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Lunch at Grill Room Disappoints [Portland]

  • m
  • maina Apr 27, 2011 04:12 AM
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We tried the Grill Room yesterday for lunch. Having dined many times at both the Corner Room and the Front Room, all having same owner, we expected the food to be of similar quality. The Grill Room offered 2 luncheon specials, and we each ordered a different one. To be fair, we did not order from their regular menu, so I can't comment on that.
I had the salad with grilled prawns and asparagus over swiss chard. The prawns were large and well cooked, but the dressing was not really a salad dressing at all, but a heavy tasting, salty brown sauce (possibly made with soy or hoison sauce). This sauce completely overpowered the shrimp and vegetables. I scraped it off as best as I could. Something like a light viniagrette with lemon and garlic would have been a much better complement to the prawns and asparagus, and made a much more seasonal and visually appealing presentation (this was late April). The asparagus were not the thin, tender asparagus of spring, rather they were huge and thick. I have never seen such thick asparagus even in the grocery store in January. None of the flavors blended well, and the swiss chard at the bottom was just tasteless mush, covered with the brown sauce.
The grilled tuna sandwich was much better. The fish was fresh, and even though it was ordered "cooked through" it was tender and not dry at all, and the focacia bread was delicious and nicely toasted. The tuna was served with coleslaw and garlic aiola on top of it. The cole slaw was excellent, but it too overpowered the tuna a bit.
We really expected to like this restaurant and were disappointed that the quality of the shrimp and the tuna were not better balanced with the flavors of rest of the dish. The preparation of both the shrimp and fish served to overwhelm their flavor and freshness rather than to highlight them. Too bad, since the main ingredients were fresh and well cooked, but barely discernible under the heavy sauce and zingy cole slaw.

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Grill Room
84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

Front Room Restaurant & Bar
73 Congress St Ste A, Portland, ME 04101

The Corner Room
110 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

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  1. Attention to detail in food preparation (overdressing salads, overcooking burgers and other meats, making pizzas way too thick and the like) seems to be an issue with the Grill Room at lunch, but I haven't found that to be the case with dinner service tho. Is it an A team/B team issue in the kitchen? I have no idea-- I do stick to dinner service (ideally at the kitchen bar!) when I crave red meat and am too lazy to dig out the grill tho.

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    Grill Room
    84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101