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Restaurant Reviews


A rail-car Palace in Biddeford

Grab a stool at Maine's oldest diner
The barrel roofed train-car looks incredibly good given it’s nearly a century old.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  June 11, 2014


Finding balance in brisket

Savoring Salvage BBQ's take on casual dining
Salvage might suggest a plausible strategy to...salvage the distinctive experience of casual dining in Maine.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  June 06, 2014


Three times lucky

 Miyake Diner joins the masterful chef’s local line-up
Miyake’s new diner reclaims the location of his original restaurant, the wonderful Food Factory. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  May 16, 2014


Cheap soups for modern times

Mi Sen’s noodle bowls hit the spot
The Mi Sen Noodle Bar on Congress offers a premonition of the future of dining out: a satisfying meal that is globally inspired, up on the latest trends, and about the price of a good smartphone app. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  May 08, 2014


Dive bar alternatives

Upscale drinking, high and low
The former allows you to drink under 13 stories of home-grown bankers and lawyers; at the other, you’re lounging above a dozen floors of business travelers and tourists.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  April 17, 2014


Extreme localism

When flavors speak louder than words
Perhaps Vinland’s pontifications become white noise, which fades away as you appreciate the food and its distinctive coherence of flavors and textures — the Nordic, astringent, piney, ascetic goodness of it all.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  March 19, 2014


Distinctive suburban dining

Oscar's taps into new American sensibility
It is the rare chef, for example, who can make ordering the “veggie plate” seem like a good idea in retrospect — but the one at Oscar’s was fantastic, with a great mix of colors and textures.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  March 14, 2014


Cracking our hard exteriors

A meditation on mussels, clams, and oysters
These days it is mollusks like oysters, mussels, and clams (rather than crustaceous shellfish, like lobster, crab, and shrimp) that best represent our collective emotional temperament. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  February 27, 2014


Seeking perfection

Reviving the dim sum tradition at Empire
Empire Chinese Kitchen reclaims the name and space occupied by one of Portland’s earliest Chinese restaurants, a century after the original opened its doors.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  January 23, 2014


When 'typical' means tasty

Dominican classics translate well in Portland
customers should not look to El Tipico, a new Dominican restaurant tucked away across from Big Sky Bread on Deering, for ambitious cuisine.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  January 16, 2014


What food trends Portland will see in 2014

Following new roads
In anticipating 2014 perhaps its best to commit to re-appreciating what is familiar and reliable.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  December 26, 2013


For the tiny space and a light touch at Piccolo

 No small praise
As the carefully nurtured product of pair of married chefs, Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, Piccolo is perhaps best understood in terms of the little-beloved offspring who enchant us, but occasionally frustrate us as well — each in both expected and unexpected ways.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  November 27, 2013


Learn to love sour and bitter

 The long pour
If chefs make this cuisine appealing enough, perhaps a Scandinavian sensibility will worm its way deeper into our viscera. And if they lower our inhibitions with great drinks, so much the better.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  November 20, 2013


Two great new drink spaces: Vena’s and Omi’s

 Good things come in pairs
 Good things come in pairs
By:  |  October 30, 2013


Elsmere serves up fantastic meat

 Nailing the ’cue
Elsmere offers all the trappings of good meat sans the anxious self-righteousness with which too many chefs serve it and talk about it.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  October 24, 2013


Come to Maine, stay Phoever

 Enjoy the tastes at a new Vietnamese restaurant
Any place that thinks to name its spring rolls after the Bowdoin Log has some deep Maine knowledge.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  October 02, 2013


Boone’s steps up the traditional Maine game

 Pricey classics
 At the new Boone’s restaurant, classic New England cuisine is completely familiar, but elevated too (and priced accordingly).
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  September 26, 2013


Portland & Rochester gives Bayside another push

Rolling stock
P&R invites us to harken back to the day when “local” wasn’t a de rigueur menu adjective, but a basic fact of life.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  September 06, 2013


The great Enio’s, from the former owners of Rachel’s

 Maine favorites return
Enio’s may be run by veterans of the Maine restaurant scene, and be rooted in traditional strengths of Italian cuisine, but thanks to its imaginative menu and bright interesting space, it feels new and fresh.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  August 30, 2013

Two off-peninsula eateries offer a lunchtime lift

Sublime sandwiches
Long ago, lunch was the most significant meal of the day, giving farmers the energy to continue working through the afternoon and into the evening.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  August 30, 2013
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