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Keefer Lucas's Profile

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A couple of days in Portland, Maine

If you want to be up-to-the-moment hip, be sure to stop by the Grill Room for a Sazarac. Preferably one crafted by John.

Breakfast in Portland

Thank you Pat - I tried using the Search function to no avail, then found remnants of the article via Google, but it was a struggle to come up with anything...

Back Bay Grill, Portland ME

Yes beach lover, but wouldn't you have to decribe it as a "dining EXPERIENCE"?

Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor, ME

Boothbay Harbor is hard pressed to loft a restaurant beyond a three star rating. The NEW McSeagull's is worth checking out, and the Boathouse Bistro is also a fine choice. Just be wary of ALL the hotel restaurants - The Tugboat, Fisherman's, Rocktide. They are all Sysco-dependent establishments offering nearly identicle menus, with food all poured from the same heat 'n serve packaging straight from the Sysco delivery truck...

Breakfast in Portland

I am so upset at this website - I wrote what I considered to be the definitive review of Becky's Diner a couple of years ago, but since they have apparently deleted everything more than a year old its gone. How I long for the OLD CHOWHOUND.

The Front Room and Bintliffs are both great for breakfast - the only downside is that in each case there isn't much around them if you are visiting Portland. Worth checking out if you want to get out of the Old Port? Definately. But having said that if your goal is a morning in the Old Port, Mims is your best upscale breakfast/brunch choice and the only one with streetside, cafe style service on a nice summer morning...

The Grill Room Opens in Portland, ME

I've been to the Grill Room three times now. I like the bar, love the space but have found the food to be a bit underwhelming. The first night I was there I ordered the filet mignon, rare. It arrived with not only a cool center, it was cool all the way around, but it had come with a spicy sauce so I didn't ask that it be returned to the grill. Importantly, it wasn't quite the quality of meat that I would expect from a place referring to itself as "The Grill Room". The vegetable side (grilled asperagus) was very good. My tab with a sazarac was about $55.

My second trip was for lunch - I got the steak salad. There were a few chewy morsels of steak on a bed of crispy lettuce. It wasn't bad BUT it wasn't as good as the steak salad that they serve at Shay's on Monument Square.

Last night I returned for dinner and had the braised shortrib entree. The shortrib was tasty but there wasn't much to it. I didn't really enjoy the flavor combination of the mashed potatoes and cabbage, but that's just me. I had a couple of sazaracs and my bill was just over $50.

I'll probably return to the Grill Room for the sazaracs. I'd rate the place on par with Walters and Davids, but not to be confused with Street & Company, Fore Street, 555 or Hugos for overall quality.

Do you need a few more minutes? [moved from General Topics]

Has anyone else developed this pet peeve? You are dining out and the waitstaff appears ready to take you order, but you need a few more minutes...so they ask "Would you like a few more minutes to decide?" and you respond "Yes"....and then you enter the black hole of nonservice, which can drag out ten minutes...twenty...or even longer. Its as though you've thrown the service schedule off completely until sometimes you literally need to flag a server down - any server - to explain that you are NOW ready to place your order (in fact, you were ready 15 minutes ago).

This happenstance is so frequent that I cringe whenever someone in my dining party asks for "a few more minutes".

Jul 27, 2008
Keefer Lucas in Not About Food

BoothBay Harbor Maine

Exactly Harp00n. Frankly, there isn't a wharf-like dining experience anywhere that locals wouldn't have a nightmarish story to share.

Harry Sparrow - thanks for the correction, no one knows better than me the difference between Lobsterman's (known locally as simply "Lobsterman's") and the Lobster Wharf - frankly, I'd just as soon continue to refer to the Lobster Wharf as the "Co-op" to avoid my own confusion ;)

BoothBay Harbor Maine

As a Boothbay native I recommend the Lobsterman's Wharf (formerly known as "The Co-op") on the east side of the Harbor - if Hollywood scene scouts where looking for a lobster dock atmosphere, they'd stop here.

Its also well worth pointing out that recommendations in South Bristol and Pemaquid are an hour or more away from Boothbay Harbor, especially during the summer. If you are in Boothbay Harbor, the Lobsterman's Wharf and Robinson's Wharf in Southport (five minutes from the Harbor unless the bridge is open) will give you what you want with considerably less drive-time.

Great upscale dinner in Portland, ME?

