I had never been to Twenty Milk Street and don't frequent hotels or the restaurants within them but I heard the menu was great. Upon arrival, I was seated in a mostly empty dining area, as I arrived at 8:15 after an ocean lecture and they closed at 9. I was put next to the fire, only the best seat in the house. I was given homemade bread and butter to start and ordered brussels sprouts, braised short-rib pot pie and a banana sundae off their three course menu. I was so happy.
The brussels sprouts were mixed with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly and drizzled with maple aioli. The pot pie was done well but the chicken with risotto or salmon might have been a more flavorful or texturally enjoyable choice. I did take the rest of the dish home to mix with soup, which was a great addition though. Finally, the dessert was satisfying but I was a little full by that point. And yet, it was a delightful twist on traditional sundaes that I had to taste. The ice cream itself was blended with caramelized bananas and topped with fresh rum caramel and finished with (the best part) candied walnuts. The whole meal was made even more enjoyable by the low-key atmosphere of the late time and the warm fire. Had I been there at a more eventful hour, I maybe have felt differently.
The next night, I found myself sitting at the bar in Petite Jacquline. Couples and families were all around me but I had baguette and butter to keep me company. Each year, this is one of my favorite meals. Mostly because I miss France and dream about the food quite often. To start, I ordered a simple green salad with vinaigrette. The lettuce is so fresh and crunchy that it actually makes me want to eat salad all the time. The salad left me able to eat my main dish, beef bourguignon, in perfect happiness, as it wasn't heavy or overwhelming. Now, the stew was really the reason I came, or was it the dessert? Or was it everything else about the meal. C'état incroyable.
Beef bourguignon is a somewhat simple dish that I have never even thought about preparing but really should. The tender meat comes melds together with vegetables in a finger-licking good liquid. The baguette was the perfect accompaniment to sop up the remnants of the stew in a way that I wish I could repeat every day. The meal was paired with a hard cider from Bantam, a favorite maker. Finally, the dessert was a pot du creme au chocolat and a double decaf espresso and Bailey's. Oh mon dieu. I can't wait for next year's Restaurant Week!
Finally, the last venue of note was Gather, in Yarmouth. I'm sure I've mentioned that I worked here when it first opened in 2012 and I loved the food, the people and just about everything except the drive and the reality of being a waitress. But anything to make rent, right? Once, I was proposed to by a particularly fun table but I had to decline and I was the only server who would take the dozens of water bottles outside to be emptied for washing, instead of pouring the liquid down the drain. If you know about the waste water cleaning process, you'll understand why. Anyway, the quality of the food hasn't changed. The bread and olive oil are still worth the drive alone and the cocktails, made by Eric, a remaining former coworker, are still top-notch. I went on a failed date this night, but the food saved me, yet again!
To start, we ordered the brussels sprouts and salad. Gather is where I first fell in love with brussels sprouts and the salad is also something I would truly eat every day. Whatever they do to it at the salad station works. For the main course, we both got the Nashville fried chicken, which was perfectly crunchy and tender at the same time. The spice level was just right and the biscuit it was served with was complementary, though whatever it was served with last year was better. The desserts consisted of a mocha bundt cake and their maple creme brûlée. The latter was creamy and light in a way that only creme brûlée can be. I love the fast-paced people-watching at Gather as servers and people are always entertaining and wish it wasn't so far away so I could visit more often (says the girl who drives down to Kittery for a cruller...).
On to the walks and wedding planning. On one such stroll, I found a pigeon wing, dismembered and thoroughly cleaned. It looked both out of place and artistic on the brick sidewalk outside my building. I hope a hawk somewhere had a filling lunch. Another walk took me down Pleasant Street, on my way to help a friend move into her first house. Next it will be my turn! But the walk took me past a parking lot with a painted sign which I had oddly never noticed. After searching the internet for a history of Corbett's Market, all I could find was a few photos of the same sight and a grocery of the same name in Oregon. Oh well.
Finally between helping plan a wedding, work and personal life, I was searching for the perfect wedding present for my mom, which was finally located it at Lulu Ceramics at 131 Sawyer Street in South Portland. I've always loved her dotted mugs and bowls but I found something even better to suit my mom and her new husband: white coffee and tea tumblers with green and blue glaze. Mission accomplished, thanks to Lulu's lovely collection (luluceramics.com). See next post for more wedding details and Texas visit summary.
Opening photo: Woodpecker hole, food along Stroudwater River trail.