Thursday, March 02, 2006

Last night we went out with two friends to the Penobscot Inn and Restaurant on Rte 1 just south of Belfast. This inn has changed hands three times in the 4 years we've been here. The previous owner teamed up with Belfast celeb chef Oliver Outerbridge and opened Oliver's inside the inn. When she lost interest in the whole enterprise, she closed the restaurant, subdivided the property and sold off the ocean lot with a huge house she built on it. Now the Inn is owned by a very nice couple who are running the restaurant themselves. The have three rooms full of tables which I belive can fit up to 40 people for dinner. A bonus is their sunday brunch, which we'll have to try sometime later.

We ate on the early side and when we got the menus, what suprised us most were the prices. Every entry came with soup, salad, dessert and coffee and also included choice of vegetable and either roasted or mashed potatoes. Thats a heck of a lot of food, even for yours truly. The wine list had mostly $20ish range wines and there is a full bar...a bonus for me. With two bottles of red wine, two mixed drinks and two glasses of white, the total bill for four of us was $150.00, not too shabby.

Anyway onto the review....The first thing we all agreed upon was the lighting which was perfect; medium level, not too dim or too bright with small lamps on the tables, white christmas lights hidden behind the curtains and some over heads. We sat in the old covered porch which will be very crowded for diners come summer if all the tables are filled, but since there were only three tables open while we were there, it wasn't bad. The atmosphere was really nice and cozy. Leather couches and reading material in the hall outside, and nice prints and painted woodwork on the porch.
Three of us ordered the NY strip steak based on the recommendation of a friend who had eaten there previously and raved about the steak. Greg had the chicken schnitzle, which was a breaded and fried chicken with vegetables. We all had the lentil soup and ceasar salads and the comments after we left were that it was a good concept, all the food for one price, but because it was food service food, the quality was lacking. The lentil soup had too much onion and lacked any outstanding flavor. the ceasar salads were really weak looking but did include nicely shaved parmesan cheese on top. I would suggest salad in a bag from Hannaford with the extra cheese on top, it looks and tastes much better than what we got. The steaks were really nice cut, but probably also food service. They seemed to be fairly well brined. Greg says his chicken was thin and dry. When I had a taste I was pretty amazed that there was NO flavor to the chicken at all. It is fairly simple to add a bit of cayanne and some garlic powder to add a fantastic flavor to otherwise bland food. There were two thumbs up for the asaparagus, but I have to say how disappointed I was with the mashed potatoes, which tasted as if they were right from the box. Mashed potatoes should be lumpy, have the skins on, be mixed with chicken broth and liberally salted. ITS NOT THAT HARD!!!!
For dessert we all chose different things. Greg had cheesecake from a box with sad blueberry sauce over the top. I had the warm double fudge brownie sundae which was excellent and our friends had the rhubarb trifle which was passable and icecream which was creamy and nice. I had a very well appointed pot of tea too.
The overall thought on the place was a 6 to 7 out of 10. and the comment that if the place just concentrated on making the main courses better and more hand made while leaving out the soup and salad, and charging for better desserts, the place would be a real winner. It has potential here, but just stop with the food service food!!!!!


1 comment:

Liz said...

Isn't that just the way? Here's an opportunity to have a really nice restaurant, and they go and ruin it with bad food. Friends of ours have eaten there (they liked the meatloaf) but I haven't been tempted to go there yet, if at all.