Tag Archives: eating out

One of our favorites.

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As we were randomly driving around Vermont we hit Montpelier, the capitol, and remembered there was a fabulous high end restaurant we’d enjoyed on previous trips.

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Welcome to J. Morgan’s Steakhouse.

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A fabulous place that’s actually part of a hotel. It has a very retro, 1920’s, prohibition era type feel….

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And we hit it at the perfect time since you can rarely get in without reservations.

Apple cider mule?

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Don’t mind if I do.

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It was 3:00pm… but since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we decided to be tacky (really) early birds and go straight to dinner. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Which kind of sucked because this place can be pricey.

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A marvelous wedge salad with maple bacon and homemade blue cheese for me, the prerequisite French Onion soup for the spouse.

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The rack of lamb was tempting but I opted for the jumbo shrimp scampi instead.

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Good call. It was scrumptious, with just the right amount of garlic and wine.

And because we were in a steakhouse?

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The filet mignon with burgundy reduction for the husband.

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We basically had the whole place to ourselves, just a few customers scattered here and there. And those amazing lights?

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Made sure the rare filet my other half ordered was definitely that.

If you’re ever in Montpelier? Be sure to stop here. You won’t be disappointed.

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Let’s just drink.

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One of our favorite restaurants has been letting us down lately.

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And while the cocktails and atmosphere are still wonderful ( fresh blueberry mojito, yum!) the quality of the food has been going downhill. Garlic Parmesan wings? Dry and tasteless.

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Pricey pan seared scallops on risotto? Over cooked seafood on a soggy bed of mush.

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Burgundy braised short ribs? Chewy shoe leather. It all looked good, but wasn’t. So we’ve decided one of our favorite dinner restaurants will now just be one of our favorite watering holes.

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Cucumber and elderflower cooler? Yeah, I’m not giving that up.

And the regular bar crowd is a hoot.

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Mr. I Drink My Jameson With A Cover and A Straw In Case I Spill was back, and you have to appreciate a man who knows his limitations.

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Food porn and silliness.

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There’s good news coming ‘round the bend.

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It’s a raspberry type of thin mint without the mint. Sign me up!

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We stopped into an uninteresting restaurant the other day because we were in an area we didn’t know. The atmosphere was lackluster, the meal uninspired… but the fresh seafood chowder with crab, shrimp and haddock? Perfection! I’d go back just for that.

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And I have to admit the restroom sign made me grin.

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I think that’s an advertising bridge too far.

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Of course.

Because when I’m craving comfort food… kale, quinoa and soybean ice cream really hit the spot.

Not!

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What cod be better?

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On the way to the commissary in Bangor the other day we were disappointed to find our favorite little diner closed for lunch. This sent us searching far and wide for something quick other than the awful fast food chains. Pulling off the highway at the small town of Newport, we took a chance on a place called Anglers.

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Despite the name, (Newport is neither new… incorporated 1814… nor a port anywhere near the water) I didn’t hold out much hope for fresh seafood.

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The restaurant is a dressed up family diner but damned if they didn’t make a nice cocktail.

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An Absolute Citron deckhand lemonade. Quite refreshing.

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I went with the smaller ‘minnow’ portion of fried shrimp and was pleasantly surprised. Fresh, light and perfectly cooked. Husband had a nice clam chowder and broiled scallops which he said were equally good. But the thing that really rocked my world and made me do more than merely contemplate returning?

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.99 cent drafts. And my husband doesn’t drink Budweiser, this was a Maine craft beer called Allagash White which normally costs him $7 -8 a glass. We wondered if this was a serious senior discount, a special price for veterans, or the waitress just made a big mistake. On the way out we asked… and were told all drafts are .99 cents, all the time.

Needless to say this will now be our go to lunch destination before the monthly commissary run.

👍

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Ragin’ Asian Cajun?

