26 February 2007

bintliff's american cafe

dining date: 02.26.07
eatery: bintliff's american cafe on park ave
web: bintliff's american cafe
pricing category: pricey.
guest critic: sporty spice
overall grade: C

the lowdown:
-nice 'ship-like' atmosphere.
-cozy, borderline claustrophobic. plethora of wall-hangings.
-friendly service, the hostess was prompt and courteous.
-after hand-writing: "i will follow the strict guidelines imposed by the breakfast club and appreciate the honor bestowed upon me by brunching with such lovely people," 1000 times, sporty spice was allowed to guest review again.
-our waitress informed us that they were training a new cook, so it's possible some of our issues stemmed from inexperience.

the food
the benny girl
- omelette with spinach, basil, tomato, chevre and smoked salmon, tea, honeywheat toast and homies
- grade: C-
"i knew it was a bad idea to get an omelette. i never order omelettes. when my plate arrived there was only one piece of toast, a small smattering of homies and an omelette. it took one bite to realize that both the chevre and the spinach were missing. i told the server and she apologized and took it away. when it returned shortly thereafter, the two missing ingredients were there. however, a bone was in there too. seeing as i ordered "smoked salmon," i was definitely surprised to find both cooked salmon and a large fishbone in my omelette. needless to say, i stopped eating it after that. the homies were alright- nothing special. my one piece of toast was burned and under-buttered. not cool. the tea was fine, but she brought earl grey when i asked for english breakfast. i let that one slide. so all in all, not a good experience. the only redeeming thing was that the server was really great about all of the mistakes- they weren't her fault- and she took my meal off the bill, very cool of her. i tipped her well in return. all i can say is that luckily this wasn't my first bintliff's experience so i know how much better they can be."

the usual

- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee- "classic 2-egg breakfast"
- grade: C
"so i went to bintliff's with high expectations. everyone says it's the best brunch in town and their menu looked pretty great- even though- as usual, i would get 'the usual.' the atmosphere was classy, jazzy and old-fashioned. after perusing the menu trying to fool myself about possibly getting something else, i got 'the usual.' the coffee, -coffee by design- (not my fave), tasted a little hazelnutty and was slow on the refills- not a good sign. my food arrived with exactly 11 chunks of homefries, one piece of butter-deprived, 'grilled' toast, and two fried eggs with runny yolks. i had asked for 'over hard' eggs, as i can't stand yolk. after much stressing, i asked for new eggs- a first for me- i felt terrible, but hey, i'm paying and i hate runny yolk. my new eggs came back better, though still not cooked through, though i didn't have the heart to do anything about it. my second plate came with two times the homefries as the first, which was nice. unfortunately- they lacked any seasoning at all and the potatoes tasted like they'd sat outside all winter: bone dry. our waitress was very nice, especially considering all of the problems we had with our meal. too bad she wasn't in charge of the cooking. overall the food was unimpressive considering the price. i would say it's hard to be 'the best brunch in town' when you can't get 'the usual' right. even i can fry eggs."

wild toast
-louisiana bayou benedict and coffee
-grade: B
"to begin, our service was friendly, coffee and waters arrived a little slow but that was ok. the 'design' coffee was a disappointment and once i reached the bottom of my mug we needed to ask for more. no top off... my benny was quite good. the advertised corn cakes that it was served on were a little weak to stand up to the poached eggs, causing a mushy mash all over my plate. the homefries were like a baseline '91 toyota tercel, nothing special."

sporty spice
-omelette with roasted garlic, red pepper, mushroom, ched. cheese, red onion, tuscan white toast, homefries and coffee
-grade: C
"upon our seating, the first thing i notice was that the menus given to us were far too large for the small booth, creating an awkward situation from the start. once we received our coffee, i noticed that they did not use coffeepots, but instead had airpots containing the coffee. this meant that they would have to take our cups to the airpots to give refills, making refills an infrequent occurence, which they were. when my meal arrived i was disappointed by the fact that i only recieved one large slice of 'toast' instead of the standard two and that it was not toasted but grilled. a grilled piece of bread is not toast. also it barely had any butter on it, making it bland and dry. the homefries were unimpressive, bland, a bit soggy and overcooked. my omelette however was very good. the vegetables were delicious and the cheese was plentiful and melted. it was also good sized. overall though, i was very unimpressed by this dining experience: infrequent coffee refills, odd tasting coffee, crap homefries and not-toast all at a rather hefty price."

