During the 4 month span when Liz and I temporarily suspended our blogging, we visited a handful of restaurants that I would be reluctant to write about in full but I thought deserved  a brief comment.

In early December, Liz and I spent a long weekend in Maine for our birthdays…

Hugo’s in Portland, ME.  We were totally impressed by Hugo’s. Got the 12 course chef’s menu (you need to order this ahead of time – there is  also an 8 course blind tasting offered without pre-notification) and it was as good as if not better than the best tasting menus we’ve had in Boston (no.9, L’espalier, Craigie, Salts, Clio).  The chef, Rob Evans, is formerly of French Laundry and it shows. Innovative and  tasty, but in a comfortable, laid back setting. It’s a shame it’s so far away, but if you make a trip to Portland you really shouldn’t miss it. We did not try Fore Street, the other well known fine-dining restaurant in Portland, so I can’t recommend one over the other. Here is what we had:

Amuse:
SNACK TRAY (fried cracklins and other homemade chips)
OYSTER, beet, horseradish
COD RAVIOLI, fresh sage
WILD PIGEON CONSOMME, squash and foie gras agnolotti      (AWESOME)
Prosecco, De Faveri, NV, Veneto

1st
“CEASAR SALAD” coddled farm egg, iceburg leaves, white anchovies, bottarga
Pinot Grigio, Marco Felluga, Montgris, 2007, Collio

2nd
LOBSTER CARPACCIO, fine herbs, puffed spice rice, meyer lemon mousse   (ALSO AWESOME)
Pinot Blanc, Hopler, 2006, Burgenland, Austria

3rd
PAN SEARED MAINE SEA SCALLOP, truffle butter, sunchoke, preserved lemon, fried capers
Soave Classico, Inama, 2005, Veneto

4th
ATLANTIC HAKE “BOUILLABAISSE” aged chorizo, egg battered croutons, saffron & tabasco     (STILL AWESOME)
The Villager White, Oyster River Winegrowers, NV

5th
Mulled Cider & Calvados Ice

6th
SMOKED FOIE GRAS, acorn squash, kumquat, toasted brioche       (…..AWESOME)
Reisling Spatlese, Leitz, 2006, Rheingau

7th
BREEZY HILL FARM GLAZED PORK BELLY, pumpkin gnocchi, maple, quince and rutabaga mostarda        (Liz hit a wall here so I had double meat portions. AWESOME)
Syrah, Clos Mimi, Petite Rousse, 2005, California

8th
BEEF, BEEF, AND BEEF, horseradish-potato puree, charred onion, white miso
Cabernet Sauvignon, Tahbilk, 1999, Australia

9th
SHELBURNE FARMS AGED CHEDDAR PARFAIT green apple marmalade, allagash beer buggles, pumpernickel
Cotes de Gascogne, Dom La Hitaire, 2004

10th
LEMON SORBET FLOAT WITH THYME SODA              (again. AWESOME)

11th
RUM ROASTED PINEAPPLE, ginger cream, tamarind caramel, coconut sorbet, warm pound cake
Late Harvet Gewurztraminer, Aresti, 2006

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Duck Fat in Portland, ME.  Same owners as Hugo’s. The fries are SICK. So outrageously delicious. Sandwiches were solid (mostly of the pressed panini variety with some higher end ingredients e.g. duck confit) as well as the shakes. We went here for lunch on the same day as Hugo’s. It was a good day. There’s also a very cool food bookstore close by, Rabelais Books (and they have a blog too) . I highly recommend taking the time to sift through it.

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Arrows in Ogonquit, ME.  We had been wanting to go to Arrows for several years now so we knew we were going to try it out if in the area, but were concerned about the recent bad reviews it had been receiving. Chowhounders were making claims of its decline ever since the owners expanded the franchise and opened up a new place in Beverly, MA, called SummerWinter. This being our first time to Arrows we can’t speak to its quality relative to the past, but we were happy with our meal and I remember being particularly charmed by the setting. Very attractive structure and grounds.  Definitely several steps above the White Barn Inn in nearby Kennebunk, ME in terms of food, and several steps below in pretentiousness (i.e. you won’t pee your pants a little at Arrows if your fork clinks too loudly on your plate).

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