Maine Street: something of a smorgasbord
Eager to explore the Maine Street restaurant scene but unsure of where to go? Wondering where to take parents and friends when they visit Bowdoin? The Foodie can help. Having recently conquered all but one restaurant on Maine Steet (if ONLY she were 21!), she finds herself in a position to provide a brief guide to the "best bites" of downtown Brunswick. This first installment of the guide will review four sit-down establishments, while her forthcoming articles will revisit other formal places and more casual spots.
Shere Punjab has her highest esteem for its delicately spiced main dishes (the Foodie swoons for the Chicken Makhni) and chewy, fragrant nan. Shere Punjab is a family-owned restaurant: the owners, themselves, deliver take-out orders and their young son sometimes chats with customers.
Let's take a look at what the Foodie said about Punjab's samosas waaay back in 2001: "[The samosas] cause palpitations with luscious contrasts of turgid raisins and potatoes, myriads of spices and subtle sweet notes." And it still holds true. Of the many restaraunts the Foodie has reviewed, Shere Punjab always calls her back.
She would much prefer to eat buffet brunch there than at Bombay Mahal, Shere Punjab's competitor across the street. Though Mahal restocks its buffet items more consistently, its smooth service cannot make up for its bland cuisine.
Flashback to September 14, 2001: "The samosa's crust was as light as a palm frond, but the pastry's interior consisted solely of shredded potatoes and the occasional green pea. As neither bold cumin seed nor sultry raisin could be found within the starchy matter, the promise of Indian spice remained unfulfilled." The Foodie is baffled by anyone who would choose Mahal over Punjab. Just take the samosa experience as an example of each restaurant's cuisine.
The Foodie was dragged to The Great Impasta against her will late last year. She dreaded another round of mushy, grits-like risotto, bland, bubbled veal, or uninspired roasted vegetables. One time was enough: "[The Foodie] became confused-she knew that she was in an Italian restaurant, and she was aware that she was actually in the United States. However, she did not realize that Maine is a member of the Confederacy, for her 'risotto' arrived as a colonial mash of patriotic grits."
She thought the vegetable pasta with pesto sauce would prove more appetizing, but it was just as awkwardly produced: the pesto was not a creamy concoction but a dry sprinkling of parmesan pebbles, pine-nuts and bits of dried, bitter basil. Oh please! The gooey, buttery bread rolls do tempt her to return, but she must resist. Never again.
Pedro O'Hara's wins the Foodie's heart for it's bright décor and social atmosphere. The food, ostensibly O'Hara's main focus, is only alright. Americanized versions of burritos, fajitas and guacamole abound. Flashback!
"The fajita wrap proved a poor choice; the tortilla expanded beyond ceramic confines, matched the lukewarm temperature of the non-mesquite grilled chicken, and held too many canned jalapenos. In addition, its largesse could not mollify the dominant bland flavor."
And there were no desserts avaliable either, just pseudo-Mexican fare and cramped seating arrangements. She might still return for its cozy atomosphere.
Look for more next time...