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Schoodic Peninsula: any chow?

Things are looking up on the food scene in the Schoodic Penninsula and environs - definitely the best since we have been coming here (about 8 years) - Region now safe for foodies. A few highlights:
***The Kitchen Garden in Steuben is our favorite -- cuisine of a quality that you would keep going back for even in NY or Boston, except you would never find such a restaurant there, as the proprietors (who serve dinner in their home) grow the vegetables and herbs and chicken and goats out back (with fish from local suppliers) -- this year we had fantastic jerk chicken, great goat curry (least bony I've had and very flavorful), scallops in a well-seasoned brown sauce, mushroom croquettes, crab cakes and spring rolls -- all superb, as were the pies for dessert. BYO and make a reservation in advance for Th, Fr or Sat in summers.
*** In Winter Harbor, Chase's Seafood continues to make great seafood chowders and provide classic deep fried seafood and fish and chips. A good bet for lunch or dinner.
*** There is an excellent Tuesday morning shopping center as 186 hits Winter Harbor - many high points, but my favorite is the homemade Indian food from Tandoor Downeast (you can also call them and order food for pickup from their home in Franklin ME).
*** Gerrish's has re-opened in Winter Harbor -- good for morning coffee and muffins, as well as a few other dishes -- good homemade hash and eggs.
*** Two Sisters in Birch Harbor is a nice surprise -- looks like a regular pizza place, but has good soups, good pizza (for Maine), excellent cheesesteaks and fries (for anywhere)...
*** Best lobster option is to buy and make your own off the dock at the co-op at the end of Crowley Island Road in Corea.
*** Venturing beyond the Schoodic Penninsula, Steuben boasts the wonderful Kitchen Garden (see above) and also Christopher's - haven't tried it yet but it has a good rep and is in a nice remote setting.
*** Most exciting new development is Vasquez's Mexican Takeout (which is actually more than takeout, as they have plenty of outdoor seating). The proprietors have had a food truck for a few years, but it was always away serving migrant blueberry pickers inland when we stopped by. Now they have a place on Main Street in Milbridge, with a wide variety of great Mexican dishes -- not just the usual tacos and enchiladas, but also tamales, gorditas, guarches, and tortas (the last three of which we tried and were all very good indeed -- their pork is especially good. (see photo.) The availability of really good Mexican essentially removes the last obstacle to extended time in the region.
***A new place called Ironbound (after a nearby island) has replaced the old Domain in the same location on Rt. 1 in Hancock -- we haven't tried the main dining room, but the bar food (beefburger, crab roll, lobster roll etc.) is excellent -- good place to go before or after concerts at the Monteux Center, which is across the street.

Helen's of Machias< Maine has burned down...what to do???

If you are willing to drive an hour, try the Kitchen Garden Restaurant on Village Rd. in Steuben (just beyond Milbridge off Rte. 1). They are only open Thur-Sat in summers, and only by reservation. Spectacularly good food, veggies, fowl and meat grown on premises, fish from local suppliers, and superb preparation and presentation, Down East cooking with Jamaican twist.

Sauce Restaurant on Rivington

Just tried it for lunch (Feb. 2013, so they've been open 15 months now and may have needed the time to get things right) - had an outstanding roast pork on sesame bun with salsa verde and a nice simple arugala salad w sea salt. Good enough that I want to go back for dinner. (I also like that the menu has some great dishes like cotteghino (sp?) and roast shoulder of pork that one ordinarily has to make at home.

Feb 15, 2013
gargantua2 in Manhattan

Kitchen Garden Restaurant -- great discovery in Steuben ME!

