April 25, 2013

Blue Rooster Food Co., Portland

Tasty eats earn five stars.

Word was, the Blue Rooster Food Co. would change my life.

click image to enlarge

Fried brussels sprouts, the Porchetta sandwich, Tot-tine and the Red Eye Breakfast at Blue Rooster Food Co.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

BLUE ROOSTER FOOD CO.

WHERE: 5 Dana St., Portland; 747-4157

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Soon, the sandwich shop will add breakfast hours.

CHEAPEST GRUB: Plain Jane hot dog, $2.75

WAIT: Five minutes

PARKING: On street. (Come on, it's the Old Port. What do you expect?)

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes

RATING: *****

Based on a five-star scale

That word was true.

I met a friend for lunch a few weeks ago, not too long after the Blue Rooster opened in a tiny spot on Dana Street in the Old Port.

Its arrival was much heralded in Portland's super-charged food blogosphere, and the hype seemed on target.

My Charlie Noble turkey breast sandwich ($7.25) was simply one of the best casual sandwiches I've ever eaten. Served on a too-brittle bun, the sandwich included spiced, brined and roasted turkey breast, brussels sprouts slaw, horseradish and provolone.

It was tender, succulent and tasty. So succulent, the bun fell apart just a few bites in. I ended up using a fork to eat much of the slaw.

As good as the sandwich was, it wasn't my favorite part of the meal. Not even close.

Before I rave about the brussels sprouts, I should disclose that I am a major-league fan of them. Even when I was a kid and generally hated veggies, I loved brussels sprouts. As I recall, my mom didn't do anything special with them. She probably just boiled them into mush and plopped them on the plate.

I always ate every one, and would steal stray sprouts from my brothers when they weren't looking. But only in recent years have I discovered how good brussels sprouts can be. To say the least, boiling is not the way to go.

At Blue Rooster, the sprouts are split and fried until golden brown on the inside but still tender. They are tossed in salt and pepper, then tossed again in a honey and chili sauce, and served with toasted sesame seeds and queso fresco.

I ate one, and literally had to push myself back from the counter where I was seated.

The sprouts were so appealing -- so full of well-conceived, co-mingling tastes, textures and flavors -- I had to stop, slow down and savor.

Had I not used some self-discipline, I might have devoured the whole basket one after the other in rapid succession.

The entire menu is enticing. Next time, I am trying the Godfather, which is a souped-up salami sandwich.

I am told the Schooner Tuna, with olive-oil confit tuna, white beans, kalamatas, pickled onions and herbed fennel, is really good, and that the Pastrami "Cuban" Ruben -- pastrami, braised pork, kraut, Swiss and garlic dill on rye -- looked outstanding.

The sandwiches are in the $6 to $7.50 range.

The Blue Rooster also offers local beef and pork hot dogs for as little as $2.75 up to $5. How does this sound? The Junkyard Dog is wrapped in bacon and served with a tangy chili, roots slaw, mustard and tater tots.

The side specialties are the tater tots. When I next feel decadent, I am going for Three Little Pigs: Tots, gravy, cheese curds, bacon, sausage and pork belly, for $5.75.

The salads -- macaroni, chickpeas and potato, all for $4.50 -- have great visual appeal, and the sweets look like something out of a heaven-sent kitchen.

Better still, Blue Rooster is open late. On weekends, the shop stays open until 2 a.m.

I can't wait to go back with a buzz on. I'll probably order one of everything.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.

 

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