Monthly Archives: December 2016

Peter Peter Portland Eater’s Eating Portland, ME Awards 2016

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“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Julia Child

Food is a wacky thing. For many – maybe even most – it is an emotional experience. Enjoying a bit of fine dining can bring those people, like myself, memories that will last practically forever and cause us to salivate at the thought of that great spread the fancy restaurant provided for us. But those same people can get a somewhat similar feeling just by going to visit their mom and eating one of her famous – in her house only – fluffernutter sandwiches on white bread for a miniscule fraction of the cost. What is it that makes our sense of taste so conjoined with our emotion despite the scenario? I’m sure someone much smarter knows, but I don’t, and I’m not sure it matters.

Our heartfelt relationship with food is natural, but I think many Mainers, and more specifically Portlanders, also have developed that association with their surroundings. Being in a food mecca and near the ocean where lots of food is produced, adds a different element to just eating good food. It takes it up another notch. Sit outside in the summer at one of the waterfront restaurants we have in Portland and throughout Maine and you’ll instantly feel a sense of peace and serenity that is hard to match. Listen to the waves, enjoy the sun, sip that cocktail or local beer, and chow down on the shimp cocktail recently harvested from the waters in your line of sight.

So what has happened this year in the Portland food scene that’s worth mentioning? Fortunately, more of the same. Breweries, distilleries, wineries, restaurants, and food related business popped up all over the place. More food trucks. More innovation. More Portland food and drink on tv. More of everything good. Of course, there were some closings too, but on the whole, there was lots and lots of the good stuff we’re used to. And 2017 has plenty in store as food entrepreneurs continue to see Portland as the place to be. Who can blame them? We sure do love our food.

That brings us to a review of the best of what happened in 2016. There was no shortage of exciting food happenings and I’m here to tell you exactly what I felt was the tops among them. Use this as a reference to make a list of the next several places you should go eat. I’ve kept the same categories as always and I’ve used similar judging criteria focusing on food, service, atmosphere, value, and how the restaurant compared to others in it’s genre. I’ll reiterate similar sentiments as last year when I state that it’s seems new restaurants are having difficulty providing customers with exceptional value which has little in my mind to do with price and more about overall feeling after the meal is done. I don’t mind paying a high price for a meal that is captivating and of exceptional quality, but if I leave shrugging my shoulders, they simply haven’t hit the mark.

In addition to the judging criteria above, I’m focusing only on restaurants I’ve reviewed on this blog in the past year which means no winners will come from my BDN blog since those are mostly re-reviews to this point. If you haven’t checked out that blog, find it at pppe.bangordailynews.com. Thanks so much for continuing to support me in this food blogging endeavor and please continue to like, share, follow, comment, and subscribe. I very much appreciate your support and look forward to providing lots more food related content for your viewing pleasure. Now let’s get this party started!

Restaurant of the Year – Hot Suppa

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/09/25/hot-suppa-portland-south/

My restaurant of the year for 2016 is Hot Suppa. Not exactly an obvious choice and not without some serious competition, they edged out my other choices by a narrow margin. I went there expecting a decent meal, but Hot Suppa was so insanely good, so decidedly flavorful, and just spot on in every way that after I left I had to figure out if my time there was a dream or reality. There’s a reason what they’re always busy and I’m thrilled I figured it out this year on my first ever visit.

If I have any regrets about my stint at Hot Suppa, it’s that I only got to try a few items. But with large portion sizes, I ate all I could handle at a very reasonable price. I started with the deviled eggs which were very good and the meal only went up from there. Their fried chicken won me over with the first spicy/sweet, tender bite, their award winning mac and cheese was practically the definition of comfort food done to perfection, and the cornbread was like nothing I ever had. When I finished off the warm chocolate bread pudding with bourbon butter sauce, I knew I had experienced something special.

I think Hot Suppa needs more noise made about it and I’m making it here. I absolutely can not wait to get there again and attack more of their sensational southern sustenance. Just as impressive as what I ate was their spectacular menu. Diverse, with lots of really stellar options, I was more than certain I could go there a number of times and always order something different without running into any food I didn’t like. Hot Suppa surprised me like few restaurants have, but that’s the kind of surprise I could deal with every day and that’s why they’re my restaurant of the year.