I only post about restaurants when I find an undiscovered restaurant I like – it’s more fun to turn people on to good places and let the bad ones die in peace – but even so, this review of a hidden gem in Downeast Maine will be the most positive I’ve posted to date. My wife and I and two friends visited the Kitchen Garden Restaurant in Steuben ME (just off Rt. 1 about 25-30 minutes N of Ellsworth and about 5 minutes S of Millbridge). The restaurant is located in its proprietors' home, with tables situated in a lovely dining room, surrounded by vegetable gardens that supply the produce (you can’t get more locavorous than this!) and decorated with the owner/chef’s own wood sculptures. The proprietors are relaxed and welcoming and the atmosphere mellow. What blew us away, however, was the quality of the food itself. We began with four orders of local Maine shrimp (the small kind), generous portions in a simple yet delicious sauce of butter, wine, and home-grown herbs. For the next course, some of us had salad and one of us tried the tomato soup. It’s hard to produce a green salad that is truly memorable, but this one was: a lovely citrus dressing with sesame oil and vegetables from the garden, accented with hemp heart seed (never had it before, but it really worked in this setting), an artichoke heart (the one nonlocal veggy), and a deliciously piquant lightly pickled homegrown beet. The tomato soup was the best I’ve ever had – a thick and intensely flavorful puree of fresh tomatoes garnished with basil and topped with a design of crème freche. For the main course, three of our party tried seafood offerings (scallops and halibut), since we were vacationing in Maine. I love Jamaican food (the chef hails from Jamaica, and Jamaican food is a specialty of the house), so I ordered the goat curry, which was the best I’ve ever had (a verdict seconded by one of our fellow diners who has haunted Jamaican restaurants in Brooklyn and Mt. Vernon) – perfectly blended curry with lots of goat meat, most of it off the bone already, and the rest falling off instantly upon contact. (The other entrées were Jamaican jerk chicken and a vegetarian option.) The curry was only moderately hot (a concession to local tastes), so the chef sent out a side of habanero sauce, with which I up my portion. The curry was accompanied by rice and beans and carrot medallions, both of which were simple but delicious and provided a great contrast to the spicy curry. The scallops were succulent, sweet, and tasted ocean fresh, done up in a subtle sauce of shallots, butter, lemon and white wine with a touch of cream that perfectly complemented the scallops. The halibut was also excellent, fresh-tasting and prepared with a light sauce of garlic, dill, lemon, white wine and capers, accompanied (as were the scallops) by a wonderful potato dish, along with the fresh carrots. For dessert we shared blueberry-mascarpone crepes topped with freshly whipped cream – deeply flavorful and not too sugary – and a delicious rhubarb/strawberry pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream. (I tried the latter on a dare and ended up eating a full half-serving – the first time I’ve enjoyed rhubarb since my parents served it too often when I was a kid.) All in all, a truly extraordinary meal that rivaled the best dinners we have had in NYC. (The per-item prices did as well, though it’s BYO [with a $5 corkage fee for the first bottle], which reduces the tab.) This is a two-person operation and the eating area is small (five or six tables) and it's only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so make your reservations at least a few days in advance, be prepared to consult the menu on-line and phone in your appetizer and entrée choices the day before you dine (and be sure to ask if there about off-menu selections before you commit), and remember that it’s BYO and takes only cash or checks, not plastic. http://www.thekitchengardenrestaurant...

Chinese Food Recommendations - Central NJ [moved from Tristate board]

It just opened on Nassau Street in Princeton in the location previously occupied by Ivy Garden (across the street from the Indian restaurant formerly known as Kalluri Corner).

Dec 26, 2011
gargantua2 in New Jersey

Chinese Food Recommendations - Central NJ [moved from Tristate board]

A great new addition is Ming's Court, which has taken over the building formally occupied by the wretched Ivy Garden, and which is, in my opinion (after three visits) the best Chinese restaurant in the area. ( I believe it opened earlier this month - December 2011. ). My family and I had dinner there last week -- their plain chicken is spectacular, with a delicious marinade, crisp skin, cooked to perfection, like what one would find in the best restaurants in NY's Chinatown. A dish of spinach, mushrooms, and preserved egg recommended by the owner was just as good, providing a wonderful combination of nuanced flavors and textures. We also enjoyed a tasty dish of fried tofu in a slightly (but not at all cloyingly) sweet red sauce. The steamed vegetable dumplings had a delicious filling, but were a bit doughier than I would have liked. For lunch I have tried roast duck (like the chicken, prepared perfectly, cut up and served on rice), a piquantly delicious meat stew, and a perfectly roast pigeon (which i discovered only after asking the waiter to translate the items listed in Chinese on the "Specials" marker-board - something I shall make a point of doing in the future). Although Princeton has had a couple other passable Chinese restaurants (Tiger Noodles and Shanghai Gardens, if you stick to the Highland Park part of the menu), this is the first one about which I have been really enthusiastic.

Dec 26, 2011
gargantua2 in New Jersey

Great Eastern European find off the Strip -- southeastern European/Georgian tapas!

I recently visited Vegas for the first time, for a business meeting at Caesar's. If you love the Strip, you need go no further. But though the average quality of restaurants on the strip was high and I enjoyed my meals, I found the environment alienating and the prices exorbitant. So I was pleased to join some friends who had discovered an Eastern European place with an intriguing menu in a strip mall about 4-5 miles off the Strip.

Forte's was a great find, the most enjoyable meal I had during my three-day stay -- lots of surprising and delightful small plates that seven of us shared. Although there are a few Spanish dishes on the menu (we tried the stuffed squid in ink, which were exquisite, and the shrimp, which were small and done well in the Spanish style, but nothing out of the ordinary), the bulk of the menu is devoted to a mix of southern European and Russian dishes -- the website mentions Bulgaria, Rumania and Russia. Given a few ingredients that were familiar to me from my experience with Turkish and Armenian food (sudjuk, kiufte), my guess is that the culinary center of gravity would be southeastern Europe and Georgia.

The place is relatively small and informal -- much less formal than I would have expected given their fairly high-end website. On the August Monday we visited, the owner and one waiter were holding down the fort (there was probably someone in the kitchen as well). Service was excellent.

