Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jimmy the Greek's - Maine Mall, South Portland, Maine

Review – Jimmy the Greek’s

Review by Don Taylor


I had the opportunity to go to Jimmy the Greek’s for a birthday celebration. It was a very dear friend of ours mother’s 83 birthday and a medium sized group of us met to celebrate with a Lunch at Jimmy the Greek’s.


Logo of Jimmy the Greek's (From Facebook)
The entire party would number 15 individuals and we arrived as probably eighth and ninth in the group. We mentioned which group we were a part of and were directed to a large room with seating for about 24 or so. There were water pitchers on the table and glasses for everyone. There were also small plates and silverware wrapped in napkins on the table. We helped ourselves to water and began chatting with the other guests. My wife knew all of them but hadn’t seen several of them in many years. Our waitress person did wander through and refill the water pitchers and asked if anyone wanted anything from the bar.

I was very pleased to learn that we could order anything from the menu. I succumbed to the advertising hype, “From its origins in California food trucks, Street Tacos are the Rage!” and ordered the “Street Tacos.” They sounded very good, three grilled flour tortillas with kimchi, lettuce, pineapple salsa and a chipotle lime drizzle. Served with tortilla chips. There were five choices, Pulled Pork, Blackened Chicken (spicy hot), Blue Moon Haddock, Shrimp (add $2.00), and fried Avocado. I picked the haddock.

Smothered Steak Tips (Teriyaki)
Jimmy the Greek's - South Portland, ME
My wife ordered the “Smothered Steak Tips” which promised to be “a generous portion of steak tips smothered with peppers, onions & mushrooms and finished with honey bourbon or teriyaki glaze.” My wife went for the teriyaki and for sides she ordered a Caesar salad and garlic mashed potatoes. I thought that sounded good and ordered a Caesar salad side also. My wife also ordered a glass of the house red wine.

Her wine arrived in a reasonable amount of time. So did the salads, which were very nice size and taste for a “side salad.”

It didn’t seem that the server had any assistance bringing food to the large table, so food arrived one couple at a time. It didn’t take too long for everyone to have their food, but luckily some of the other people said to eat and not wait until everyone was served.

"Street Tacos" - Blue Moon Haddock
Jimmy the Greek's - South Portland, ME
My tacos looked awesome. Almost too much fish. The “kimchi” wasn’t like any that I have had before but it was still quite good. Shredded very thin, almost the consistency of sauerkraut. The chipotle lime drizzle was extremely good. It was hard to get the monster into my mouth (they were much larger than they look in the photograph), but I was able to do so. It was very good. Tasty. The pineapple salsa and lettuce were on the bottom, which was a good thing. The chips were kind of plain and not a reason for coming.

My wife’s steak tips were very good; they arrived medium rare as ordered. The teriyaki sauce was good, but the peppers and onions were a bit overcooked. The garlic mashed were a good complement to the teriyaki, as anticipated, and were acceptable.

I didn’t notice any desserts on the menu; maybe they have a separate one. Of course, we weren’t interested in any dessert because we had birthday cake brought in celebration of “Mom’s” birthday. The server did make sure we had plenty of plates and silverware to support the cake.

Chalkboard at Jimmy the Greek's, South Portland.
I was tired of sitting, so I wandered around a bit. The most obvious thing to notice is they have many beers on tap. I asked the bartender who indicated they have 53 items on tap. I also noticed many bottled beers as well. It looks good. According to their website, they have some “150 beers from around the world.” They have a chalkboard that shows their various specials throughout the week. One thing I haven’t seen anywhere before is Thursday night is their Martinis and Manicures. I’ve seen martini nights before, but I just might have to swing by some Thursday for a free manicure. It might be fun.

  • Ambiance: 3 (Seating was typical for a pub.)
  • Food: 4 (Every item was fine; nothing stood out as exquisite.) 
  • Service:3 (Server was adequate, but it was a party of 15.)
  • Price: 4 (Lunch was about $15 each, not including drinks)
  • Value: 4 (Better than average for pub food.) 

