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Restaurants & Bars

Portland ME eats this week: Asmara, One Fifty Ate, Breaking New Grounds, Pub on Peaks Island

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Portland ME eats this week: Asmara, One Fifty Ate, Breaking New Grounds, Pub on Peaks Island

Dave M.P. | Jan 5, 2006 11:00 PM

I just got back to Western Mass after a two night trip to Portland, ME with two friends.

Went to Peaks Island for a little while on Wednesday and ended up at the pub at The Inn for a snack/small lunch. Bowl of clam chowder was big and quite good, with large pieces of clams and a nice touch of thyme.

Had a nice meal on Wednesday night at Asmara. I've had Eritrean and Ethiopian food in Boston and DC before, but my friends were trying it for the first time. Overall, very nice. We shared two bottles of the homemade honey wine, three beef sambusas and the vegetarian platter. Honey wine was very nice a nice deal at 3 dollars per bottle. Beef sambusas (like samosas) were a bit disappointing; they reminded me of really bland Argentinian empanadas. The vegetarian platter consisted of small servings of every vegetarian dish, served on and with injera (moist and spongy sourdough bread). My favorite dishes were the fou'l (fava beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese) and shiro (spicy ground chick peas). Other dishes were good too: sauteed spinach, collard greens and kale, alit'cha (cabbage, carrots and potatoes), and lentil stew. Only one person (a woman who I assume is the owner?) was working at the restaurant, and she seemed very nice. The fact that only one person was working didn't matter too much since we were the only people the restaurant! All of the food was pre-made and heated up (in the microwave I assume?) after we ordered, with the exception of the sambusas which were freshly fried. I didn't think about this at the time, but does this mean that requests for more/less spicy food would not be possible? The food was not very spicy/hot; the only dishes that were spicy at all were the mashed chickpeas and the collard greens. I would have liked it all to be a bit spicier. Overall the food tasted very homemade and healthy, and if I lived in Portland I would probably go to this place pretty regularly. However, it wasn't as tasty or "special" as some of the Ethiopian food I have had in Boston and Washington DC.

In the evening we got drinks at Breaking New Grounds which was fine. My friend had the egg nog latte which was very good: espresso and egg nog. Yum.

Ate breakfast Thursday morning at One Fifty Ate in South Portland. I really liked this place. Friends and I all had egg/cheese/bacon on everything bagels. Bacon was thick cut and smoky, and the bagels were loaded with poppy, sesame, caraway and sunflower seeds. Hot chocolate was very good and so was the cherry crumb muffin that I tried.

Portland is a cool city and I definitely will explore it more sometime (hopefully when it's less cold and snowy). The drive home to Western Mass was easy and included a nice stop in Lowell for Cambodian food. I'll write about that in another post...

Dave M.P.

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