Friday, December 6, 2013
From burgers to pancakes, blue fish to onions rings and much more, dining options this week were aplenty. I didn't go to anyplace new; in fact the pace of rising stars has slowed a bit so I happily frequented my old favorites.
And yes that's Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh (original masterminds of Hugo's and keeper of the flame at Duckfat) enjoying some fine grub at Small Axle Truck prepared by their former compatriots, Karl Duben and Bill Leavey, who cooked at Hugo's, Miyake, Back Bay, et al, before taking to the streets in their mobile food wonder truck;
The ever present Fore Street led the pack for fine dining at a recent dinner there where I enjoyed a perfect rendition of grilled blue fish. Back to my favorite neighborhood haunt, Caiola’s, didn’t disappoint either. The buttermilk dipped and fried onion rings are a must have; especially savory is the brilliant bacon jam served with it .
Leave it to Chef Abby Harmon of Caiola's to devise these incredible onion rings; dipped in buttermilk, coated and served with bacon jam and gorgonzola cream, they're fabulous
I hit a few food trucks, too, though they’re hard to find on a regular basis. But try the grilled cheese from the Small Axle Truck. Smeared with tomato jam and grilled on buttery thick bread, it’s a great sandwich. I went to Mainely Burgers too, though I wasn't in the mood for a burger and had grilled chicken on a bun that was perfectly OK.
Dinner at the Well again proved to be another hot spot Saturday night for Jason William’s touch of simplicity. Less is more in his case, which means more flavor, style and quality and less pomp and circumstance. Or as a friend who joined us perfectly summed it up, “This is the most unique restaurant in Maine.” It’s the essence of farm to table because that’s where it is, in the middle of actual farm fields—no truck deliveries here.
Other places I went to were great in their own right. Take a look.
Caiola's brandade is another winning first course; anytime you see it on the menu, order it
Say what you will about the craze for local donuts elsewhere, here Jason Williams of the Well has mastered the art of donut making as shown here--the fluffiest, lightest you'll ever have served over strawberry compote and a touch of whipped cream
Out for breakfast or brunch, head over to Marcy's (Oak St., Portland) for the best dish of the day: eggs over easy topping perfect hash (next week she'll be serving red-flannel hash)
But as soon as I saw an order of the day's Sunday special of pancakes with strawberry-rhubarb sauce I changed my mind and had those instead of the eggs--two platter-sized pancakes with all the fixings
At Fore Street it's just as gracious and fine to eat at the bar instead of in the dining room, and when long-time Fore Street waitress,Tina (shown here), is tending bar and serving you're well taken care of indeed
It's an acquired taste for some, but I love blue fish; when I saw it on the menu at Fore Street earlier last week I had to have it
As simple as it is, a side dish of local baby broccoli on the Fore Street menu was beautifully prepared
On a beautiful balmy night the outdoor dining deck at the Falmouth Sea Grill was the perfect spot to enjoy coconut shrimp served with a sticky sweet mango relish
And who would have thought that a seafood restaurant like the Falmouth Sea Grill would also serve a terrific burger and fries--it was beautifully charred and the fries, hand cut, were terrific
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.