June 26, 2011

Dine Out Maine: Bandaloop's dishes surprise with their originality and vigor

By NANCY HEISER

(Continued from page 1)

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Bandaloop is located at 2 Dock Square in Kennebunkport.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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BANDALOOP

WHERE: 2 Dock Square, Kennebunkport. Note: The entrance is on Cross Street and is hard to pinpoint from Ocean Avenue or Dock Square. Do not trust your GPS. 967-4994; Bandaloop.biz

RATING: ****

HOURS: Open seven days. Dinner 5 to 10 p.m. weeknights, until 11 p.m. weekends. A late-night menu is available.

CREDIT CARDS: MC/Visa/Discover

PRICE RANGE: Appetizers $7 to $14; small plates $8 to $11; entrees $17 to $32

VEGETARIAN: Yes. Many options, including vegan.

GLUTEN-FREE: Yes. Many options. All sauces are gluten-free, as are some desserts.

KIDS: Welcome. There's a separate menu of healthy choices (nothing fried).

RESERVATIONS: Recommended

BAR: Full. The bar stocks a dozen single malt scotches, five different sakes, and house cocktails that reflect the food's style, such as a ginger-infused Manhattan. Almost all the wines from the international list of about 50 are organic or from sustainably harvested or biodynamically cultivated grapes ($22 to $77 per bottle; $7.50 to $10 per glass).

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

BOTTOM LINE: Bandaloop offers farm-to-table dining with bold flavors and a global flair. Dishes are a blend of conventional centerpieces with inventive trimmings. Create your own entree by mixing a protein with one of Bandaloop's signature sauces. The atmosphere is relaxed but upscale, and mirrors the food -- eclectic and lively. Excellent salads and appetizers as well as small-plate options mean you don't always have to spend a lot of money, allowing you to visit more often. Which you'll want to do.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:

* Poor ** Fair  *** Good  **** Excellent  ***** Extraordinary

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory.

The kitchen is fully exposed in the first of the two dining rooms. I sat directly across, with an eye on flaming pans, spinning chefs and a refrigerator case with a fluorescent light. Not complaining. Just saying.

Service on our night was good, if a little lacking in grace. A server placed bread at the end of our table with four plates for us to pass out ourselves. We asked for water refills, but the busboy went to a different table, so we had to ask again. These tiny matters were eclipsed by the splendid food and fine table attention overall.

But don't come to Bandaloop if you want to feel showered with warmth and ceremony. Diners from the old school may be disappointed by an atmosphere that strikes them as too jangly and food that may seem experimental. (It isn't).

Three companions and I fully enjoyed our experience, and two of us debated the final star assignment into the next morning. To my husband, dinner approached extraordinary. (He had the tuna, by the way.) On this one, I am a tougher grader.

Yes, every dish we had was delicious. Will I remember the door-to-door event three years from now? Hard to say.

But I do know that our night deserved a standing ovation. Run out and get your tickets. 

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer who lives near Portland.

 

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