The food was good, service okay, and the value better than average. I will definitely add Jimmy the Greek’s to my places to eat near the Maine Mall.  By the way, happy birthday to "Mom B." We had a great time.

Location

We visited the Main Mall location, which is at 150 Philbrook Ave, South Portland, ME 04106
There is another location in Old Orchard Beach that is about the same distance from our house.

Jimmy the Greek's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Egg and I - Scarborough, ME

Our favorite restaurant in Scarborough for breakfast has a great lunch too.  

The Egg and I
Scarborough, ME
It is rare when you find a restaurant that has the perfect blend of price, quality, and service blended with really great food. For us, the Egg and I in Scarborough, ME is one such place. I had originally thought that it was a local restaurant that had one new location in Portland. I was wrong, it is a small chain of over 100 restaurants in twenty states.[i] The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch.

My wife and I had been to the Egg and I in Scarborough several times before we moved to Maine last June. It was one of the first restaurants we went to for breakfast after we located to the state and continued to be impressed by their great food. We noticed some really interesting  items on their lunch menu, so we thought we’d stop by for a lunch.

Photo of Cheddar Cheeseburger by Don Taylor
Cheddar Cheeseburger w/Bacon
at the Egg and I
I drink coffee most any time so I ordered the coffee and our standard, water with lemon. After as quickly as we received our waters and coffee we were ready to order. My wife decided upon a
Chicken Apple Walnut sandwich, which is touted as, “A blend of chicken, apples, walnuts, celery, green onions and mayonnaise. Served with lettuce and tomato on grilled raisin bread.”

I felt like a burger so I ordered the Cheddar Cheeseburger, a “Grilled burger patty topped with melted Cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and mayonnaise.” I ordered extra “crisp bacon” on my burger for an additional charge.

Photo of Cheddar Cheeseburger by Don Taylor
Cheddar Cheeseburger w/Bacon opened
The Egg and I
The food arrived quickly, as is usually the case at the Egg and I and it looked great. My burger was beautiful, the thick cut bacon extended over the edges of the sandwich and looked perfectly done, crispy, yet not burned. I had to open it up to see inside and really check out the sandwich -- tomato looked ripe and delicious, two slices of cheddar cheese, a nice bit of lettuce, and both sides of the bun toasted. Who could ask for anything more. I bit into the burger and found the meat cook exactly as I asked for it and it had a proper amount of juicy goodness -- I loved it. The Egg and I doesn’t serve fries but has a nice assortment of other sides to accompany the meal. I had ordered cottage cheese with a side of blue cheese dressing. I was very happy with it. The portion was adequate and the cheese was solid. The blue cheese dressing was likewise delicious.

Photo of Chicken Apple Walnut sandwich on Raisin Toast with side salad by Don Taylor
Chicken Apple Walnut sandwich on Raisin Toast
The Egg and I
My wife’s chicken apple walnut was excellent as well. Flavorful. If it were me I would have asked for it on something other than raisin bread, buy my wife said, “No;” she really liked the raisin bread and raved about how well it complimented the chicken, apple, walnut blend. I stand corrected. Her accompanying salad looked wonderful, all the items were clearly fresh and a nice mix of ingredients.

Our server, Steve, was excellent throughout our experience. His timing was spot-on, he anticipated our needs, for example, he asked me if I would like a dressing for the cottage cheese.  When he refilled our waters he included additional lemon. His friendliness was appreciated.

The Egg & I on Urbanspoon
  • Ambiance: 4 (Clean and open, good for conversations.)
  • Food: 5 (Every item was cooked perfectly.) 
  • Service: 5 (Server was friendly and attentive.)
  • Price: 5 (Lunch was under $12 each, not including drinks)
  • Value: 5 (For lunch I don’t know of many places nicer, more civilized, with better prices.) 
Yes, we’ll be back to the Egg and I in Scarborough and will be sure to stop at any of them in the 20 states they are if we come across another.

