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4 1/2 Stars For Tao; Simple Elegance At Sea Glass; More

Tao dining room. Photo: <a href="http://tao-maine.com/">Tao Restaurant</a>]
Tao dining room. Photo: Tao Restaurant]

"Uncommon food prepared expertly" is what Nancy Heiser of The Portland Press Herald finds at Tao in Brunswick. Her 4 1/2-star review applauds "a distinctive beet-yuzu martini;" the signature pork buns, "one of perhaps two dishes on Tao's constantly changing menu that chef Cara Stadler doesn't swap out;" tom yum soup, "a bowl of pure pleasure;" diver scallops "with a caramelized golden crust atop a foamy Meyer lemon and white wine sabayon;" and other "harmonious small plates."

Something about our meal was clarifying. It was as if the chef had taken the best thinking about current cuisine — top-notch seasonal ingredients, new ethnic touches, garnishing details, tasting plates, an emphasis on local fare — and melded it into a new concept with an Asian flair. The result was sublime dishes that tasted as if they were already beloved classics.
In what could be a first for a restaurant review, Dan Zarin of The Bollard uses the work "clusterfuck" - but not to describe anything about the restaurant, Samuel's Bar & Grill in Portland. No, it refers to the location:
smack in the middle of the hold-your-breath-and-pray-while-simultaneously-turning-left-and-merging-right clusterfuck of an intersection known as Morrill's Corner.
Well then, if you survive getting there, you'll find a weekend breakfast that although Zarin acknowledges the "tired trope" is, truly, "the best kept secret in Portland." And what's not to like (yes, another tired trope) when there's "buy one mimosa and get the second one for a nickel" and $3.50 pints of Guinness — a "breakfast beer special." The food isn't fancy, but "Samuel's represents a category that is much harder to find: the neighborhood bar with cheap drinks and a great breakfast."

Amy Anderson of Maine Magazine's Eat Maine blog discovers Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, where the setting and menu are "familiar yet spectacular." She samples salads, ricotta gnocchi and a fig and manchego strudel before getting down to the dish she's "been waiting for," the Gulf of Maine paella "served in a hot skillet filled with saffron rice, peas, chorizo, and a lot of local seafood—mussels, lobster tail, clams, and calamari." She's not quite right that "it's a dish from (Mitchell) Kaldrovich's past," — the restaurant's chef is from Argentina, not Spain — but that doesn't change the fact that "it's absolutely delicious."

John Golden is "glad to have rediscovered" The Corner Room, a "stylish Old Port dining venue, where the food, drink and good times are almost always on the menu." In his review for The Golden Dish blog, he praises "the house focaccia ... the best in the city," a special of "salt cured foie gras atop house made panettone sweetened with quince jelly" and the house-cured meats on an antipasto platter, "each component was dazzling and showed that the kitchen can really put on the Ritz when it aims to." The atmosphere can also be ritzy

Transport yourself there on a Friday night and you'll be in one of the most energetic dining rooms in the city—a scene packed to its very high rafters with a crowd as agile and attractive as performers on stage.

A rib-topped Bloody Buck (Buck's Naked BBQ's meaty version of the Bloody Mary) doesn't impress, but Kate McCarty of The Blueberry Files blog finds other things to like at the new Buck's in Portland. Namely the fried pickles, "the top of the list of those around town," and the ribs, "tender and meaty with plenty of spice and heat in the rub." She's not as fond of the pulled pork sandwich: "I think the naked style fails here with the meat being too dry, then having to coat the sandwich with sauce to the point of saturation."


· Tao Takes You On A Heavenly Journey [PPH]
· The Breakfast Serial: Samuel's Bar & Grill [TB]
· Sea Glass At Inn By The Sea [Eat Maine blog]
· Consider The Corner Room [TGD]
· Buck's Naked BBQ Review [BF]

Buck's Naked BBQ

50 Wharf Street, Portland, ME 04101 (207) 899-0610 Visit Website