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My girlfriend and I went shopping last week and were excited to discover a new Cajun seafood restaurant had opened in South Portland. Mouth watering for shrimp ettouffe or crawfish gumbo, we entered The Shaking Crab.

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Why was the crab shaking? I have no idea. But the place being nearly empty at the height of the lunch hour should have been our first clue something wasn’t quite right.

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Six dollar drinks went a long way to calm our suspicions…

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Though the Cajuns I’ve known wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a watermelon-tini.

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Giant plastic crabs were everywhere. As were plastic starfish and randomly placed hanging plastic water bubbles.

All the waitstaff were Asian. 9/10ths of the customers were Asian. The scent of the room was reminiscent of an Asian kitchen. The menu? Not an ettouffe, Boudin, or jambalaya in sight.

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Though you could order “coleslow” and “braccoli ”. (These appeared twice, spelled incorrectly both times.) I didn’t bother taking pictures of our meals, they were just typical fried seafood baskets as the only other choices were giant plates of steamed things in a plastic wrap bubble you had to crack, and we didn’t feel like making a mess. I did try to catch a shot of one being delivered to another table, but missed.

Imagine a giant Jiffy Pop balloon encircling a metal dish, only its clear plastic instead of foil. It was an absolutely bizarre presentation of what I’m assuming was meant to be a crawfish boil.

I lived down south. I had Cajun friends and neighbors. I’ve sucked heads. Whatever The Shaking Crab meant to be? It sure as hell wasn’t Cajun.

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Harvest time.

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Autumn is the traditional season of harvest. Pumpkins, apples, squash. But yours truly prefers the liquid version…

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Harvest Sangria!

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This drink is da bomb and I’m not ashamed to say I had three with lunch the other day.

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Looking out the extremely dirty window is some fall foliage on the river, an old mill and the historic bridge the town keeps trying to replace.

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Inside there was a calamari appetizer with orange hoisin sauce to share, a crab roll for me….

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And seafood scampi with scallops, shrimp and mussels for the hubs.

Life is good.

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Thanks again Covid 19.

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The husband has been trying to talk me into trading in my 2014 Subaru Forester for years now. But I love Ethel, and she only has 64,000 gentle miles, so I keep saying no.

Determined to prove that now is the perfect time to upgrade, I allowed him to drag me to a dealership to check out the 2022 models. There was only one problem.

There aren’t any 2022 models.

We checked 4 dealerships, but due to chip shortages and shipping backlogs the closest they could show me was a 2021 loaner of an entirely different grade.

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The husband insisted we test drive it, which we did. And while I admit it was newer and a bit peppier than mine, I was less than thrilled with the new energy conserving process that shuts off the engine every time you idle at a stop light. While the actual shutting down was smooth, the restart was jarring and bound to be annoying over time. They told us we could disable the feature, but it would have to be done every single time we drove as it resets to default.

For $38,000 plus? I said no thanks. But the husband was pushing me to order a new one and wait God knows how many months to get it….

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So he dragged me into the salesman’s office and had them appraise Ethel for a trade.

My Ethel.

I understand she’s 7 years old.. but she has low mileage and is loaded (with heated leather seats, back up camera, Nav and panoramic moon roof). My absolutely perfect Ethel… who Kelly Blue Book says has a trade in value of $16,500 and a private sale value of $17,800?

They offered us $10,000.

And that was all it took for my husband to be insulted, leave and stop badgering me to trade my vehicle.

Thank you Covid 19. Your virus induced shortages actually benefitted me this time around.

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After that fiasco, it was time for lunch at one of our favorite waterfront restaurants.

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A raspberry lime gin Ricky…

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And a scrumptious crab cake appetizer later, I was on my way to happy.

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Add a Campari Sangria and a fresh panko breaded haddock sandwich… and I was there.

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The husband started with clam chowder and moved on to a blood rare filet with grilled asparagus which, while quite satisfying….

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Set our wallet back a cool $53.

So yeah, thanks Covid 19 for driving food prices up so high our favorite place for lunch now makes my debit card shudder.

