Palace Diner Biddeford

Last week, Meredith and I made the quick trip down to Biddeford to try the newly reopened Palace Diner. There had been no shortage of buzz about the delicious food coming from Maine’s oldest diner car in the past weeks, and the social feeds of our friends in the food industry have been overflowing with pictures of heavenly glazed doughnuts and piled-high breakfast sandwiches, so when we finally found a little room on a random morning, we decided it was time to give Palace a try for ourselves.

Co-owners Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell have created something special in the old mill town. Taking one of the most classic of American dining styles and establishments, and then injecting an attention to detail and flavor completely foreign to the prefabricated diner world, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. The menu still has the diner staples holdover patrons have come to expect – pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee – but take one bite of the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Deluxe, an english muffin breakfast sandwich with baked eggs and jalapenos, and there’ll be no question about the value added by that extra care for ingredients and preparation. The Brown Butter Banana Bread, Palace Potatoes, and Tandem coffee are just further examples of this that we tried during our visit, but we’d be willing to bet that every menu item holds true to the same standard. After spending some time speaking with Chad and Greg, hearing about the adventure that opening a diner has provided, the passion for creating and serving their take on an American classic, and their excitement about the upcoming Palace dinners, we couldn’t be more impressed with what Palace is quite literally bringing to the table.

The vast majority of us probably have one memory or another about visiting that ‘locals only’ breakfast joint in our hometown as children, maybe that same hole-in-the-wall place every Saturday throughout college, or even that quick stop on the way to work these days. While stepping inside the 1920′s rail car in Biddeford does feel comfortable and familiar in that wonderful déjà vu way, we’re almost certain that your meal will completely redefine the way you look at a diner breakfast going forward.

Palace Diner Banana Bread

Palace Diner Biddeford Maine

Palace Diner Biddeford

Palace Diner Breakfast

Palace Diner Biddeford

Palace Diner Car

Contact Information - Palace Diner

18 Franklin Street
Biddeford, Maine 04005
Food, , , Permalink

Mercury Inn

Meredith and I often get emails and comments from Map & Menu readers asking for help in planning their own Portland adventures. While we love that people are finding and using the site for the exact reason we created it – to be a tried and true travel resource – we’ve only had a few first-hand accommodation experiences in our hometown of Portland – all from before we moved to Maine, and long before Map & Menu. Thus, when we saw one of our favorite branding agencies in town share some of the recent work they’d done for a new Portland inn, we quickly searched for more information and reached out to its owners to setup a visit.

The Mercury Inn has many of the things that typically draw us to the places we stay on our travels – creative taste, a clean aesthetic, cozy accommodations, and great branding. During our tour of the property, we had the chance to speak to the co-owners, Tim and Jake, about their experience in running, then renovating the previous inn at the State Street location, and their passion for the food and service industries that led them toward owning a bed and breakfast. After managing what was formerly the Wild Iris Inn for part of the season prior to re-opening as the Mercury Inn, Tim and Jake began to renovate according to the experiences they had gleaned from patrons, the property, and the sustainable vision they had brought with them. The design of the interior came from Tim’s sister’s firm, Landing Design & Development and has a clean, contemporary feel that meshes perfectly with the branding done by Might & Main. Details like the custom Sea Bags pillows, roman numeral door lettering, and large-printed shower curtains add fun accents and give the space plenty of its own personality. On top of being within walking distance to some of our favorite restaurants in Portland’s West End and on Congress Street, Tim and Jake use their culinary experience to provide homemade breakfasts to visitors, which we’re looking forward to trying at some future date.

We’re thrilled to add the aptly-named Mercury Inn (Mercury was the Roman patron god of travelers) to our list of places to stay in Portland. We’re sure that given it’s design and comfort it’ll be the perfect fit for many Map & Menu readers in the future.