Honorable Mention – Isa

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/01/18/isa-they-do-it/

In the beginning of the year, I was lucky to visit Isa. The bistro interior was pleasant, but what makes it my ROTY runner up was its highly laudable food. The escargot, cabbage salad, and potato gratin were worthy of my highest praise and I haven’t forgotten about that meal since. The cabbage salad itself was certainly one of the best salads I ever had. Isa makes magic an an atmosphere that just feels right. I’ve sent a number of people there throughout the year and haven’t heard any disappointment yet.

Best Ethnic Food – Rossobianco

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/19/rossobianco-portland-just-got-a-little-more-italian/

Rossobianco is temporarily closed, but that doesn’t change anything, because the Northern Italian restaurant deserves a heaping helping of praise regardless of their current status. From their truly amazing appetizer – more on that later – to their stunning pasta, they hit the mark. I’m not the biggest Italian restaurant fan, but they made me a believer, mostly leaving behind the tomato dishes and focusing more on cream – that’s the northern part of them. When they reopen, expect the menu to change, but let’s hope they keep the same flavor concepts, because if there’s one thing that stood out, it was the way they created intense, bold cuisine with what could have otherwise been just “meh”.

Honorable Mention – Vignola Cinque Terre

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/25/vignola-cinque-terre-one-of-portlands-original-italian-stallions/

Vignola provided a nice meal and though I didn’t order anything too crazy, I was impressed with what I did have. The tuna stuffed cherry pepper app was a first for me and was not only unique, but delicious and maybe even on the healthier side. Their pepperoni pizza was more exciting than a standard version of the spicy meat pie which was a bonus. Most importantly, they left me wanting more as their cheese and charcuterie options, which I didn’t end up ordering that night, put a bug in my head for the next time I went.

Best New Restaurant – Big J’s Chicken Shack

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/29/%E2%80%8Bthe-thompsons-point-quadrumvirate-stroudwater-distillery-bissell-brothers-brewery-cellar-door-winery-and-big-js-chicken-shack/

It must have been the year for fried chicken, because this is the second winner with a fried chicken meal. A trip to Thompson’s Point led us to Big J’s Chicken Shack just four days after they opened their doors and it was well worth it. The food was delicious from start to finish, and the chicken was crispy and full of flavor. Whether you order Portland hot or Nashville hot, you’re in for a treat because both are spiced right depending upon your tolerance for heat. Their sides are also winners with waffle fries, mac and cheese, and the brussels and kohlrabi slaw acting as standout accompaniments.

Honorable Mention – Mash Tun

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/11/06/mash-tun-a-beer-list-as-long-as-the-bar/

Mash Tun has added itself to the list of places I’d almost go for the atmosphere alone. The good news is that the atmosphere is just the first awesome part of the place. Add in maybe the best burger under $10 – It’s only $6! What? – in all of Portland, a phenomenal beer list, excellent drinks, a cheese plate that is way better than it looks, and a total mish mosh of customers and you’ve got a place that takes cool to Arctic proportions. If all that isn’t enough to get you there, I’ll throw this in – they’ve got a wicked long bar and a Drew Carey lookalike bartender. Now I dare you not to go.

Best Upscale Restaurant – Northern Union

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/06/29/%e2%80%8bnorthern-union-ogunquit-food-and-wine-in-the-summertime/

My wife decided that a visit to Northern Union in Ogunquit for our anniversary would be fun. After all was said and done, I couldn’t have agreed more. Starting with a complimentary glass of awesome prosecco was only the beginning. We chose to sample lots of small plates and ended with the sharing of a brilliantly executed lobster tagliatelle. Everything was first rate. Though we don’t get to southern Maine too often to eat, our trip to Northern Union prompted us to get there a few more times this year than most, because they showed us that that part of the state obviously has some great food to offer.

Honorable Mention – Back Bay Grill

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/05/11/back-bay-grill-the-grand-re-review/

Back Bay Grill really rolls out the red carpet for it’s customers and that was exactly how it felt when I went earlier in the year. The service was perfect and whether someone was there with their wife like myself or with a bachelorette party like the table next to us, it didn’t change the way anyone was treated. Of course, the real draw at the eatery is the food and there was nothing that wasn’t extraordinary. I can honestly say that they fed me one of the best bone-in chicken dishes I had ever tasted. And their apps and dessert weren’t far behind.

