The Corner Room, I’m Back, and I’m a New Man

2013-06-16 11.17.20

It’s been a busy couple of months away as Peterpeterportlandeater Enterprises shut down and took some time off to relocate specifically so the team could bring you more Portland culinary quirkiness. It was a lot of work, but while prepping for a physical move, I was always contemplating my next food move. So like the crazy uncle you didn’t realize was missing, I’m back to drop some knowledge on you food-style.

We decided to visit The Corner Room Italian Kitchen and Bar – affectionately known as The Corner Room to those who like to be able to say their restaurants in one breath. Owned by chef/restaurateur Harding Lee Smith, The Corner Room is one of three sister restaurants along with The Front Room and The Grill Room. Also opening this month, if it hasn’t already, is a new seafood “room” on Custom House Wharf – the fourth member of the family.

Looking for brunch on a Sunday morning, we visited the Exchange and Federal St. location when there wasn’t too much of a crowd, though the Old Port was starting to pick up pace. After a friendly greeting from a couple of employees at the front of the house, we stated that we had reservations and were promptly seated. We had a minute or two to observe the beautiful woodwork in the restaurant and were delivered our menus.

The main menu provided a solid combination of breakfast and lunch items including apps, breakfast plates, pizza, pasta, and paninis and a separate sheet gave a bunch of meat and cheese selections. We also got a brunch drink menu, but we weren’t planning on drinking on this Sunday morning. After a moment of looking at our menus, the waitress came back and asked if we would be interested in hearing the specials. We were and she read them to us. There were more specials than I’ve ever heard at a restaurant. I like specials, but it was almost hard to keep track of. Nonetheless, I planned on ordering off the menu after I heard them as none peaked my interest.

I was dead set on ordering breakfast, but the meats and cheeses made me rethink the possibilities. We started with some orange juice and my wife had a coffee. While we sipped our beverages, we ran up and down the list of foods, unable to finalize our selections before the waitress returned for our food orders. Upon a second return to our table by the waitress and bunch of inner turmoil, we decided on some items. My wife asked for the Fruit and Yogurt along with the sweetbread special of the day. I chose the Antipasti Platter as a solution to my sudden meat and cheese craving and opted for the Breezy Hill Farm Pork Hash as the breakfast portion of my meal. The waitress asked for my toast order which she said came with the hash. Moments after ordering sourdough, she returned to tell me it didn’t come with the meal. I decided against the toast order as I had already ordered a lot of food.

When the waitress left, I began contemplating the meaning of life. I had just ordered an $18 starter plate and a $12 meal, none of which my wife would eat. An orange juice would put me over $30 for brunch all for the writing of a blog entry which would generate less revenue than a Stone Age electronica DJ playing a mountainside cave. Then I said to myself “what the hell, it’s really two meals anyway. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called brunch”

Our first foods – the fruit platter and my antipasti – came out at the same time. My wife had asked for both her items together, but the sweetbread took a little longer. Both looked great. She liked hers and I was intrigued by mine. There were a lot of items on my plate which I should have expected for the price, but there even appeared to be some that were hidden below others. There were about three meats, three cheeses, three vegetables, and a couple pieces of crunchy bread. I’m pretty sure it included prosciutto, salami, roasted peppers, olives – at least 3 types, and maybe Gouda, cheddar, both, or neither. There were others, but the waitress wasn’t sure what they all were, and quite frankly, neither was I even after eating them.

It didn’t come as a shock that the antipasti platter was absolutely outstanding and definitely a “man food”. I was very pleased with the selection of foods on the plate as I am a big fan of variety. Every individual item was very tasty. The only minor critique would have been that it didn’t have enough bread as I liked making a tiny open-faced sandwich on them with a meat, cheese, and veggie.

Mrs. Portlandeater’s sweetbread came to the table and was finished it before my hash showed up. I really like trying different types of hash around town which is why I ordered it, but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the rest of the plate which included polenta and poached eggs along with some parmesan cheese. I could have ordered just a side of the hash, but that seemed like disservice to my loyal readers.

My hash arrived in a bowl, and truth be told, there’s something special about eating from a bowl. Everything can be eaten from a bowl – donuts, soup, pasta, or even cake. There’s less chance of a spill and it’s tougher for people to reach over and grab something from your bowl with their grubby, little hands. So we started off on the right foot.

The hash was excellent – circular like it had been cooked in an egg ring and crispy as I like it. The poached eggs weren’t all bad considering I normally don’t eat poached eggs. The polenta seemed fine, though again, I’m not a polenta eater normally. I’d say if you were a polenta and poached egg eater that the plate would be an excellent choice. My wife and I were happy and full. The meal came to just over $50. It was a seriously pricey breakfast, but a strong offering from the Corner Room and the least I could give my readers upon my return. If you go for brunch, save up your sheckles and get the antipasti. Oh, and tell ’em Peterpeterportlandeater sent ya.

I’m back, baby. Life is good, the Maine summer is upon us, and there’s no place I’d rather be eating than Portland.

Stay Hungry.

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or feel free to post your thoughts below.

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