Footnotes

=============
[i] http://theeggandirestaurants.com/storelocator/egg_locations.php

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Muddy Rudder - Yarmouth, Maine

Logo of the Muddy Rudder
Cropped from a photo of their menu.
My wife visited the Muddy Rudder long ago – in the 80s for sure, probably in the late 70s sometime after it opened back in 1976. I’ve seen it many times, as I cruised by on Interstate 295. It looked somewhat upscale but we were doing a late lunch, so it shouldn’t be too bad. We had been in Freeport, visiting L. L. Bean, and doing other shopping and instead of hopping back on the Interstate to head home, we decided to head down Route 1 and check out the Muddy Rudder in Yarmouth.


View outside from our table
looking out at the Cousins River
We were greeted by a very friendly staff member who led us to a nice table with a view of the Cousins River. We were near the door, but it was somewhat cool outside, so there was almost no traffic of people going in and out. The view was quite nice.

For an "upscale" place, the menu was quite reasonable. Seafood ranged from $18 to $26. Two four-ounce filets were only $25 and the Steak Oscar was only $27.00 -- reasonable for a upscale dining establishment. We didn’t see onion rings on the appetizer menu but we did notice that several dinner options included onion rings. We asked the waitress about it and she indicated that yes, they’d be happy to do an order of onion rings for us. We were pretty sure that the table was hungry so we ordered some for the table.

Awesome Onion Rings
The Muddy Rudder
The onion rings were excellent. They came in a cute little basket with other rings overflowing onto the plate. Very nice presentation and they tasted great -- not greasy and they had an excellent breading to onion ratio. They really should have their onion rings on their appetizer menu. When you are there, be sure to ask for them special. They are worth it.

We weren't there for a big dinner, rather just a late lunch so we ordered sandwiches. My wife had the chicken sandwich. It consisted of chicken with “apple, cranberry and walnut chutney, brie, and mixed greens served on a telera roll.” Neither of us knew what a telera roll was, but it sounded artisan and good. She also ordered the coleslaw as her side.

Chicken sandwich with coleslaw
Muddy Rudder - Yarmouth, ME
Her sandwich was really good. The chicken was cooked nicely and still moist. She loved the chutney. The telera roll, which is kind of like a baguette that is made roundish rather than long, was delicious. The coleslaw was savory and not sweet which is the way we like it. Excellent!

I don’t get fish much at home so I ordered the fish sandwich, “lightly breaded haddock, coleslaw, lettuce, tomato and onion-- served with remoulade sauce.” With it, I ordered the sweet potato fries.

Again, presentation means a lot and the sandwich was presented nicely. I had to lift my bun up to see what kind it was. The fish was cooked perfectly – moist slightly separating itself from the breading. It was really good. The fries came with a dipping sauce that was very tasty. It made an excellent mean and had nice portions. I was impressed.

Fish sandwich with sweet potato fried
Muddy Rudder - Yarmouth, ME
Our server, Rosalind, was excellent. She was friendly, a helpful when we ordered, brought things in a timely order, and paced the meal nicely. Not only did she freshen our “water with lemon” when the water was getting low, she also brought additional lemon for our use. Nice touch I wish more places did.

  • Ambiance: 4 (Cloth napkins, nice views, well lit – would have been a 5 if they had tablecloths.)
  • Food: 5 (Great onion rings, chicken sandwich, fish sandwich, coleslaw, sweet potato fries – Everything way above average.) 
  • Service: 5 (Server was attentive without being overbearing.  Didn’t rush us yet paced the meal nicely.)
  • Price: 5 (Lunch was only a little over $12 each including the appetizer but not including drinks)
  • Value: 5 (For lunch I don’t know of many places nicer, more civilized, with better prices.
We will definitely be back.  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for reasons to be in Yarmouth at lunchtime.

