Home made pasta is where it’s at

Fore St.’s purveyor of Italian food, Paciarino has been around for a number of years. They offer a select menu of items including apps and entrees – many of which include their home made pasta and some of which are available to carry out or for delivery if you’re from away. They also carry a sizable selection of wine and a couple Italian beers for your imbibing pleasure.

New since I was last at the restaurant, there were prepackaged Grissini breadsticks waiting on the table as part of each place setting. They apppeared to take the place of the fresh bread which had previously been served with olive oil. To me, complimentary bread is nice, but it’s not something I require as part of my meal, though I suppose the breadsticks weren’t quite as high quality. I ate them without hesitation nonetheless.

She ordered a Prosecco and I went with a Peroni before peering at the food options. Though the menu isn’t huge, there was some question as to whether I wanted to try something new or order an item I had had previously such as their spectacular lasagna. We both started with the Italian Salad – fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, red onions with aged vinegar and extra virgin olive oil – and I decided that one of their specials would do and went with the Black Tagliolini with Lobster. Mrs. Portlandeater chose the Ravioli Spinaci Alla Bolognese – ravioli with ricotta, spinach, fresh garlic & parmesan, topped with homemade Bolognese sauce and parmesan.

We were there early and the place hadn’t yet filled as it generally does when I go. Our salads came out and we remembered immediately that we usually only order one and share them because they are so large. With plenty of fresh veggies and a sprinkle of cheese on top, the salad was delicious with its perfect appointment of dressing.

The ravioli and tagliolini appeared next. Lobster and cherry tomatoes dotted my squid ink-colored pasta. Her ravioli was requested meat-free, and as such, came with basic tomato sauce and speckles of parm. I was satisfied with the portions, but felt that her ravioli in particular stood out when compared to others around town for both size and price.

Garlic and oil were heavily distributed throughout my plate and the lobster and pasta took them on well. I was particularly pleased with their house made noodles were simply some of the best I’ve had. Fresh pasta makes a huge difference and the textures and flavors of theirs was about as pleasant as one could expect.

With plenty of fresh lobster, my dish was both hearty and satisfying. I reveled in the seafood and semolina goodness. I tried one of my wife’s ravioli which was filled with cheese and garlic, creating a slightly decadent pocket of tasty dough. I would have preferred the meat sauce, but she clearly enjoyed it the way she had ordered.

When all was said and done, our meal came to just over $100 with tax and tip. There are a number of Italian restaurants that have opened in Portland over the past few years and I like many of them. But Paciarino holds a special place in my heart and it’s most certainly because their pasta is on another level. They make it daily and it adds a component to their meals that differentiates them from many of the other Italian cuisine purveyors around here. Whatever you get, it’s guaranteed to be tasty, fresh, and filling.

470 Fore St.
207-774-3500
paciarino.com

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Advertisements

There is one more lobster restaurant in Portland but there are never enough

I’m of the opinion that there can never be too many good seafood restaurants in town. While Maine Lobster Shack on Fore St. isn’t right on the coast, it’s close enough to feel the part and its April opening added another spot for both locals and tourists to choose from when thinking about where to get their seafood fix.

We took a trip to MLS on a beautiful Friday night and chose to sit outside. It was quiet in the Old Port and the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy, so the scene was quite serene. We were provided with both drink and food menus. Never having been and not knowing what to expect, I was surprised by the size of the menu, expecting purely lobster-based items, but there was a full offering of Maine seafood specialties.

There were plenty of beer, wine, and liquor options, but she stuck with a soda water and lime while I just had a standard, oft underappreciated water. The food menu started with soups/chowders, oysters, steamers, fried seafood, and shrimp and crab items. Lobster, rolls, and salads came next, followed by plates, mac and cheese, and sandwiches.

it was either a lobster roll or some fried seafood for me and since my wife wanted a roll, I went with the fried. There were clams (whole belly or strips), oysters, scallops, or calamari from which to choose. I went with Scallops (served with tartar or cocktail sauce), but the fried seafood was considered a starter and didn’t come with sides, so I also ordered Coleslaw and Onion Rings. She picked the Naked Lobster Roll – pure lobster meat on a roll served w/ fries and coleslaw and side of drawn butter and mayo.