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Lovely fall photo inserted just because I can.

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I’d almost forgotten what it felt like.

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Stopping at the new pub everyone is raving about…

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Not having to make reservations, worry about masking or social distancing.

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Cruising the cocktail list…

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And enjoying a few boozy blueberry lemonades.

The food?

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Fabulous! A hand tossed wood fired chicken Florentine pizza for me, grilled sea scallop salad with candied pecans and strawberry vinaigrette for the husband.

Life. It finally seems to be getting back to normal.

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Of tables, poorly placed rabbits and disappointing food.

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After the husband decided on leather chairs for his man cave, the focus switched to a table to put in front of them. Having just spent two exhausting days in and out of a disturbingly high number of furniture stores, I was less than enthusiastic. And when I saw what kind of tables he was considering?

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(Tables should not have wheels!) I was even less enthusiastic.

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Thinking he’d taken leave of his senses, I cried Uncle and headed for the ladies room before our two and a half hour long drive home.

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And if there was ever a stranger place to decorate with rabbits? I don’t know where it would be. No one needs a fluffle of Thumpers looking over their shoulder in a bathroom stall. Talk about performance anxiety… geesh. ( And yes, a group of rabbits really is called a fluffle. Which, when you think about it… is totally spot on. )

On the way home we stopped at a restaurant we’ve always enjoyed but haven’t frequented since early 2020.

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Is the beer really better there? I don’t know, but they have an extensive list to be sure. They also pour some interesting martinis …..

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So naturally I indulged in two Prickly Pears. The drinks were fabulous…

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But tiny.. more like wide lipped shot glasses. And for $24? I’d like to take more than 4 sips.

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While the food looked wonderful, shrimp stir fry for me… Parmesan baked haddock for the husband… both were dry as a bone, overcooked and cool when they reached the table. French onion soup forgotten and delivered with the meal? That’s a big no no. By the time the husband started his fish, it was stone cold. A disappointing visit to a place we used to love.

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Pepper’s Landing

 

A restaurant review in which we make cocks out of mocks.

 

 

I’ll explain later…

Pepper’s Landing is a new seafood place we’d been wanting to try.

 

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It follows the latest trend of slightly industrial looking spaces, with exposed duct work and open rafters.

 

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Being Maine, naturally there’s a live lobster tank.

And being allergic, naturally they sat me right next to it. Cruel and unusual punishment to be sure.

There was also this handy technical breakdown for the lobsterly challenged among us.

 

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I got a huge kick out of this as no Mainer worth their salt would ever eat the body (carapace).  Of course no Mainer would ever call it a carapace either.

Though  “Do not eat head” is always sound advice in a restaurant.

 

 

But call me crazy, I don’t think advertising your lobster as “stringy” and “gamey” is going to win many converts.

Moving on…

 

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I opted for a blueberry martini, which was delightfully potent… but my girlfriend chose the Blue Atlantic mocktail….

 

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And then added two shots of Grey Goose.

Putting the cock in her mock.

Fresh blueberries, fresh basil…. it was fabulous! And what we drank from then on.

 

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We saw some massive bar pretzels going by, but opted for blueberry bbq wings…

 

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And crab quesadillas instead.

 

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Wings? Quite good.

Quesadillas? Not nearly enough crab.

Perhaps they fought back in the kitchen…

 

 

I chose the seafood pasta, which was basically scampi…

 

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And though it looked bland…. it was fresh, perfectly cooked and with just the right amount of garlic.

Husband went with baked haddock in sherried butter and lobster cream sauce with asparagus.

 

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Pardon the blurred photo, I think the Grey Goose was kicking in.

 

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Dessert was cheesecake for the husband.

 

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And a traditional Maine Whoopie Pie for me.

Slightly disappointing as it had been frozen and hadn’t thawed out properly. One should not risk breaking a tooth when one eats a Whoopie.

Rating?

B – ,  but worth trying again.