Best Eats on the Cheap – 3 Buoys

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/05/04/3-buoys-baba-buoy-baba-buoy-baba-buoy/

I criticized 3 Buoys about a couple of minor issues I had with them when I went and it hardly matters. They were awesome. Their portion sizes are so enormous for the price and their seafood so fresh that I’m not sure anything else makes a difference. If you want fish and don’t care if you’re staring at the ocean while you’re eating it, they are a great – and I mean great – place to go. We had the scallops and haddock and both were slightly bigger than a Smart Car so you definitely won’t ever leave hungry. Sure, you’ll need to sprinkle a little salt on the food, but I promise you won’t mind.

Honorable Mention – Rosie’s

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/10/11/rosies-still-what-it-used-to-be/

It’s hard to find fault with Rosie’s. The popular dive serves food and drinks that are within reach even if your wallet is on the thin side. Their bar food menu has plenty of options and their beer selection is better than it needs to be. Order nachos, wings, a burger, or whatever and a beer that costs less than anywhere else around Portland and you’re guaranteed to be happy. It can get a bit crowded and crazy, but if you’re going, you probably already know that. My only word of advice is to be careful of the patrons playing darts, because regardless of how little you spend there, it’s not worth it if it comes with a hole in your head.

Best Appetizer – Rossobianco

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/19/rossobianco-portland-just-got-a-little-more-italian/

I’ve never had the same restaurant be a winner of two categories, but Rossobianco’s Arancini con Funghi was So. Crazy. Good. that I must give them their just deserts for that app. The crusty ball of mushroom risotto sitting in a cheese puddle was decidedly the best app out of many that I had all year. If you go to Rossobianco when they reopen and they don’t still have it on the menu, demand they bring it back, because it’s just that good. In fact, even if you have reservations somewhere else, go there first, have a glass of wine, and order one of those.

Honorable Mention – Woodford F+B

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/04/27/woodford-food-beverage-upscale-diner-for-dinner/

Woodford F+B’s classic deviled eggs are truly classic. They keep the traditional flavor and other than adding a sprinkle of bacon, they’re pretty similar to what I grew up eating on holidays and at family gatherings. Why are they so good? Because Woodford makes them perfectly. With pickled mustard seed and a paprika base on the plate, these are flawless and keep that great zing for which the evil eggs are known. Sure, pretty much everything at the restaurant is awesome, but the deviled eggs are to die for.

Best Place to Grab a Drink/Beer/Wine and Chill Out – Thompson’s Point

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/29/%E2%80%8Bthe-thompsons-point-quadrumvirate-stroudwater-distillery-bissell-brothers-brewery-cellar-door-winery-and-big-js-chicken-shack/

Not a single restaurant, but what has become a destination, Thompson’s Point is where it’s at for hanging out with drinks. It doesn’t matter if you want beer, wine, or liquor, because they’ve got you covered with Stroudwater Distillery, Bissell Brothers Brewery, and Cellar Door Winery. They’ve all got something great for their visitors and when you’re ready for some food, just ring up Big J’s – my best new restaurant – to fill your belly. And one last thing – the cherry bomb at Stroudwater is one of the better drinks in the city.

Honorable Mention – LFK

https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/12/18/lfk-dark-bar-on-a-stormy-night/

I went to LFK on a dark, dreary night and felt like I was in exactly the perfect spot. Their dark bar and strong drinks are where you need to be if you just broke up with your significant other and want to have a drink alone or if you want to get away from winter. They also work well for big parties since all their tables are large. I wasn’t thrilled with their mac and cheese, but if you go, pony up 10 bucks for the burger which is well worth it. Though their menu is small, they have some other really good options too.

And that’s the awards for this year. Go to all of these restaurants soon if you know what’s good for you. Stay tuned in 2017 as I bring you lots more to chew on. Have a great year and wherever you go, whatever you do, tell ’em Peterpeterportlandeater sent you.

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.

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Espo’s Trattoria – Traditional Italian

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Espo’s once had a handful of locations, but now has only one on the “other” end of Congress St. They’re known for pretty traditional Italian Food – a “trattoria” by definition is an Italian restaurant serving simple food according to Google – in addition to large portions and an abnormally large meatball. I wouldn’t say I go there a lot, but when the mood hits me for regular ol’ Italian, it seems to be a decent choice. I’ve been there a number of times and they tend to be consistent with their product.