The two things that need to be quantified are the words "fancy" and "family". The usual suspects of Street & Company and Fore Street are certainly "fancy" by most standards, with 555, the Grill Room and Old Port Sea Grill slightly behind. That being said, none of those are places where you'd either ask for or expect to find a kids menu.

Best ice cream in Maine

Raymond's Custard in Casco - just before you get into Naples on Route 302 is outstanding. That being said, it IS sometimes hard to know exactly where the ice cream being served is being made, unless its trumpetted LOUDLY. You don't have to look far to find a 14yo kid serving scoops and saying "we make our own", when in fact its Giffords or Round Top or Beals or some other local manufacturer. Perhaps the best way to qualify an ice cream is as "small batch" defined as made on the premises and NOT served anywhere else.

I remember having ice cream made with duck confit at Hugo's. That was special...

Katahdin in Portland - anyone been lately?

Katahdin has slowly evolved into Portland's leading alternative lifestyle restaurant. While its great that they have such a great and loyal following, it tends to explain why it has slowwwwwly disapeared from mainstream recommendations and reviews. Katahdin would be a GREAT choice before an Indigo Girls, Ani DeFranco or kd lang concert at either the Civic Center or Merrill Auditorium...

Maine adventures

It's not the Sea Witch, its the Sea Basket and its on Route One, just before you get into downtown Wiscasset (just past Wiscasset Ford, on the left if you are east bound). The Sea Basket serves fish chowder against which all others are measured. Eat some there or bring some home. Or both.

Red's is the Hard Rock Cafe of Maine roadside foodstands. They are famous for their lobster rolls, but more than that they are really famous for simply being famous. That rubs some people the wrong way and there has been an inevitable backlast against their popularity. I like to say that they don't have magic at Red's, but they do have a great location and an endless supply of fresh lobster and a proven ability to consistently deliver a quality product.

Portland and Surrounding:Good Food, Good Drinks and...TVs?

The best sports bar in town, with the most high definition TVs and the best food is Rivalries, on Cotton Street...

Portland Area - Deli/Sub Shops

One of the aspects of a good sandwich shop that deserves consideration is that of value - there are several sandwich shops on the peninsula that make an outstanding sub, but when you are paying $7 to $8 or more for a sandwich it SHOULD be good. Damn good...

Gauchos Steakhouse opening in Portland

I was dining earlier this week at a venerable Commercial Street restaurant (near but not Gauchos) and I overheard that Gauchos is closing this weekend - of course I can't do anything other than pass this along as (literally) waterfront scuttlebutt...

Suggestions, please for place to eat in Portland, ME near Portland Stage Company.

555 is just around the corner from Portland Stage on Congress Street - again, reservations on a performance night are necessary. David's at Monument Square is a bit further, as is Katahdin on the corner of State and Middle Street - but both within reasonable walking distance and popular with patrons of the theatre arts.

Miyake - Portland

Yosaku is becoming a victim of its own success - Friday and Saturday nights are like a zoo now. I am not sure that its the restaurant's fault. The good news is that the popularity necessitates more thruput of fresh fish. Yosaku delivers a great product and its an excellent family sushi spot. But if you want a relaxed sushi experience on a weekend night, Ben Kay or Sapporo would probably be a better choice. I haven't checked out Miyake yet, but it is a priority. I am concerned about the hours though (restaurants with screwball hours are a pet peeve of mine).

RiRa in Portland

I'd hit Ri-Ra. Portland Pie, in their new location is also a good option for kids. But as a parent with young kids and a taste for Guinness, I'd never think of taking my kids to Brian Boru. Not that its an "unfriendly place", only that the atmosphere is simply (and wholly) not conducive to what I consider family-oriented dining....

Gauchos Steakhouse opening in Portland

I ventured to Gaucho's for the first time last week. The good news was that the staff was friendly and helpful. The caipirinha cocktails were delicious (note - the bar is open if and worth visiting if all you want is a cocktail, you just can't eat there).

The salad bar was fine - on the smallish side but adaquate given the focus of the restaurant.

I sampled every type of meat, including the chicken hearts. I didn't have to ask for anything. Plenty of variety BUT - and here is the rub - due to the charring concept, pretty much all the cuts of beef and lamb tasted pretty much the same. The filet mignon. The roast beef. The lamb. Almost indistinguishable from one another. And - as previously noted - the meat is pretty much all well done. Again, that's something to be aware of versus something to be critical of, given the concept of the restaurant.