Muddy Rudder on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On the Border - South Portland, Maine


After my bad experience at El Rayo (that's another story), I thought I’d give another Mexican restaurant a try. On the Border - Mexican Grill and Cantina was a favorite of mine in the past (both in Atlanta (Buckhead) and in Kennesaw, GA), so I figured it would be a great place here (South Portland, Maine) as well. Sorry to say, it was not.

My wife and I started off with a beer (Corona) and a hard cider (Angry Orchard) and a couple "waters with lemon."  The beer and cider arrived in their respective bottles, no glasses and no glasses were offered. We had to ask a second time for the waters. We also ordered a Queso & Guacamole Duo. The queso was particularly runny, but okay. However, the guacamole was a cold mess. The problem was that it wasn’t mixed thoroughly. One part of the guac was very salty; another part of the guac lump was really limey. We were not pleased.

We were there for a late lunch/early dinner about 3:30 in the afternoon. The restaurant was not particularly busy and service was slow and scattered. From the time we ordered until we received our food was over a half an hour, close to forty minutes, not what I’d expect at lunch.

Grande Chicken Nachos
Red Salsa added by patron.
On the Border - South Portland, ME 
I ordered the Grande Chicken Nachos and my wife ordered the Border’s Best Lunch Fajitas (Steak). My Nachos weren’t anything to write home about. Lots of beans, not much chicken, little dollops of sour cream, guacamole, and a few, out of the bottle, jalapenos. (I’m sorry I added salsa to my order before I took the picture, but the salsa really helped.)

My wife’s lunch steak fajitas were very good. The meat was top quality and very tender. The medium rare cook she asked for, was received medium rare, which she appreciated. The rice was very dry. Probably left over from the noontime lunch crowd and not so good. The beans were good though, but refried beans typically get better and better with age. Not so much with rice.

 Border’s Best Lunch Fajitas (Steak)
On the Border - South Portland, ME 
As I mentioned before, service was slow and our server was in the back, out of site, most of the time. We would have probably ordered a second drink but she didn’t appear at the time we were considering it and we weren’t going to order a second drink when we were receiving our check.

The rest rooms were fine, clean and appropriately stocked.


  • Ambiance: 4 (What you would expect of a chain of over 160 restaurants nation-wide.)
  • Food: 3 (Queso, okay; guacamole, poor; nachos, average; steak fajitas, very good; rice, bad.) 
  • Service: 3 (Mediocre – long wait for food and inattentive service staff.)
  • Price: 4 (Lunch a little over $15 each with appetizer, before drinks.)
  •  Garnish for Border’s Best
    Lunch Fajitas (Steak)
    On the Border - South Portland, ME
  • Value: 3 (There are many alternatives in the area.) 
The food was quite good but the sides were fairly bad. All in all, I don’t think we’ll be back.

On The Border on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great Lost Bear - Portland, ME

It has been a long time since I've blogged about food.  Much of the reason is because while we were in Georgia we mostly went to the same places and didn't go anywhere new and  exciting.  Now we've move to Scarborough, Maine and are going many places that are new and exciting.

The Great Lost Bear - Portland Maine


Photo by Craige Moore
via Flickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)
This interesting pub was a place my wife went to several times some 30 plus years ago.  She remembers when it was newly opened and thought it would be fun to stop in again after all these years. We were in the city for some other business and figured that stopping by would be a great thing.

The parking was horrendous.  We thought we found a really great space on the street. No signs were posted.  After parking and getting out I saw a no parking sign, not like most places with the sign on a pole along the street, rather the sign was on the wall of the building and said no parking here to corner. Sigh... Next a look at their postage-stamp sized lot.  No luck there. Luckily there weren't any spaces there.  I say "luckily" because it would have been extremely difficult to park the big F-150 truck in there.  We finally found a place up the street.  I got about 95% of the truck into a legal parking area. Only the front foot or so extended into the no parking area.  I feel sorry for the guy parked behind me.  He didn't have much space to get out.  Well, people could still get out of the driveway in front of me, so I guess my parking was close enough.