We hadn’t planned to go out to eat, but a last minute mood led us out find some food away from home on a Wednesday night. Upon arrival, the decor and overall atmosphere was as I remembered and reminded me of old school Italian restaurants. There was a modest crowd and a thick calmness throughout the room. It wasn’t dark, but felt a little dim in a way that seemed appropriate. We were taken to a table and I sat, but I either had hot air blowing in my face or on the back of my head depending on which side of the table I was on and neither was remotely pleasant, even on a really cold evening.

When the waitress came to give us waters, we immediately told her we needed a solution to the hot air blowing on us and she adjusted the vent which instantly fixed the issue. That was a welcome improvement and we were then able to fixate on the menu. I was thinking of getting an app, hopefully to share with my wife, and also an entree of some sort. To start, I was interested in the Fried Mozzarella or Basked Stuffed Mushrooms, but after some discussion with Mrs. Portlandeater, decided against an app altogether. The entree I ordered would certainly be large and anything beyond that would simply be too much.

While looking for the right entree, we got some bread with cheesy, herby olive oil which was mixed in front of us. I took a piece so I would have enough energy to choose a meal. It was sliced thickly and super dense and heavy. The oil had plenty of grated parm in it and I felt it quite a delicious pairing with the excellent bread. After a couple bites, I narrowed down my meal options to either Chicken Parmegiana or Meat Lasagna. My wife decided on Eggplant Parmesan – layered freshly fried eggplant baked with marinara and cheese served with choice of pasta and served with a salad. She chose linguine as her pasta. Because of her choice, I went with the Meat Lasagna – homemade cheese lasagna with sausage, pepperoni, and ground sirloin served with a garden salad. We both chose the house made Italian dressing.

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Our salads came out quite quickly. They weren’t anything fancy, just a simple veg mix with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and purple cabbage. I always feel a salad is required with a decent Italian meal and enjoyed mine with the dressing. Once that was done, I ate more of the bread and we waited a bit for our food. When it came, it was no surprise. The portions were massive. I accepted some fresh shredded parm on my lasagna, took a couple deep breaths, and got to work.

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My first bite of lasagna was huge as I tried to get a little bit of everything on my fork. I appreciated the extra cheese on top and the sauce was very tasty, but what really got my attention was the three meat madness in the Italian staple. The spicy sausage and pepperoni and glorious ground sirloin made for a superb pasta palate presentation. In my opinion, lasagna is always best with at least two meats, and three was a big plus. Outside of the triple meat, the lasagna was mostly the standard version, but I presumed it would be.

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My wife loved her eggplant and there was much more of both her parm and pasta than she could eat in a single sitting. She worked until totally full and so did I, though I was able to finish it all. We had the rest of hers boxed to take home which was plenty for another meal. At $18 for my food and $13 for hers, the meal was affordable. I wasn’t looking for a big mid-week spending spree at a restaurant and they delivered exactly what I needed without breaking the bank.

In addition to Espo’s reasonable prices and monster portions, the food is really good. It’s not extraordinarily inventive, but it doesn’t need to be. They serve up traditional Italian with high quality ingredients. They also have a nice drink list, and though I didn’t take advantage of it this time, I have in the past. They did have a number of interesting winter cocktails available when I was there. I’ve been to Espo’s quite a few times, and while I only ordered one item – a very rare occurrence for me – I can vouch for many on the menu. Try the fried mozz, meatballs, chicken parm, or any of their great traditional Italian food. You be well fed and then some.

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.

LFK – Dark Bar on a Stormy Night

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I’d been wanting to hit LFK on State St. since they opened in 2012. For whatever reason, I just never got there until recently. Word on the street was that they served up a pretty good burger and had a decent beer list, but I wasn’t aware of much else going on with them. We went there on a rainy night hoping for a little grub and grog to get us out of our ugly weather funk and arrived shortly after they opened so we could catch a movie afterward.

There were a few people at the bar when we went in, but they were otherwise empty. The tables were all larger and there were five or so of them. The bar was dark with mellow music playing. I was hoping for something a little more upbeat considering the depressing scene from which we had just come in. We grabbed a couple seats at the bar and the bartender handed us menus a couple moments later. One of the menus had a drawing of Danny Devito on the front and the other one was Danny Devito-free.

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As I looked through the menu, my significant other notified me that she was still full from her lunch a few hours before and was just going to order a drink. That was lucky for me, because we had agreed that I was going to pay for dinner. As I reveled in that exciting news, I looked at my food and drink options, with a drink I had seen during a previous glance at their online menu catching my eye. It was the Oaxaca Old Fashioned – mezcal, tequila, mole and hellfire bitters, simple, grapefruit twist. That sounded mighty strong and particularly interesting, so I ordered it while my wife went with a Citizen Cider.