Mercury Inn Portland ME

Mercury Inn Photos

Mercury Inn Guest Rooms

Mercury Inn Portland

Mercury Inn Maine Rooms

Mercury Inn Bathroom  Mercury Inn Details  Mercury Inn Maine

Mercury Inn ME Photos

Mercury Inn Design  Mercury Inn portland Maine

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

Contact Information - Mercury Inn

273 State Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Places to Stay, Travel, , Permalink

Central Provisions Scallops

March’s “spring forward” daylight saving time has become a celebration for Meredith and I in recent years. After a full winter of lunch posts and dimly-lit dinners, all at once the light returns to our suppertime, and it’s Map & Menu business as usual. In the days leading up to daylight saving time, we anxiously sift through our dining choices and make a reservation for a (still somewhat early) dinner date that we know will taste exquisite and look spectacular. This year, there was hardly a question of where that reservation would be – Portland’s Central Provisions.

Central Provisions is one of the latest in a stocked season of great openings in Portland. Piccolo, Hunt + Alpine, and Miyake Diner have already deservedly garnered rave reviews and national recognition, but after a couple of meals at Central Provisions, there is no doubt in our minds that they belong near the top of the list of Portland’s best restaurants and bars. Owners Chris and Paige Gould have done an exceptional job with both the space and the menu, and bar manager Patrick McDonald and wine director Chris Peterman have put together an amazing selection of drinks to boot. In fact, this is the one thing that stands out to Meredith and I about our experiences at Central Provisions more than anything else – how equally fantastic each part of our meals have been. The space gives credence to the historic nature of the building, the drinks – whether beer, wine, or spirit – are well chosen and deliciously crafted, and the food is simply outstanding. Try the farm fresh bread and butter, the yellowfin tuna crudo that’s a delight to both taste and see, the savory suckling pig, the perfectly seared scallops, the brussels sprouts, the croquette, the spicy fried Maine potatoes, the beet salad, the shrimp a la plancha… it’s not an exaggeration to say that you should try everything on the menu, you absolutely won’t be disappointed. Typically, when describing a restaurant’s drink menu, I use a colloquialism like “wash it all down with…”, but at Central Provision, this simply doesn’t do the libations justice. Whether it’s a cocktail from their house menu or their prohibition-era list (Meredith is obsessed with the Fancy Gin Cocktail), a pint of their great selection of beers (like the in-demand Bissell Brothers Substance IPA), or a glass of wine from their wine list, we wager you’ll be as enthusiastic about the drinks as you are the eats.

From literal top to bottom (the dining room is on the Fore Street-facing second floor, while the bar is on the Wharf Street-facing first) Central Provisions provides one of the best dining experiences in Portland, and we simply couldn’t be happier to see the city’s selection continue to grow and improve – we’re going to need those extra hours of daylight just to keep up.

Central Provisions Bar

Central Provisions ME

Fancy Gin Cocktail Central Provisions

Central Provisions Portland

Central Provisions Bread & Butter

Central Provisions Portland Maine

Central Provisions Fried Potatoes

Central Provisions Tuna

Central Provisions Brussels Sprouts

Central Provisions Croquette

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu and Central Provisions.

Contact Information - Central Provisions

414 Fore Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Drink, Food, , Permalink

More & Co

This Is Love. The motto of More & Co.’s current collection rang especially true to me when I walked through the door. It’s plain to see that this is a special collection for the partners of this Portland-based creative studio – the goods they’ve personally fallen in love with since opening their storefront last year, the products in which they wholeheartedly believe and want to share with their loved ones… except they’re sharing it with anyone and everyone who drops into the shop. It does kind of feel as though you’ve walked into a friend’s home (your friend with the very best taste, that is), with the expectation that there is a remarkable story behind each item you see.

The handmade polka dot mug from which I’m currently drinking, the bright Jenny Pennywood textiles, the Maine-made ANK Ceramics, and the colorful Grimms wooden block sets – all fit perfectly together and convey that sense of happy, minimal, creative style that Michael and I have come to appreciate and admire from More & Co, having followed their blog and watched their branding projects for years.

