Gather in Yarmouth, "exudes spirit and energy" ... "a fun place for many ages to hang out [and] consume very good, well thought-out locally sourced food," writes Nancy Heiser in her 3 1/2-star review in The Portland Press Herald. Pluses include the communal table in the center of the "cavernous and country" space, the "effortless voyeurism" afforded by the "brightly lit and gleaming stainless kitchen set on what once was a stage," house-made sodas and much of the food.
Hats off to the excellent flaky and tender hake – a lesser-used fish and the best main dish of the evening – served over spaghetti squash and in a mushroom broth that bore a lovely earthy depth of flavor.Minuses were few: a couple of vegetable dishes, pizza with dry chicken, short ribs that "didn't quite reach that fall-off-the-bone texture" and a waitress who "patted me on the shoulder several times, a gesture that I found a little odd."
John Golden visits Portland favorite Hot Suppa twice with high hopes "for its iconic corned beef hash and barbecued brisket ... and the notion of honestly made home-style regional cooking on a higher plane than just diner fare." But in "two lackluster meals" those hopes are dashed, as chronicled on his PPH blog, The Golden Dish. At brunch his hash is "picture perfect," but "vegetables were undercooked instead of being soft and creamy and worst of all the meat was tasteless." He returns for dinner and first finds a "serious design flaw" in the lighting.
With a few exceptions no matter where you sat the track lights hit you squarely in the eyes. It was like being blindsided in a tunnel with no way out.He has nothing good to say about anything he eats. Mac and cheese is "a lathery mush of macaroni swathed in an insipid cheese sauce;" collards are "drenched in a turgid green cooking liquid" and as for the "fabled brisket, "the not so lean meat was as raunchy as cutting into slices of fat back."
Pai Men Miyake's newly launched brunch gets a "official Dispatch Stamp of Approval, which isn't really a thing, but maybe it should be," from Katy Kelleher of Dispatch Magazine. Chicken liver meatballs, sweet potato-beet homefries, sandwiches with pork belly and a wasabi-laced "Bloody Samurai" effectively cure her hangover.
Following a visit to the Winslow Homer exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art, the Travelin' Mainers head over to Taj "an unassuming restaurant serving very authentic Indian cuisine" in South Portland for what they hope will be South Indian food. But the restaurant is catering a Diwali event for 500, so instead, Linda and George Smith "sampled a variety of vegetarian dishes from the northern region of India, and each and every one of them was full of the rich, delicate flavors."
Verbena makes Joe Duley of Examiner.com feel "like Goldilocks" because everything is "just right" at the South Portland cafe.
Instead of three beds, Verbena has three pieces of lounge furniture: a big cozy leather couch and two cozy leather chairs that are as comforting and welcoming as hot porridge. Although they don't always carry porridge, they do conjure healthy oatmeal that would satisfy all three bears.There are also "many varieties of coffee, confections, soups and sandwiches."
· Gather Succeeds In Building Community Around Local Food [PPH]
· Not So Super At Hot Suppa [TGD]
· Breakfast Of Champions: Pork And Eggs At Pai Men Miyake [Dispatch]
· Indian Food, Winslow Homer A Great Combination [TM]
· Verbena: Eat Right Now [Examiner]