We were the first diners to arrive, joined shortly by another couple. Dinner started out on a delicious note with house-cured salmon served with a dab of creme fraiche topped with a bit of caviar. This was followed by a delicious asparagus soup, like eating fresh asparagus. A peeky-toe crab salad was layered in a timbale with avocado and snap peas and was topped with baby greens.
Unfortunately, by this time, a party of 16 men had arrived. The kitchen simply started to fall apart.
Next course was a rich barley risotto, topped with a small piece of black sea bass, topped with foie gras. It would have been good if my foie gras had not been raw in the center and had it not been cold. My fish was not as hot as it should have been. By the time the main courses were served, the large table had started on the sea bass course, and the kitchen obviously could not handle the load. I chose Maine lobster as my main course -- half a small lobster that had been poached in butter. Delicious, but barely warm. My husband had a rack of lamb, which was not as cold as my plate, but was not as piping hot as it should have been. We also had to wait an inordinately long time to get the food, so there was no excuse for it to have been sitting around waiting to be served. This put us in a bad mood for the rest of the meal.
Two desserts followed: first an almond cake with fresh strawberries, then chocolate custard topped with chocolate sorbet. Both were very nice -- fortunately nothing in the desserts had to be cooked to order. Coffee and little cookies and candies (mignardises) followed. The meal was $75. A very creative wine pairing menu, presenting 7 half-pours of wines selected to harmonize with each course, was an additional $55. There is an extensive wine list, including a very small selection of wines by the glass, and the sommelier is very knowledgeable about the wines offered.
Had the kitchen not been innundated with the banquet-sized group, it probably would have been as excellent a meal as our first experience. But for $150 for two, just for food, we were unhappy.
June 22, 2002
From journal Edible Portland