Tag Archives: maine restaurants

Portland, ME: David’s Opus 10

11 Apr

High on the list of places to try in Portland, Maine was David’s Opus 10. I have been hearing about it more and more since it opened this past November, and it made a few appearances on the Soup to Nuts: Maine food experts dish about their restaurant favorites article.

The menu is a 9-course Tasting Menu and Mike and I split a wine pairing between us (I drank more since Mike had to drive home).


The Opus Ten part of the restaurant is actually behind the main restaurant, David’s. They do a small seating in an intimate space with beautiful draping along the ceiling. They also put a cart of goodies in the middle of all the tables.


While we weren’t right at the window, our table afforded us a peak into the kitchen.


And the table was beautifully set with a dark purple calla lilly (one of my faves!)


Even the butter was beautifully styles (and very tasty with smoked salt on top).


With a lovely variation of rolls and some very nice olive and balsamic to dip.


Our first dish was not on the menu, but was certainly more substantial than your usual amuse bouche. Unfortunately, since it wasn’t written on the menu, I cannot recall the specifics beyond the fact that the meat was shaved off of a beautiful piece of hock on that middle table and tasted delicious with the cheese, olives, and bread.


It was beautifully marbled and had a great tenderness to it.


My first cocktail necessitated a quick froth (and tasted great).


The first official menu item came out, and this was the dish that everyone in that article was raving about. Morel and exotic mushroom gratin with Mushroom and Madeira cream shooter.


This had a very lovely mushroom flavor and was incredibly enjoyable, but I think I would have loved it a whole lot more if we hadn’t just had the mushroom of a lifetime at Local 188.


Next came a butter poached lobster, risotto cake, citrus truffle miero greens.  This was very tasty, but I feel a bit like I might be struck by lightening for saying this… I don’t really “get” butter poaching lobster. It’s so much more flavorful when you just boil it in its shell and then dip it in butter. Somehow the poaching seems to take away some of the great lobster flavor.  (Sorry food gods)


Our next dish was seared scallops with bowfin caviar and smoked salmon.  I really liked the addition of the matchstick potatoes in this. It created a really awesome contrast of textures and flavor without distracting from the delicious fish.


I really enjoyed our next bite, quail egg ravioli with kale, hedgehog mushrooms, and foie gras butter nage [sic].


I didn’t really taste the foie gras, but this was rich and creamy and very, very nice.


Our next dish was a nice intermezzo with strawberry-basil sorbet with frozen vanilla and basil infused vodka.



The vodka was actually poured overtop from a bottle that was frozen into a block.


Even though I don’t love vodka, I really enjoyed this light palate cleanser. Very refreshing and a nice way to head into the rest of the meal.


Grilled quail, foie gras medallion and “buttered” toast with cranberry-pear gastrique. Usually I find quail hardly worth the effort. A teeny bite without much flavor.


This was a more substantial portion and it all went together well, and this time the foie had a really nice flavor that was prominent without being overpowering.


Our last savory course was my favorite: Lamb saddle, lamb presse, sweet potato hash, and kale braise.


There was an amazing crispy top on the one piece of lamb, and everything was cooked, flavored, and spiced perfectly.  Really great dish.


Our dessert was Feuilletage “beignets” with peppered strawberry and Grand Marnier creme chantilly.  These were quite tasty. Not too dense and nice flavor.  I enjoyed the strawberry balanced with the pepper.


Our final bites were chocolate, caramel nut bark, chambord and chocolate truffles, and pecan, orange and cranberry sandy.  I thought these were all pretty good, but nothing too outstanding.



The truffles were my favorite of the trio.


They also offered us some after dinner drinks, and Mike chose to have some Twenty Year Old Sandeman (which he really enjoyed).


Overall, our meal was really great but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding.  Solid, great flavor, nice pacing, and great service. But there was no dish that really stuck out as a huge WOW.  It felt like a really nice, celebration of a meal, however, and is a fun way to spend an evening. I actually wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had we not had such a great experience at Local 188 the night right before. But as far as tasting menus go, I would say it was worth every penny (though they didn’t tell you how much any of the extras cost, which was mildly annoying). It’s a really nice treat right in Portland.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Portland, ME: Local 188

9 Apr

We have really enjoyed the food scene in Portland, Maine, and I feel incredibly lucky that we have been able to spend 4 separate visits in Maine this past year (all these wedding trips have been awesome!)

When inquiring about any “must eats” we haven’t tried yet, Local 188 came up from a few different foodie friends.  They specialize in local ingredients, so their menu is printed anew each day.


The space has a great feel to it. Very high ceilings, big windows, and room between tables.


And I enjoyed the pretty sprigs of pussy willows on the tables.


We started with some cocktails, and I very much enjoyed my Bergeron Sidecar with house infused fig & vanilla bean bourbon, cointreau, fresh lemon juice.


The bread came out warm and it was like a mix between challah and a great crispy roll. A bit of salt and good olive oil on it. Very nice.


We began with “the livers” which came in a shallot cream. This was rich and decadent. We asked for more bread to be able to soak up the awesome shallot cream, which had a faintly liver taste (in the best way).


