grainier than I prefer but delicious tasting. DH hated his dessert - chilled pear soup with mascarpon ice cream and fresh raspberries - it was tiny, about 2 spoons worth, couldn't taste the pear - very bland. We went back to Local 188 afterwards for drinks.
Tues Breakfast - The Good Egg
Their corned beef hash had good ratio of potatoes, carrots, beef etc but didn't like the beef being cubed. DH said home fries were good, I thought they had a funny gasoline smell. Scrambled eggs and poached eggs were fine. I think I prefer the Hot Suppa though...
Misc - chocolate cupcake from Two Fat Cats, ice cream from Desert Ice cream and coffees from Arabica and Bard. All very good.
We peeked into Hugo's and read their menu and made mental note to definitely come back. In the meantime, I'll be at the gym.. everyday!
I was in Portland last night and had read your original post seeking recs. My decision was made when I saw the Monday night $30 prixe fixe at Evangeline.
It sounds like you were there on an off night, or I was there on a great night. But I loved it, and highly recommend it. I sat at the bar and was made to feel very welcome. The decor is very French, and with that and the view of the lamps glowing dimly on the foggy streets, I felt like I was part of a Parisian painting.
The gougeres they started with were warm from the oven, with grainy-mustard butter that made them even better. For the courses, I picked:
Endive and greens salad w/roquefort & walnuts: perfectly dressed in light dressing. I was tempted by the salmon rillettes, but thought it might be too rich with the other courses, and I was right to go with the salad.
Braised veal breast with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms & creamed kale. It was a tough choice, the other options were the lamb shoulder, which the OP's DC loved, or hangar steak. But the veal was excellent; I had expected it to be a dish suitable for a red wine, but the bartender David advised me to go with white and it was perfect. It was the mushrooms that had decided me on this dish, and I found out that not only were they locally foraged, but had been picked only the previous day.
Small profiteroles with vanilla ice cream, apples, caramel, white chocolate sauce. It was just enough, and a divine end with a snifter of brandy.
There was also an optional cheese course ($5) of Landaff -- a NH goat cheese -- with sultanas, but sadly I was too full to try it.
I'm interested in checking out Local 188 based on reviews including the OP's, but I am also really looking forward to going back to Evangeline.
685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
I must confess your report on the B&B was shocking; Maine B&B's and Country Inns have tremendous competition and can't afford to serve "Bananas with ice cream and chopped almonds" (Eeew!!) I hope this doesn't sour you on staying at Maine B&B's which are generally very good... because they HAVE to be to survive!!
Maybe this is why this place had vacancies? The B&Bs we wanted to stay in were fully booked and we didn't want to stay in a chain hotel. But you know it's bad when you drive past the Holiday Inn and wonder what their nightly rates are! We've stayed in some amazing B&B's up in BarHarbor so this was a real shocker.
Thanks for the report. Don't apologize for the length -- we love the details! From your reviews I get the sense you're not a big fan of rich food. Very curious about which B & B you stayed at, so we can advise out of town guests to avoid.
Hot Suppa won my undying affection for offering fried green tomatoes as a side at breakfast. Pepper Club/Good Egg has been around a LONG time and is stalwart but not stellar. It's a good place to go if you have a big disparate group, because there's generally something on the menu for everyone. Hugo's is always worth the trip.
703 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
I like rich food if there is enough acidity somewhere else on the plate to counterbalance it. The Duckfat lunch was probably my fault - the chocolate milkshake was very rich and it came out first and of course I had no restraint and drank the whole dang thing...which ruined my palate for the subsequent fries and sandwich.
The swordfish entree at Evangeline really had too much butter and oil.. It was big bowl of very rich fennel broth - you could see the oil swimming in the broth - and it was served with a big piece of very meaty swordfish, plump Maine mussels and then only 4 tiny tangy tomatoes to try and cut through all that fat and protein. It would have worked if they served just 1/3 of the broth and three times the amount of tomatoes/add more vegetables.
My husband said he preferred The Good Egg over Hot Suppa - said their scrambled eggs were fantastic and loved their home fries and the oatmeal molasses bread.
Hate to name it but the West End Inn was disappointing for a variety of reasons - I really would advise against staying there.
703 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102