You can always take a peek at the collection online, but if you have the time, I highly recommend stopping by the shop to see these objects in person - This Is Love is available through the end of May.

Mast Brothers Chocolate at More & Co

More & Co Portland Maine

More and Co Portland ME

More and Co Maine

More & Co Portland

This is Love More & Co

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

Contact Information - More & Co.: This Is Love

112 High Street
Portland, Maine 04101
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158 Pickett Street Pizza

Meredith and I have been hearing rumors of some delicious new pizza in South Portland, and it’s probably not coming from the first place you’d guess. Typically known for its breakfast bagels or lunch sandwiches, 158 Pickett Street Cafe has been serving up a mean pie on Friday and Saturday evenings since early October. Last Saturday, craving something comfortable to escape the snow, we headed around the corner to try a bite for ourselves, and now we’re faced with a new conundrum – we went from traveling over the bridge for our pizza needs to now having to decide between two delicious locations right in our own backyard.

There are more than enough options at 158 to satisfy any pizza enthusiast’s taste – like the standard cheese and sausage, or more creative flavors like the hot pink sauce, charred jalapenos, and cheese ‘Stinger’ – but regardless of your decision, everything we’ve heard and tasted has been fantastic. Meredith and I were in a classic mood on Saturday, so we ordered the sausage and feta, grabbed a seat by the fireplace, and settled into some pleasant conversation with neighbors we never knew we had, over classic blues and soul in the background.

We’re looking forward to returning, but as Meredith joked, it’s a good thing they’re only serving pizza a couple nights a week, or else we’d find ourselves at 158 all the time.

One Fifty Ate

Salad at 158 Pickett Street

158 Pickett Street Cafe Pizza

Pizza at 158 Pickett Street

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

Contact Information - 158 Pickett Street Cafe: Pizza

158 Benjamin W. Pickett St
South Portland, Maine 04106
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Primo Maine

A couple of weekends ago, Meredith and I were at her family’s farm in Wiscasset, snowshoeing with Orvis, when we read a tweet by Primo saying that that evening would be their last night of the season. Since we were already halfway to Rockland, we took this as a sign to call it an early day and make a quick trip up the road for dinner at one of Maine’s New England’s most highly-touted restaurants.

Since we were in the mood for something a little more relaxed and casual than their more formal dinner menu and dining room, we opted to try the walk-in “counter menu“. We felt right at home in the Counter Room upstairs – a large, open space with exposed beam ceilings, sliding barn doors, and a massive counter, behind which chefs prepared a number of the dishes we enjoyed. We cozied up to a table, and in typical Primo fashion, enjoyed a couple flavorful cocktails (The Bitter Truth and a Dutch Courage) and a number of wonderfully prepared seasonal dishes (the Meatball Trio, Brussels sprouts, cassoulet, and polenta with roasted vegetables) that had us savoring every last sip and bite. We finished our meal with the unforgettable caramelized banana creme pie, and after a little more conversation and a few more smiles, we said goodbye to Primo until April and headed back down the road to Wiscasset.

While the traditional Primo menu and dining room is definitely an experience that shouldn’t be missed, if you’re passing through town and want to be treated to an excellent impromptu dinner, take it from us, Primo’s Counter would be pretty tough to beat.

Primo Rockland Maine

Dutch Courage Primo

Primo Rockland ME Polenta

Caramelized Banana Cream Pie Primo

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

Contact Information - Primo

2 South Main Street
Rockland, Maine 04841
Food, , Permalink
Brunch at Piccolo

Zeppoli with chocolate sauce and pastry-wrapped roasted pear

Meredith and I don’t consider ourselves food critics or traditional reviewers in any way. Map & Menu was started simply to share the places to eat, things to do, and places to visit we’ve come to love from our home in Portland and elsewhere among our travels. We share them in hopes that other people will find them approachable and useful for their own inspiration and travels. In that vein of writing about inspiring and delicious places, we thought we’d share some photos of brunch at Portland’s Piccolo - it’s quickly becoming one of our new favorites, and should probably be one of yours too.

