Sunday, February 28, 2010

Best of The Phoenix / Dessert

Of all the Phoenix Best of categories, this seems the most broadly interpreted with Silly's and Deans Sweets mixed in with three higher end restaurants, Bar Lola, Grace and Salt. Wether it's little kids or the most grown up adults, chocolate lovers to architectural buffs, liquid or solid it covers the bases.
Caramelized Banana Napoleon with Pastry Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Salted Caramel Tart

Dean's Sweets sits on Middle street east of Franklin Arterial and for those lucky enough to walk by it on their way to & from work, it must seem the work of the devil, what with the temptation it presents for a daily pop in  to the  tasting counter, where a dozen or more little bites await the unsuspecting.

For those of you who haven't found this lovely spot, it's in the Old Chestnut Street Church near City Hall and might be the most stunning restaurant in the city. It is also a great place for a wedding or other event.

Like a lot of fine restaurants, The Salt Exchange changes it dessert menu weekly if not daily, rotating the tried and true with newer offerings, mixing seasonal ingredients with lasting favorites, the simple, but never plain with surprisingly architectural delights.

What can you say about Silly's, it's been around for 20 plus years and it still does a great business. The desserts run to big cakes, homemade cookies, ice cream concoctions.  Just the place to go with the kids or the kid in you, it's silly but what would you expect.

Bar Lola
100 Congress Street
Portland, ME
tel. 207-775-5652

Dean's Sweets
82 Middle street
Portland, ME
tel. 207-899-3664

15 Chestnut Street
Portland, ME
tel. 207-828-4422

the Salt Exchange
245 Commercial Street
Portland, ME
tel. 207-347-5687

40 Washington Ave
Portland, ME
tel. 207-772-0360

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best of The Phoenix / Coffeeshops

Of the five coffee shops nominated the biggest and defending champion ( it's never lost ), with several locations is Coffee By Design.  It has several worthy challengers, each with their own strenghts.

The 1st is Arabica, located at the bottom of Free Street. Lots of sun and wifi, wood and brick and larger than it's previous spot just up the block. It's always busy whenever I've stopped by.

The Bard is the newest challenger, located next to Tommy's Park and across from the sTARbucks, in the Old Port.  They roast their own beans and it has a nice feel with again plenty of sun and wifi. It  has nice large cups that look lovely when filled with Capuchino.  I've been in here three times lately to meet someone and you can do business at either the tables the large couches or the bar.

The Hilltop has more of a neighborhood feel to it due to it's location on Munjoy Hill next to the Rosemont Market. It's very laid back, someplace to spend the late afternoon when the sun gets around to the windows, big murals on the walls make it seem gallery like.

North Star Cafe on Congress Street, at the corner of Washington, is more of an old world "Coffee House". Spend a Sunday afternoon reading the paper, an evening listening to music or poetry. The menu has much more then just pastry and coffee. You can even get a beer and watch some Burlesque, The Dirty Dishes, played their last month to a packed house and it hosts Tango every other Monday evening.

As I said Coffee By Design has multiple Locations in Portland and it's beans can be found elsewhere in the area. Located on Congress between Park and High Street (not shown here).  On India Street next to Amato's that has the most laidback feel.
The "plantation shop" where the beans are roasted is on Washington Ave across from Silly's, where it does a good stop and go business.

I've tried the coffee at all of the above at one time or another when I'm in the area, but I usually start and end the day at home with a cup of Columbian Supremo in a drip with half & half.  My wife goes for Green Mountain decaf espresso, a triple with steamed milk. The coffee in Buenos Aires last spring was very good and we'll be sampling the coffeehouses in Budapest, Prague and Paris in April. While I don't take sugar with mine, I love the small raw brown chunks served along with a lemon rind that comes on your cup of Espresso in Europe. My advice is to try them all before you vote!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Farmers Market Coming to Free Street Spot.

This is a look at the Fort Andross Farmers Market

After a few hurdles and a small delay a new winter farmers market is coming to Portland this Saturday, Feb 20th,  for a ten week run.  A core group from the Brunswick farmers market at the Fort Andross mill with a healthy mix of locals will open at 85 Free Street. There hours are the same as the Brunswick market 10AM  to 1:00PM.   Farmers being small businesses, it's not clear who might switch to Portland if they can only do the one market either because of supply or lack of help.  But with a 99.9% surety and 20 of the 21 spots firm as I write this ( wed afternoon) it's a Go!  I hope to have a complete list of venders and a picture of the empty space as well.
The Brunswick market has grown in a very short time to around 50 venders with a variety of food and non food farm related products, including traditional crafts like yarn, soaps and spices. Given the size limitation at 85 Spring Street (21 slots) it is hard to see how this kind of variety can work here.
info :
Portland Indoor Farmers market
85 Free Street
Saturdays Feb 20th to April 24th
10:00AM to 1:00PM

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bresca / Good Things Come In Small Packages!

The 2010 Opinionated About Dining Top Restaurants in the U. S. Survey came out last week with Portland placing 5 of the top 15 in the New England region. Friday night I was happily snapping away at # 9 on that list Krista Kern Desjarlais' bresca, ( Catalonian for honeycomb). The small, make that tiny two person kitchen, is the stage for a two act play. I caught the first act (seating) and left by 8:30 before the second act started.  The handful of tables is serviced by two wait staff.  French cafe music was playing over the kitchen stereo.

111 Middle Street
Portland, Maine
tel. 207-772-1004