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Brian Duff

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The quay to good living

Porthole diners forgive, forget, feast on
Though they offer an appealing moral clarity, in practice zero tolerance policies have ruined any number of urban schools, fragile marriages, and card-marred soccer games. Zero tolerance almost ruined Portland a few years back, too.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  July 11, 2014

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Biting into the fantasy

Film and food trucks rev up our primal urges
Is it a sign of the shallowness of our national culture that we have spent half a decade excited by the idea of food served from trucks? Sure. But is it a symptom of some deeper condition? I suspect so. This summer offers a chance to investigate thanks to the arrival of a critical mass of food trucks around Portland, along with the film Chef, about a restaurant chef who starts a food truck.  
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  July 10, 2014

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A rail-car Palace in Biddeford

Grab a stool at Maine's oldest diner
The barrel roofed train-car looks incredibly good given it’s nearly a century old.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  June 11, 2014

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Finding balance in brisket

Savoring Salvage BBQ's take on casual dining
Salvage might suggest a plausible strategy to...salvage the distinctive experience of casual dining in Maine.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  June 06, 2014

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Three times lucky

 Miyake Diner joins the masterful chef’s local line-up
Miyake’s new diner reclaims the location of his original restaurant, the wonderful Food Factory. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  May 16, 2014

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Cheap soups for modern times

Mi Sen’s noodle bowls hit the spot
The Mi Sen Noodle Bar on Congress offers a premonition of the future of dining out: a satisfying meal that is globally inspired, up on the latest trends, and about the price of a good smartphone app. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  May 08, 2014



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Dive bar alternatives

Upscale drinking, high and low
The former allows you to drink under 13 stories of home-grown bankers and lawyers; at the other, you’re lounging above a dozen floors of business travelers and tourists.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  April 17, 2014

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Give 'em a hand

Pocket-sized comfort foods
Pocket-sized comfort foods
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  April 10, 2014

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Extreme localism

When flavors speak louder than words
Perhaps Vinland’s pontifications become white noise, which fades away as you appreciate the food and its distinctive coherence of flavors and textures — the Nordic, astringent, piney, ascetic goodness of it all.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  March 19, 2014

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Distinctive suburban dining

Oscar's taps into new American sensibility
It is the rare chef, for example, who can make ordering the “veggie plate” seem like a good idea in retrospect — but the one at Oscar’s was fantastic, with a great mix of colors and textures.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  March 14, 2014

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Cracking our hard exteriors

A meditation on mussels, clams, and oysters
These days it is mollusks like oysters, mussels, and clams (rather than crustaceous shellfish, like lobster, crab, and shrimp) that best represent our collective emotional temperament. 
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  February 27, 2014



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The spice of life (and death)

 A philosophy of flavors
In our reverence for herbs and spices  we should detect our contempt for the blander staple ingredients they are often meant to enliven.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  February 12, 2014

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Seeking perfection

Reviving the dim sum tradition at Empire
Empire Chinese Kitchen reclaims the name and space occupied by one of Portland’s earliest Chinese restaurants, a century after the original opened its doors.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  January 23, 2014

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When 'typical' means tasty

Dominican classics translate well in Portland
customers should not look to El Tipico, a new Dominican restaurant tucked away across from Big Sky Bread on Deering, for ambitious cuisine.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  January 16, 2014

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What food trends Portland will see in 2014

Following new roads
In anticipating 2014 perhaps its best to commit to re-appreciating what is familiar and reliable.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  December 26, 2013

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Keeping the food scene on an even keel

 Eating up 2013
A year ago Portland was feeling giddy, food-wise — with Eventide on every national best-of list, many interesting new openings rumored, and several prominent food trends, like pop-ups and food trucks, poised to take root in our town.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  December 19, 2013



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For the tiny space and a light touch at Piccolo

 No small praise
As the carefully nurtured product of pair of married chefs, Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, Piccolo is perhaps best understood in terms of the little-beloved offspring who enchant us, but occasionally frustrate us as well — each in both expected and unexpected ways.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  November 27, 2013

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Learn to love sour and bitter

 The long pour
If chefs make this cuisine appealing enough, perhaps a Scandinavian sensibility will worm its way deeper into our viscera. And if they lower our inhibitions with great drinks, so much the better.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  November 20, 2013

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Elsmere serves up fantastic meat

 Nailing the ’cue
Elsmere offers all the trappings of good meat sans the anxious self-righteousness with which too many chefs serve it and talk about it.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  October 24, 2013

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Come to Maine, stay Phoever

 Enjoy the tastes at a new Vietnamese restaurant
Any place that thinks to name its spring rolls after the Bowdoin Log has some deep Maine knowledge.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  October 02, 2013
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