We’ve posted about dinner at Piccolo already (oh, that Wine and Cheese dessert!), but this time we wanted to share another awesome facet of this fantastic restaurant – its Sunday brunch. Twice now, we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy brunch at Piccolo, both times with good friends (obviously one of the best ways to enjoy any brunch), and both times we’ve been blown away by our meals and experiences. Although the menu changes slightly, between the eight of us we’ve tried a large portion of it, and I haven’t heard a single word of anything but praise for the dishes. Whether it be the decadent Italian Toast, the savory Modesto, or the scrumptious Zeppoli (which you should just go ahead and start with every time you visit) – the Sunday brunch at Piccolo is definitely one of the best in town, and is almost guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

Piccolo Maine Brunch

Italian toast

Piccolo Brunch

Zeppoli at Piccolo Maine

Zeppoli

Piccolo Maine Brunch

Piccolo Maine Brunch Photos

Pasticcio

Piccolo Brunch Modesto

Modesto

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

Contact Information - Brunch at Piccolo

111 Middle Street
Portland, Maine 04101
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Sheepscot River Wiscasset Maine

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t sure any winter weekend could live up to the first weekend of 2014, but I stand corrected! We took it very easy on a rainy Saturday, leaving the couch little beyond walking Orvis and picking up takeout from Empire. The next day we met our friends, Darcy & Carolyn, for a long overdue, tasty brunch at Piccolo. (More on their delicious brunches coming soon!) After filling ourselves with plenty of zeppoli and good conversation, we hopped in the car and headed to my family’s farm in Wiscasset once again. The weather was ideal for taking a few long walks with Orvis around the property and experiencing a breathtaking sunrise this morning before we departed.

We’re excited to see what else our winter weekends amount to, as they’re already off to a great start. Hopefully you all have enjoyed a similar beginning to 2014!

Zeppoli at Piccolo Maine

Piccolo Instagram Photos

Orvis and Michael

Michael Cain

Winter Sky

Michael and Orvis

Wiscasset Maine

Marianmade Farm Wiscasset Maine

Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

A Map & Menu Weekend, Life, , Permalink
Salvage BBQ

Salvage BBQ Tray

The food scene in Portland outdid itself once again last year with plenty of new openings and the continued excellence of many of the city’s existing establishments. And while we tried our best to continue eating our way through town, keeping up proved to be a very tough undertaking. It’d be almost impossible to list all of our favorites, but from our meals of the past year, here are a few of the memorable ones that stood out to the two of us.

Cocktails

Michael & Meredith: There’s no question that our favorite place for drinks this year was Hunt & Alpine. Between Meredith’s standby, the White Noise, and mine, the Chilton County and the Toronto, I don’t know that you could find many better drinks – anywhere.

Appetizer

Michael: More than one person insisted we try the melanzane – roasted eggplant, sicilian oregano, and smoked ricotta – at Piccolo. If you are one of those people, thank you, it was every bit as good as you promised.
Meredith: Whitney, a reader who commented on our Portland in 10 Bites post, became our new favorite person this summer when she suggested we try the hamayaki from Pai Men Miyake. The decadent crab & scallop dish quickly became a favorite of ours, too!

Entree

Michael: The salmon I ordered early this year at Bar Lola was hands-down the best dish I had all year. It’s easy to mess salmon up by trying to get fancy and forgetting the basics, but this fillet was simple, fresh, and seared to perfection.
Meredith: The pan-seared hake on black rice with carrots in a lemon butter sauce at The Well takes the cake for me!

Dessert

Michael: If you’ve talked to me at all about desserts in the past few months, you already know my answer to this one. The Wine & Cheese from Piccolo was one of the more creative and delicious sweets I’ve ever enjoyed, and I just can’t stop raving about it.
Meredith: One should always make room for a Duckfat milkshake! On a recent visit, the couple we were dining with started with one, and I think I might make that my own tradition.

