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Cloud 9 Is 'Fine'; Congress Bar & Grill 'Delivers Flawlessly'

Cloud 9 Restaurant at the Senator Inn & Spa
Cloud 9 Restaurant at the Senator Inn & Spa
Photo: Trip Advisor

Until a better option comes to Augusta, Cloud 9 in Augusta is "fine, but not a place you'll rave about to all your friends," writes Nancy Heiser in her review for The Portland Press Herald. Still, at the restaurant in the Senator Inn "hospitality bubbled from every staff member" - which may have helped it to land 3 stars. Because it wasn't so much the food. A steak was "acceptable, slightly unevenly cooked and tepid upon arrival" and a vegetarian plate with various components "fell short of delicious coherence." Even a "raspberry cloud" dessert was "initially intriguing, but like many dishes here, it didn't hold our excitement."

Cloud 9 is a comfortable spot, welcoming to all ages ... While our dishes were pretty good, they did not send us to a cloud nine of bliss, and they weren't cheap, either. The breads served at the bread bar were outstanding.

John Golden visits "the infamous" Congress Bar & Grill in Portland "through a haze of nostalgia," for his blog for The Portland Press Herald, The Golden Dish. He's anxious to see if it will live up to its predecessor, Norm's reputation and is delighted to find it deliciously unchanged.

Owned by Norm's former partner, Deb Glanville, it delivers in mood and food flawlessly. Even the chef from the original establishment, Bryan Kowtko, is back cranking out a menu that personifies the best of bar-and-grill grub cuisine. All those flatbreads, kebabs and juicy burgers still get pushed into the kitchen pass-through, then transported by an efficient if irreverent wait staff who either talk too much or too little.

Brian Duff brings his signature brand of wordsmithing to a review of Eventide Oyster Co. for The Portland Phoenix, leading off with a discussion of the perils of taking over revered institutions. "It can create a paralyzing fear of screwing things up. And rightly so, look at what the likes of John Boehner have done to the party of Lincoln." This is a bizarre metaphor for Rob Evans' sale of Hugo's to the team of Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith, who (in case you've been living under a rock) have since opened Eventide next door.

They responded to the pressures of inheritance with the cleverest move since Justin Lin resuscitated the Fast and Furious film franchise with the brilliant and beautiful Tokyo Drift. Lin's success was in going sideways, and going Asian. The new owners of Hugo's have done both, opening a second restaurant right next door, sharing the same kitchen. The result is Eventide Oyster Co., and it has its own Tokyo drift — applying many Asian flavors and techniques, as well as the spirit of a great sushi bar, to the freshest New England seafood. Safe to say, they have not screwed things up.
Amy Anderson makes a rare off-season trip to Camden for Maine Magazine's Eat Maine blog and is transported to France at Fromviandoux, Ryan and Alyson Flemming's newish small plates bistro whose name is "a portmanteau that describes their food. The combination of the first syllables of the French words for cheese, meat, and sweets—fromage, viande, and doux." Her transportation comes from a platter of pork belly with a sauce that is "sell-your-soul-good and escargot—"a reinvented masterpiece—classic, but not at all dated."
The red wine-poached snails are tender and the anchovy and walnut sauce with bacon, herbs, and reduced stock is perfectly salty. This dish may be peasant food, but it makes me feel like royalty.
The whole family weighs in for Travelin' Mainers George and Linda Smith's gushing review of Hot Suppa! in Portland for the Kennebec Journal. From daughter Hilary:
I was wholly impressed with the specials of the day: baked cheesy grits, and a smoked duck breast sandwich topped with gruyere, baby arugula and a cranberry chutney on toasted baguette ... The sandwich was sweet, smoky and addictive -- by far my favorite of the meal.

· At Cloud 9, You'll Be Warmly Welcomed And Well Fed [PPH]
· Dining At The Infamous Congress Bar And Grill [TGD]
· Eventide's Superior Oysters And Imaginative Cuisine [PP]
· Fromviandoux In Camden [Eat Maine blog]
· One Visit Is All It Takes To Become A Fan Of Hot Suppa! [KJ]

Eventide Oyster Co.

86 Middle Street, , ME 04101 (207) 774-8538 Visit Website