When the food came out, I immediately thought that the portion sizes were fair. There were eight large scallops ($16) and at $4 each, the sides were plentiful. My wife’s roll was quite full, though I expected it to be for $22.50. We requested silverware and tartar sauce for me and took the ketchup from the basket of condiments, each squirting a fair allotment of the tomato-based flavorer in our baskets.

Once I had the proper utensils and sauces, I snagged a scallop. The lightly breaded, cylindrical mass of seafood was mildly seasoned, fresh, and perfectly sweet. Its natural flavors shined and paired perfectly with the tartar sauce when I chose to dip them in that. The coleslaw was mayo based and the onion rings had heavy breading. They were both solid – not far out of the ordinary, but well made and an appropriate compliment to fried seafood.

My wife’s roll was grilled. I don’t remember ever having a roll with plain lobster meat, though plenty of locations offer them. I took a bite and was impressed. The meat was fresh and tender and I confirmed there was plenty of it in there. The roll gave just a little butter flavor. It was definitely a healthier lobster roll than most if you’re into that sort of thing.

All the food got finished and my hunger was fully satiated. Maine Lobster Shack turned out to be an excellent place to eat and the outdoor seating in nearly perfect Maine weather led to an outstanding experience. Their menu is robust enough that one could make many visits there before eating the same item twice. If you like oysters, fried seafood, and lobster rolls, they’ve got what you want and much more beyond that.

I wouldn’t say that Maine Lobster Shack is the best at any one thing, but they performed well with everything we had. They seem to have a solid grasp on casual seaside fare and the Fore St. location really is a fun, central spot in the Old Port. Have beers and oysters outdoors, lobster rolls and fries indoors, or whatever combo of atmosphere and seafood you want. I think you’ll find a pleasant experience without any wanting for more when you’re through.

425 Fore St.
207-835-0700
mainelobstershack.com

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Decadent brunch is everything you want it to be

Its awning still reflects the name of its previous incarnation, but a much more visible sign removes any question about who now resides there. The Sinful Kitchen on Brighton Ave., opened two years ago, serves brunch six hours per day (8-2) seven days per week. A little too close to Westbrook to be convenient, we figured it would be worth the trip anyhow to try someplace new. When we got there, we were at the mercy of those who had actually made reservations.

After a short wait, we were informed there was a single table left by the kitchen and were promptly seated. Mrs. Portlandeater and I both considered a beverage, taking a close look at the Mimosa and Bloody Marys since it was a little too early for whiskey. Instead, we kept it classy by ordering twin Nitro Cold Brew coffees which arrived in Mason jars.

The menu was impressive in both its variety and unique offerings. I first noticed the El Diablo Omelet – jalapenos, ghost pepper chesse, and side of ghost pepper sausage. I did want to try it, but just in case the warning below it was accurate, I passed. It wasn’t just too early for whiskey; it was also too early for burning mouth.

Another incredibly tempting option was the Peanut Butter Cup Waffle with chopped Reese’s, chocolate and peanut butter sauces and whipped cream. That sounded like the best dessert/brunch ever, but I really wanted to avoid something so sugary sweet. A specials menu offered Lobster Poutine, Braised Brisket Omelet, and Chorizo Hash which all would have been excellent choices.

My final selection was the Braised Brisket Omelet – tender beef brisket, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions and mushrooms, and Swiss cheese, with home fries and English muffin. She ordered the Egg White Scramble – egg whites, turkey sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms, baby spinach, and parmesan cheese, with home fries and wheat toast. She held the cheese, which I thought to be a poor choice.

As we were waiting for our food we saw the peanut butter cup waffle ready in the server pick-up area. It looked like everything I expected and was pure peanut butter art. It ended up in front of a child at a table near us who asked for syrup, received it, and then promptly sent it back because the waffle was already sweet enough without. I was a tad jealous.

Our food arrived just as my coffee jitters started. My omelet looked a little thin at first glance, but brisket and veggies were peeking out of it. The potatoes appeared to be perfectly grilled and my English was crispy. My wife’s scramble was sizable and full of color. I took a large bite of the omelet and was thrilled. The lean brisket was plentiful as were the veggies and cheese. It was both hearty, tasty, and well balanced.

