Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three days in New York, Part 1

     Well hello there, fancy seeing you in this neck of the woods. It’s been too long, bub! I regrettably admit that I am more than tardy to this blogging party and have to apologize. Life, with all of its surprises and shit storms, can get in the way from your food blogging responsibilities. Sorry. In the time that has passed, I’ve been many places, seen many new sights and eaten many a fantastic meal. 2012 has been an amazing year of travel, personal growth and dope food, and I am very thankful for all the opportunities that have presented themselves. I thought I’d attempt now to relive some of it for you all today and in the days and weeks to follow, picking up just where we left off. Reunited and it feels so good, doesn’t it?

     So welcome intrepid eaters to another very long overdue installment of Novice Fork goodness, served hot and fresh (like a toaster strudel).  This time around I’ve traveled to a certain Big Apple, the great white way, Gotham… that’s right eaters, good ol’ NY of C!  New York City, simply put, is wonderful and continues to be my favorite city in the United States, and it all about the food and culture, the pace and architecture that makes NY what it is. On a recent trip I rediscovered why this place rocks my socks… lets take a peek together, shall we? Obvi…

The Grey Dog
242 West 16th Street
New York City

Cute, No?

The Novice Fork gives this neighborhood
spot 4 forks for charm, reliable food
and friendly, unpretentious service.

     Arriving early Friday morning for a long weekend in my favorite US city, my first foodie stop was in the land called Chelsea and to The Grey Dog. Established as a coffee house in 1996, this hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Chelsea is a favorite of locals (I.E those who live on the same block) and all New Yorkers thirsty for morning coffee, eggs benedict (or rancheros) and rustic charm. I loved it here! Reclaimed wood tables, mason jars for water glasses, amazing dessert and freshly prepared pastry selection, and very friendly, laid back staff, this place reads more Brooklyn or even Portland (Maine or Oregon) than fast paced and often expensive Manhattan.

     But this is what makes The Grey Dog so appealing. The atmosphere, dining room layout and even color on the walls add up to a warm, cozy and familiar atmosphere that makes hangover eggs on Sunday morning so much tastier. That Friday morning I noshed on their “Ol’ fashioned omelette” with cheddar and mushrooms that was on the far better side of standard. Their toast was thick-cut and delish. Home fries? Not bad either. My cohort had the Breakfast Quesadilla, which was also delish. With iced coffee and a slice of surprisingly good rhubarb pie later, I was ready for the weekend ahead. And thanks to The Grey Dog, that weekend included a few extra lbs… gee thanks.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

*!!!News Flash!!!*
Is Krusty's passion project doomed?
 This Just In!

It is still safe to eat in Portland, ME. I repeat it IS safe to eat in Portland, ME. With this week’s “wonderful” article about the safety of our fair city’s restaurants, I’ve come out of my mini retirement (sorry for the hibernation) to send out a little P.S.A about the best little food city in the U.S. of A… To all the food curious I endeavor to give you a much needed dose of confidence about what you eat… simply put, you’ll all be fine. Continue munching that pizza, don’t put down those fries, and slurp a few more oysters because this will all blow over. (But you might want to leave those Krusty Burgers behind.) I’m certain your favorite restaurant that didn’t “pass” will want your support, so go out to eat tonight! You’re welcome.

 -The Novice Fork

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

*!!!News Flash!!!*

This Just In!
Move over J's Oyster Bar, step aside Old Port Sea Grill, there is a new Oyster game in town. The former site of the much loved Rabelais Book Store will now be home to Eventide Oyster Co. Located on 86 Middle Street (you know, where all the cool restaurants hang out), and connected to the Portland institution Hugo's, the newest entry into the Portland Seafood scene looks very promising (Love that window-front logo). Eventide is so new they don't even have a website up yet, only a facebook profile. With a projected opening date of mid-June, Portlanders won't have to wait long to start binging. But this hungry food writer cannot wait to take his first bite (read slurp.) So if you are smart (I know you are), come join me mid-June for a bakers dozen or two of these delicious mollusks... Oysters are good for you, after all... It's scientifically proven.

