Restaurants doing things right are the subject of columns this week by Natalie Ladd in The Portland Daily Sun and Rachel Forrest in SeacoastOnline. Ladd — a longtime front-of-house staffer — focuses on that aspect, inspired by a visit to an unnamed Portland restaurant that she keeps returning to despite "so-so" food, dumpy atmosphere and service that's well, serviceable. As with many things in life, she concludes that it's all about "relationships built" — offering "a short checklist for restaurants and bars to follow, based upon proven success in such a generally mediocre establishment." Here's some of it, even shorter:
1) Say My Name. ... It feels far more sincere than a birthday club free dessert or being asked to like the place on Facebook.Forrest's interest is the food, in particular, places that are "pushing the culinary envelope for us." The former restaurant owner's list of seven includes two in Kittery (the rest are in NH):
2) Show me the Love. ... please know I also want to feel special, in some small and attentive way.
3) What's in it for Me? ... whenever we're in this particular joint, the owner or manager will come over and say something like, "Hey, we just added this new appetizer to our menu, have a taste."
The Black Birch. Ben Lord, Gavin Beaudry and Chef Jake Smith created a community ... The menu is designed for community, for sharing and discussing. You'll have a talk about the beer, the new ingredient for a cocktail, what's in the devilled eggs.
When Pigs Fly Pizzeria ... Chef Ben Hasty ... is not only making porchetta, salumi, sausage and more from scratch for the pies and for his charcuterie plate (hello, pig face), he's doing something you likely don't even know about — he's making many of the dishes on his interactive small plates menu with a technique called sous vide. He's putting his wings, beef, even octopus in bags and cooking them ever so slowly, changing and enhancing flavor and texture.