Tag Archives: beer

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.

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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

Localizing Portland’s Fine Dining Scene

18 Jun

A few weeks ago we decided to go out and eat with our dear friends, Jen and Kyle, on a Saturday night. It was a last-minute whim, but we decided to try somewhere we hadn’t eaten at before. Since none of us are native Mainers, let alone, native Portlanders, we are all still relatively new to the restaurant scene here (we’ve only been here since 2010). We were all discussing where we should go when, low and behold, it was discovered that none of us had eaten at Local 188 for dinner! Surely this was a crime! A nano second later we were in our cars driving across town to try to score a table at 7:30 on a Saturday night. We got in eventually, but we definitely should have made a reservation beforehand.

We started the night with some drinks while waiting for a table. The cocktail menu at Local is unpretentiously unique. None of their specialty drinks are anything I have ever seen on a menu elsewhere. I decided to try something my blogger friend, Laura of Fore Front Fashion, recommended–Basil Lemonade. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after my first sip I realized how dangerous their cocktails are. They taste so smooth, it’s almost as if there isn’t any alcohol in them, but be forewarned, there definitely is. Jen started with a wonderful White Lotus, Mark had a Dropkick Murphy, and Kyle had a beer. Everyone was quite pleased with their selection, and Kyle commented that the beer list was large and diverse.

After a round, we were seated. The restaurant itself is dimly lit at night, which creates a fantastic ambiance. It’s not a quiet place, as the kitchen is open and most of the people dining there were in large parties. A birthday was being celebrated next to us and the laughter that filled the air made it feel more like we were dining in someone’s large dining room. All in all, a welcoming establishment.

Our waitress came over to our hungry crowd and asked if we had questions about the menu. With everything sounding so amazing of course we would have about a million questions for her! After some time of explaining the specials and some particular items on the menu that we were eyeing, Jen took her time to debate whether or not to get the night’s special–Ahi Tuna (note: she is a lover of Ahi and orders it everywhere she goes. She cannot turn it down, even if she thinks she might want something else, the pull is too strong). After consulting with our waitress for a few minutes over that, she decided to take the plunge.

Perfectly seared fresh catch, Ahi Tuna

Mark ordered the Steak Tartare appetizer and the oven roasted white fish for an entrée.

Steak Tartare

Grilled White Fish

Kyle ordered the Split Pea Soup with Chipotle Oil (a special that evening) as an appetizer and the lamb shank entrée.

Split Pea Soup with Chipotle Oil

Lamb Shank

I opted for the chicken livers appetizer (because like Jen I also have obsessions, mine is with liver. Yummy, earthy liver! Oh yeah, and little chicken livers are my absolute favorite. I can’t turn them down, ever.  And then the seafood paella for an entrée.

Chicken Livers with Shallot

The chicken livers were the best I have ever had anywhere, and I order liver anytime I see it on a menu. Jen and Kyle had never had liver before and were very impressed by the dish. Kyle’s Split Pea Soup was also over the top. The chipotle oil drizzle added a hint of spice that complemented the dish in a way none of us thought was possible, it was the best vegetable based soup I have ever put in my mouth. And then Mark’s tartare–I don’t even know where to start! So many people are afraid of raw meat dishes, but this beef was perfectly fresh and the seasoning on it was just wonderful. I have had tartare at Hugo’s that didn’t measure up to the quality of this beef!

Then after we licked our appetizer plates clean, even more goodness started arriving at our table. I felt like I was at a feast for royalty. Jen raved about her Ahi, saying she thinks it was one of the top five preparations of the dish she had ever had in her life. Kyle’s lamb was so tender and juicy it was falling off the bone and onto everyone’s fork (I hope he got at least three bites of his own meal). Mark’s white fish was good, but it was definitely the most lackluster of all the dishes, but was in no way inedible. The fish was cooked perfectly and the lentils that accompanied it were good, it was just overall an “okay” dish in comparison to the other entrées at the table. My seafood paella was nothing short of fresh, fresh, fresh! The mussels were tasty, the shrimp in the dish was cooked just right (sometimes they can be rubbery in paella from overcooking), and the clams seemed as if they were just pulled the bottom of the bay.

Overall, it was an unexpectedly wonderful dinner out with friends. We all commented that we went there with zero expectations and came out thinking this is one of the most solid meals we have ever had out in Portland. I suggest that you, run, not walk, to Local 188 if you haven’t been there, and if you haven’t been there in a while, make a reservation to try it again. I know I’ll be dreaming of those chicken livers until we meet again…

Our dear friends, Jen and Kyle, at Local 188

Local 188 on Urbanspoon

Fish Friday at Feeney’s

17 Apr

Black and Tan & Oharas

My husband Mark and I were looking for somewhere to go on a Friday night that a) wouldn’t be overly crowded and b) was relatively inexpensive. We decided to go to Bull Feeney’s because our friend Alex is somewhat obsessed with it. We thought if Al likes it, it must be good…plus we were in the mood for some STOUTS!

Upon entering we were greeted in the doorway and quickly ushered upstairs to our quiet two person table in a window overlooking Fore Street. It was great for people watching and we even spied our friend, Nate (Fore Front Fashion photographer), walking with his lady friend. In a city as small as Portland, you know you will ALWAYS see someone you know strolling about!

While it was obvious when our waitress came to our table that she was new, she was eager to please. She fetched our beers and came back with a huge smile ready to take our order. Since Mark is religious for 40 days out of the year (Catholic Lenten guilt) he had to have something seafood related or vegetarian. I am not even sure there was anything vegetarian on the menu aside from salads, but there was FISH AND CHIPS. A classic, Irish and UK favorite…and also a favorite of Mark’s. He is a man who has no trouble sticking to routine, while I have trouble ordering the same thing twice, let alone going to the same restaurant twice. I am trying to work on this as maybe there is such a thing as ‘too much variety?’ So, deciding that I was in the mood for ‘variety’ and as a non-Lent participant I ordered the Bangers and Colcannon.

Feeneys Fish and Chips

Mark’s fish and chips ($15.95) came out expertly breaded, accompanied with a mixture of regular and sweet potato fries along with a size of cole slaw. He loved the breading and the fish was perfectly flakey and fresh.

Bangers and Colcannon

My plate ($12.95) came out with three large sausages covered in a delicious brown gravy with mashed potatoes that had sautéed cabbage mixed in with the mashed. It was, by all dietary accounts, completely unhealthy. I figured what the hey and threw caution to the wind and focused on how fantastic the food tasted not the fat and calorie content. It was the right choice because the sausage had great flavor and the casing added a nice snap upon first bite. I liked the mixture of the mashed and cabbage, it was different than I had imagined in a far better way.

Overall, we thought the food/atmosphere at Feeney’s was great! We escaped with a $40 tab. It would have been relatively cheap had it not been for our $6 beers, so I think it’s worth giving a try. Though it’s far from authentic Irish food, it can satisfy one’s banger craving. It’s a cool place to grab some pub grub, have a good beer (because life’s too short to drink crap beer), and people watch. So, sometime do yourself a favor, go to Bull Feeney’s order an O’hara’s and some bangers…I feel pretty confident you’ll be glad you did.

Bull Feeney's on Urbanspoon

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