September 30, 2013

Dine Out Maine: A food critic dishes on life as an undercover gastronome

By NANCY HEISER

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Tao Yuan in Brunswick rates as this critic's favorite Maine restaurant from the last 12 months.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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The lobster ravioli at Ports of Italy in Boothbay Harbor is a standout dish.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Most brilliant bruschetta award goes to Enio's in South Portland, which serves a tangled mound of pickled fennel, Broadbent ham and Buffalo mozzarella on crisped bread, demonstrating again how simplicity done right translates into deliciousness.

Most outstanding counter staff encountered: El Frijoles, a Mexican-inspired eatery set in an immaculate barn in Sargentville. The amiable owners work at every aspect of this out-of-the-way spot. Go for the crabmeat quesadilla, agua fresca and ice cream sandwich made with chipotle chocolate biscuits. I am already plotting my return.

Pie in the Sky award: Seabright in Camden creates a hand-tossed, wood-fired pizza, with bubbled edges and slightly charred crust topped with sweet corn puree, caramelized leeks, trumpet mushrooms and gruyere cheese. Heaven.

The wursts may be best, but don't miss the delicious sides at Morse's Sauerkraut in Waldoboro, including housemade baked beans or the red cabbage braised with bacon, apple, currant jelly and onion.

Fried cauliflower mixed with golden raisins, capers and lemon and served in a paper cone at 45 North, the restaurant in the Sugarloaf Hotel in Carrabbassett Valley, is bound to make anyone a lover of cruciferous vegetables.

My top restaurant from the last 12 months is Tao Yuan (originally Tao), in Brunswick. A dinner here is a journey across Asia, using local ingredients of the season. Steamed buns with braised lamb tongue, salt cod brandade with pureed celeriac, or simple Asian slaw – nothing here is ordinary. The menu is always changing and a dish rarely disappoints.

This story was updated at 2 p.m. Sept. 30 to correct the location of Enio's.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at:

nancyheiser.com

 

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Additional Photos

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The bruschetta at Enio’s in Cape Elizabeth is worth a stop there.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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The Caesar salad at Enoteca Athena in Brunswick is remembered fondly.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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The doughnuts at Edna and Lucy’s in Pownal make the critic's list of favorites.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer



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