Archive | January, 2012

I Didn’t Find Love at 158 Pickett Street

29 Jan

158 Pickett Street in South Portland

I’m actually embarrassed to admit this, but Mark and I had never been to 158 Pickett Street until last weekend. We decided to take a little drive in the snow with the puppies and initially we thought about going to Scratch, and then I suggested that we try 158. I had heard tons of good things, and many people have said they think their bagels are better than Scratch, so I was intrigued. I’m a hard bagel customer though, because in my mind there is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than a New York bagel. Truth be told, that level of bagel snobbery is what has kept me from eating here for so long.

We rolled in around 10:30 on Sunday morning and there was, surprisingly, no line. I have heard the lines in the summer can be epic, but not today. We felt lucky for a moment in time.

View from the counter

I ordered a cappuccino to go. They made it in a flash and it was delicious. It had a slightly unconventional amount of foam (as in hardly any), but was really good nonetheless. I also ordered a double chocolate hazelnut cookie to hopefully bring happiness to my life later.

Next came the bagel breakfast sandwich orders. I decided to go with The Canuck, which comes with Canadian bacon, cheese and egg. I decided to get this on an onion bagel.

The Canuck

It was fine in my opinion. Nothing out of the ordinary, and I couldn’t help but think I could have made one better at home. The onion bagel was chewy in a way that I have never experienced before. It was getting suck in all the wrong places and making my mouth raw from chewing. Trust me I love the chew and hate bagels toasted so I thought I would be thrilled with this place, but alas it was no Ess-A-Bagel or Murray’s. No kids, it just wasn’t even close. Sigh.

Mark went for a Sausage, Egg, and Cheddar Bagel on Onion.

Sausage, Egg and Cheddar on Onion sans Sausage. Not cool.

You will notice in this photo that there was absolutely no sausage on this. Another strike! I swear we couldn’t win for losing, and since we were parked out at Fort Williams Park trying to enjoy a quiet ride and breakfast there was no way to remedy this situation. He was crestfallen to say the least. I gave him half of mine to try to alleviate his heartache and contribute to his extreme need for protein.

Now, I am certainly not saying I would never eat here again, but this first impression wasn’t stellar. I have heard that their bagels and lox are awesome, as well as their omelets, so maybe I would go back and try one of those sometime? It’s going to be hard to convince my number one dining partner to go back there anytime soon though, he’s still upset (days after the fact) that he paid $6 for a sandwich that wasn’t even what he ordered. He also said he preferred frozen Lenders brand bagels, but I am sure that was just the anger talking. Sorry Pickett Street. We wanted to love you, but you just wouldn’t let us. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to redeem yourself at some point. Oh, and the cookie was a little dry—to add insult to injury.

158 Pickett Street Cafe on Urbanspoon


Blue Spoon – This Neighborhood Bistro is the Perfect Lunch Spot

20 Jan

Mark and I had a great long weekend socializing with friends cheering the San Francisco 49’ers on to their playoff victory with Alex and Laura, a splendid couple that we don’t get to spend nearly enough time with. Since I work with Laura we see each other every day, but the boys haven’t been had time to spend together and bond like they need to. After the big win Laura and I sprung into social mode, setting up a brunch date for Monday since we all had the day off.

We had grand plans to have a southern style breakfast at the Bayou Kitchen, but they are currently closed for renovations (and be forewarned there is no note on the website). So, we started driving around aimlessly trying to think of places. Every place that was serving breakfast on a Monday was somewhere we had been before, and I was being selfish because I wanted to write a new review, and I also wasn’t in the mood for diner food (was I being too picky? Naa.) We decided on the Blue Spoon and arrived for lunch promptly at 11:30 a.m., just in time to be the first patrons through the door.

Since we were the only ones there, we had our pick of seats. We opted for the small booth in the back corner by the sunny window and promptly ordered coffee, water and a Golden Pheasant (Slovakian beer) for Laura. Mark and I had been on a day-and-a-half television watching bender since we recently became addicted to The Walking Dead. I hadn’t seen the sun in 36 hours, so getting coffee pumping through my bloodstream was imperative before I turned into a zombie.

Slovakian Beer, Golden Pheasant

The coffee was great, but after passing the bottle of beer around the table we all felt it tasted a little skunky (as most beer in green bottles does). If that’s your thing you might want to order it next time you are there. Laura probably won’t though.

Their lunch menu is incredible and we all had a tough time deciding what to get. They have an excellent selection of sandwiches, salads and some heavier “main course” type options. I selfishly coaxed Mark into getting their Gourmet Burger with cheddar cheese, because I wanted to try it.