I tried the potatoes which were indeed brilliantly prepared including a top notch seasoning. I blended some ketchup and sriracha for them which gave the few I dipped in a little extra kick. My wife enjoyed her egg mass and even left me a few taters at the end which I was happy to consume. We finished our food and requested the bill.

Our total came to about $37 before tip. We thought it to be a great breakfast and with all the interesting items on the menu, I look forward to going back a bunch more and trying some of their other great options. It doesn’t matter whether you like sweet, savory, or spicy, The Sinful Kitchen has something that will certainly please you. I’m so glad I finally got to experience it for myself.

906 Brighton Ave.
207-536-0611
thesinfulkitchen.com

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

New Portland bar with presidential theme opens on June 1st

Owner Ryan Deskins doesn’t expect to sell a lot of the Trump cocktail. Served in a beautiful gold martini glass (which you can keep) full of hot air with an elaborate orange twist garnish, the price of $2,500 is probably a bit steep for most customers, especially for a drink that “will leave you feeling regretful and unsatisfied, with hints of existential horror.”

Those visiting Sagamore Hill in Downtown/West End and not thrilled about laughter at 45s expense might be more inclined to order “The Blue Dress” or any other of the presidential-themed cocktails being offered when they open on June 1st. There won’t be any meals served, but Deskins promises a variety of bar snacks holding to the theme, including peanuts, pretzels, and jelly beans. Food trucks will also be present starting June 10th.

Opening in what was once the lobby of a luxury hotel, with an outdoor patio for up to 40 patrons in addition to the 60 seats inside, the bar pays tribute to the summer home of Teddy Roosevelt and the elegant details reflect that. Those details include 3,000 pounds of curved walnut ribs above the bar mimicking a boat hull, in reference to Roosevelt’s time as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

The bar has been a year and a half in the making, so June can’t come soon enough, but Deskins says they might even open early and potential visitors will know they’re open “when the pictures in the windows come down”. In addition to specialty cocktails, patrons can expect 30 or so beers (draft, cans, and bottles, with many locals), about 20 wines, and a stong selection of bourbon and rye, including some rarities.

Hours will be 4-1 Mon-Fri and 12-1 on the weekend. Though all the design and construction isn’t quite complete yet, it’s getting very close. Sagamore Hill looks to be a fun place to grab a drink whether you’re with friends, on a date, or headed to or from dinner. It’s theme and beautiful detail will make it inviting and comfortable. The patio will be a great option in the warmer months. Take a swing by in June and let me know what you think.

150 Park St.
sagamorehillmaine.com

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Popular locale continues legacy of precise flavors, quality ingredients

Some friends accompanied us (or did we accompany them?) to Back Bay Grill, one of Portland’s perennial favories and a legend of the Portland restaurant scene. Opened in the 1980’s and with the same owner since 2002, BBG is known for it’s typically excellent food, outstanding and knowledgeable service, and – to be honest – its relatively high prices (though its fans would argue that they’re not without merit).

We had an 8:30 reservation – well past our usual bed-time – and were seated immediately upon arrival. After our counterpart was assured that whatever she ordered would be prepared without the use of ingredients that would trigger her life-threatening allergies, she suggested we order a bottle of white Sancerre for the table and we did just that.

Sipping on the barely fruity, acidic wine which I found to be peculiarly smooth, we placed our orders and were treated to an orange goat cheese morsel compliments of the chef. The cheese was a typically mild goat with a little orange flavor; I suppose it was exactly what you’d expect of something called orange goat cheese.

The apps came out quickly enough. I had ordered the Roasted Red Pepper Soup – spiced hazelnut, fine herbs, chive oil. Mrs. Portlandeater went with the BBG Caesar – butter lettuce, thyme croutons, parmesan, garlic dressing. Our friends both ordered the Truffled Beef Tartare – farm fresh egg yolk, white anchovies, cornichon, olive oil crackers.

