SO and I made our more-or-less annual birthday date night trip to BBG, and were reminded once again of how excellent is this restaurant, which is sometimes overlooked when CH's recommend Portland spots. To start with, service is always flawless. This was a busy night (Saturday, Restaurant Week) when things might get crazy: not here. Maitre d' knew (and remembered) us, noted that particularly because of SO's birthday, to let him know if we needed any special attention. As it happened, we did: SO really wanted an ap from the prix fixe to go with a salad and another ap for her meal, and even though items from the special menu were clearly portioned for the expected turnout, this was 'no problem at all.' They have a large and very attentive, but never too cloying, staff who navigate relatively close quarters smoothly. On to the food.
After an amuse bouche (SO had to turn hers back, as it had meat; it was promptly replaced with a quickly composed alternative), SO had light and delicious agnolotti filled with goat cheese and served with braised greens; I was stunned by the taste of a pheasant terrine w/ pistachio, served with celeriac "chips": what a concept! SO's hearts of Romaine salad was very lightly dressed to allow the lettuce to show through; my endive was dressed with proschiutto and sliced spiced pear: fabulous combination of salty, sweet, and bitter. Main course crab cake for SO was super-plump and panko crunchy; my porchetta was a larger-than-expected "filet" of tender rolled pork, finished on the grill, and served on excellent polenta with broccolini. We shared a chocolate tarte with homemade mint ice cream, and walked away very satisfied and, very important, not overly full.
Bottom line: a great restaurant not trying to be anything except a white-tablecloth perfect opportunity, with a purposefully limited menu, to eat consistently delicious and creative classic food. No foam, no liquid nitrogen, just great flavor every time.
Back Bay Grill
65 Portland St, Portland, ME 04101