Saturday, September 8, 2012

Primo (Rockland, Maine)

We stopped partway to Bar Harbor to visit this farm to table restaurant. Before we started eating, of course we had to visit the farm!

The animals look pretty healthy. There were also ducks, but they were busy running around. My phone simply could not handle their liveliness. And that's why we took a mental note that the duck was a must have!

Tomatoes were in season.

We chose the hip bar scene of the upstairs dining room vs. the formal (and a little stuffy) downstairs. Also at the bar, we can get both the bar and the regular kitchen menus!

Amuse bouche - crab on cucumber.

Fried green tomatoes with chive butter. 6/10: Although all the ingredients here were fresh, they were not done in any particularly special way. The chive butter was amazing, but a big trend here was that all the herbs were amazing. As I've learned from my own windowsill garden, fresh herbs are easy and make a huge difference.

Tomato salad with tomatoes pan fried between pieces of asiago. That's a prosciutto on top made from probably one of the relatives of our spotted pig friend above. 5/10. meh

Charcuterie plate. 8.5/10. Say whatttt. All made in-house. Far far left, almost off the photo, is the head cheese. Then we have a bowl of dijon mustard, bread, fennel coppa, prosciutto di primo (haha), lard, radish, pickled onions, jalapeƱos, cornichons, and fiddleheads, and pate.

Everything was great! The head cheese and pate were particular flavorful. I'm not sure if it's a matter of freshness or technique. The prosciutto was extremely porky and not aged enough. The coppa was much better, but not too special and unusually fatty.

Overall the plate was much more enjoyable than I'm making it sound. The only things that I didn't like was a pickled squash blossom that was un-chewable and the fresh radish that was pretty bitter.

There was once again a long lull between appetizers and main. Here's a basket of fresh eggs near us sitting in a bowl shaped like a chicken. Kind of twisted. There was also an egg weigher near it with the weights ranging from "small" to "extra large", but it didn't work. Even the smaller eggs weighed in at "extra large".

As promised, we ordered the duck. 9/10: It was more balanced than the duck at Bresca, and I loved all the little vegetables everywhere. they were extremely flavorful and crisp. The dark thing was some loose duck sausage wrapped in lettuce. It went very well with the orange pureed squash sauce everywhere.

Chicken with mushrooms, polenta, and kale. 6.5/10. The first few bites were great, but the biggest weakness of this dish was the chicken itself! The middle of the chicken was disappointingly dry. Perhaps they should have brined it! I couldn't help but think about how much less active the chickens were cramped up in their coop...

Pistachio popover, creme brulee in the popover skin, and strawberries. 8/10: Very creative! The popover was very sticky and sweet and good. It stuck to my teeth a little, but it didn't stop me from taking a few bites. The creme brulee itself was great, but I didn't get nearly enough! And also the popover cup was rather hard. Those strawberries did not taste like they came from the garden.... but I didn't deduct based on that because I forgot to ask and confirm.

Key lime cheese case and baked Alaska with ginger cake base. 9/10: Interesting pairing. It worked out well. The two desserts had similar textures, but were very different in taste. Also I had never had a baked Alaska before! I was happy to try one. It's pretty clever to sandwich ice cream between two baked products.

Overall Primo was a very fun restaurant. I liked it for its variety, atmosphere, and most of all the farm outside. The food overall wasn't as good as Bresca and more expensive. The company was extremely chatty but maybe it was an isolated case of too many martinis.

I loved the experience. At the bar, we watched two chefs build lasagnas, make coq au vin, and finish up our dishes non-stop (what a tough but amazing job). And what better way is there to pick your food than to inspect them before they end up on the stove?

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