I’m a big fan of roasted red peppers (rrp) and was curious about how a soup that featured them might interact with my taste buds. A spoonful of the red liquid presented a powerful rrp flavor with just the right amount of herbs. There was also a nice bit of garlic in the mix. I really enjoyed the peppers maintaining the central focus of the soup while only being lightly altered with other flavors.

Everyone was clearly taken by their starters, and the phrase “this is the best tartare in town” was heard at least once in the process of consuming them. While I didn’t try the raw beef starter, it’s presentation was quite attractive with a yolk on top of the cylindrical pile of beef and surrounded in clockwise order by crackers, cornichons, and anchovies.

With the apps but a distant memory, we prepared for our main courses by getting refills on the wine (still the same bottle). I had ordered Chicken Breast – white bean, parmesan broth, sage, local roasted radish which was a menu change in place of sausage stuffed chicken leg. There were duos of Cast Iron Seared Local Scallops – local mushroom risotto, shaved radicchio and pickled orange pepper salad, lemon vinaigrette – for the ladies. He had Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Brined Hampshire Pork Chop – potato, honey bourbon carrots, charred scallion chimichurri.

My chicken was tender, perfectly seasoned, and very well concocted overall. I don’t remember ever having roasted radish, but the root veggie and bean with broth added a nice, mild addition with the chicken as the clear standout on the plate. Those other flavors hardly detracted from the bird, which they seem to have a particular skill in preparing based on multiple experiences eating it there.

Our table unanimously praised the food, enjoying it all and finishing most. From the presentation to flavors (and the company, of course), the meal was excellent. We finished with a compliment of chocolates and a macerated raspberry (allergen-free), passing on a dessert from the menu since we were quite full.

Back Bay Grill has maintained exactly what they are known for – high level service, quality food, and a great experience. They always use exceptional ingredients, but their dishes really hit the mark with each bite, focusing on exactly what they should, taking a main ingredient and making sure that all the other parts of the item add to it, while still maintaining the primary intent. You can taste each piece, and you’ll never forget what you ordered.

Our meal came to about $300 for four after tip. As I mentioned at the start, BBG meals don’t come cheap, but they do a great job of earning your money. They’ve got both the art and the science of culinary excellence down and are always there to impress. Take someone there if you want to make them happy, because that’s really what BBG does best.

65 Portland St.
207-772-8833

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Remarkable Biddeford eatery succeeds with quality in every detail

The interior is one of the nicest I’ve seen in recent memory. The brick walls…modern, rustic, Brooklynesque, alluring globes of light overhead. Nothing avant-garde, just warm, inviting beauty. First the dining room with a trio of seats at a bar looking into the kitchen (no one was sitting there) and an incredible wet bar in a room off to the side – two tables parallel to it – that give the feeling a day could pass rather quickly if you were sitting there.

Elda made an impression from the second I walked in. From appearance alone, few restaurants could compete with it. But I was curious about the follow up and, seated at a centrally located table, started to get a feel for their menu. The drink list had many bottles of vino and also a fair selection of beer, glasses of wine, and signature cocktails on the opposite side.

Eventually, I chose Ashes & Pears – milagro blanco, mezcal, spiced pear, lime, habenero – as my drink to start. Mrs. Portlandeater kept it light with a soda and lime. The food menu was small and the current date at the top suggested it changed daily. There were four courses with three or four options each. We could either order off the menu per usual or for a flat price of $42, could choose one of every course.

Menus, like food, are subjective in their appeal, but theirs – at face value, anyway – had much to be excited about. More than half the menu was seafood based and everything had a creative, artistic feel to it. My wife and I both decided that the four course meal was the best deal for us and would provide the most opportunity to try a variety of items.

My drink had only a hint of mezcal smoke and the habenero was light too. The pear was more present and made up the bulk of the flavor. It was a mild, smooth cocktail and fit the chill music and the atmosphere all too well. My wife’s soda/lime came with a metal straw, which I found to be a touch of class. Shortly after receiving the drinks, we were presented some sourdough bread with butter and sea salt and a cute wooden butter knife.

We had received a shitake and oyster mushroom broth around the time our drinks arrived and it had finally cooled enough to sip. If you could imagine liquid mushrooms, that was exactly how it tasted. Brilliant, strong flavor and slightly herbed, it was a perfect food liquid and a tasty start to a meal, along with the uncannily delicious sourdough which was some of the best bread I’d ever had.

