Monday, March 17, 2014

The Blue Spoon (Portland, ME)

Located right at the intersection of Congress and Munjoy Sts. in the Munjoy Hill section of Portland, The Blue Spoon is a cute little restaurant that offers a Saturday (but not Sunday) brunch.  This is where we wanted to go the previous time I was in Maine, but it was so packed we ended up at East Ender.  With only about twenty to twenty five seats, it is easy for this place to fill up quickly, and though my meal had some disappointing aspects, I can see why The Blue Spoon is popular. 

My sister and I grabbed a late (around 1:00pm) brunch here after my old favorite, Bintliff's American Cafe, ended up being packed with a significant wait anticipated.  Neither of us wanted to deal with that, so we took a shot at The Blue Spoon again, which was basically empty this time when we arrived, though a few people shuffled in after us.

The coffee we were served was both quite good (not La Fiorentina level, but I would say it was equal to Amherst Coffee).  It was hot but not boiling, and replenished often; a good start for any restaurant serving breakfast or brunch.

I went with the restaurant's take on my personal favorite Eggs Benedict, which was completely not traditional but really interesting.  My sister had the classic two eggs, bacon, home fries and toast, which she was quite pleased with.  The "Benedict" consisted of a soft on the inside, crispy on the outside sweet potato pancake; not quite a latke, it was softer than that and was really more like mashed potatoes in pan seared patty form, though that was definitely not how it was constructed.  This was, without a doubt, the best part of the meal, as it was seasoned perfectly, had just the right balance of textures, and sopped up the yolk from the eggs.  On top of this were a couple thick slices of bacon, which somehow managed to be both crisp to the point of nearly crumbling and also chewy; I am not quite sure how this was achieved, but it was great.  The obligatory poached eggs perched atop the bacon, and were nicely cooked.

There ended the positives, however.  Sauce Hollandaise is a delicate, difficult to make (at least properly) item when you are in a restaurant, as you clearly cannot make it to order, and thus have to make sure it lasts properly.  That said, if your sauce breaks, do not serve it.  I would rather wait for you to make more and/or fix the sauce than get a runny, melted butter looking (and tasting) sauce that does not even resemble what it is intended to be.  The meal was good, but that was in spite of the Hollandaise, and quite frankly, I cannot believe that a restaurant of this quality would let something that clearly wrong go out to the table.  It cannot be that no one noticed; it was the first thing I saw when the plate was put down in front of me, and was completely obvious. 

Service was good; attentive but not annoying, and the waitress was there to refill our coffees and waters before either cup ever went dry.  I do not know if they could keep that up if the place was full, but considering how small it is, it would not surprise me.

So, all in all, how did I feel about this meal?  The best answer I can give is, I don't know.  I liked all but one element of the entire experience, but it was a key to the dish.  In fact, while Eggs Benedict is recreated with all sorts of strange ingredients, two things remain constant; the poached eggs and the Sauce Hollandaise.  Failing on one of those two items is difficult to look past, but the remainder of the meal was so good that I really want to.  I think I would have to try the place again, and probably the same dish again, to really form a solid opinion, but I could neither recommend nor discourage going to The Blue Spoon to anyone based off that meal.


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