Monday, July 6, 2009

Fore Street, Bintliffs, and Dr. Mikes

The "favorites" I posted earlier are week in, week out old reliables.

There are others worthy of note, and the ones I am about to mention are those we consider "special occasion" choices.

For dinner, Fore Street in Portland (on Fore Street...go figure!) is a wonderful place; I believe it made top five restaurants in the country in the most recent year. I prefer it in the colder seasons; it has a warm and welcoming ambiance where you watch food cooking on open fires, see the preparation, and otherwise know you are getting the best of everything. Sam Hayward, the owner, is a legend nationally, and particularly to foodies in Maine.

The bar is my favorite for atmosphere; there is no better place to sip a classic martini, enjoy an appetizer, and build your expectations for the dinner to come. Quiet and reserved as your humble correspondent may be, he always leans toward the talkative side while sitting here and watching the action.

Here's the problem: their reservation book is filled up way in advance. Don't expect to call looking for a table tomorrow night, Friday night, or next week. You may slip in by pure luck, but they are in demand, and it shows when making reservations. It reminds me of the best places in Nawlins, where they book tables a year or more in advance.

We've had some luck with just showing up and having our name put on the list; they keep a number of openings for the "walk in" folks. It just depends on how long you're willing to wait and how much of a chance you're willing to take. In our view, the gamble always pays off. The ingredients, the service, the preparation, and the flavors are simply the best.

Now for breakfast. If you're looking for "diner style," give Dr. Mikes Madness Cafe in downtown Lisbon Falls a try. The owner spent a fortune renovating the place to a kind of 60's & Elvis style, and did a great job at it. They have their own in house bakery, and the offerings are irresistable. Wait until you see the tables and chairs....they'll bring back memories of your parents (or grandparents) kitchen.

This is a sizable operation, far beyond what you would expect to find a few doors from the Kennebec Fruit Company, where Moxie is the trademark. They do everything well; the short trip from Brunswick will be worth your while. Try the tapioca pudding; when's the last time you've seen that?

If you want a truly special breakfast, put Bintliff's Ocean Grill in Edgecomb on your agenda. Foodies will probably recognize the name of the owner - Roger Bintliff. The place is on your right just after you cross the bridge from downtown Wiscasset heading north.

Bintliff is a genuine patriot who has been extremely generous to our veterans, an entrepreneurial genius, and a chef of world class stature when it comes to breakfast. This is not a "diner." They don't serve breakfast starting at 6am. They call it "brunch."

You will pay a couple of bucks more per breakfast than you might elsewhere, but it will be more than worth it. You'll sit at tables overlooking the Sheepscot River, walk on terrazo floors, and enjoy fine silver and dinnerware. The menu options are beyond belief, particularly if you like omelets, as I do. The choice of ingredients, the quantities, and the overall excellence will leave you dazzled. The inventiveness of their offerings, like "creme brulee french toast," will leave you breathless. Anything with corned beef in it has shredded fresh cooked meat, not canned hash.

This is gourmet breakfasting, and at a great location. Crappy weather detracts; the right weather and the right time of year adds to the pleasure. Regardless, you will get more than your money's worth. I'm not crazy about the Starbuck's coffee they serve, but I've found a small splash of hot water makes it perfectly acceptable for me. I prefer black coffee, not a milk shake with multiple sugars and several creams, so the slight dilution is my preferred solution.

Let me know when you give any of these a try.

No comments:

Post a Comment