Monthly Archives: November 2016

O’Reilly’s Cure – Scarborough Irish Pub

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The new O’Reilly’s Cure on Rt. 1 in Scarborough is a place I’d been hearing whispers about lately. Opening a little over month ago, some friends had been discussing the idea of going to try it. For a few weeks, that thought stayed in the back of my mind like a barnacle, but since I’m always up for trying an Irish pub, it went on my short list and we finally got there on a Friday for some food and a beverage so I could erase it from the list of local joints I had yet to visit.

A spot in the parking lot was not easy to come by, but we found a space a short walk away and made our way inside. My first impression of the restaurant was that it was quite large. The bar was moderate in size, but the table seating was vast. When we entered, there were only one or two tables available and the place was packed. I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of people with stew in front of them as we were guided to the far end of the room to be seated. Once at our final destination, we took hold of the menus and started to scan for a beverage befitting the evening.

I was looking for something light to drink since it wasn’t going to be a party night. Mrs. Portlandeater quickly decided on a Downeast Cider and I spied the Allagash 16 Counties. I’d never had one and I’m a huge fan of Allagash, so I thought that might be a good selection. We waited a while for the waitress to show up, and when she finally did, we placed our orders. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, I was informed that they were out of the 16 Counties. I had to make a quick decision on a new refreshment and ended up with an Oxbow Cuppolo.

We continued to look at the menu as we debated between Irish inspired dishes. I was thinking app and entree as the wife was considering salads and sandwiches. Within a few minutes, we were ready to order, but it again took a long time for the server’s return. After a pretty lengthy stretch, we got our drinks and were able to put in some food requests. I went with the Mac n’ Cheese Bites with cheese sauce and Guinness Beef Stew – sirloin, potatoes, vegetables, soda biscuit – since so many people seemed to have that. She ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad – garlic, parmesan, olive oil, croutons.

Our drinks were pleasing and we were happy to have them in hand. I observed what was happening around us as we made husband and wife, end-of-week, small talk. The wait staff seemed to be very busy and management was assisting as much as possible. They were definitely trying hard, but appeared to be somewhat shorthanded. Seats were filling as quickly as people were leaving and, just based upon what we were experiencing, it was clear that they were struggling to keep up. As the table next to us was getting up to head out, the waitress returned to let me know that they were out of the Mac n’ Cheese bites. I again made a game-time change and asked for the Pretzel Bites with cheese sauce.

After another lengthy wait, the pretzel bites came out. They were sitting in the cheese sauce in a pan on top of a plate, presumably because the pan was hot. They didn’t look like pretzel, but more like standard rolls; there was no deep brown outer shell or any salt on top. I took a bite and confirmed just that. These were rolls in cheese. It was odd to say the least, but I was hungry and continued eating. My wife confirmed my thoughts, asking “if those are pretzel, shouldn’t they have salt?”

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My app went down the hatch even though it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I was actually working on the last few bites as I saw our meals making their way toward me. I finished and moved to the stew. The soupy beef mixture was visually typical with the standard main components. The broth turned out to be pretty good and the Guinness added a nice twang to it. I’m not sure I have ever had that version of beef stew, but I found it enjoyable. A bite of the soda bread with the accompanying molasses butter turned out to be excellent. I didn’t know it previously, but apparently I really like molasses butter.

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As I worked on my stew I ran into a piece of beef that was all fat. It was unpleasant, but I moved past it and continued pressing forward. Once I was done, I checked in with my table mate who gave me an “it’s alright” regarding her salad. I had to try it to see what was doing. It had plenty of chicken, but one sample immediately gave me the picture. The dressing was weak. The central part of a salad’s flavoring is the dressing, and a Caesar, in particular, has to achieve a certain strength from it. This one looked the part, but fell short.

