Central Provisions, Portland: first impressions
This newly-renovated space on Wharf St. (upstairs entrance on Fore) is only a few weeks old. 3 of us stopped by last night for wine and before-dinner nibbles, and were pretty impressed. Space is gorgeous: downstairs bar, upstairs open kitchen with tables and chef's bar with stools: warm brick, golden wood, with great music tapes. The focus is smaller plates of various sizes. We had one cold ap (baby artichokes with house-made ricotta and crispy chicken skin) which needed a little more flavor. Two warm ones: really great smoked carrots with a tangy sauce; and after some delay, best dish of the three: roasted brussels sprouts with a great lemon flavor on the outside, perfectly cooked, topped with shaved peccorino & pine nuts: elegant flavor. Wine list is quite interesting, two cocktails were reported as tasty also. Pricing seems about normal for Portland. Will be interested in reading reports from others who've gotten further down the menu to heartier fare.
My husband and I went there for our Anniversary last week. We had the bread and butter, pasta with black truffles, chop salad, mackerel, and suckling pig. We finished with key lime pie. Each one of those dishes was independently the best I've ever had. This is the best good I've had dining out since we moved to Maine. In fact, every aspect of this place, from the ambience to the service, to the drinks (and generous pours) makes this my number one dining experience in Maine in the three years of foodie hopping in Portland. The place reminds me of the finest gastro pub dining in Chicago. Right up there with The Girl and the Goat in the Windy City. I can't wait to go back.
We got to try Central Provisions last evening. Everything was absolutely great. We had 10 items including one dessert and enjoyed them all. The bread and butter was phenomenal, but I am an egg whore, and love them every way you can have them, the very nice steak tartare, and excellent tuna crudo, the sunchokes (phenomenal, especially the cheddar curds), the wonderful smoked carrots, the arancini (with cheese and jamon), the small portion of suckling pig, the spicy fried potatoes (an enormous portion of excellent thinly sliced potato rounds dusted with spice, and with a spicy Heinz 57 ketchup) and the shrimp ala plancha. The shrimp were good, but since everything else was excellent they somehow seemed less than everything else. The salted caramel mousse was nice, but we should have had the key lime tart. Cocktails were quite nice, and I was served an enormous sazerac, though I am confused by anyone asking if I want it up or on the rocks, it is an up drink, end of story. All in all this will become a regular in out Portland rotation.