Her first course was a Black Cod doughnut with preserved lemon, mine Mussels roasted in juniper branches with pickles and toast. The toast was served with seasame aioli on top. The five mussels in a pot on the juniper were accompanied by a small set of wooden tongs. The pickles and toast were on a separate plate. I plucked the meat from the mollusk and placed it on the toast with a few pickles.

With a hint of citrus and lemon, the mussel toast went down beautifully. I love the bivalve and found the concoction tasty, if a bit adventurous. The juniper and pickle pairing was a little out of the ordinary, but that definitely put me in the mood for more of the same. I hoped it was a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the meal to come.

Warm Crab with egg yolk and carrots was the second course for both of us. With a little pile of both the crab and carrots, the dish was mostly covered in what the person delivering the dish called soft-serve egg. The frothy yolk, shaved carrot, and lumps of crab sat in a salty broth pool and presented a pleasant combination of ingredients. The crab was insanely fresh and sweet and the carrot added some solid texture.

After the crab was finished, it was on to main courses. I had ordered the Roasted Chicken with fennel and dandelion and she the Buttermilk Fried Skate with spinach and yogurt. My plate had a fair portion of shaved fennel and a small hill of dandelion. A light covering of herbs and greens sat on top. Her fish came encrusted in batter with a small bowl of greens and what appeared to be a yogurt-based sauce akin to tzatziki.

It didn’t take long for me to realize how beautifully prepared my chicken was. Two pieces of thigh meat were salty seasoned and had the crispiest skin imaginable. The flavor was excellent, the meat was tender, and the non-chicken parts threw in a nice compliment which always kept the focus on the fowl. Avoiding the bones in her dish which were like organ pipes laid down sided by side, I tried the fish which was mild even with the sauce. I enjoyed the delicate flavors and the crunchy outside.

As our final course, I went with New England cheeses with seasonal garnishes and she ordered the Warm Rhubarb and yogurt cake. I actually started with two bites of hers. I find rhubarb to be utterly delicious with just a hint of sweetness, but the rhubarb topping on the sponge cake didn’t even have a hint. It was all tart. Fortunately, I figured out that I was doing it wrong and grabbed a piece with some of the yogurt filling. That made a world of difference and turned the cake into a little bit of magic.

I moved to my cheeses which were accompanied by orange marmalade (with a small wooden serving spoon), pickled apples, and buckwheat crackers. The cheeses – one soft, one hard, and one blue – weren’t my personal favorites, but on the crackers and with some pickled apple and occassionally a dab of marm, they made pretty decent, little open-faced sandwiches. The apples were new to me, but added a mild, sweet tang to each bite.

In the end, our meal came to $102 before tip. Ordering the four courses was the perfect choice and saved us $21 off regular prices. I thought that to be a great deal and also liked that the service was very good, eveen though I hardly ever noticed our server was around. None of the dishes we had were particularly large, but after four each, we were plenty full and that was good reason to be happy as we left. But Elda definitely has a lot more than that going for it.

Elda has a truly inviting, comfortable atmosphere. The food and drink is crafted in a way that makes it more exciting than even most of what I’ve seen a few exits north on I-95 recently. And there’s certainly a touch – maybe more – of genius in the way its presented too. From the little wooden utensils and metal straw, to their incredible bread, they make an impression with every detail. Elda gave us a stunning meal that will bring me back, even if it’s out of the way. And I’ll be sending people to Biddeford now when they need a “good place to go eat”.

140 Main St, Biddeford
207-494-8365

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Italian restaurant comforts but the bill leaves me with questions

It had been a few years since I was last at JP’s Bistro. The busy Woodford St. neighborhood restaurant lives in my memory as having had an insanely long wait for food. I gave it a bit of a pass at that time however, since I assumed they were having an off night and because the waiter back then was relatively attentive during our time there, even while we were sitting hungry without anything to eat. I figured I should go back to give it another try and maybe update my thoughts.