The bartender made up our drinks and delivered them at about the same time the music changed to something more exciting. I mentioned the music change to my wife and the bartender heard, responding that he was still recovering from the day before and wanted to start with some chill tunes. I understood, but was happy there was now music I could nod my head to. As I did an in-chair dance, I took a sip of my cocktail. Woah! The drink was everything it appeared to be – a smoky, tequila siren. Not for those with a weak heart, the drink was ultra strong, just a bit sweet, and hit me like an anvil over the head.

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Drink sipping and head bobbing, I got to menu scouring. The food menu was small with only ten items available, though for the size, they seemed to have a pretty good selection with plenty of vegetarian options for those living a meatless life. There were apps, soups, salads, burgers, meatloaf, and pasta. I wanted something with beef and probably a side. I saw the Deviled Eggs on the bottom of the menu and put those at the top of my list. The satanized spawn is one of my all time favorites, so I had to give it strong consideration, but I saw a couple other items which also interested me.

When the bartender asked what I wanted for food, I first chose the Burger – organic ground beef, garlic aioli, mixed greens on a pretzel roll. Through the menu didn’t offer it, he gave me the option of cheese and I took Swiss. Then I put aside the eggs I had previously deemed worthy of my selection in favor of the Mac and Cheese – bleu cheese bechamel, cavatappi pasta. It was a toss up, but in the end, I favored the mac because of the bleu cheese bechamel which I thought would be good to try.

I waited for my food, enveloped the relative darkness of the bar. The burger and mac came out in due time and I took a good look at my meal under the flashlight from my phone. Nothing seemed too far out of the ordinary. The burger wasn’t particularly wide, but it was stacked high with tomato, onion, and the other added goodies noted on the menu. The mac and cheese was in a small bowl and topped with crumbs. I turned down ketchup and mustard for the burger both times it was offered to me, and instead looked forward to trying it as it came with the aioli as the only condiment.

My excitement about the meal in front of me was a little more than I usually experience for the traditional ground beef and bun sandwich. It wasn’t because of the burger’s reputation, but just because I was pretty jazzed about eating a pretzel roll. I know pretzel rolls are big these days, but I couldn’t remember the last time I had one even though I do enjoy them. I grabbed the buns, squeezed it all into a mouth-high mound, and shoved it into the largest hole in my head. Quickly realizing I made a mistake, I took it out of my ear and tried my mouth. That was better and I got a full taste of the burger. The beef was great, the veggies always work well, and the pretzel roll was as good as I envisioned when I ordered it. The aioli was a little light, but quite tasty. The Swiss was a good choice on my part, though I’m sure the other options would have been fine too.

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About half my burger was done before I gave any thought whatsoever to the mac. Once I did consider taking a bite, it was on. I forked a couple pieces of the cavatappi which had both some sauce and crumbs. The pasta was perfectly al dente which was good, but it didn’t leave me wanting more. I figured it deserved another try. I took another morsel, digging into the bottom of the bowl to see if I could get more cheese sauce on the corkscrews. I did just that, but found the same result. The cheese just didn’t have the potency I was looking for. I could taste the blue cheese a little, but there was nothing more to it than that. It was good that the blue cheese wasn’t overpowering, but the bachamel base needed a heavier flavor.

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I finished my food and drink and got ready to head out. After tax and tip, the meal came to $42. That seemed about right. I really liked LFK overall. The burger was very good and my drink was too. I wasn’t thrilled with the mac and cheese, but next time I will definitely try the eggs instead. The atmosphere is pretty cool, especially for a dreary night hideaway or a winter weather escape. It’s a little more dark and brooding than I expected, but that seems to be a large part of its allure. I think it’s definitely worth a visit, just don’t expect to see your food well unless you literally shine a light on it.

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.

Veranda Noodle House – Pho Sho!

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Veranda Noodle House opened about a year ago on Commercial St. as the third in a series of “Veranda” restaurants from the same owners. In a search for someplace new to eat, my wife mentioned them and I gave a thumbs up thinking that it might be nice to have some soul insulating noodles as we experienced cold weather while heading like a freight train toward the winter months here in Maine. We made our way out the door of our house on a slightly blustery Friday night with warm noodle soup on our minds.

