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White Barn Inn Bistro; Hunt & Alpine Club; More

The White Barn Inn.
The White Barn Inn.
Photo: Kennebunkport Getaways

The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk is a Maine high-roller, appearing on every list of "bests" in the state. But dining there is not for the faint of wallet; the standard, 3-course menu starts at $106. To make the romantic barn setting friendly to thinner cats, the Inn instituted a "Winter Bistro Menu" — in place until the end of March — which Nancy Heiser checked out for The Portland Press Herald.

The question remains: Would you pay $25 for a hamburger? It's an unforgettable burger, and I don't say that lightly. But you might be slightly disappointed in the ordinary steak fries, which are uniform in size and nicely golden, but not as good as those at a few notable lunch spots.
Other dishes slightly disappoint too; despite the "extraordinary ambiance," the Inn earns 3 1/2 stars for the overall experience, because "not everyone wants valet parking and formally attired staff when they go out for a hamburger."

First-time diners at The Black Birch in Kittery are in for "a reverse bait-and-switch" writes Monica Wood in the March issue of DownEast. Behind the "bland doors" of the boxy building that was once a post office, "resides a gastropub packed with convivial patrons of all ages." On the "small, intriguing men":

Humble ingredients shine in combination, as in "deviled eggs three ways," a trio of hardboiled eggs cut crosswise and stuffed with distinctive flavor blasts ... The "house pickles" tonight include a memorable kimchi whose originator — line-cook Gary Kim's roommate's mom — personally supervised the inaugural batch. It's that kind of place.

John Golden takes a long (and perhaps cloudy) lens look at Lee Farrington's decision to close Figa for a time "to handle matters at home and rethink Figa's future" for his blog, The Golden Dish. Discovering that the restaurant is "sort of up and running again" on weekends in February, he visits and has a "brilliantly satisfying meal ... But then she dropped her bombshell. Figa would be closed again, this time for about two months. She still needed to rethink her concept, tidy up her home life and figure it all out. I didn't understand. If it ain't broke why fix it?" But then Golden goes off the reservation in his pondering:

Entrepreneurial chefs everywhere are vying to dip their cups into the great river of creativity's fortune and fame. Some, however, wind up dry docked probing with the platypus frying their newborn eggs.
Huh? If anyone has a clue what this means, let us know in the comments.

It's not a restaurant and bar — yet, but Andrew and Briana Volk's Portland Hunt & Alpine Club is generating some early-days excitement with its invitation-only "Hush-Hush" events. The latest of these "speakeasies," featuring cocktails by veteran mixologist Andrew Volk and food from Boston transplant Chris Gould (Uni) is reviewed by the Map & Menu bloggers, with Meredith's lovely photographs.

Andrew absolutely killed it with the libations. Featuring the Fernet Branca portfolio, each cocktail was pleasantly unique, inventive, and flavorful ... Chris Gould ... prepared an exceptional spread of small plates ... I could have eaten the Smoked Brisket (on homemade potato rolls, with dijon mustard, and pickles) until I had to be carried away.
Comfort from a bowl of pho is what the Edible Obsessions blogger goes looking for off the peninsula, finding it at Saigon on Forest Avenue.
I can only make a guess as to what it contains: cinnamon? Star anise? clove? Black pepper? Unicorn Tears? It honestly doesn't matter — you don't always need to look behind the curtain to see how the magic is made — all I know is that it did it's trick.
For Pocket Brunch "Party Gras" Joe Ricchio of FoodComa "would be super busy attending to out of town business" but his alter ego, "Cajun Willy, would be there, shufflin' in his Sunday finest." And with that, Ricchio is off and running to detail the bead-bedecked scene at "Bubba's Sulky Lounge, a notorious hangout for both local drunks and, on the weekend nights, wildly fucked-up 21 year old girls."
After loosening up a bit, I become one with the festive nature of the occasion by donning a Big Bird mask, tilted off to the side, as well as dangling a pink streamer from my right pocket, which prompts someone to refer to me as "half of a bike." I refrain from telling them that they look like a character from Zoobilee Zoo, because Willy always takes the high road.
Oh Joe, Portland's not the same without you; thank god you ramble back from Beantown every once in awhile.

· White Barn Inn's Bistro Puts High End Spin On Comfort Food [PPH]
·: The Black Birch: Kittery's Best New Pub [DE]
· In Search Of Figa; Gone Today; Here Tomorrow [TGD]
· Portland Hunt & Alpine Club: Hush, Hush w/Chris Gould [M&M]
· Seeking Saigon [EO]
· Pocket Brunch VII: Party Gras [FC]

The Black Birch

2 Government Street, Kittery, ME 03904 (207) 703-2294

The White Barn Inn

37 Beach Avenue, Kennebunk, ME 04043 (207) 967-2321