Restaurant hosted wine dinners are often a heady confluence of too much food and drink. To the epicurean, these can come off as testimonial dinners where windbag hosts pontificate between courses like schoolmarms teaching the abc’s. From my experience, after the fifth or sixth glass is poured and the sweet course served, I’m ready to bolt like the wildebeest.
But what if the food is superb and the wines extraordinary? Are one’s exhortations expendable?
That David’s Restaurant continues to thrive in a town that’s become an inspired collective of highly creative young chefs says a lot about this dining mainstay on Portland’s Monument Square.
Bagels, coffee, oysters, ice cream, Latin fare and star chefs are all elements of the new dining and food establishments that will arrive on Portland’s shifting culinary landscape in the weeks ahead. Let’s see who will survive and who might not.
Who would have thought that lightening could strike thrice on the convergence of State and Pine streets where a restaurant row has emerged of disparate delights?
On a recent Friday night the scene at Vignola was impressively frenetic: a packed room of diners illuminating an otherwise dreary rainy evening. I walked in to have dinner at the bar, which had only one seat left, a crammed space that wasn’t too appealing. The hostess suggested that I go to the bar in the next dining room where it would be quieter and more composed.
Despite morning temperatures in the low 30s, last Saturday marked the opening day of the outdoor Portland Farmer’s Market in Deering Oaks Park — an occasion that might otherwise be anxiously awaited were it not for the popularity of the indoor winter market that Portlanders attended in great numbers since late December.
Generally, greater Portland is my stomping grounds for dining out because it’s where I live, and I'm continually intrigued by the region’s wealth of culinary richness.
This is not to say that I never cross the Cumberland County line. And often places that deserve a write up don’t always get in print, and now that the weather is warming up, it may be time for a second look at some of my favorite places worth the trip.
In 2009 and 2010, cooks Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley convened, one by one, in the kitchen of Hugo’s restaurant to work with award winning chef Rob Evans. Little did they know that within a few years they would take the reigns from their mentor and preside over one of Portland's finest culinary institutions.