The menu

had so many choices it took a while to decide what we wanted.  My wife and I both settled on the "Food From Maine & Away" section of the menu.  She on the Spanakopita and me on the Monte Cristo.  A couple Angry Orchards on a hot day as well as our regular "water with lemon" and we were good to go.

The spanakopita had a delicious crust, however, it could have been called a "feta cheese surprise."  It was a surprise when you found some feta cheese in it.  It was also very bland.  If they used garlic it wasn't very noticeable.  The pastry was very good, better than most, for sure.  My wife ordered the side salad to go with her lunch.  Very uninspiring, however, she was very pleased with the delicious cucumber/wasabi dressing.

The Monte Cristo was a disappointment. The menu said "batter, crumbled, & grilled," I didn't see a batter.  It did have a dusting of some kind of "crumble," however, to say "grilled" was an overstatement. Yes, it probably had been put on the grill but not long enough to make it toasted.  Now, don't get me wrong, it was still a good sandwich just not what I would expect of a Monte Cristo.   I had ordered cheese sauce on the fries but they arrived without the cheese sauce. The waiter was gone before I had a chance to mention it.  However, the fries were quite good.  Not traditional but good.

Overall, the restaurant was okay.  Tough parking, okay service, great atmosphere, okay food. Will I go back? Maybe, if I am in the neighborhood and hungry.  But it is not a place I'd go out of my way to eat at.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Marlow's Tavern - Vinings

Marlow’s Tavern is a modern neighbor tavern mini-chain.  There ten Marlow's Taverns in the Atlanta metro area and another two in Florida. 

We received a coupon in the mail for $5.00 off if you buy so much (I think it was $15.00) at Marlow’s Tavern. We decided to use the coupon at the Tavern on Cumberland Parkway in Vinings. 

My first impression wasn’t very good.  It was dark. With dark walls, black booths, dark wood tables and the summer outside outdoor dining cover blocked most of the windows, it took a long time for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.  The spot lighting from overhead left shadows and the menu was difficult to read in the dim light. The music was too loud for early afternoon.  The volume is probably great when the place is mostly full; however, for our late lunch (about 1:30), it was a bit much.  I’m a big guy and the booth was just barely acceptable.  Finally, most of the wait staff were hanging out at the pass shelf waiting for their orders. so sitting near the pass shelf was chaotic. 

Marlow's Tavern in Vinings
Seemed dark to us. 
Our server came by fairly quickly, “two water’s with lemon, a merlot, and a Corona light.”
It took a while for the merlot, but, no beer. A minute or so later, the manager came by and said they were out and would I like something else.  I asked which of the tap beer he had was the lightest and crispest tasking. He suggested Neighborhood Tap, I said, sure, I’d give it a taste.  Shortly, he stopped by with a small glass with probably a couple ounces in of the beer in it. I really liked being able to taste an unknown beer before I ordered it.  I sampled the beer and was quite pleased. A little while after that the waitress took my order for a pint and brought it a few minutes later.  A few minutes after that, as she was walking by, I flagged her down and asked again for two waters with lemon. A few minutes later, two waters arrived.  Ever so gently, my voice asked the question, “Lemon?” She said she needed to go back and get it. She left and quickly returned with the lemon.  I headed off to the rest room to check it out and wash my hands. The rest room was clean, well stocked, and had a nice decor. 

Somewhere in the midst of all that, we did order our food. My wife decided on a Rustic Grilled Cheese, (Havarti and Swiss cheese, Classic Mornay sauce, and Applewood Smoked Bacon on a Sour Dough) with extra bacon. I opted for the Tavern “Double Cheese “burger, medium. We both asked for the Ceasar salad instead of fries. 

Grilled Cheese with extra bacon
and Caesar Salad
"The best grilled cheese ever!"
Food service speed was typical for a neighborhood tavern.  The Caesar Salad was excellent. Romaine lettuce, with clearly hand grated parmesan cheese, a sun dried tomato, a piece of delicious flatbread (instead of the common croutons) nicely dressed with a very good tasting dressing.  A pleasure to eat.  

