I hadn’t heard much about The Snow Squall in South Portland until I went there in the spring for a large birthday gathering. I wanted to go back again to get a second look at their goods, so I could give a review where I wasn’t distracted by hoards of people in full party mode. On that note, we decided to grab an early dinner on a gloomy Saturday where the weather spent the entire day making us sleepy and lethargic. It was going to be a relaxed meal before crashing for the night.
When we arrived it was raining hard and the restaurant wasn’t overly busy. The lower tier bar to the right was empty, but there was a solid crowd at the entry level bar. We made a quick decision to pull up to a couple seats at the lower bar and were promptly greeted by the bartender and given water and menus. The bartender also pointed out three specials chalkboards – standard food, dessert, and drinks. We lazily look our time sorting through the drink menus and glancing at the food, but the specials were a little difficult to read from our seats and with the lighting in the room.
Our drink orders were taken; we both wanted the South Port Margarita – Espolon Tequila and Grand Marnier, mixed with agave nectar, and fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice, chilled and served straight up with a salted rim. I took mine without salt. Fortunately, the bartender noticed we were struggling a bit with the specials and gave us a hand written paper copy to look at. That made our search for yummies a little easier, though I didn’t see anything I thought I would be eating that night. My wife, on the other hand, was considering something from that list.
The margaritas came to us without much delay and then the bartender disappeared while we were still looking at the menus. Soon we were ready to order, but there was no service staff in sight. Another couple sat at the bar a few minutes later and a new bartender/waitress came behind the bar and started serving them. It was a bit odd considering we hadn’t been asked for our orders yet. After a somewhat significant wait, the original bartender came back, chatted with her teammate, and realized that we hadn’t been served. We received a sincere apology and placed our orders.
The margs were pretty tasty – strong with plenty of delicious citrus. Sipping those killed some time before the food was ready. As we waited, the restaurant started to fill which was a little surprising to me considering the terrible weather. In addition to watching the crowd make their way in, we also listened to the singer/guitarist sitting by the entrance and playing a variety of relatively pleasant music appropriate for some casual dining and fun. As additional customers started to sit beside us at the bar, the first bit of our food made it’s way out to us and we were ready to get started.
Eight “Yummy” Dumplings – vegetable potstickers – sat in front of us. Though the menu indicated that they were served with a wasabi mustard dipping sauce, it was actually ginger soy we received. Nonetheless, I tried one, cutting it in half and trying it without sauce. It was very crispy, which was good. The base of the filling was broccoli which was also good as that’s definitely one of my favorite veggies. I was pleased, but I wanted sauce on the rest of it, so I took the other half, dipped it in plenty of sauce, and consumed it. It was excellent and the sauce was a pretty standard dumpling dip. I tend to prefer the texture of dumplings when they’re steamed, but these were good since they were deep fried to a full crispness and not pan fried.
Once the dumplings were done, we had a brief intermission before the rest of the food came to us. I had ordered the Blackened Chicken Quesadilla – stuffed with sauteed onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and melted cheddar jack, finished with a sriracha lime crema. I took the onion rings instead of fries. She went with the Fish and Chips special. My meal came with sour cream, salsa, and ketchup and she had some tartar sauce and ketchup.
An onion ring was my starting point and it was a good, crispy circle. I ate a couple more with some ketchup and took a break from those to battle the quesadilla. I took a couple bites and was a little disappointed. I was looking forward to the Cajun spiced chicken adding some heavy flavor to the folded tortilla, but instead, it was barely there. Only a hint of the seasoning stood out and the veggies and cheese didn’t make up for it. The crema was actually pretty good, but again, it wasn’t a substitute for the lacking chicken base.
Despite my quesadilla letdown, I worked on it until it was gone. Once I was finished, I went to my wife’s food, first starting with the fries. They were clearly fresh and quite tasty, but some were a tad soggy. Grabbing some fish, I ate a piece of that. It was obviously fresh too, and the fish itself was cooked thoroughly, but unfortunately, it was way undercrisped with the breading soft and underdone, nearly falling off. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for in an order of fish and chips.
Once the food was gone, we passed on dessert and paid our tab which came to 76 bucks after tip. We weren’t thrilled by the meal, with both of our main courses leaving something to be desired. It was a little bit of a surprise as my previous visit resulted in trying the nachos and a burger, both of which I felt were better than our meal this time. Their drinks were solid both times I’ve been, but the food is inconsistent, it seems. It all seemed freshly made and high quality, but the lack of seasoning and undercooking fried food are flaws that really took away from the meal experience we were looking for. I’m sure I’ll go back eventually, but it will probably be primarily for beverages.
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