Friday, March 11, 2011

Local Delicious, Whoopies and Spanish Eggs

Well hello everyone! The great thaw is slowly occurring in Maine and today, with temps around 50 and lots o’ rain, the snow is melting and with each inch we are all one step closer to summer. (I am over this). So in preparation for the “Great Thaw,” get out and enjoy the last three days of Maine Restaurant Week, and maybe if you wear a bathing suit, the sun will be forced to show up too. Additionally, I’d also like to briefly report on a business a new friend is starting. Her name is Beth and makes Whoopie Pies, so naturally I sniffed out a sample faster than you can say sugary goodness. Here is her contact info below.

Elizabeth Nason
Whoopie Pies, Breads,
Cookies, Cakes and more…

These are the best Whoopie Pies I’ve ever had. The chocolate cake was moist, dark and not too sugary, and the cream filling? So fluffy, rich vanilla taste and again not riddled with that crunchy sugar issue that so often plagues the Whoopie. I’m telling you these little guys are delicious. Help my new friend Beth, the baking entrepreneur and BUY HER PIES! You won’t be disappointed.

Now that I’ve given Beth some pastry love, let’s turn now to the restaurant on deck today. Local 188 on Upper Congress Street in Portland.

Local 188
685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102-3303

(207) 761-7909

The Novice Fork gives this spot
4 Forks for fun artistic atmosphere,
inventive food and great people watching

Local 188's front door, pulled from their website.

Where do you go for an excellent brunch when in Downtown Portland? Where do you go to have a loaded Bloody Mary or delicious spiced home fries? The answer is, of course, Local 188, the art’s district spot with a lush atmosphere and scrumptious, Spanish influenced sustenance. I love this restaurant. Simply put its cool, laid back, sexy, stylish and the food is excellent, unique and inventive. I could end the review here, but that’s too short and I’m feeling talkative today, so hang in there.

On this gray Sunday, following some research at the Portland Museum of Art, my fellow docent suggested brunch to fuel up and discuss art. Local 188 is the perfect place to do both things, really. You first notice the mismatched furniture, the beautiful murals on the lofty walls, and the warmth the surrounds you when you enter the front door. With velvet drapes, and wonderful smells from the open kitchen, you understand why this place remains so popular, 10 years after its opening.

Because it was brunch, I had to enjoy a mimosa, which was a perfect blend of Champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice. My friend? The Bloody Mary, (I hate these, but she said it was good) The food? We both got the $8 Huevos Rancheros, which were perfect. Sunnyside up eggs, black beans, and sour cream, salsa and delicious ranchero sauce, these Rancheros rival the plate I had down in Boston at Masa (If you diehard readers may remember?) They were that good, and the perfect amount of food on the plate. If the egg dish isn’t for you, they have a great assortment of traditional brunch items (Bagels, salads, omelettes) or dishes with the ever present Spanish flair, something for everyone. Oley! Their dinner menu is ever more comprehensive without being overwhelming, so check it out as well!

The service here is friendly and very casual, but it matches the relaxed art vibe well. The only thing I was put off by is how popular this place gets on a Sunday. It was wall to wall people and we had to wait at least 30 minutes for a table. But the food (and certainly the drinks) makes the wait well worth it. Just call ahead if you’re hypoglycemic or don't like wating in lines.

There you have it, another rave 4 Forker. Go to Local 188 for brunch or anytime during the day, have a cocktail or two. You won’t regret the visit.   

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