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Golden Turns The Spotlight On Lunch; OOB Off Season

Eve's at the Garden, <a href="http://www.portlandharborhotel.com/dining-experience.php">Portland Harbor Hotel</a>
Eve's at the Garden, Portland Harbor Hotel

John Golden feels that lunch in Portland "is given short shrift—as though it were a forbidden meal from the impecunious fringe." Hence, he will devote considerable space to the midday meal on his blog, The Golden Dish, beginning today with the first of a three-part series to run on Mondays. The inaugural "Spotlight on Lunch" focuses on three Portland restaurants generally associated with dinner. Eve's at the Garden in the Portland Harbor Hotel is "a serious lunch place" that "works for a business meeting, romantic lunch or a discreet rendezvous since you're not apt to bump into anyone you know." At the "popular" Salt Exchange, on the other hand, you could see lots of people you know. "The dining room is flooded in noontime sun, and the large tables and ample bar offer comfortable dining" ... along with what Golden dubs the best grilled cheese in Portland. His third stop is at 20 Milk Street at the Portland Regency Hotel.

At a recent lunch I ordered the seared sesame tuna salad with grilled pineapple. As soon as it arrived I realized I had this dish in the summer on their very pretty outdoor dining terrace. Hark to seasonality! It's time to change the menu.

If you want to dine at Joseph's By The Sea, rated 3 1/2 stars by Shonna Milliken Humphrey in yesterday's Portland Press Herald, better get to Old Orchard Beach right quick - a footnote says it's closing for the season on Dec. 23. Why would you go? "Plenty of free parking, a welcoming staff, flickering shaded table lamps and, when gauged on a banquet hall standard, tasty food." Humphrey is especially wowed by "the list of hot espresso beverages, each deliciously vintage. (I half-expected to see Harvey's Bristol Cream.)"

"Just don't call us a restaurant," Renee Wright, owner of Steve & Renee's Diner tells Cliff Gallant of The Portland Daily Sun, for a piece that is less a review than a loving profile of the 29-year-old Portland institution.

To get that you have to remember when eating out was quite a different experience than it is now. When the waitresses not only knew your name, where you liked to sit, what you ate and how you wanted it cooked, but also got excited about your niece getting into the college she wanted to go to, or your cat having kittens.

· Spotlight On Lunch: A Three Part Series [TGD]
· Joseph's By The Sea: For A Taste Of Nostalgic Dining [PPH]
· Steve & Renee's Diner [PDS]