Breakfast

Michael: When I want to start my day with an indulgence, I head over to Little Bigs, where I can’t stop myself from ordering half a dozen more donuts than I should be able to eat – and then I prove myself wrong, eating every last one.
Meredith: We count ourselves among the lucky Willard Beach residents who can smell the sweetness of Scratch Baking Co. right from our home. The croissants, bagels, almond cookies, scones, muffins – when you live across the street from a bakery, there’s not much you haven’t tried – are all on our regular rotation of morning treats.

Brunch

Michael: This one is a fun selection because of how unusual it is (especially for a brunch traditionalist like myself). The Okono Miyake at Pai Men Miyake is a pancake on savory steroids – pork, cabbage, scallions, and fried egg come together to make any buttermilk fan rethink their stance.
Meredith: We were so totally committed to the Southern-inspired brunch that Small Axe served one Saturday morning, that we happily sat right out in the rain while cleaning our plates. The succotash grits made me feel as though I was back down South!

Dining with Orvis

Michael & Meredith: There are few things that make us happier than enjoying a good meal with our buddy, and sitting outside with him at The Well is possibly one of the best examples of this. Not only is there plenty of space for him to settle down, the staff loves to see him, and as I’m sure you’ll read elsewhere in this post, the meals are fantastic.

Lunch

Michael: Salvage BBQ serves heaping portions of delicious Carolina pulled pork, brisket, collard greens, hushpuppies, and Cheerwine. I’ll leave it at that.
Meredith: During our first visit to Empire the kitchen unfortunately ran out of the spinach dumplings, but we had it on good authority that they were the best of the dim sum dumplings, so we were determined to try them on our next outing. As predicted, the spinach dumplings moved to the tip top of my list of Empire favorites the moment I took my first bite.

Late Night

Michael & Meredith: When you’re looking for a late night bite, it’s hard to pass-up on a gourmet hot dog, tater tots, and brussels sprouts from Blue Rooster Food Co. In fact, the only part of that equation that isn’t a must is the late night – Blue Rooster is always delicious.

Food Truck Meal

Michael: Meredith and I built a Saturday morning tradition around Small Axe Truck bowls and Tandem Coffee, but in my book, no matter the meal, Small Axe can do no wrong.
Meredith: Applewood smoked bacon, maple mayo, green apples, and cheddar. Really, what more is there to say about the amazing Mainah Burger from Mainely Burgers?

Decor

Michael: The open space, natural light, and details like the hanging succulents make Empire Chinese Kitchen one of the more interesting new spaces in town. As soon as I walk through the door, I feel at ease in a place where I could stay awhile.
Meredith: Andrew & Briana Volk have done an outstanding job designing the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. A clean, modern interior with dark wood accents, Eames furnishings, and details like the stamped leather drink menus and the map-printed house menus & coasters make their space on Market Street one of the best looking spots in Portland.

Experience

Michael: For my birthday this year, Meredith took me to Eventide for cocktails and oysters. The evening was an unforgettable one, filled with great food, drinks, and laughs.
Meredith: Having a meal at The Well is a special experience. You’re eating exceptional food in a unpretentious setting at a picnic table on a farm. While drinking a favorite bottle of wine (from your own collection), you can watch the colors change in the dusk sky, and have a delightful conversation with other friendly patrons. There’s nothing else like it.

Overall Meal

Michael: This is a bittersweet category, because when I think of my favorite meal, start to finish, from this past year, our dinner at the now-closed Bar Lola immediately comes to mind. Each course, from the pimiento cheese, to the seared salmon, to the almond tart was simply unbelievable.
Meredith: I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but until you’ve tried a meal at The Well, you’re missing out. We’ve never had a dish we didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and for not being a bakery, their bread is easily some of the best in town.

Sometimes with Portland food, it feels like a list like this can only begin scratch the surface. If you’re looking for more of our Portland favorites, we still stand by last year’s Best of 2012, and of course don’t hesitate to check out our favorite 10 dishes in Portland, Maine or our top 10 Portland brunches!

