Restaurants & Bars 2

Frog & Turtle "Gastropub", Westbrook: yum!

mainemal | Jun 3, 200806:29 AM

With SO, son, and his girlfriend, finally made it to this place [www.thefrogandturtle.com/], opened last year by James Tranchemontagne, formerly chef at Uffa, and we were delighted. This goes down as one of the most interestingly eclectic eateries I've been in. The space, formerly Chickie's, is open and lively (and thus noisy on Saturday night), with a great neighborhood feeling, and food is great fun: everything from pub menu (including very unique flatbreds and burgers) through small plates, sides, and entrees. We wished we could try everything, but limited ourselves to the following:
Appetizers: an excellent charcuterie plate, including home-smoked thinly sliced pork; duck carpaccio, and the house pate (more like a terrine). Only thing missing was a gherkin. Also shared nicely-grilled shrimp skewers w/ mango salsa, and a house speciality, one of the best fried calamari any of us have tasted, made all the better by a tangy lime reduction infusing the dish and the charred greens underneath.
Our server (who was very helpful and attentive) noted that all the sauteed/roasted greens, and most of the mushrooms (available as part of entrees and as sides, which we also ordered) were not only locally sourced, but foraged! Greens included ramps and one I didn't know, "frog's belly." Deliciously prepared, and what other eatery do you know with its own forager?
We sorrowfully passed up the chance to try interesting-sounding main course crepes (including one featuring blackened catfish) in favor of 1) cajun fish cakes with spicy cream sauce; 2) moroccan-crusted salmon, with nice spice flavors but not to the detriment of the fish; 3) pan-seared crispy polenta w/ greens and mushrooms again; and, to my taste, the hit of the evening, 4) seared duck breast accompanied by mashed potatoes, and made truly unique by the addition of vidalia onion sauce and rhubarb compote: explosion of flavors in a dish that's commonly served, but only occasionally distinctive.
We were too well-fed for dessert, probably a shame since the pastry chef is supposed to be quite good; just means we'll have to make a return trip. Wine list was well-priced, with several tasty S. American's that don't break the bank. Without alcohol, the bill for the dishes above was ~$110, which I call value. And to cap the evening, Chef James made the rounds and paused for a chat. We particularly complimented him for the medly of flavors we enjoyed on each dish, and for the spring greens.
Do I need to say we'll be back??

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