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Arrows New Year's Eve - a big "meh"

Before I begin I want to say that I rank my first meal at Arrows as one of the finest that I've ever had in my life. Obviously, I was excited to come back a second time...however, in the back of my mind was the concern that restaurants--even great ones--tend to deliver less than their best for holiday set menus (Valentine's, New Year's, etc.).

Unfortunately, I have to say that I cannot recommend going to Arrows for New Year's Even to anyone ever, not when the regular prixe fixe or tasting menus seem to be far superior to what I had last night.

Now, granted...everything was tasty, everything was competently prepared, a couple things here and there were even inspired, but overall there was absolutely nothing creative or interesting about the meal.

We started with the supplement of Israeli Caviar for $150: outstanding! Probably the best part of the meal.

First course: artichoke soup, I found it tasty and well balanced, though a few at table found it bland.
Second course: belgian endive with vinagrette and some kind of hazelnut paste, I believe. Crispy, refreshing, but ultimately forgettable.
Third course: gnocchi in a preparation whose details I cannot quite recall: the strongest non caviar dish, probably. Utterly tender baby gnocchis in a fabulous rich sauce.

Fourth course: a choice between filet with foi gras or baked lobster: okay...I think this is where my big bone to pick comes in. Were these two dishes tasty? Yes, of course they were. But, come on. Filet mignon or baked lobster? Both were perfectly prepared, yes. Both were filling and satisfying. I would have enjoyed either dish as an entree at, maybe, M.C. Perkins cove. But COME ON. $95 per person before wine at the so-called Best Restaurant in the Northeast, and this is your showstopper? zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Fifth course: sorbets: refreshing, uneventful

dessert: chocolate mousse: see comment about fourth course above. Give me a break!

Dinner for four with three bottles of wine and caviar came to $800 before tip. Now, I would not complain about this price had the meal been an ARROWS meal. But this was more like a...I dunno...a good weeknight neighborhood restaurant meal (minus the caviar of course).

All in all, I left full but disappointed. I wish I'd skipped NYE and spent that money at Fore Street instead.

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Fore Street
288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

Arrows Restaurant
41 Berwick Road, Ogunquit, ME 03907

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  1. I could not agree more.......
    THE BOYS are really taking advantage of the spoon who feeds them !!!!
    Well - live and learn. I definitely would not choose ARROWS for NYE just based on atmosphere alone tells me that its not a place to let your hair down !!!!!

    1 Reply
    1. I think your first paragraph sums things up perfectly. NYE is a rookie night. Ergo, many restaurants try to appeal to the once-a-year fine-diner, who may not have the most adventurous palate.

      10 Replies
      1. re: invinotheresverde

        I think you're right. Hopefully this time I've learned my lesson for good! Still, it wasn't a bad meal. I'd be curious to know if anyone had better NYE experiences at our other James Beard winning restos? (Fore Street, Primo, Hugo's, etc.)

        1. re: tamerlanenj

          I didn't go, but a good friend had NYE dinner at Hugo's this year, and said it was as good as any non-holiday meal she has had there. Personally I was completely underwhelmed the first time I ate at Arrows (regular night) and wasn't in any rush to return anyway, but I always avoid eating on the big three nights, NYE, Mother's day, and Valentine's Day. Overpriced, understaffed, and usually never worth it.

          1. re: kimfair1

            I never go out on Valentine's Day, or Mother's Day for this very reason! The First, last and only time I went out to a very expensive restaurant on Valentine's Day, it was a 4 star Inn prix fix $125 PP dinner. First problem, it was freezing... I was wearing a very expensive evening cocktail dress and I was shivering so hard I had to put my coat back on! Next, there were .... believe it or not dead fruit flies in my salad! When I showed the server he offered me another one, and then told me "they have had such a problem in the kitchen with these" (Really? In February?.. well send them into the main dinning room they will all freeze to death instantly) It got worse... Dinner was supposed to come with champagne or wine. But they were "out" of the wine they originally offered when we booked the reservation (It was 5:30pm... c'mon) So they offered us another, much cheaper wine! The service was slow, and the food came out with way too much pause between courses. By the time the check arrived I was so irritated that I wanted to leave a penny for the server (who was snide and condescending) and a big fat FU to the manager for not even coming over to apologize for the bug infested salad. We never went back, and never will! We left 10% and I still wish we left less.. and this is coming from someone "In the Biz'

            1. re: gryphonskeeper

              Tamerlanenj, sorry you had such a bad experience - there's nothing worse than looking forward to something, putting on your best outfit & then ....... meh. Not a James Beard winner, but have you tried On The Marsh? I find their food is very good & not too stuffy - & half the price of The White Barn (haven't been to Arrows).
              Gryphonskeeper, luckily I married someone who was "in the biz" so he makes me the most beautiful Valentine's Day dinner at home - & no restaurant goes out as much as he does. Every year, he goes "overboard" - last year, he had a candlelit bubble bath (with rose petals) waiting,presents & flowers on the table, & then dinner & desert. Plus, we don't have to drive all the way home, or worry about making reservations - or bad service for that matter! All of his friends complain that it make them look bad 'cause they don't do the same for their wives.
              This is the 1st year in our new house - I can hardly wait to see what he does to top last year!

              1. re: southie_chick

                You can't possibly have children...

                1. re: bobbert

                  I have one "baby" ........ & he's 48! ; ) I do "babysit" for my sister-in-law (her youngest is 12) so her hubby can treat her to a "weekend away" every year - I think everyone needs a little spoiling once in a while.
                  Maybe I should offer to babysit for you bobbert so you can enjoy some free time too! : )

                  1. re: southie_chick

                    My last of 5 is finally out of the house so I've been making up for lost time on the restaurant scene. On NYE went with another couple to Havana South. Had a prix fix for around $70 pp which came with wine pairings - 5 in all. Wine was all good as was the food. Good, not great. I think it ended up falling into that problem mentioned above on such "occasion" nights. When the kitchen has to pump out 300 stuffed veal breasts in a night, it kind of loses that individual attention. You get the feeling that you're attending a wedding.

                2. re: southie_chick

                  Thanks for the rec. Will definitely try On the Marsh next time I'm down in southern Maine.

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                  On the Marsh
                  46 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

                  1. re: tamerlanenj

                    On the Marsh used to have a great deal on Weds nights, and offered sushi on Thursday nights. But in checking their website I can't find either mentioned. Maybe they're only avail in summer/fall? We went on a Weds in the fall, we had a very good three course meal for very reasonable price (offered only on Weds). Was looking forward to trying sushi on Thurs, but think they've discontinued for winter months.

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                    On the Marsh
                    46 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

                3. re: gryphonskeeper

                  Sad how some people run their business....

          2. And this is why I will never go back to Arrows again...........to me, very over hyped and snooty....IMHO