Also, a big thanks to our readers that made suggestions on posts, twitter, and facebook this year – a number of those restaurants and dishes (both in and out of Portland) found their way onto our radar, and quite a few became our favorites! If you have any suggestions for places we should visit or dishes we should try for this coming year, please leave a comment for us below!

Portland Hunt and Alpine Chilton County Cocktail

Portland Hunt and Alpine Chilton County Cocktail

Portland Hunt and Alpine White Noise

Portland Hunt and Alpine White Noise

Piccolo

Piccolo Melanzane

Pai Men Miyake

Pai Men Miyake Hamayaki

Bar Lola Salmon

Bar Lola Seared Salmon

The Well at Jordan Farm

The Well at Jordan Farm Seared Hake

Piccolo Portland Maine Dessert

Piccolo Wine and Cheese

Duckfat Milkshake

Duckfat Milkshake

Little Bigs

Little Bigs Doughnuts and Hand Pies

Small Axe Brunch

Small Axe Lowcountry Brunch

Pai Men Miyake Brunch

Pai Men Miyake Okono Miyake

Dog Friendly Portland Maine

The Well at Jordan Farm with Orvis

Cheerwine

Cheerwine at Salvage BBQ

Empire Chinese Kitchen Lobster Dumplings

Empire Chinese Kitchen Dumplings

Blue Rooster

Blue Rooster Food Co. Hot Dogs

Small Axe Food Truck Lunch

Small Axe Food Truck Lunch

Mainely Burgers Food Truck

Mainely Burgers Food Truck

Empire Chinese Kitchen

Empire Chinese Kitchen

Hunt & Alpine Club

Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

Portland Hunt and Alpine Club Menu

Portland Hunt and Alpine Club Menu

The Well at Jordan Farm

The Well at Jordan Farm

Eventide Oysters

Eventide Oysters

Bar-Lola-Corn-Cakes

Bar Lola Pimiento Cheese and Corn Cakes

Bar-Lola-Quail

Bar Lola Quail

The Well at Jordan Farm

The Well at Jordan Farm Butternut Squash Risotto

Drink, Food, , , Permalink

Marianmade Farm

We sure set the bar high for winter weekends during this first one of 2014 – it’ll be a tough one to beat! On Friday afternoon, after Thursday’s snowstorm, the fun began when we met one of my college roommates and her boyfriend for a long, laughter-filled lunch at Duckfat. Fantastic fries & fun friends are always a wanted distraction from the coldest of winter days.

The following morning, Michael and I packed our snowshoes, Orvis, and some snacks, and headed north to my family’s cottage in Wiscasset. We had two picture perfect days to snowshoe around the farm and even ventured out onto the beautiful, frozen Sheepscot River for the first time. Taking a break from the snowshoeing, we found that sipping milk punches, reading, and napping by the fire were every bit as enjoyable for us as our adventures in the snow.

Yesterday evening we decided to take advantage of our location and Primo‘s last dinner service until April, and enjoyed another fantastic meal at the renowned midcoast restaurant – this time at the walk-in counter. After a deliciously filling meal of brussels sprouts, meatballs, cassoulet, polenta with roasted vegetables, and a caramelized banana cream pie, we headed home to watch the Downton Abbey premiere by the fire – a delightful end to a delightful weekend. It’s back to work for now, but you can bet that this week will be filled with plenty of winter weather getaway day-dreaming!

Winter Sheepscot River Maine

Snowshoeing in Maine

Michael and Orvis

Sheepscot River

Marianmade Farm Wiscasset

Orvis at Marianmade Farm

Skookum Dog Collar

Frozen Sheepscot River Maine

Orvis's Shadow

Sheepscot River Wiscasset

Primo Rockland Maine

Caramelized Banana Cream Pie Primo

A Map & Menu Weekend, Dog Friendly, Life, , , , Permalink