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With our food done, we asked about dessert, but nothing stood out to us and we asked to settle up. The meal came to 52 bucks before tax and tip. That didn’t sound too bad, but the food, as it appeared on the menu, seemed pricey. My wife’s salad was $16 – the chicken itself was $6. My stew was $15. The portion sizes were large, so that was good, but the initial shock of the prices – Nachos for $18 if ordered with chicken, for example – might turn people away. I didn’t see the nachos, but for that price, I hope they’re enormous.

Aside from the prices, O’Rielly’s Cure has a lot to work on. Though it’s only fair to give them a bit of a pass since they’re so new, they’ll have to make some adjustments soon. Running out of a beer and an app wasn’t that crazy, but those were two items out of a total of three I tried to order, so I wonder how many more they were out of. Also, the wait staff should be aware if they’re out in order to minimize delays. More concerning is that their food leaves something to be desired. The pretzel bites simply weren’t that at all and the Caesar dressing needed a complete rework. The stew was good, and I probably could get past my fatty piece of beef had everything else delivered, but that just wasn’t the case. The service was fine once I received my app, but unfortunately, it took a long time to get to that point. O’Rielly’s Cure is, as the restaurant claims, “Food, Drink, and Social Remedy”, but I think they’ll need to improve in all areas before I agree. I hope they do. Rt. 1 needs a good restaurant, but there’s work to be done before they get there.

Stay hungry.

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The New Single Malt Whiskey – Book Review

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I don’t normally review books, but I’ll definitely make an exception when one of my whiskey/distillery reviews is included within its pages as it is with The New Single Malt Whiskey. What makes the book even more special is that it’s an extraordinary compilation of some of the most and best whiskey information ever included in print. At over 600 pages, the tome packs in tons of generalized whiskey intelligence and even more bottle and distillery reviews. With the lowdown on whiskey from all over the world, it’s also nice that the publisher – Cider Mill Press – is located right here in Maine.

“So what knowledge will this book dispense upon me?” you ask. The book includes articles from many writers, starting with a number of them focused on how whiskey is made and how to drink it. The following portion dives into a handful of interesting cocktail recipes. From there, readers are taken to the meat of the book to focus on reviews, tasting notes, and information on specific bottles and distilleries from 27 countries. Interwoven throughout are special sections which bring the reader a detailed who’s who and what’s what of the whiskey stratosphere.

If you’re looking for a whiskey book that covers all the bases, this is it for sure. I’m delving deeply into it now and already know the difference between “whiskey” and “whisky”, learned that Catholic Guilt is also a cocktail, and discovered the next three bottles I absolutely must try. In case that’s not enough of a reason to buy, I wrote the entirety of page 548, which may or may not be the best page of them all. It’s available on Amazon and likely at other merchants too. Check it out for yourself, buy it as a holiday gift for the whiskey lover you know, and enjoy feeling smarter the next time you sip a bottle of single malt. Ahhh…whiskey.

Stay thirsty.

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 now also find me at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Mash Tun – A Beer List as Long as the Bar

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According to the Google, a mash tun is a vessel used in the mashing process to convert the starches in crushed grains into sugars for fermentation. It’s also a popular spot on Wharf St. in Portland. After a walk down brick and cobblestone paths, we made it to the not-very-old bar/restaurant in the hopes of grabbing some food and drink. I hadn’t done much research about the place, but I did see some pictures which gave me the impression it might be one I’d enjoy.

Indoor and out door signs told potential patrons walking by that the locale had a significant selection of beer and cocktails available. That seemed like enough of a reason to go in, but just in case it wasn’t, the outdoor A-frame also commanded passersby to “Get In Here”. I did just that and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The lengthy room sported a bar from beginning to end and two or three three large tables. It was busy and the lively crowd seemed to gel well with the cozy atmosphere.

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We hardly had time to sit at two seats at the far end of the bar before we were given menus and asked what we wanted to drink. We weren’t quite ready yet, but our confirmation that we were going to eat prompted the Drew Carey lookalike bartender with a name tag of “The Price is Right – Drew Carey” to provide us with the evening’s two specials. He also pointed to the entrance and said to help ourselves to the spring water and orange Pellegrino over there.