When we got there, it was pretty early and the restaurant was slow, so we were seated quickly. Both my wife and I skipped alcoholic beverages in favor of water. I was ravenous and looking right away for an app before worrying about anything else. There were many options and Crab Rangoons looked promising. They always seem to hit the spot and tend to be relatively consistent regardless of the restaurant they’re coming from. I eventually decided I didn’t feel like anything fried though and instead went with an order of Steamed Thai Dumplings. Mrs. Portlandeater went with something a little healthier, Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls – Lettuce, carrot, mint, cucumber, bean sprout, rice noodle, freshly rolled with rice paper and served with sweet and sour sauce.

My dumplings came out faster than a speeding bullet, making me think they knew in advance what I was going to order. I suppose that was impossible, but they did arrive unbelievably quickly. I took a first glance at them to take note of the most important characteristic of dumplings that can be determined visually and saw that they were on the small side. I generally find that dumplings are either very large or quite small, and these were the latter. I brushed that aside and went to work on them, cutting one in half and dipping it in the ginger sauce that accompanied them. It was very good. The nice steamed, doughy texture and well seasoned pork made a pleasant combination with the sauce adding the sweetness. No, they weren’t the gigantic dumplings I prefer, but they were worth the order.

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As I worked on the little meat suitcases, she went to town on the spring rolls. I finished my food and then took a portion of hers. There were two well-stuffed rolls, each cut into two and I took one of the halves. I’m not much a fan of shrimp, but I took a big bite anyway. There was a sizable crustacean in there, but I was pleased with the freshness and really appreciated the mint adding a flavor tint to the vegetables. Their sweet and sour sauce, which was topped with peanuts, was also notably delicious. They were really solid and we both enjoyed them.

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It took a while after we were done our apps for our main course orders to get taken. At least by that time I wasn’t quite as hungry anymore, but I was excited to get to our next edibles. We both agreed that we wanted chicken and noodles. I wanted pho – that’s pronounced “fuh”, if you care – so I ordered the Pho Ga – Large noodle soup with chicken; served with a plate of bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime, and chili. She wanted the Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Rice Noodle – Vermicelli noodle topped with fresh lettuce, cucumber, carrot, bean sprout, mint, and roasted peanuts, served with sweet and sour sauce.

We didn’t have to wait long for the mains once the orders were in. My plate of veggie additions came out first and then both bowls next. They were enormous and left us wide eyed as they were laid on the table. There were crazy amounts of both broth and substance in the dish with lots of chicken, onions, and scallions on the top. I took all my veggies – sprouts, basil, jalapenos, culantro – and threw them into the bowl. Then I squeezed in the lime and was ready to eat. I started with several spoonfuls of broth to whittle it down a little and get to the other parts of the soup. It was full bodied and warmed me up perfectly on a cool night.

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Once I lowered the fill line of my bowl somewhat, I worked on consuming some of the veggies, chicken, and noodles. All parts were perfect and as with the mint from the spring rolls earlier, the herbs in this one added a ton of great, fresh flavor. The basil and culantro were magnificent additions that took the meal to another level. Throughout the process, as I reduced the broth and left the hearty portion in the bowl, I would take the hoisin sauce on the table and add it to my soup. I don’t enjoy altering the broth, but I loved the sweet flavor on chicken and noodles in particular once they were on top of the liquid.

I was delving deeply into my food when I felt myself starting to get full. In order to make sure I was able to try my wife’s before I quit, I grabbed a bite of her mixture. It was outstanding. The chicken reminded me of a teriyaki and the veggies made it into a salad with noodles. She was very happy with it and I agreed that it was fantastic, both in quantity and quality. She stopped with a lot of food left as I continued working, eventually leaving a fair amount of broth and a few noodles.

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Once we gave up on eating any more, we received our bill which came to $42 before tip. It was tough to argue with. For the amount of food we had, I’m confident we could have taken the rest home and had another full meal. And if you think, “well, it’s only soup”, I assure you, this soup was chock full of enough goodness to feed a small army. And my wife’s food, more along the lines of a salad, contained the same massive, filling portion you would want after having not eaten for days. I suggest going to Veranda Noodle House for all your soupy supper needs. This is the perfect time of year for it and their food is excellent. I strongly recommend the items we had, but I’m quite sure they’ve got lots of tasty items for all types of eaters. Soup for you!

Stay hungry.

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