Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ribollita- 41 Middle St., Portland Maine

For all of our special occasions, Mr. X and I eat at our very favorite restaurant, Ribollita (http://www.ribollitamaine.com/), located in the Old Port of Portland, Maine.

This small, intimate Italian restaurant is well known to locals, and those who have been lucky enough to discover it always go back. The dishes are all prepared using fresh, local ingredients, and diners can even view fresh, sumptuous, tomatoes perched on the kitchen window, just waiting to be cooked in an upcoming dish. The pasta is handmade, which is clear in he first bite of any dish that features pasta.

We were lucky enough to get a reservation for Valentine's Day, and enjoyed our meal with a house full of couples and friends dining together. Not one table stood empty in the two and a half hours that we spent enjoying our meal.

We arrived early for our reservation to be able to ensure we found parking (a daunting task in the Old Port) and took a seat by the door, where our server offered to bring us drinks off of their fantastic wine list. We chose the Jeio Prosecco, chilled to perfection, and sipped comfortably while we waited for our table. We also took the opportunity to order their most popular appetizer, the caramelized onion tart. It's important to note that if you want to sample this delicious treat, that it takes the kitchen 20 minutes to prepare it, as it's done to order. If you order it as soon as you arrive, you will not regret it.

Whenever we dine at Ribollita, the specials are always extraordinary, and at least one of us will order one. One this night we shared the special appetizer of oysters in lemon cello, and I had the special entree of scallops in Prosecco cream sauce over handmade Fettuccini. The rest of our meal consisted of a Caprese salad and a Tortellini En Brodo (tortellini in chicken broth) which we split, Veal Osso Bucco with Polenta entree for the Mr., and a dessert of their magnificent Tiramisu and a flourless chocolate torte with raspberry sauce, accompanied by espresso. We shared everything between us and enjoyed every bite.

The pacing of the meal was wonderful, and we passed over two hours without realizing it or feeling hurried by our waitress, who was wonderful. The feel was warm and intimate, and a great place to spend the evening. There wasn't a child in sight, and we spent a lovely adult evening in great company enjoying spectacular food.

So please, if you haven't discovered Ribollita yet, go there and plan to spend your evening sampling some of the most delicious food in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kon Asian Bistro

A few months ago Kon Asian Bistro (http://www.konasianbistro.com/) moved in down the road from us here in Westbrook, Maine. My husband and I perused the menu we received in the mail with interest, and listened to our friends who got to eat there before we did. We were dying to go, but, for many reasons, had to keep putting it on the back burner.

Finally, Mr. X and I got the opportunity to have a rare night out without the kids, and decided to indulge ourselves by visiting Kon. On a recent menu that was sent to us, we saw that Kon offers Hibachi entrees at 50% off and sushi at 25% off when you dine in on Monday and Tuesday nights. This just helped to justify our Monday night outing.

When we arrived at Kon, we were very impressed by the decor (I'm a sucker for fountains/ponds in the lobby). The hostess seemed a bit annoyed by our presence, and seated us in the main dining room. When I asked if we could be seated at a hibachi table instead, she seemed even more put out and told us there would be a small wait. We said we didn't mind. After only about ten minutes or so, out put out hostess seated us with a few other diners who had come in behind us.

Once the hostess left us, the service was wonderful. We decided to start off with a sampling from the sushi bar- a piece of king crab sashimi, a piece of octopus sashimi, and a house specialty roll, the American Dream. The sashimi was fresh, and delicious. The king crab and the octopus had no problem shining without the assistance of any additions besides the rice it rested on.

The American Dream roll deserves special attention. As a true connoisseur of excellent sushi, I can say with absolute conviction, that this is one of the finest sushi rolls it has ever been my pleasure to eat. This must be a new roll, or one exclusive to the Westbrook location, as it's not featured on the online menu, or the one that was sent to us. If you have the pleasure to try it however, please do. The roll features a flavorful, creamy, lobster salad, which rests on top of the roll which contains avacodo, and tempura shrimp, and is sprinkled with fish roe. The roll slices are perfectly sized so that you can fit them comfortably in your mouth in one bite, allowing you to enjoy the blend of flavors.

For our hibachi entrees, I ordered steak and scallops and Mr. X went for the swordfish. Hibachi meals include a tossed salad and a clear soup. When my salad arrived, I was very disappointed, which is hard to do with a side salad. Unfortunately the salad consisted mainly of iceberg lettuce, and that was mainly core. The salad had clearly been prepped and them refrigerated for some time with the dressing on it, leaving the dressing thick and clumpy, and the entire salad was colder than our hostess. The soup was much better, full of flavor for a simple broth, with fresh mushroom slices floating on the top.

Our hibachi chef was personable and entertaining, very typical of most hibachi chefs. My steak was cooked exactly as I specified (rare) and my scallops were tender and not over cooked. My husband's swordfish was fresh, flaky and full of flavor. Our rice was delicious, and our side of veggies were firm and tasty. The servings were very generous, making it almost impossible to finish off the plate after appetizers, salad, and soup. We did not go for dessert.

Overall, the meal was great, and the hibachi performance was fun. If you do decide to go on a Monday or Tuesday evening, be sure to go early or make reservations- the hibachi tables fill up fast! Also, even though we chose to leave the kids at home, there were several families there with kids, and they seemed to be having a great time. Maybe next time we'll bring the kids ourselves. Maybe.