I’ve been exploring for the topic for several months, and Ruski’s — the definitive neighborhood bar and grill that’s been in Portland a lot longer than I have (over a century) — might just have the best burger in the city.
If you’re a meat maven then you should get to know Jarrod Spangler, butcher extraordinaire whose well used chopping block gets a full workout at the Brighton Avenue branch of the Rosemont Market in Portland.
Many restaurants in Maine have attempted to appropriate the essence of barbecue with only middling results, generally perpetuating a sorry world of flabby ribs and overly sweet sauces.
After a long overdue visit to Five Fifty-Five I’m happy to report that nothing has really changed since my last dinner there. The food is as spectacular as it was at the restaurant's initial trail-blazing debut in 2003. In fact,Five Fifty-Five gets better with age. That wisdom of experience and expertise continue to shine upon chef and co-proprietor Steve Corry and his extremely able kitchen crew.
It’s getting dark. Really dark. Yesterday I looked outside and it was nearly black. I looked at the clock: 3:48 in the afternoon. The term “afternoon” implies that we are only mid-way through the day. But according to the scene outside my kitchen window, it is night.
We are close to the shortest day of the year and my inner clock is fighting hard to stay awake all day and remain on schedule. I am ready for dinner at 5 p.m. and bed at 8 p.m. Early bird special, anyone?
Occasionally I consider going to Ribollita—an old Portland standby that still packs them in--but don’t very often because thinking about its cramped quarters nearly gives me fits of claustrophobia. Yet for others it’s the lure of rustic Italian fare—no New Age Italian here-- that is so appealing like hearty homemade pastas and gutsy entrees at moderate prices served in a cozy-café kind of ambiance.
When you find yourself deep in the heart of small town Maine, the chance of culinary intrigue invariably concedes to some family-style hash house with a disputatious Rachel Ray disciple sweating at the stove.