Saturday, February 28, 2004

Siam, Portland

Greg and I stopped in Portland for dinner on our way to Boston last week. It took us 3 hours to get down from home to Ptown because of the snow storm, so needless to say I was cold and grumpy when we got there. After splitting a bag of pretzels on the way down, I wasn't that hungry, nor did I want anything to drink, so much to our server's dismay on a Saturday night, we ordered just water and two appetizers.

I think Siam is a new place in the old port section of town. It appeared hip and cozy and had a huge salt water fishtank in back that was completely cool. Big stone sculptures adorned the walls as well as official portraits of the royal family of Siam that hung above the bar. Very cool. I had steamed dumplings with a spicy ginger dipping sauce that were heavenly and Greg ordered the Sate. Both portions were really ample and the sauces were fabulous. Once we explained to our server that we needed to get back on the road to Boston in the snow, she completely understood our situation and was very friendly. Great place, highly recommeded.
Food: A
Service: A
Atmosphere: A

Update on the Summer House Cafe, Belfast

So, Vicky and I decided after our 2 mile walk with the black beasties this morning that we should celebrate and do lunch somewhere....we thought about driving to Rockland and then going to the Farnsworth, but quickly lost our enthusiasm to drive so far and settled on the Summer House Cafe, the new gig in town.

If you read the last review I gave the place, we didn't even stay to taste the food, but left after the fifth time we were told that "someone would seat us in just a moment." This time we were seated right away.

I was dismayed to see that one isn't able to order breakfast food past 11am, even on weekends when that is really what one wants to order. Sigh......Ok, keep an open mind I thought. The menu is a bit cutsie for me...I didn't want to order the chicken salad with apples because I didn't want to have to say "I'll have a cluck fruitie on rye, please" So I went with the Thanksgiving gobbler...turkey and cranberry salsa with stuffing on bread. and Vicky had a cup of cream of mushroom soup and a 1/2 a grilled Reuben, which looked and smelled really good. She loved the soup and said the reuben was one of the best she's found in Maine so far. Mine was great too, though a bit skimpy on the turkey (one slice) and heavy on the stuffing.

We admired the decor, which is cute, but not overly so...blueberry rakes adorned the walls of the room we were in. The table was large and the chairs very comfy.

When dessert time came, the server talked me into the triple chocolate silk cake which she said was delicious. She must have had a different version, because this piece was terrible. I love chocolate, but this cake, which is supposed to be like three layers of mousse and or pudding, tasted like tasteless rubber. Thumbs down for that dessert. I have had their things in the past when the chefs worked in another location and I thought they were good. This must have been an off day for the silk cake though. Yuck.
Food: B
Atmosphere: B+ the green walls get to me after a while
Service: A- She talked me into dessert when I didn't really want it..mark of a good server

Chicken Stew with artichokes

What do you do when you find yourself and bachelor or bachelorette for the week with no food in the house and no one to cook for? Call a friend who will volunteer to bring chicken and wine as long as you have something to put the chicken in. "will a pan do?" I asked..."thats a start" retorted Vicky, causing me to scour the bare cupboards for something to make with chicken and wine. To my suprise, I found that a lot of unrelated ingredients can come together to make a tasty meal. Here is what I found in my cupboard:
dried basil
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
baby carrots
frozen lima beans
a can of artichoke hearts (something every kitchen should have all the time)
Vermouth (mmmm)
fresh orange juice
chick broth
a pack of Spanish rice

As soon as the 3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) arrived, I washed it and trimmed the fat and cut into bite sized pieces. Then dredged the pieces in a mixture of the first seven ingredients above (a dash of everything except the flour and garlic powder) The allspice was really suprisingly tasty in this. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown the chick on all sides with some added minced garlic and an onion if you have it.
As soon as chick is browned, add a handfull of baby carrots and a smattering of lima beans and let the veggies get tender. The add the can of artichoke hearts and cut them up a bit in the pot with a knife and fork. stir the mixture up all the while to cook the chicken. Add the orange juice next (I used one orange) to glaze everything. Vermouth (just a dash) or white wine. Let the flavors meld for a while before adding about a 1/4 cup of broth. You don't want this to be soupy. After the broth addition, let the whole simmer down and then wisk in a tablespoon of the leftover flour mixture to thicken what sauce there is.

Serve over the rice. Makes enough for two.


Friday, February 27, 2004

Update on Angler's, Searsport

WOW, what a change in circumstances! We went back to one of our favorite places for dinner with Vicky and found the food to be really pretty bad. We ordered onion rings to start, which were still pretty good. Greg said his fried fish fillet was ok, but not as good as in the past. Poor Vicky had the crabcakes. Who knows what the cook did to these, I thought they were deep fried and had been waiting around under the heat lamp for a while. They arrived flat and dark and looking like a hamburger. I heard last night from a friend who had the crabcakes on his visit there who said his crabcakes were about the same, inedible. I had trouble ordering. We got there at about 6:30 and the place was out of chicken and hamburger. I saw one of their salads go by and knew I didn't want that...I ended up having them make me a grilled cheese with tomato and fries. It arrived as mostly fried bread and old fries. All I can say is: "Clean up your act Anglers!!"

Cedar Crest Motel Coffee Shop, Camden

Had never heard or noticed this place for the first two years I lived here. Then I noticed the "breakfast" sign as I drove south on Rte I just south of downtown Camden. It took me another year before trying the place.

Greg and I were famished coming back from hiking with the dogs, so we decided to try it. The place is totally tucked away and has windows facing the Camden Hills so it really is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Camden. The decor is curious. There are marine paintings on the wall for sale. A large coastal scene greets you when you come in the door...its by a 19th century Dutch artist and is for sale for something like $19,000. What caught my eye most about the work was the bit of gravy in the corner of the painting.

We were tired, parched, and so hungry. Greg ordered his usual deep fried fish and taters which was still not as good as the fish one gets at the Irving Station in Searsport. I had the chicken quesadilla, which was a huge portion and came topped with sour cream and canned salsa. It was ok, but the chicken should have had a bit more flavor and there needed to be more cheese. The service was really friendly and the place was pretty clean. I hear the breakfast menu is great.

Food: C+
Atmosphere: B+
Service: A