Man, what is with the Portland CH community? Youse guys hasn't been to Tao yet?
What, Brunswick is like, west of the Mississippi ? ! (just joshin' you)
But really, you need to tool up the ol' VW bus and get yourselves over there to dine at the new Tao.
What a perfect little spot. Welcoming, friendly, lovely decor, and terrific food. Cara, the chef/owner, while only in her mid 20's, has been cooking in restaurants since she was 16 and, after years of stage-ing in France and Asia, returned to the U.S. with the goal of working with her talented mom in her parents' new homeland of Maine.
Proof of the fact that one CAN design a smart restaurant space with just a brilliant mind and no previous restaurant eperience, Cara's mom,Cecile, designed a space where the room components and spatial layout work extremely well. One enters into a clean airy open space divided and made intimate by moveable soundproofed asian partitions that double as carved fretwork screens and painted cherry tree panels. The front wall has a cozy arrangement of a long comfortable settee and upholstered chairs that form an intimate alcove on the edge of the long curved bar. Asan inspired chairs and tables dot the space. The back part of the room is lined with a banquette and is divided from the front by those decorative moveable panel screeens.
Dinner options are epansive with a particularly appealing Wednesday Date Night choice of four different six and eight course prix fixe menus. Lunch begins with an appetizer duo , followed by a choice of five entrees with beverage. The minute our appetizers were set before us, a pretty asian red cabbage slaw and delicate zucchini 'fritters' (really pan fried dumplings) we knew we were in for a flavorful meal. The Five Spice anise infused duck confit with fried rice was the stellar choice; the duck offering a succulent and beautifully aromatic counterpoint to the toothsome rice. The beef pho,a vietnamese soup of thin rice noodles in a beef broth with silky sliced beef, crunchy bean sprouts, basil and mint,was a comforing choice on a cool autumn day, but the broth itself benefitted by an addition of soy sauce, lime and hot sauce. Black iced tea was light and refreshing.
An almond cake dessert was good but not stellar; moist and simple.Big eaters might leave the pre-fixe lunch table hungry but most people will probably find the meal a perfect size. If we had a place like Tao in my town, I know with certainty that we would be regulars. Maine wins again!