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Shepherd's Pie Still Has 'It'; Outliers Is Already A Star

The bar at Shepherd's Pie
The bar at Shepherd's Pie
Photo: Facebook

In her four-star review of Shepherd's Pie in Rockport for The Portland Press Herald, Shonna Milliken Humphrey wonders "whether a restaurant bestowed with immediate "it" status can sustain itself over time." She says she "hopes so;" and in fact, it has. Nominated for a James Beard award for "Best New Restaurant" 10 months after it opened in May 2010; three years later chef Brian Hill's gastro pub "seems to have outlasted its new kid reputation and is settling in for the long haul," Humphrey writes. She does puzzle over a few things, notably the $17 price tag for "five nickel-sized wood roast oysters," but states, "I will allow for the law of diminishing returns and suggest that my palate might not be attuned enough to taste the subtleties."

Overall, I think Shepherd's Pie is a great spot for Rockport, but I wish it was more descriptive in its labeling. That noted, I am imagining one of those times when mental algebra is needed to accommodate, say, vegetarian, homestyle, haute cuisine and gluten-free sensibilities in a mid-coast area that also has a variety of price ranges, a full bar and availability on a Monday night.
Menu labeling is also limited at Portland newcomer Outliers Eatery, notes John Golden in his review of the "ambitious and beautiful restaurant" for The Portland Press Herald's The Golden Dish blog.
The service is excellent and our waitress could explain everything on the menu knowledgeably. Since the dish descriptions are a little vague, her assistance helped, especially since the brevity on the menu is anything but simplicity on the plate ... My friend chose the grilled halibut, which she deemed "glorious." White as snow, the fish was perfectly prepared and served under a canopy of gingered beet relish with quinoa and fiddleheads on the side.

Cantina El Rayo in Portland "has become the place to enjoy happy hour specials, authentic Mexican food, and now brunch," writes Amy Anderson in the May issue of Maine Magazine. She places herself in chef Cheryl Lewis' hands, and raves about every course.

A dish with four simple ingredients is one of the boldest I've tasted. A flap steak—a cut of meat similar to skirt steak—is pounded thin and heavily seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper. It's topped with spicy arugula greens, shaved cotija cheese, and a hint of lemon juice. Individually, these are strong flavors, but they play off each other harmoniously.
At Gather in Yarmouth, farm-to-table is "a given," according to Michaela Cavallaro in DownEast's May issue. "I wanted to create a place where, if you don't want to cook one night, you could share a pizza and a salad without spending an arm and a leg," says chef Chad Conley.
There's no lengthy list of purveyors at the bottom of the menu, though root vegetables are exalted and the soda is house made. Nor will you have to endure any soliloquies about the provenance of the fish or the ancestry of the chicken and its handlers.

· Shepherd's Pie: Terrific Food, Range Of Prices And Great Service [PPH]
· Dining Well At Outliers Eatery [TGD]
· Cantina El Rayo [MM]
· Communal Dining In Yarmouth [DE]


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