Miyake, Portland, 6/28/18

building
building

Miyake was a medium sized place off the tourist path.  There was lots of counter seating as well as tables.  The counter does face the preparation area, thus lots of lights illuminate your food there.  We were fortunate to have the seats right across from chef, Masa Miyake who had been in Portland since 2006.  Previously he worked in a number of NYC and Tokyo restaurants.  Some music played in the background in this very stylized place.  The menu offered several types of tasting menu options as well as a la carte.  There is also a separate Nigiri and Sashimi menu with another offering market features.   We chose the Kaiseki Omakase or Chef’s tasting menu, which included a number of off-the-menu items, and had their sake pairings to go with it.  They do offer some wines and beers along with a huge sake menu.   Continue reading

The Holy Donut, Portland, 6/28/18

donuts of Maine mashed potatoes
donuts made with Maine mashed potatoes

The Holy Donut was recommended by many as a great place for donuts and the crowds there would certainly affirm that.  The sign said they close when they sell out or by 3:00.  The twist here is that the donuts are made from Maine potatoes.  They offered about 20 flavors of donuts and iced and hot coffee.  We tried 3 different flavors and they all seemed dull to me. The donuts were more of the cake variety as opposed to being yeasty.  The resulting texture was heavy and although they did have a nice amount of sweetness they just didn’t live up to my expectations.  Maybe too much hype made it impossible to measure up.  They are fairly large and many quite colorful, though.  They also sold souvenir items.   Continue reading

Central Provisions, Portland, 6/28/18

entrance
entrance

Central Provisions is a small place with some tables and counter seating.  The main room is on the second level with a street entrance and another entrance is below that leads into a bar and some tables where you can eat the same menu.  The bathroom and check in are upstairs so there’s a fair amount of traffic up and down.  The upstairs is where the open kitchen is and the ambiance is way better than in the downstairs portion.  Windows to the street add to the already adequate lighting for the small, close tables.  Service is friendly but timing of food is uneven at this very casual place.  However, in their defense the place was packed with lots of people standing around waiting for a seat to open up.  We were lucky to get a couple bar stools overlooking the main cooking areas so we got to see lots of the food going out.  There was no interaction with those cooking, though, they were just too busy.  The menu has plates that are ideal for sharing and we did just that so we could sample more items.   Continue reading

Back Bay Grill, Portland, 6/27/18

building
building

Back Bay Grill has a  medium sized dining room and a good sized bar that you enter through.  At the end of this room is a large opening where you can see into the kitchen.  The seating arrangements included some banquette seating and tables that were able to accommodate a number of large parties the evening we were there.  The tables are not large and a tad close together but not so much that you didn’t feel like your conversations were private and you could hear the people at your table.  A few windows on one wall allow you to look out to the street, but the location is away from the most touristy zone, which made it appear that local residents made up most of the guests.  Low lighting, soft instrumental background music, white tableclothes and napkins and a large long mural  on one wall all add to the ambiance of the place.  There is a feeling of “old school” elegance, the food was really good and the staff were all super friendly and welcoming.  Chef Larry Matthews Jr.  has been here 30 years and been the owner for 20 years.  The menu is all a la carte.   Continue reading

Isa, Portland, 6/27/18

building
building

Isa was a medium sized interior with additional seating available on the outdoor patio.  The patio was against the building on one side and fenced on the other along with being covered by awnings.  Inside there was a tin ceiling, a striking black and white tile floor and small bare wood tables with adequate space between them.  There were windows to the street on two sides of the building and the back wall had a large window into the kitchen where food was passed through.  Some faint music played in the background and nice sized cloth napkins were set at the tables.  It had a casual, friendly vibe and our server was particularly welcoming.  Chef Perez could be seen in the kitchen fixing plates as well as inspecting them before they were served.   Continue reading

Fore Street, Portland, 6/26/18

exterior
exterior

Fore Street was a large place that opened in 1996, with an open kitchen and grill area in the center of the space.  There was a good sized bar area also where you enter.  In the dining room the lights were kept quite low with a little natural light coming in the windows on 2 sides until the sun went down and then it was all candle power.  The small tables were nicely spaced and there were a number of large booths that could hold up to 6 people.  Although I could hear no music in the background the room hummed, probably because it was packed with tables turning over during the early part of the evening.  The staff were friendly, helpful and willing to let us split many of the dishes.  The crowd was pretty casual.  Their “sister” place is a bakery below them where they also get their bread.  The specialty was seafood cooked on a wood grill or rotisserie and I’d say it was a mixed result.  Some items were wonderful but others had some huge flaws.   Continue reading

The Highroller Lobster Co., Portland, 6/26/18

exterior
exterior

The Highroller Lobster Company is a good sized very casual place.  The menu featured Maine lobster in numerous formats but also has burgers, salads and hot dogs.  A number of their options come with a container of sauce.  They offered a number of locally made beers also.  It had a combination of booth and counter seating.  A counter where you enter takes your order, gives you a number flag that you place on the table and then they bring you your food and beverages.  You pay at the same counter on your way out.  The people working there were friendly and service was very efficient.  We tried a couple things and then went back to the counter and ordered a couple others so we could try a number of their offerings.  Also tried several of their local beers.  This place gets lots of people but I saw it more as a lunch/snack place than a serious dinner option.   Continue reading