March 14, 2010

Taste & Tell: At JP's Bistro, you will find something irresistible


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Bartender Jennifer Hart mixes drinks at JP’s Bistro in Portland. Owner and chef John P. Gagnon, who has a background in continental cuisine, has a long history in the restaurant business in Portland. His plan? A good product at a good price.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


JP’S BISTRO, 496 Woodford St., Portland; 899-4224


HOURS: Open for dinner 4 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

CREDIT CARDS: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

PRICE RANGE: $15 to $19

VEGETARIAN DISHES: Eggplant rollatini, stuffed portabello mushroom with chevre

GLUTEN-FREE: By request

KIDS: Ravioli, chicken cutlets and pasta alfredo by request.


BAR: Full


BOTTOM LINE: Grilled steak and seared scallops are among the straightforward good standards served for dinner at JP’s Bistro.

Rating based on a five-star scale. It is the policy of the Maine Sunday Telegram to visit an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory.

Garlic mashed potatoes made a welcome appearance beside the fatty, delectable steak.

Cajun salmon ($18) was grilled with mild Cajun spices and served on linguine. Even with the buttery, garlicky sauce for the pasta, the salmon had undergone too much of the heat in its cooking, leaving it dry and a little tough.

But seared scallops ($19) impressed with their workmanship, sporting precisely browned exteriors and tender, just-translucent centers. The risotto was a few minutes past chewy but remained impressively flavored with portobello mushrooms.

Chocolate pecan pie ($5, as are all desserts) was made by Norman Sprague with chewy, dark-roasted pecans and a center that wasn't over-sweet. It made a fine finale to a rich meal, especially enjoyed with cups of hot, strong coffee. Sprague is also responsible for a chocolate-almond-coconut cake called Almond Joy.

But Gagnon's own creme brulee bread pudding has been the most popular dessert, and an apple crisp has garnered many compliments. He promises it's one crisp that lives up to its name. 

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,


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