Sunday, May 19, 2013
Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer.. Thursday, November 6, 2008...Taste and Tell review of Yarmouth's 233 Grill. Manager Jill Morton presents a menu at the Route One restaurant.
Chef Jason Burr has worked in this kitchen for the last three years. ''He's young but he does a very good job,'' said restaurant owner Chris Kyle. Burr's ideas make this menu stand out.
Kyle and his father, John Kyle, who has owned food businesses for 30 years, also own Pat's Pizza in Yarmouth. Kyle said he realized that the Yarmouth area needed a mid-range restaurant like Grill 233, ''serving good-quality food at an affordable price,'' when he invested in it three years ago.
A modest wine list with nine white wines and 10 reds sold by the glass includes 2005 Writer's Block Syrah from Lake County, Calif. ($8 a glass, $30 a bottle), and 2005 Heron Pinot Noir, made with grapes from coastal California ($7 a glass, $24 a bottle). The 2006 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($8 a glass, $31 a bottle), from Paso Robles, Calif., is a familiar standby with good flavors of berries and food-friendly acidity.
I was grateful to be able to order, as a second glass, a half glass of the same wine ($4), something not every restaurant is willing to do.
Our oak-trimmed booth, one of several in the front of the restaurant, surrounded a honey-stained wood table and sat beneath an eggplant-purple wall hung with attractive French liquor ad prints. A red neon sign casts a glow through a shade inside a front window.
The thoughtful elaboration on salads presented itself first under the crab cakes ($11), with freshly shredded iceberg lettuce that made a perfect contrast with the salty crunch and sweet flavors of crab.
The Caesar ($5 for a side salad, $7 for the regular size) had been made with perfectly fresh romaine and doused with a flurry of grated cheese.
Slices of hot chewy white bread that had slivers of tender garlic baked inside are served at the beginning of a meal. Dipped in a saucer of mild oil and ground pepper, that made another good mouthful between sips of red wine. Also commendable was the server's speed at filling the water glass of my companion, who drained it over and over again like a person who'd just crossed a desert.
Grilled steaks, barbecued pork chops and roast duck are on the list of meat entrees. A new menu is likely to appear in the late fall, with a similar wide selection and an emphasis on comfort food. Panini sandwiches are popular, Kyle said, and the lunch menu is available in the evening.
But we focused on fish.
Salmon piccata ($19) served on linguine suffered from slight overcooking, as did the pasta, even as it benefited from the bright flavor of the lemon and caper sauce. A big pile of tender green beans tasted great with the piccata seasoning.
The mahi-mahi salad ($17) pulled every ingredient into perfect focus. The mild fish was slightly crisped and yet tender and moist. Surrounding it were plumped slices of broiled sun-dried tomatoes with crisp, caramelized edges, accentuating their intense flavor. Sliced cherry tomatoes provided a textural contrast to those chewy bits, and the salty feta tied it all together. Zucchini and summer squash could have been more abundant -- but perhaps I would be the only person to think so.
It's clear from the salmon plate that the restaurant is happy to be generous with its vegetables. Several vegetarian dishes on the menu include a provencal pasta ($14), with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach and cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce and garlic butter.
I am on a hunt for an excellent apple crisp ($6), and this was not it, though its topping held some crunch. The sliced apples inside seemed to have been only slightly cooked. But a chocolate lava cake ($6) was pretty much perfect, despite a scarcity of oozing lava-like chocolate.
A last cup of coffee was good stuff. I envy the folks who live near and who will stop by on the spur of the moment, sure to find a friendly staff and a lively kitchen skilled at making the kind of casual, appetizing meal a person can enjoy at the end of the day.
N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of ''Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.'' Visit English's Web site, www.chowmaineguide.com.