18 February 2007

the porthole

(Temporarily Closed- Opening Spring 2013)
dining date: 02.18.07
eatery: the porthole on the portland pier
web: the porthold
pricing category: super inexpensive for really amazing food -- no greasy spoon here!
guest critic: wizard rock 2000 & scrimps! (both came from out of state just to join us for breakfast)
overall grade: A+

NOTE: This review is old. The Porthole was delicious
when we ate here in 2007, but our commenters have had some negative experiences there more recently.

the lowdown:
- great atmosphere -- very briney & rustic -- right on the water...a perfect harbor restaurant!
- server very attentive and friendly...AND he looks like john belushi -- a definite plus
- very artisan toast and a nice medley of potatoes -- "it even looks like there's rosemary on there!"
- good layout of tables -- doesn't feel too crowded in there
- good long bar to eat at
- hostess looked miserable and like she hated life -- not a very friendly greeter
- a nice touch to the atmosphere was the boat outside with the pirate flag
- the specials board was in two locations -- very helpful
- if you have to go to the bathroom while you're there, you might want to just hold it. not the nicest bathroom...not a place where you'd want to change a baby.

the food
the benny girl
- 2 poached eggs, homefries, toast, bacon, brie, and tea
- grade: A+
"the porthole is basically my favorite breakfast restaurant in portland, and today's meal definitely didn't disappoint. the homies are amazing -- complete with crunchy little nubbies -- m'm m'm! the toast was perfectly golden, although it wasn't buttered. but that's okay -- the server must have telepathically known that i was just going to put my side of brie on the toast anyway. what a great server! the bacon is the best ever! i put it all together on the toast and made an open-faced breakfast sandwich that would blow your mind! the tea was good -- a little skimpy on the water, no pot, and wasteful containers again...but whatev -- a minor issue. my only complaint was that the water glasses say pepsi-cola on them -- i'm a coca-cola girl. overall, a fabulous breakfast!"

the usual
- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee
- grade: A+
"i just might have to say that this is my fav brunch spot in portland thus far. great food with a price that can't be beat. my eggs were without a doubt perfect. the toast (i had sourdough) was excellent...although, i had to get more butter for it. the homefries were the best in portland -- 2 - 3 types of potatoes, rosemary, spectacularly seasoned and not mushy. the coffee was okay, but there were frequent refills. last, but not least...our server was fantastic -- fast, friendly, and genuine. anyone who can handle us scribbling on a notebook at the table with grace, has my vote! overall an A+ for the day with NO complaints!"

wild toast
- sirloin benedict, homefries, and coffee
- grade: A+
"my first attempt at steak with breakfast -- how pleased was i. the spread of smokey, grilled sirloin strips topping the foccacia was great. two poached eggs paraded on the catwalk of strips -- truly a taste sensation! with a touch of salt & pepper, this meal was a hit! frequent coffee refills washed down the meal nicely. also, i got a great recipe for peachy chicken on the back of the malt vinegar bottle that was on the table."

- brown "flying spaghetti monster" t-shirt & jeans (apparently he thought we said "write down what you're wearing" when we said "write down what you ordered." he really got the harbor special.)
- grade: A
"well, this place was quintessential new england. grungy, greasy spoon-like -- the atmosphere is laid-back in a diner setting. who really cares what this place looks like -- we were here for the food. i fully recommend anything with the homemade sausage -- it was very good...not too spicy, but it had a really nice flavor. so overall, as a guest reviewer and visitor to portland, i would give this joint an 'A' for brunch. try it -- you won't be disappointed!"

wizard rock 2000
- breakfast sandwich with sausage and homefries
- grade: A+
NOTE: he drew a venn diagram showing the porthole as the union between 'tasty' and 'awesome.'
"m'm m'm m'm m'm, that was a tasty sandwich! the sausage, eggs, and cheese were cooked to perfection. the foccacia was fluffy and had a good crust. the homefries potato medley was crunchy, yet soft and buttery good. i really enjoyed the ambiance and the people-watching. quintessential mid-coast maine. i recommend this place to both friends and family. go ducks!"

NOTE: the core 3 give scrimps! and wizard rock 2000 an A+ as critics. they were well-behaved, followed all of the rules, and are devilishly handsome. they will definitely be invited back...as opposed to sporty spice, who is currently on breakfast probabation. (see last week's blog for the reason why).