A grilled cheese sandwich is “comfort food” for my wife. She was amazed at how incredibly good her sandwich was.  The bread was really good, the cheeses were a delicious mix with the Mornay sauce adding something more than typical.  She has made many grilled cheese sandwiches in her time, but none as good as Marlow’s. She just couldn’t say enough about how good it was.  My burger’s presentation was a bit of a disappointment.  All I could see was the top of the bun.  I cut it down the middle for easier eating and found it was cooked medium, exactly as I requested. I tasted it and it was juicy and flavorful. A really excellent burger. I was surprised that it could be  that juicy without being a mess to eat. 

Overall, we liked it.  The really excellent food made up for the atmosphere and service.

Ambiance: 3 (darker and nosier than we care for - especially near the pass shelf)
Food: 5 (Best Grilled Cheese Ever) 
Service: 3 (The tasting overcame mediocre wait service)
Price: 3 (over $15 each for lunch & 1 drink - before coupon)
Value: 4 (Excellent food) 

We'll be back the next time we receive a coupon in the mail.

Marlow's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ruby Tuesday - Smyrna, GA

We have grown to really love Ruby Tuesday.  After I returned from Minnesota, the first restaurant we went out to at at was Ruby Tuesday, on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna.  On the Ruby Tuesday website they call it Ruby Tuesday of Concord. Although it is about a block from Concord Road, the other Ruby Tuesdays in the area are named based upon the city they are in and not a nearby road. 

We receive coupons in the mail regularly for Ruby Tuesday which help convince us to go there.  Our last visit was excellent.  My wife goes for the Memphis dry-rub ribs. Her big decision is if she is going to get a half rack or a full rack and take some home.  Steamed Broccoli and White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes comprise her sides. As usual, she was extremely pleased with her food.  Fall-off-the-bone ribs are always wonderful.

I, on the other hand have a lot of trouble deciding what to have.  There are so many choices.  I usually go for something I don’t get at home, and the Ruby Tuesday Menu has so many things that are great.  It took me a while, but I finally decided on the “New Spicy Fish Tacos.”  It comes with your choice of soup or the salad bar.  The Ruby Tuesday Salad bar is quite good and, I’ll admit, I can fill my plate quite nicely with all that healthy goodness. 

Ruby Tuesday Memphis Dry Rub Ribs 
So, I’m off to the salad bar, I like the spring mix of greens as well as the array of cheeses and toppings.  I particularly like the dark, crispy but still chewy croutons. The broccoli cheese is really good too. 


Just about the time I finished my salad, I have about three bites or so left, the food arrives.  Using just her fork my wife pulls the meat off the bone, no need to cut these ribs. No need to rip the meat off the bones with her teeth, she can eat them nice and civilized.  Anyway, she’s off to “Ruby Ribs Bliss.”

Ruby Tuesday Spicy Fish Tacos
(photo is slightly out of focus)
My fish tacos look amazing.  They come in a little rack that hold the soft shells up and keep the filling on the inside -- Nicely presented. The  proportions of each of the fillings were about perfect, not too much cilantro, enough cheese, and sour cream. The pico was fresh and tasty.  I enjoyed the fish tacos a lot, certainly the best I’ve had a a major restaurant chain. 

The service was good. Our server, Latony, was personable and attentive; she did a great job. 

With the coupon, we were out of there at less than $10 each which is a great dinner value. 

As I said, my wife really loves the ribs so I have absolutely no doubt that we’ll be back; she’ll have the ribs and I will be able to try another of their new items. 

Ruby Tuesday (Smyrna) 
Ambiance: 4 (Clean, Spacious)
Food: 4 (Excellent dry-rub ribs)
Service: 4 (Friendly and timely)
Price: 5 (Dinner under $10 per person with coupon)
Value: 4.25)


Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon