From the best dishes at the best restaurants in Portland and beyond, here is a look back at the 50-plus dishes (out of many hundreds) that made a difference in 2014
What a year for Portland restaurants. At last count nearly 25 new establishments opened for business in 2014 with a veritable whirlwind of talented chefs commandeering professional ranges all over town.
Notable debuts included Central Provisions, Lolita, Sur-Lie, BaoBao, Slab, Ebb and Flow, Tandem Bakery, Bramhall, Timber Steak House, the French renaissance at Petite Jacqueline under chef Fred Eliot and the controversial Vinland, which I’ve included in this list because it opened at the end of 2013. Adding to the diversity were a host of new openings in the prior year including Empire Chinese, which maintains the high standard for Chinese food in Portland.
And the momentum continues unabated into 2015. The upcoming restaurant, for example, in the highly anticipated Press Hotel is being run by star chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier who sold their famed restaurant, Arrows, several months ago.
And another intriguing candidate is Tempo Dulu, a Southeast Asian restaurant that will be done to the nines of luxury in the fabulous Danforth owned by hoteliers Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest whose Camden Harbour Inn was anointed this year as a Relais and Chateaux.
What’s also intriguing is the new restaurant, Isa, which is under construction at 79 Portland St., boasting a moderately priced menu of bistro fare. It’s located right next to Portland favorite, the venerable Back Bay Grill.
What’s astounding is Portland’s ability to absorb all of these restaurants in which the best are always busy. The established all-stars like Fore Street, Back Bay Grill, and Five Fifty-Five are pretty packed nightly. And such relative newcomers as Eventide, Hugo’s, Central Provisions, Lolita and Sur-Lie are hardly running on hype but fill up too because the food is so good. Hugo’s, however, remains the most expensive where the average tab hovers at $150 per person.
In the last week I’ve had the good fortune to have dinner at two of our core dining haunts, Fore Street and Five Fifty-Five, and featured here. Then to cap off the holiday, Christmas dinner took place at Empire Chinese where a gala feast was had by all.
Beyond that here’s a look back at some of the best dishes I’ve had all year in the photo montage that follows.
All photographs by John Golden