We had tried Local 188 both for lunch (no longer open for lunch now) and for dinner. We had enjoyed it, but Portland has offered so many new restaurants that we had not returned to Local 188 for years.
We went back last night, because they were participating in Maine Restaurant Week (which goes until Mar 12 and offers some terrific deals) because all three of their entree choices were interesting (one fish, one vegetarian, and the house paella).
The amuse was a delicious potato bite, served with a potato crisp and a wonderful dollop of sauce (sorry can't remember ingred for sauce) - very, very good. Appetizers were a real surprise (in a good way). I had the salad with local goat cheese and a wonderful vinegaigrette that let the freshness of the ingredients and cheese shine. DH had the "tortilla of the day", which was misnamed since it was more of a frittata (which server did explain before order was placed) made with goat cheese, arugula, and sweet potato -- wonderful, and it came with a demi salad! It would have been a terrific lunch entree all by itself.
For entrees I ordered the house paella, with chourico, chicken, maine shrimp, mahogany clams, mussels and saffron rice. Very good and full of shellfish, sausage and chicken. But DH had the star of the evening -- the oven roasted hake with carmelized onion on top, and set on a bed of lentils. The fish was thick, but perfectly done and very tender; the lentils were also perfectly cooked. I had thought the lentils might overwhelm the delicate fish but it did not. The contrast of flavors worked beautifully. When I saw the thickness of the fish I thought it might be dried out as a result of cooking it all the way through. But it was moist and flavorful. Kudos to the chef.
The desserts were the least memorable part of the meal - passable but nothing special. By the time we had dessert we were full anyway, so it did not dampen the overall dining experience.
Have to say Local 188 accomplished it's goal - as a result of Restaurant Week it has attracted us back, and who will most definitely return. Oh, and if you go try the basil lemonade -- delicious!
685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
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