Bistro Burger with Cheddar Cheese

It came with warm potato salad on the side and was cooked as exactly as he ordered it—medium. The burger was great, though Mark pointed out it was not the best he has had (he still prefers the Grill Room’s burger), but was pleased and said he would order it again.

Alex also ordered the burger, but went for the blue cheese.

Bistro Burger with Blue Cheese

He also really enjoyed it.

Laura decided to go with the fish stew, which I had previously had for dinner one night there and didn’t particularly care for.

Fish Stew

She started raving about it after the first bite. It was overflowing with mussels, haddock, calamari, shrimp and scallops. The sauce was also very rich and flavorful (the component that was missing when I had it) and came with bread on top for dipping. She was definitely happy with her choice, and it made me question if I had even had the same dish when I was there before because her dish was decidedly better.

I ordered the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese because it was cold outside and I wanted warm comfort food. I also ordered a side of beets because I’m a freak for beets, and I think the ones Blue Spoon pickles are tops.

Side of Beets

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

It was made from delicious bow-tie pasta in a creamy cheese sauce accompanied by large chunks of freshly steamed butternut squash. The sauce was chalked full of heavy cream, but it wasn’t too rich. It was a solid choice, but I couldn’t help but wish there was a little sprinkle of fresh nutmeg on top to add some complexity and extra flavor to the dish.

Overall, this is a great little lunch spot. It’s a little more expensive than your usual sandwich joint, but the quality is far superior, so higher prices are to be expected. So, pop in sometime you are up on Munjoy Hill for a nice sit down lunch. After all, you’re probably getting sick of getting Colucci’s sandwiches all the time anyway.

If eating Duckfat is wrong, I don’t want to be right

13 Jan

Duckfat on Middle Street

Happy New Year everyone! I am sorry I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but I took a little time off over the holidays. To get back into the swing of things Mark and I popped into a place we hadn’t been in over a year—Duckfat. There is simply no reason that we haven’t been there in so long, aside from the fact that we always just seem to lose sight of it…that is, until now.

The place was packed when we rolled in at 5:45 p.m. so we had to wait about five minutes for a table, but it was worth it because we ended up in the front window. It was also perfect timing because every day from 4-6 they have half-priced pounders and wine. I wasn’t planning on drinking, but this was such a good deal it lured me in. So, Mark ordered his standard Brooklyn Lager and I ordered a Narragansett Porter.

Half-priced pounders for Happy Hour

We also ordered the large fries ($5 during Happy Hour, another good deal!) with Thai Chili Mayo and Curry Mayo.

Belgian Fries, fried in duckfat

The fries were incredibly crunchy and substantial. The fat they were fried in gave them a richness and texture that makes fries other restaurants serve seem like health food. We preferred the Thai Chili Mayo over the Curry Mayo. The curry mayo was just too overpowering. It masked the rich, fatty flavor of the fries instead of adding to them.

After the fries we were ready for more (duck)fat. Unfortunately the panini’s don’t get a special happy hour price, but we ordered them anyway. Mark decided on the Meatloaf Panini. It comes with bread and butter pickled veggies, horseradish mayo and cheddar cheese.

Meatloaf Panini

Mark absolutely loved it. The pickled red peppers on it were extremely fresh and delicious. While it didn’t have an overwhelming wow factor for me (there are just so many amazing choices) he just can’t stray away from this panini. He has gotten it every time he has eaten here, proving why it has lasted for so long on the menu.

I went for something I haven’t had before, the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben. I have been really into beef tongue lately, so I was extremely excited to try this.

Corned Beef Tongue Reuben

First of all, let me say, the beef tongue was so tender it was melting in my mouth and fusing with the amazing flavors of the swiss cheese and sauerkraut (which they get from Morse’s in North Waldoboro). Top all that off with just a small dab of 1000 island dressing and you have a meal fit for the Gods. It was incredibly filling, so I think next time I would just get one and split it, but it was so good I ate the entire thing. Between that and the fries, I will be on Lipitor by June.

Overall, I think this is great high brow pub grub in Portland. Its ever-so-slightly off the beaten path location only adds to the charm of it. The laid back vibe of both the staff and the patrons is contagious, and no one seems to be in a hurry for anything here (though I will say food comes out fast and hot). The exposed brick walls are lined with magnet boards to come up with your own magnetic poem or phrase to just while away the hours drinking and eating great food. Rob Evans has certainly succeeded in creating a neighborhood joint for the budget conscious consumer. After all, Hugo’s doesn’t figure into everyone’s budget, but everyone in Portland certainly deserves a taste of his culinary creations.

Duck Fat on Urbanspoon

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