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Kate McCarty Digs the Dimly-Lit Vibe of Bramhall

McCarty's positive First Look at Bramhall, Golden's approving First Look at Sur Lie, and a round-up of grilled cheese lunches in Portland.

Corey Templeton

John Golden explores Portland's grilled cheese options this week, decrying the slim pickings yet also skipping two new grilled cheese-only venues, Maps and Arcadia National Bar (it turns out he wanted lunch grilled cheese, not dinner grilled cheese, and these spots open too late).

Miss Portland Diner gets his "Best in Show" award, and he advises readers to "keep an eye on this iconic establishment because they're in the process of overhauling their kitchen and menu, which will be complete by November 1."

He enjoys Hot Suppa's take as well as Blue Spoon's "creative sandwich with taleggio cheese, apricot jam and arugula on thick peasant style bread," though the "ooze factor" on these isn't as high as the one at Miss Portland Diner. The no-frills sandwich at Q Street Diner in South Portland "fared well." He expected better from Becky's Diner: Their version "was very disappointing. I asked for plain white bread and cheddar and that's what I got."

Golden ends with notes from his home kitchen experience, leading to a confusing bread recommendation: "For bread I'll use what I have, though Arnold's Country White is a good choice, though a bit on the thick side, however, I weigh it down, applying pressure on the grill press." So maybe try Arnold's. Or not.

Another installment of The Golden Dish takes a First Look at Sur Lie, Portland's latest tapas restaurant. Obligatory hipster reference: "From serial foodies hoping to break bread with the next superstar chef to the usual hipster crew of culinary night-crawlers, it seemed like one big party."

"Don't miss the cream of corn" or the escabeche of mussels, but think twice before ordering the egg and tian and the BBQ 'shrooms. The million dollar question: Can the restaurant join the ranks of Hugo's, Eventide, Central Provisions, Lolita, or Miyake? Golden's ultimate takeaway: "After three visits during opening week - too soon for anything more than an overview - I can say it's an extremely likable place with well-prepared food." He'll be back.

A postscript peeks into Bramhall for an even more cursory glance, whereas Kate McCarty delves deeper into the "dungeon-esque feel" of the reincarnated pub for her First Look. Cocktails, beer, and wine: Thumbs up. Loaded crisps (the menu uses the British word for potato chips, for some reason): "A standout." The burger (which involves bits of bacon in the patty and is cooked sous vide rather than to temperature): "Outstanding."

Conclusion: "I'm so excited to have the Bramhall open again and look forward to my next trip there. The vibe is speakeasy meets dive bar, and so if you like drinking in dimly-lit bars, this is your place." The West End continues its rise to food prominence.