Tag Archives: seafood

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.


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

Traditional Lump Crab Cakes

21 Feb

I told you about our adorable friends coming over for a dinner party, right? Well, before the cupcakes we had a delicious dinner of roasted asparagus, mushroom risotto and some amazing crab cakes. This is a tried and true traditional crab cake recipe so it’s no frills really, but it’s amazing and consistent every time. I never fry my crab cakes, I find that the oven and broiler do the trick. So, next time you are craving some no cracking involved crab recipes, REACH FOR THESE!

One pound lump crab meat

2 eggs

4 tbsp mayo

1 1/2 tsp of OLD BAY (you know I’m obsessed with this stuff!)

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

2 tbsp fresh parsley (any variety, I like Italian)

1 tsp lemon juice (fresh is best.)

1 heaping tsp dijon mustard

4 green onions (white parts only chopped)

1/3 cup crushed breadcrumbs or crackers

Preheat oven to 425º. Put crab in a separate bowl. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Once mixed pour over crab meat and gently mix with a wooden spoon (you do not want to break up the lumps of crabmeat!). Once blended start patting out the cakes (I find this makes about 6 good sized cakes). Place in an oiled or sprayed baking dish and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Before baking let the cakes stand for about 20 minutes a room temperature. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn your broiler on for 2-3 minutes at 400º to brown the cakes at the end. Remove from oven and serve! VIOLA! Perfect crab cakes. Adjust Old Bay seasoning to taste, you know I want more! I sprinkle some on top right when it comes out of the oven. I am an addict. I need to buy stock in Old Bay…

Lump crab cakes, mushroom risotto, and roasted white and green asparagus

Fancy some homemade Tarter Sauce?

3 tbsp mayo

1 1/2 tbsp sweet relish

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Mix. Eat. Enjoy. It really is that easy…I never know why people buy this stuff? Add some dill if your heart desires that. It’s splendid as well.

Ben and Laura are amused and obviously loving Eat Here's cooking. Success.

Maryland She Crab Soup

13 Feb

Good day friends,

I figured I better give you the recipe to my latest seafood recipe endeavor. I must admit, living in Maine has done wonders for my seafood cooking skills. I would rank myself above that jerk who runs Street and Co. (I boycott that place based on several unsavory experiences from friends and my own personal hero, Anthony Bourdain. If you consider yourself a foodie in any shape or form and you aren’t familiar with my dark and brooding secret crush assume a spot in front of the television and tune to the Travel Channel immediately. I am in L.O.V.E. He’s basically everything I wish I could be. He’s a curmudgeon of genius proportion.)

Ok, now on to the recipe!

You will need

16 oz. lump crab meat (don’t get the claw meat unless you are a complete cheapskate in which case it will work, but you will pull shell after shell from your mouth instead of just enjoying the soup)

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped (for color)

1 celery stalk, chopped (for flavor)

2 tablespoons butter

16 oz heavy cream

1 cup Milk (skim works, but whole is divine)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Cooking Sherry

1 heaping tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (if you don’t like Old Bay, I don’t like you.)

Salt to taste

First, add butter to a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Put in the onions, carrot, celery and saute for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix flour and 1/2 cup of heavy cream to until smooth, this will become the thickening agent for the soup. Once the veggies have sweat it out add the thickening agent and the rest of the heavy cream and milk. Give it a good stir. It should thicken right before your eyes! (Note: If it’s too thick keep adding milk until you reach your desired consistency, but you want this soup to be THICK!) Now add the crab meat. Turn the heat to medium-low. Watch like a hawk. Do not let this boil it will taste like curdled milk, disgusting. Add Old Bay at this point, stir. Like I said, if you don’t like Old Bay, I hate you. Add the cooking sherry night before serving, you don’t want the alcohol to cook off. No cooking sherry? Add beer, but it won’t be as decadent. Now get a big loaf of french bread for dipping. Taste it, make sure it’s hot and deliciously spiced up with Old Bay. Put in bowls, add more Old Bay on top (can’t get enough) and add fresh chopped parsley if desired.

Chow down! Oh, and don’t forget the wine. Charles Shaw (two buck chuck) Pinot Grigio is perfect with seafood. I always have a bottle or three on hand.

And don’t forget to work out! This soup is calorie laden, some cardio will help you avoid that butt gut look. Buon Appetito Eat Here. Go There. fans!

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