There was a chalkboard at the far end of the room where we were sitting which listed an inordinate number of beers – most on tap and a few in bottles. Most of them were local with a small handful from outside of Maine and even less from outside the country. With about 30 to choose from, I was looking for something from a Maine brewery I hadn’t yet tried. There were plenty of beers I hadn’t had, but unfortunately there were no breweries that were new to me. That was okay, but it turned my attention to the cocktail list where I found The Uncle Pete – vodka, prosecco, oj. In honor of my nieces, I decided to get that. My wife ordered a Dark and Stormy which happened to be a perfect description of the weather that night.

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It didn’t seem like many patrons were eating, but I certainly still was and began looking at the food choices. It was a simple menu with 10 items which seemed like it would make for an easy decision, but I dilly-dallied, taking my time to decide as my wife started aggressively telling me what I should have. Finally, with a little help from Mrs. Portlandeater, I made my decision. I ordered the Grass Fed Burger which the menu indicated was cooked to medium. I also requested the Cheese Plate – Dubliner Cheddar Cheese, honey dijon, chef’s seasonal jam, and warm French bread. She went with the Mesquite Chicken Sandwich – mesquite rub chicken breast on a ciabatta roll with Dubliner cheese and pickled onions – and an order of Parmesan Ranch Fries.

A different bartender than the one who took our orders brought us our libations. As has happened before when I requested drinks which seem a little on the feminine side, the bartender served mine to my wife and hers to me. A quick switcheroo led me to a sip of the mimosa with vodka which, expectedly, tasted like the breakfast cocktail. We both drank a bit and watched as our food was made in the mini kitchen behind the bar by a cook who seemed to be – figuratively – on fire. With a grass fed burger here and a mesquite chicken sandwich there, he went to town with feisty, back-bar cookery.

Our food came out once it was all ready. My burger came with pickled onions, tomato, and a couple long, thin slices of pickle on the side which I just threw on top. The cheese plate had bacon bourbon jam, a pile of fresh parsley, and grilled, sliced ciabatta instead of freedom bread in addition to the cheese and mustard.  My wife’s chicken was as described and her fries were topped with an insane amount of parmesan which was perfect for the cheese lover in me.

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I was considering putting some ketchup on the burger, but figured I’d try it without first. It was delicious with high-quality, simply seasoned beef and a nice veggie combination. I was shocked at how good it was without condiments. A couple bites of that led me over to the cheese plate. I took the bread and tried the jam with it. It was mild, but tasty. The addition of the cheese made it even better, and a smattering of the honey dijon made for an excellent open-faced cheese sandwich.

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As I worked my way into the food, I realized that I had more cheese than I needed for my bread. I took a couple pieces and shoved them into my burger. It made for a fine variation of the yummy sandwich. I also made time to work on the fries which went down easily and cheesily, though they seemed to be without any ranch seasoning. I ate some of those with ketchup and also forked some to get extra grated parm with them. All together, the food turned out to be a sizable meal. My wife finished with her sandwich and I finished the last remaining bites. It was a typical mesquite chicken and the cheese and onions worked it over nicely.

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My wife ordered a glass of Prosecco as I scooped up the last bites of grated parm from the fries and finished my drink. It had been a good meal, but what really stood out was how well everything there worked so well together – the neighborhood atmosphere and supremely awesome beer list, the grand bar and excellent service, the simple, but solid food. And their location doesn’t hurt. It seems like great place to warm up in the winter and a perfect place to have a beer pretty much any time. With no food over $10 and most drinks under that too, they won’t ask for all your cash. Our meal came to $48 before tax and tip and it was well worth it. I think Portland has another place that will be around for a while. I’m certain plenty of locals have already been there, but they’re sure to be a favorite of locals and tourists alike for a long time to come.

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 now also find me at pppe.bangordailynews.com.