It was an interesting experience, if only for the chicken hearts. For those curious about chicken hearts - they are not something to fear, they are totally unobjectionable. They were like little bites of tough steak. If I hadn't known what they were, I could have eaten a dozen of them. As it was, I had two or three and was fine with that.

I'd go back IF someone else was paying, or if it was an $18 dining experience and not a $29.99 prix fix (doesn't include dessert). I had two caipirinhas, a beer and my tab was $55, which is too much for "what it is". I'd be a fan if I could have the meal and a couple of beers and have the entire meal + tip be $30.

Gaucho's is kind of interesting, but on another level its just a buffet where they bring the meat to your table - and its too expensive for what is essentially buffet quality dining.

If you want to try it, I'd say its worth checking out once. But do it quickly because I can't imagine Gaucho's in the Old Port will be around too much longer...

Maine Classics

Mainegal beat me to the punch (pun intended) by listing Graziano's in Lisbon. I do have to say that - judging strictly from the exterior on a recent drive-by - that Graziano's is looking rather sad...

Restaurants Closing

So many different factors play into the decision to close a regional franchise like Vinny Ts. It could be countless things like the investment group seeing a better ROI in other ventures, and the margins on the restaurant business being too thin to generate significant proceeds for a sale, so its tidier to shut the door and sell the equipment or reuse it in a new venture. Often times with regional chains like Burger King in the greater Portland area a few years ago, or Quiznos in the Northeast, the sale/collasp of the business has less to do about sales volume and more to do with the banking condition of the ownership group.

Without a doubt the restaurant market - especially in the midmarket segment is getting slaughtered by high gas prices, especially in the Northeast where so many middle-income families drive trucks and SUVs. For many people the extreme-high gas prices are coming straight out of a family's entertainment/eating out budget - whether they know it or not!

Maine Classics

Treb, I'd say you have taken it a little high brow...

Maine Classics

I suppose it depends how deeply you want to dig, and what you tolerance level is for the term classic, but I'll add three - the Ebb Tide in Boothbay Harbor, the Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha, and the Blue Bird Ranch in Machias.

I'll say it now, and I'll say it emphatically - do NOT pass through St. Agatha without stopping at the Lakeview and getting the bread pudding.

Portland, Maine - Rehearsal Dinner Spots?

Its not so much about what a restaurant will or won't make with a private function versus an open dining room - its about what their focus is. Most A-list restaurants like Fore Street or an up-and-coming 555 aren't going to close their doors to prospective patrons for anything less than an extraordinary event. There may be exceptions, as alluded to in an earlier posting about Hugo's, but as a general rule the notion of a Street & Company-type restaurant sending dozens of patrons away because they find a placard in the window that says "Sorry, closed for a private function" would be horrifying to a manager.

Portland, Maine - Rehearsal Dinner Spots?

50+ is a tough one at one of Portland's top restaurants. I like the Hugo's idea. You could approach the owners of 555 also. I'd suggest giving them a loooooong lead time and making your request for a relatively slow night (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday). Another possibility is contacting Black Tie Catering in Portland and discussing different, creative location options with them.

sushi grade fish in providence?

There is no FDA specified criteria for "sushi grade". Ideally sushi grade would mean that the fish had been graded by a Japanese-qualified seafood inspector. While that may sometimes be the case, I tend to think that most markets that use the term are simply suggesting that "this stuff is the best of the best". While I am a big, big fan of cryo-frozen seafood, I do take exception to the notion that ANYTHING that has been frozen could be "sushi grade".

Portland ME suggestions before the symphony

Au contrere, Yosaku is the best sushi restuarant in Portland WITH children. If the service is slow (and frankly, when Yosaku is slowest, primetime on a Friday night every Old Port restaurant can be deathly slow) its because so many people are there WITH kids. And Yosaku's kid's bento box can't be beat for the price ($5.99 or $6.99 - its ridiculously cheap for the impact/quality).

My Lunch in Portland

I don't like the panini's at Duckfat either - almost all of them end up being sweet. But I guess that's "Cuban". The fries are great!

Foodie weekend in Portland, ME - what should I hit next time?

I am pretty sure that the only cheeses at Browne Trading Company that were moldy were the ones that were supposed to be - BTC is the only place around that I have found where I can get my favorite Humboldt Fog cheese...if you didn't know what you were looking at you'd be disgusted!