Some high points:
Thracian clay pot - This was my favorite, maybe because it was so different from anything I've had before. It was a wonde4rful mix of roast peppers, scallions, baked eggs, and feta with generous portions of thin sliced "dry-cured" steak - very flavorful, tasting as if it had been marinated.. The dish as a whole was creamy, and the feta provided a great accent to and link among the other ingredients.
Shopski clay pot - The vegetarian version of the latter, without the steak.
Bulgarian mixed grill - Great collection of well prepared meats, most of them new to me.
Kinkhali - Georgian dumplings - light (comparatively) wrapping stuffed with fragrantly spiced meats.
No low points.

Even though we stuffed ourselves on small plates (and beer), the bill came out to $35 a piece -- a great deal by Vegas standards. And when we told the owner how much we enjoyed his cooking, he poured us complementary vodkas (which he infuses himself with ingredients as diverse as ginger, apple, and what seemed to be pickling spices -- the third a bit less popular our table than the first two) - a great finish to a delightful meal.

Forte European Tapas Bar and Bistro
4180 S Rainbow Blvd Ste 806, Las Vegas, NV 89103

Aug 30, 2011
gargantua2 in Las Vegas

Portuguese Food in Northern Maine

We are great fans of Portuguese food, but it's hard to get the real thing outside of a few places like Somerville and New Bedford MA, Newark NJ, and major cities in the east. We were intrigued, therefore, to see that an article on food in Deer-Isle Maine (on the tip of the Blue Hills penninsula) reported that there was a new Portuguese Restaurant called the Cockatoo. Deer-Isle is about 30 minutes south of Route 1, and about 90 mins from the Schoodic Penninsula where we are staying, but I'm always up for an adventure, so my wife and I decided to try it. The restaurant was not easy to find -- once we got to Deer Isle, we had to proceed south toward the Sunset area (which may be in Stonington - I'm not sure), and then followed signs down a secondary road, which became a dirt road and then a thinner dirt road, where the restaurant sits on a lovely site, amidst a group of vacation cottages (thus the dirt road) overlooking a cover (Goose Cover, I think).

To cut to the chase, Cockatoo offers real Portuguese food -- not the best I've ever had, but very good and far better than one would expect on a vacation down east. It also offers a range of more traditional Maine fare, with Portuguese specialties interspersed. We started out with mussels in a traditional garlicky sauce, which were excellent -- not all the plumpest, but not a closed shell in the lot either; and codfish cakes, which were flavorful, potato-based, and deep fried to perfection, though I would have liked a little more bacala in them. Then we had a traditional kale and potato soup with nice chourico (not linguica, but what do you expect that far north)-- very nicely done (needed salt but that was easy to fix) , an excellent traditional treatment but with local kale that young and light green and still a tiny bit crisp (which worked well). For entrees, we had fried clams and a portuguese steak, both of which were outstanding. The fried clams were fried to perfection, sweet, and substantial, served on bread with banana pepper rings. The steak was a perfect traditional treatment -- a nice cut, sauted in a perfectly executed garlicky wine sauce (not at all greasy as can sometimes be the case), and topped with a perfectly fried egg and vinegar peppers - as good as I've had anywhere. Both entrees came with lots of wonderful french fries in the Portuguese style, as well as rice (with the steak) and a salad (with the clams). Although several dressings were offered, my wife opted for the house dressing, a simple but very good oil-and-vinegar (with imported Portuguese olive oil and vinegar on teh table). We were too full for dessert, so cannot comment on those.

In sum, a great reward for our willingness to drive anywhere to try something unexpected. I would definitely go back.

Best chowder and bisque in Mid Coast and Downeast Maine

A little further north, in Winter Harbor,Chase's has the best seafood chowder I've ever eaten, full of shrimp, scallops, and some but not too much haddock. Their scallop chowder is also spectacular.

where can i find victoria beer?

In Manhattan you can get it at Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery , 695 10th Ave., but it's very expensive. (But the tacos are inexpensive and delicious, so it evens out...)

Jun 14, 2011
gargantua2 in Outer Boroughs

Dinner/Breakfast in Saratoga Springs

Just spent a couple days in Saratoga Springs, which strikes me as one of those places where it's easier to get a good martini than a good meal. Two exceptions: Ravenous is very good and, as hockeynewf sez, the fries are spectacular; and Hattie's (down the street from Ravenous) is a wonderful soul food restaurant with fried chicken to die for.

Tete in New Brunswick

Tried it yesterday - very good - a hole in the wall with a more ambitious menu. The specials were good (rice and green peas and a tasty lemon sauce were implicated in many of them) and the value great. The chicha marada was delicious as was a desert based on chicha marada (but more jelly like). I will definitely go back.

Jul 02, 2009
gargantua2 in New Jersey