Monday, September 12, 2011

Fat Kids Road Trip to Maine

JG and I finally made our much anticipated trip to Maine and of course decided to plan our trip around our meals (well I planned our trip around our meals, Joe planned it around biking).

Our first stop: Maine Diner (on Rt.1 in Wells, Maine)
After hearing constantly about this place between TV shows and word of mouth, I demanded that the Maine Diner be one of our pit stops on our way to Portland, and after a 30 minute wait we were sitting down and ready to order.
Joe got a lobster roll with a seafood chowder and I got the lobster pie dinner (I should probably note we were there for lunch). First came the chowder and the cornbread (which came as part of my dinner). The chowder was a little thin for my liking, but very flavorful and filled with lobster, scallops, and shrimp. The cornbread was absolutely delicious with a nice crusty top and a moist sweet center. Then came our entrees. The lobster roll was stuffed with fresh lobster, lightly dressed with mayo, and served on a warm buttery hot dog roll.
The real beauty of the meal was the lobster pie, with a side of potato salad and butternut squash puree. Now, there's nothing really special about this lobster pie, but I still can't stop thinking of it. Just a heaping pile of lobster, topped with a delicious buttery crumb topping baked to perfection. So succulent, so luxurious, so everything. I would definitely go back again. This place gets a solid 8.5 spoons of soy sauce.

After a fun day at Old Orchard Beach we headed off to downtown Portland to grab some dinner. After finding out there was a 2 hour wait at Fore Street, we decided to check out Miyake, a Japanese restaurant down the street. We decided to do the 7 course Omakase (Chef's Tasting)!
Course 1: Aji two-ways: sashimi and as a ceviche.
This was one of my favorite dishes, I loved the light lemon flavor on the sashimi and the ceviche was flavorful. The flavors were clean and the fish was incredibly fresh.
Course 2: Sashimi
JG really did not enjoy the uni (sea urchin which he said tasted like low tide), but loved the assortment of salmon. I appreciated the freshness of the different fish, but was slightly disappointed with the lobster sashimi I was really looking forward to. I thought the garlic oil was too strong and masked the sweetness of the lobster.
Course 3: Oyster two ways (raw with a riesling mignonette and grilled with ponzu)
I thought the riesling mignonette was subtle and delicious but found that while I enjoyed the grilled/smoky flavor in the second oyster, it was completely overpowered by the ponzu.
Course 4: Spanish sardine smoked with tomato water and topped with a squash blossom
I can't judge this course fairly, I just really don't enjoy sardines. The tomato water was a nice touch, though, and refreshing against the fishy salty sardine.
Course 5: Cobia served over a miso sauce with a cippolini mushroom relish and roasted beets
This course was by far my favorite and probably the only course I considered well executed. The cobia was smoky and the miso sauce and mushroom relish complemented it perfectly. The roasted beets added a nice texture contrast. Overall, this was a really great dish and one I would definitely order again.
Course 6: Pan seared duck breast over a celery root puree, yellowfoot mushrooms, and glazed carrots served with a foie gras stuffed eggplant (topped with black sesame seeds)
I'm not sure how I feel about this course. Good foie gras is always creamy and delicious. It was good stuffed in the eggplant and I liked the black sesame seeds. The duck was unimpressive, but wasn't bad.
Course 7: The grand finale- toro nigri, tuna nigri, and king salmon nigri
I applaud the chef for having executed this well as the rice was flavorful, had good texture, and held together well under the slices of fish. The fish was fresh, flavorful, and delicious and was a great way to end our tasting menu.
Dessert: Rice pudding with caramelized pineapples and chocolate cake
JG and I figured we might as well get some dessert. Neither was bad. Neither was amazing. I like chocolate cakes that are moister, but really enjoyed the caramelized pineapples on top of the rice pudding. You win some, you lose some.

Overall, Miyake was a good experience. The service was good and I was a fan of the atmosphere. I always assume that the omakase is the best the restaurant has to offer, so I feel as though Miyake falls short of some of its counterparts (ie. Nobu and Morimoto), but maybe I'm being unfair putting it in the same category as them. I give this place 7-7.5 spoons of soy sauce.

For lunch on Sunday, after a nice 4 mile bike ride, we decided to stop at Duck Fat as we had heard that they serve up some delicious fries... and they did.
We ordered a large fry with the horseradish-mayo dipping sauce, the thai chili dipping sauce, and the Raye's sweet and spicy mustard dipping sauces. The fries were delicious (well it helps they're fried in duck fat!). They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and had a wonderful flavor. I do wish that they had crazier dipping sauces, but the ones we got were still delicious. Also, I got a blueberry lemonade that was spot on and a perfect compliment to the fries.
We decided that we should order some churros since you never see them on menus. They were a little overdone and not soft in the middle, but the dark chocolate dipping sauce was money (and probably could have been drunk from the little tin cup). Overall, Duck Fat gets 8 spoons of soy sauce!

Great weekend. Great company. Great food.

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