Barhopping in Portland is a mixed bag, from the throngs of 20-somethings who descend on Old Port bars for a night of drinking to the hybrid bar habitués who are more focused on well made food and drink served in stylish surroundings.
While there’s a bevy of highly regarded restaurants in town with popular bars, the stand alone lounge per se is a newcomer.
Not that ago, finding a decent place for lunch in Portland was a dismal prospect for a city that especially prides itself on being a hot bed of creative dining after sunset. There have always been the sandwich shops or Commercial St. chowder houses, which tend to be tourist havens.
As for Congress St., still a sprawling urban melting pot for one and all, some of its many restaurants, with obvious exceptions, seem to come and go around the first of the month when the rent comes due.
Petite Jacqueline, sitting very pretty indeed on Longfellow Square in Portland, is just what I expected it to be: a modern-day bistro with all the classic accoutrements of the genre.
The small-plate blitz continues unabated at many new and established Portland restaurants. But like the matador in the ring, I’m still old school in my dining habits and prefer three solid courses from start to finish. When I dine out it’s the food I’m after not a conceptualized pupu platter.
Still modernist cuisine is good when it’s good and I’ve had some very enlightened meals lately at so-called small plate establishments.
The second floor of the Portland Public House nestled on Monument Square is such a haven for foodies that lesser epicureans might consider it merely a hangout for cheap eats..
Portland’s outdoor farmer’s market in Deering Oaks Park got off to a good start this weekend under a spring sky of bright blue painted with puffy clouds and pleasant 60-degree temperatures.
You’d think it was the Last Hurrah in Portland. No I’m not referring to our malapropism-minded governor but rather the extraordinary hoopla over the arrival of a burger joint in the Old Port.
It’s almost always easier to be dull than clever, but I’m tempted to say that Bar Lola is one of those bright little restaurants, never dull, certainly not chic or trendy with interiors untouched by starchitect babblings. Instead it’s an appealing neighborhood eatery astride Munjoy Hill that can hold its own in a bigger world. In fact, I had an incredible dinner there the other night.
Whatever crimes of culinary misdemeanors that I may have formerly laid on poor unsuspecting Otto Pizza, I felt it deserved a return, if you will, to the scene of the crime. After all, Otto’s seems to have such an avid following of pizza purists in Portland that perhaps I inadvertently failed to find its charms.
In some ways Norm’s on Congress Street in Portland is the perfect hangout to find highly seasoned fare from an eclectic bar menu. Whether it’s grilled lamb and feta with onions and tomatoes served over greens or big burgers, nicely charred and gutsy, the flavors inspire and are easy to take.