-The Novice Fork

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Romancing the Restaurant, French Style

Hello faithful readers and welcome to the first review of 2012! I hope your New Year was as festive and slaphappy as mine was. (I’ll tell you now; I was a hot little tomato). Now that the stale taste of flat champagne and glitter has been eradicated, we need to get down to the good stuff, namely a new, fresh food post. But before we jump in with our forks, I feel the need to reflect. At the start of 2012 I have realized that we, you the reader and me the eater, have covered a lot of ground together. We have been to countless dinners, and had multiple, long conversations about food, wine and life. One might even say that we are dating, only in the platonic, food based and digital sense of course. (Is there any other kind? Please…)

It should be celebrated that you’ve made it this far with me, (since October 2010) because in that time we’ve laughed, cried and ate our way through some fantastic meals. This can only mean that we must be going steady, right? I’ve certainly taken you out to dinner a lot, had many glasses if wine with you across the table (or computer screen) and even took a few trips together, often to romantic places! (Vegas baby). I guess it’s time to consider this day, January 12th, 2012 as an anniversary of sorts, and a celebration that we’ve made it past the casual blogging plateau. (All those flirty texts were getting exhausting, weren’t they?) Things are getting serious and for that, I thank you.

Now, on our anniversary, it is only fitting that I review a romantic restaurant. And because what’s more romantic then the French and their food, (Ok maybe Italy, or the Caribbean, or something like that) today we go to Petite Jacqueline, with a rave.

Petite Jacqueline
190 State Street
Portland, ME

The Novice Fork gives this petite gem
4 forks for great French inspired food,
efficient service, and beautiful atmosphere.

The window front, so classy! 

Having been to this restaurant several times before, I’m amazed I haven’t sat down to review it yet. Seriously, what have I been up to? (Damn you Brad Goreski and your corky style sense.) But now that I feel confident enough to peel myself away from “It’s a Brad, Brad World” to write a coherent sentence, all attention must be paid. While relatively new to the Portland scene, Petite’s roots run deep (its creators are also behind what makes 555 so special).  But as the more casual and affordable cousin to 555, don’t expect to pay an arm and leg for its amazing food. Well maybe just a hand, at around $21 for the average plate.

Its no surprise the food experience here is a delicious French meal. But it’s the atmosphere that transports the eater to another country. Its all in the details here. Marble table tops, light wood floors, baguettes wrapped in brown paper bags, blue and white dish towels as napkins, and some of the best oysters I’ve had. This is good. My last visit with my best college friend only confirmed this. On a cold, late December night, I could only think of Petite Jacqueline with its warm, cozy dinning room, and elevated bar, to sample some delicious wine and reconnect. After waiting at the bar for a table for about 30 minutes (call ahead to make a reservation) we were seated and within seconds, fresh wine, bread (the baguette in the brown paper) were delivered by the very appropriately dressed wait staff (blue and white striped shirts anyone?) and orders for appetizers were made.

Settling on oysters, naturally, and salads for the both of us. The oysters, as confirmed by my mate, were excellent, as were the salads we ordered, the “Salade d'automne” or autumn salad with bleu cheese and roasted beets. For our entrees? We both ordered the steak frites, or grilled steak with salt and cracked pepper with hand-cut fires. Ordered medium rare and dressed in a simple sauce, this is one of the most delicious and simple dishes. Petite Jacqueline masters it.

Ending the meal with Crème Brulee, (and more wine) was icing on the very French cake we just enjoyed. I’m very glad my friend got to experience a new place, and I’m happy my new favorite restaurant remains top quality. One proviso (it might be a bit cheesy so forgive me)… Do remember that this is a romantic spot, so love the person you are eating with when you go. (Mine was of the platonic variety, but you get the idea. Maybe next time it won’t be… here’s hoping)

There is nothing like discovering good food with a great friend, and there is truly no restaurant in Portland ME quite like Petite Jacqueline. A very well deserved 4 Forks to you. I’ll be back soon and I’d better see you all there too, with a date.