12 February 2007

big mama's diner

dining date: 02.12.07
big mama's diner on dana street
pricing category:
cheap, cheap, cheap...it is a diner after all
guest critic:
sporty spice
overall grade: B+

the lowdown:
- cute little apron curtains, although they were a bit dirty and grimey
- the booths were a little small for 4 people, not very comfortable, and the table was slanted towards the floor...but that's all part of the experience
- apparently big mama's is "where it's all rainbows and sausages."
- waitress was wonderful, laid-back, prompt & friendly
- upon arrival, wild toast was drawn to the wall o' clocks and thought it was a lovely touch...although the benny girl was really stressed out about the backwards moving one. she has a hard enough time telling time on correct clocks.
- the atmosphere was a little awkwardly silent as there was no music playing. we were self-conscious that our giggling was disturbing the locals. in fact, one man started listening to his own headphones at one point. clearly it needs music.

the food
the benny girl
- eggs benedict with spinach & tomatoes, homefries, and tea
- grade: A-
"as per usual, i ordered the eggs benedict, but with tomatoes and spinach. i was a little leery, since diner hollandaise is usually disgusting...but big mama's hollandaise was really great and the english muffin was perfectly browned. the homies were a bit on the squooshy side but good. although the tea didn't come in a pot and the honey & half and half came in wasteful little plastic containers, it was still up to par -- nice and hot -- a pleasant surprise for a diner where tea is usually disastrous. all in all, a great diner experience."

the usual
- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee
- grade: B+
"my meal was good, but not stunning. the eggs needed a little more butter in the pan and were a little lacking in flavor. all in all, they were good enough. homefries were pretty basic and a little mushy. toast was perfectly buttered. i was a huge fan of the ketchup 'sharp shooter' bottle. the service was great. big mama's was a lovely slice of local culture."

wild toast
- "big mama's meal": two eggs, homefries, bacon, two pancakes, and coffee
- grade: B+
"the big mama meal -- pancakes (yes sweets), eggs, homefries, bacon -- was decent. standard 7 1/4" pancakes, over-easy eggs (my mistake -- one must have toast to sop up wet eggy bits), and somewhat plain homies left a bit of room for improvement. so big mama's is a diner. local spice. the bacon was unimpressive -- two spindly strips. but bacon is as bacon does, and that is usually creating tasty times. very nice service."

sporty spice
- he copied the usual's order...big faux pas. he will not be invited back until he can learn to follow the rules.
- grade: B+
"a hearty meal of eggs, wheat toast, and homefries, i enjoyed my meal. the eggs were cooked very well and the toast was crunchy and well-buttered. the homefries were mediocre but acceptable; very average. coffee was good, but a bit slow on refills. although the service was kind, warm, and inviting. the decor is of a small time local diner and i found it quite enjoyable with its odd decorations and pictures. overall, a very nice breakfast experience."

04 February 2007

artemesia cafe

overall grade: A / A+location: pleasant street
web: artemesia cafe
pricing category: a little pricey but WELL worth every penny...and all the other coins too
guest critic: annanna pants

the lowdown:
- free crossword puzzles -- great for a solo breakfast
- "the decemberists" were playing upon entering and were followed by one great album after another
- the server was super cute / nice throughout the whole experience
- the unique mugs were great, as were the creaming vessels!
- interior design / atmosphere is eclectic, creative, comfortable & artsy

the food:
the benny girl
- eggs florentine, homefries, bacon, tea, and mexican hot chocolate
- grade: A
"my only criticism is that i'd prefer it on an english muffin -- the scone was good, but crumbly. great hollandaise! spinach and tomatoes were very fresh. bacon was practically perfect. very good homies. perfect tea...a difficult feat to accomplish. oh, and the mexican hot chocolate = scrumdillyicious!!"

the usual
- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee
- grade: A
"my only criticism was that "the usual" was not a single menu item -- i had to create it on my own with sides. the toast was well-buttered on awesome multi-grain bread. eggs were excellent, but they were not quite over-hard. homefries had both sweet potatoes and red potatoes -- i can go either way on that combination. overall a perfect amount of food and wonderful service."

wild toast
- kielbasa hash & eggs, toast, and coffee
- grade: A+
"the overall experience was lovely!!! the presentation of my meal was a true delight -- a ceramic casserole dish of potatoes, sweet & white, and kielbasa tidbits, bite-sized tidbits. on top were two fried easy eggs topped with cheese. this is my one and only complaint -- the toast, which was awesome, was placed on top of the eggs and cheese, causing a cheesy goo on the bread. this i didn't appreciate, however, it was still good. i couldn't come close to finishing my meal...but that's normal for me. oh, and good coffee"

annnanna pants
- roasted red pepper fritatta and water
- grade: A
"well, i was flattered to be invited to this exclusive gathering. once i was given permission to order whatever i wanted, that made it even better. overall, the experience was great -- the food, the atmosphere, the company, the crossword puzzle...i have to say though, that all the analysis during the meal sort of overshadowed the meal itself. but it was good."