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Bullwinkle's A 'Romantic Refuge" On The Mountain; More

Bullwinkles [Photo: Official Site]

On Saturdays, after Sugarloaf mountain is closed to skiers, the rustic Bullwinkles ski lodge is transformed "into a quiet, softly lit and romantic refuge." Nancy Heiser reviews the experience of being transported by snow cat to dine "three quarters of the way up Maine's second highest peak," in the February issue of DownEast.

After coats are taken and flutes of champagne offered, nighttime guests settle into the spacious dining area, dwarfed by the two-story cathedral ceiling and massive supporting timbers. The head of a bull moose keeps a glass eye on things from above the bar. "We try to give customers a dining experience they can't get anywhere else in this part of Maine," says chef Aaron Upham.

Inside the iconic, "wobbly red farmhouse" that is Montsweag Roadhouse in Woolwich, there's the usual pub fare but also "delicious and ample main dishes for well under $20 in a casual and unpretentious atmosphere." In her 3 1/2-star review for The Portland Press Herald, Nancy Heiser says that she made the trip up Route 1 based on a friend's "hyperbolic assessment" of the fish tacos, which were "very good," as were other choices unexpected at the "down-home, come-as-you-are, laid-back and friendly place where you could put your feet on the furniture, if it had low furniture."

Service was efficient, ultra-friendly and consistent with the atmosphere; this is not high tea at Downton Abbey. One particularly nice feature? Entrees were delivered all at once by two servers. This small but significant gesture was the case at all the tables we spied. No guest sat waiting for other dishes to arrive.
At Vignola Cinque Terre in Portland's Old Port, John Golden of The Golden Dish blog finds that "the old Cinque Terre space is begging to look as snappy as its front-room sibling (Vignola)." But decor aside, the two sister restaurants combined last year into one is "the only reputable eatery in Greater Portland offering creative haute locavore Italian fare."
Altogether, this is Portland's shining example of sophisticated interior-décor--a big-city look with New York-style urbanity. Most importantly is the food still first rate? You bet. It makes places like the popular Ribollita old-hat or a trip to Kennebunk's Grissini's unnecessary.
In her review on Maine Magazine's Eat Maine blog, Amy Anderson finds everything she's looking for at The Front Room on Munjoy Hill in Portland: comforting food and friendly service. Everything she eats makes her happy, especially the "spectacular" duck breast - "Jeremiah (the friendly server) isn't kidding when he calls the chef the 'duck whisperer.'
Throughout the meal I notice people are having a really good time. There's music playing, and the sounds from a bustling kitchen are layered with laughter and chatter. These are some of my favorite noises—food cooking and people laughing.

· Bullwinkles: Mountaintop Dining At Sugarloaf [DE]
· Food Surprises At Comfortable, Fun Montsweag Roadhouse [PPH]
· Vignola Cinque Terre Is Still A Shining Star [TGD]
· The Front Room, Portland [Eat Maine]