March 6, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Maine food experts dish about their restaurant favorites

We asked chefs, food writers and bloggers to weigh in on their favorite dishes from the past year. Their answers enlighten and, in some cases, surprise.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Jeff Buerhaus, chef/owner of Walter’s in Portland, credits the pho from Saigon in Portland with healing his flu-ravaged staff. “Delicious, and got us back on our feet.”

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Shannon Bard, chef/owner of Zapoteca Restaurante Y Tequileria in Portland, loves the fried oyster bun at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland. “The taste combination was comforting and completely unexpected.”

Photo by Douglas Merriam

Jeff Buerhaus, chef/owner, Walter's, Portland: Couple months back the kitchen crew was feeling the flu that was sweeping the city, so we ordered in pho from Saigon (Portland). It was the remedy we needed, like grandma's chicken soup to a cold. Delicious and got us back on our feet.

Dana Moos, food blogger and author of "The Art of Breakfast": If I have to pick just one that sticks in my mind, it's David's Opus Ten. One of the courses on the nine-course tasting menu was a morel and black trumpet mushroom gratin and mushroom Madeira cream shooter. Not only were the ingredients tailor-made for my palate, but it had to be the most flavorful two or three bites ever. The mushrooms in the gratin seemed deeply roasted to bring out their flavor, and the tiny pastry beneath the mushrooms was a perfect base. This dish was so full of flavor that I forced myself to take tiny bites to extend the sensory pleasure. The Madeira cream shooter on the side had to be the most flavorful and delicate cream sauce I've ever had. My husband and I both said we could have made a meal of that course alone, as the taste was a mere tease.  

Kate McCarty, Blueberry Files food blogger, Portland: I enjoyed my New Year's Eve meal at LFK (Portland). I had friends coming into town, and at the last minute, they said they hadn't eaten dinner. So we walked from my place in the West End to Longfellow Square and had various reactions to asking for a table for four at different places. No one was rude, but at 7 p.m. most couldn't seat us until 9:45 p.m. or later.

But LFK was hopping, and thanks to their communal tables, there was room for us. It was cozy, good, quick and cheap – perfect. I shared a burger with pimento cheese (!!!) and beef soft tacos and enjoyed a Champagne cocktail.

Anestes Fotiades, Portland Food Map blogger, Portland: In just the last two months there have been a lot of memorable meals and standout dishes. A couple that come immediately to mind were the celeriac and Parmesan popcorn soup on the lunch menu at Bresca – playful and delicious – and the fried whole Maine shrimp at Eventide. However, I think the one item that trumps them all was salad course at the January Pocket Brunch prepared by Rob Evans. It was spicy gravlax with trout roe, Maine potato, creme-fraiche and pistachio marmalade – contrasting flavors and textures that all came together for a perfect dish.

Charlie Bryon, owner, The Salt Exchange, Portland: My dining experiences are limited for 2013 so far, but my most memorable meal/dish thus far was at Shepherd's Pie in Rockport. The local oysters done escargot and served sans the shell on an old-fashioned oyster plate were (for me) joyful. Such a great play of texture and flavor profile using local ingredients. But truthfully, most memorable dining experiences are aided by the drink and company we share. We shared a bottle of Ridge and sat in a corner booth by the window, so the stars were well-aligned.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad

 

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