Next we tried the salad with winter squash and bourbon candied pecans, pickled onion, roasted apple, and blue cheese dressing. This tasted great but was a bit lacking in the squash department.


And then we split the dry-aged rib eye filet, which came with smoked oyster mushrooms, russet potato hash, red-eye gravy, and maple and black garlic creme anglaise.


The meat was cooked to perfect, and all the accoutrements were fantastic, but the smoked oyster mushrooms were other worldly. They had an intense smoky flavor, the richness of mushrooms, and were the perfect texture. The meal was very good, but these mushrooms were unbelievable. I love mushrooms and this beat them all.  If this isn’t on the menu regularly, they should make a dish entirely based around it. It is just that good. Thinking back on this taste at this moment leaves me with a feeling of great longing. If you don’t see this on the menu, ask for it. I’m telling you. It’s that good.


Since we split everything, we still had some room for dessert.

So Mike chose the honey ricotta cheesecake, which came with a beautiful sugar decoration and had great flavor. The ricotta really made it light and the crust was really flavorful.


I got the flourless chocolate torte with semi-sweet chocolate ganache. This was rich but not overwhelming. The caramel around it paired very nicely and I enjoyed every bite.


Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Local 188 and we were very happy that we were so strongly recommended to try it. All the food was very tasty and, by our NYC standards, very affordable for the quality and artisanship that went into it. You can tell the people that run this restaurant really care about the food they put out.

And those smoked mushrooms.

Glory be those smoked mushrooms.

The mushrooms alone got this review categorized in the Best of the Best list.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Portland, Maine: In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation

2 Apr

We arrived in the main center of Portland, Maine less than 20 minutes after we deplaned at the airport, which included renting a car (flying to Maine actually takes less time than my commute to Connecticut. Sad but true.)

We parked on Commercial Street in the first spot we could find, and then turned around to see distillation equipment in the window of an unmarked building. It was new, and definitely not there when we had last visited in the fall.

Curiosity got the better of us and we crossed the street and peered in the windows. Imagine our surprise when we saw people staring back.  We walked in to find a fully operational restaurant. One that didn’t seem to have a name. We saw an “8” on the floor and assumed it was called just, simply, “8.” We were not correct. We got the menu and realized that we were sitting in the brand new (less than 2 weeks after opening) In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation.

We later found out that it’s run by the same people that do Novare Res, which is probably one of the best beer bars (and beer gardens) I’ve ever been to. Just for the sheer options of awesome beers they have if nothing else.


We got a couple beers (their own brews, which we found very drinkable but no stand outs) and chatted with the bartender who said that their food was like “elevated bar food.”


I asked him what his favorite thing on the menu was, and he proceeded to list off about 15 things. I told him he was not making my choice any easier. We decided that we would come back that night for a proper meal.


By the time we came back for dinner, it was packed and there was about a 45 minute wait (it wound up being nearly an hour, which the host apologized for many times, though we were having a fine time just drinking good beer at the bar).

I wound up drinking a Marshall Wharf Dopplebock, which I loved. It was creamy and chocolatey and was easy to sip while standing up to food. Great beer. (And local!)


The aesthetic of the place was described by a Beer Advocate review as being “somewhat industrial with a touch of steampunk.” I can’t think of a better way to put it. And it is an aesthetic I really like. I was a big fan of the tables and stools being made from tree trunk slabs and the pipes holding up all the tables.

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They have a large collection of brewing and distilling equipment, all of which is visible behind big glass windows.

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And these gorgeous copper beauties up front that first caught our eye.



Even the bathroom sinks were kind of awesome.



Ok… so I was pretty enamored. But how would the food stand up?

We started with the lobster marscapone arancini (rice balls) with blood orange “paint”.


They were quite tasty but we both wished for more lobster flavor. I liked the orange flavor which was mild, but Mike didn’t think it added to the dish. So we were a bit ehh on this.  Then again, you really can’t go wrong with crispy rice.


The burger was getting a lot of buzz on various social media outlets we were looking at while awaiting our table, so Mike went for it. Luckily, they put the spicy stuff on the side so I could try the burger. It was, in fact, very good. The meat tasted like meat. A nice char, a bit of salt, and a great meaty flavor that was well complimented by the toppings. And the burger wasn’t too tightly packed. It was packed just enough to stay together. Great texture. The fries were good but not exactly the bliss others were raving about. But still good.


I went with the Turf and Turf which came with braised short ribs and crispy pork belly, seared polenta, and fried cippolini onions.

This was an ode to meat cooked without fluff. Just meat. Pure and simple. I think that short ribs should be tender enough that you don’t need a knife, however, so these were a bit lacking and could have used some more slow cook time. But the meat just tasted good. Good like meat should taste.


We really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place and the beer selection. The food was solid. Very good but I can’t say it was amazing. The burger was really good and I enjoyed everything we ate. I look forward to trying it again and trying their own beers, liquor, and bitters they are making in house. It’s a nice addition to (the already food saturated) Portland. I’m sure this will be a really great place to get a really great beer right on the main street by the water. And as the weather warms up, that deck they have will be lovely.

Total Nom Points: 7 out 10

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