Just outside of a city with top-notch Japanese restaurants offering some of the best sushi in the Northeast, Minami Japanese Grill and Seafood Buffet - an "all-you-can-eat" sushi restaurant in South Portland - wouldn't be the first choice for fans of Japanese food. Shonna Miliken Humphrey admits this right up front in her 3-star review in yesterday's Portland Press Herald: "Minami translates to "south," and, honestly, that is exactly where I expected the dining experience to head." But, she says she was "pleasantly surprised" by some of the more than 200 menu items, the "attentive atmosphere" and the "funny, welcoming" server. And even a couple of choices from the sushi buffet:
Most of the sushi itself was thin and limp-looking. But worth noting is the Kani Su sushi roll -- the crabmeat rolled in paper thin cucumber slices was delicate and truly among the best I have ever sampled. The Pepper Tuna Roll, with its tuna slice and rice rolled in a spicy pepper crust, was also much better than expected.
Twelve miles out to sea on the tony island of North Haven, Nebo Lodge has nonetheless caught some big-time food media attention - the restaurant and its self-taught chef, Amanda Hallowell, were profiled in Food & Wine's June issue. John Golden heralds it as a "dining phenomenon" in his review for DownEast, half of which is focused on the "resplendent" island setting, the owners (Maine's U.S. congresswoman Chellie Pingree and her daughter, Hannah) and the "beautifully sourced foods" from the local farms that supply the restaurant. He's far less verbose in his description of his "nicely conceived" meal, ordered from a shortened menu because of a special dinner that evening.
I chose the steak frites topped with a delicious pesto and crisp classic fries; my friend had trout (an odd item, I thought, with the greater world of ocean fish outside the front door) and my other friend had the fish taco, a popular dish at the inn.Portland Pottery Cafe on Munjoy Hill gets its first review in PPH's "Eat and Run" feature (oddly, these are bylined as "from staff reports but written in the first person) The anonymous "I" visiting the cafe initially "winces at the thought of having lunch surrounded by awkward student pottery projects," but finds the pieces are "lovely". The food - including a peanut butter club sandwich with banana, apple, Nutella and Fluff (wow) - and the "welcoming, funky" atmosphere earn 3 1/2 stars.
It's high season not only for tourists, but for Maine's food bloggers, who are noshing their way around the state. Among them:
Travelin' Mainers George and Linda Smith, writing for the Morning Sentinel, have what Linda dubs "an extremely cool experience" at one of chef Mitchell Kaldrovich's Summer Garden Dinners at Inn By The Sea in Cape Elizabeth.
Emily Burnham of the Bangor Daily News' Culture Shock blog, finds "a pizzeria moonlighting as the most traditional Mexican restaurant that I’ve yet found in the state of Maine" at Bank Street in Eastport.
Sharon Kitchens of Delicious Musings joins the parade marching to Eventide Oyster Bar in Portland. "The place is like this: food delicious, atmosphere simple and the air conditioning cranked (bring a sweater)."
· Japanese Buffet A Pleasant Surprise [PPH]
· Dining Well So Far Out To Sea [TGD]
· Portland Pottery Cafe: There's Lox - And More - To Love [PPH]
· Eat Fresh Food By The Sea [MS]
· Delicious Mexican At Eastport's Bank Square [BDN]
· Eventide Oyster Co. [DM]