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Travel Writers On Maine: The Good And The Very Bad

It's a wonderful thing when travel writers from away become enamored of Maine and urge their readers to experience the state. It's even more wonderful when they base their stories on an actual visit, as Josh Noel of the Chicago Tribune clearly did, for a preview of prime leaf-peeping season in western Maine. He centers on Bethel, "a perfect, quiet hub for it all, good food, good drink and hospitable locals," recommending 22 Broad Street, Sudbury Inn and Good Food Store, where there are "'pitch-perfect" sandwiches inside and Smokin' Good BBQ from a trailer out in the parking lot.

When writers don't visit (or perhaps lose their notes?), they get stuff very, very wrong. Witness "Romantic Portland," Ralph Collier's piece for Main Line Media News, serving the old-money Philadelphia suburbs. Here's how he introduces the Portland restaurant scene:

In most restaurants, 12 bucks buys a decent whiskey sour or an iced negroni and if you can’t abide the upscale British boarding-school food on some of the menus (lamb chop or chicken pot pies), you can always gobble fistfuls of the salty, compulsively edible deep-fried chickpeas served in little copper pots at the bar.
Who knew that deep-fried chickpeas were a city-wide bar snack? Restaurants lucky enough (or not) to be mentioned - those not serving that "boarding-school food" are five-fifty-five and DiMillo's, where he didn't bother to find out that the chef is Melissa Bouchard.
The chef is among the best-liked chefs in Portland and you feel the goodwill in the room as he serves Lazy Lobster, out of the shell, and the Admiral’s Portion.
What the hell is the Admiral's Portion, the good people of the Main Line will want to know. The five-fifty-five menu samples he rattles off must have been (sloppily) gathered on line - it takes some checking to decipher that the confusing list "farm grass-bred beef, Sauerkraut and Swiss, “555” island dressing, shaved house cured beef, curried corn and chips" is describing Steve Corry's Reuben Burger. Collier's most helpful suggestion? "For more information, please access or call 207-772-5800." Main Liners are well advised to skip the rest.

· Take Autumn Easy [CT]
· Romantic Portland Maine; Main Liners' Summer Escape [MLMN]

[Photo - 22 Broad Street dining room:

Five Fifty-Five

555 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3308 207-761-0555

22 Broad Street

22 Broad St. Bethel ME