This time, we made reservations for 4 o’clock on a Saturday – right when they opened – because it was all they had available. That was fine. We just wanted to grab some food and spend the night in after a long week. I was fairly certain that our early slot would enable us to avoid pretty much any wait at all that could arise as a result of them being really packed.

We got there and were seated promptly. I took a picture of the specials board – which is larger than the permanent menu – and sat down. It’s actually a necessity to take a pic, because unless you are seated with a view of it, there’s no good way to look at or remember it. I don’t have any problem that and I understand what they are doing, but maybe a print out might be helpful for some.

My wife ordered a drink first – Sables d’Azur Rose – and when that arrived, I requested a draught Hidden Cove Summer Ale. Once we had our libations, she ordered the Small Caesar Salad – homemade dressing served with romaine lettuce garlic croutons and shaved parmesan, sans anchovies. I asked questions about the specials which included items like Chicken Sorrentina, Pork Chop Theresa, and Haddock Casco Bay, eventually deciding to start with Short Rib Ravioli – four pan seared jumbo cheese ravioli topped with braised short rib jus and gorgonzola cheese.

Mrs. Portlandeater went with the main course of Parmesan Crusted Haddock – pan sauteed and served over a bed of sauteed spinach, grape tomatoes and garlic. I found a few of the specials to sound quite appetizing and decided on the Scallop Andrew – topped with crab and crumbs with mushrooms and tomatoes in a wine and butter sauce. We both chose garlic mash over rice pilaf and were told the meals also came with vegetable medly.

Since it wasn’t busy, our apps came out quickly as anticipated right as we finished eating complimentary bread with delicious garlic butter. My starter looked exactly in line with it’s description. If anything struck me about it, it was the generous portion of short rib and gorgonzola on top. Being a newcomer to the world of blue cheese, I was mildly concerned that it might be too much for me, but I was still ready to dig in and try it.

A sip of the jus was a little strong with the blue, but I moved to cut one of the ravioli in half and took that with the rib and cheese all together on my fork. I was impressed. The dual cheese and relatively thick short rib combined with the dough to create excellent textures and flavors. This was a hearty appetizer with plenty of meat and eating it all together was where the gorgonzola had the opportunity to shine. My wife noted that her salad was standard fare, though up to par.

Our remaining food also came out without delay. I liked the look of the meals – colorful with plenty on the plate. Though my scallops were difficult to see since they were covered in crumbs, it seemed like there were enough there. A bite of one on the edge of the plate confirmed a delicious, fresh offering if still a little hot on the mouth. The crumbs and sauce were tasty compliments to the tender scallop.

As I delved further into my plate, I was pleased with the combination of flavors. The mushrooms and tomatoes were dispersed in the perfect proportions, not overpowering the scallops and the crab was so good as a second seafood flavor. It was an item that had all the right ingredients to combine into an well put together dish. The potatoes and vegetables were sound sides.

I finished my food, though my wife couldn’t quite eat all of hers. We both were pleased with the meal and I only half seriously suggested ordering the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. That cake, though it was exactly my style, would have put both of us over the edge of any reasonable fullness. We decided to call it an end to the meal and head out on our way.

Upon receipt of the bill, I noticed a “TW MW Surcharge” of 2% right below the tax line which brought the total to about $86 before tip. A quick search of the internet indicated that some restaurants in other cities – I couldn’t find anything about it in Portland – were using a surcharge by that name, but in varying amounts, to account for the increase in minimum wage.

The additional $1.56 charge was hardly a shock price-wise, but prices should be increased by raising the cost of items on the menu, maybe with a note about wage increases on the menu or reciept if it’s important to the restaurant to make that known. If they must absolutely increase the price with a separate surcharge, it should be clearly stated in some very visible location that all prices are 2% higher than the listed cost so the customer is aware prior to ordering.

Will most people care about a 2% surcharge? Maybe not, but I think surprising people with a cost different that what is clearly printed on the menu will bother some because it feels deceptive even if that is not the intention. JP’s Bistro serves excellent Italian comfort food including all the staples and a fair number of more unusual, but delicious options. However, I think they should reconsider how they charge. The prices are not out of bounds, but should be perfectly clear up front.

JP’s Bistro 496 Woodford St.
207-899-4224

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.