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Brian Duff

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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


Give 'em a hand

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Boone’s steps up the traditional Maine game

 Pricey classics
 At the new Boone’s restaurant, classic New England cuisine is completely familiar, but elevated too (and priced accordingly).
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  September 26, 2013


Portland & Rochester gives Bayside another push

Rolling stock
P&R invites us to harken back to the day when “local” wasn’t a de rigueur menu adjective, but a basic fact of life.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  September 06, 2013


The great Enio’s, from the former owners of Rachel’s

 Maine favorites return
Enio’s may be run by veterans of the Maine restaurant scene, and be rooted in traditional strengths of Italian cuisine, but thanks to its imaginative menu and bright interesting space, it feels new and fresh.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  August 30, 2013

Two off-peninsula eateries offer a lunchtime lift

Sublime sandwiches
Long ago, lunch was the most significant meal of the day, giving farmers the energy to continue working through the afternoon and into the evening.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  August 30, 2013


Artemisia Café now serves a wonderful dinner

 A quiet success
Word should start getting out about the new dinner service at Artemisia Café.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  August 01, 2013


Outliers finds the top margin

A cut above
To call something an outlier defines its achievement in relation to the average.
By: BRIAN DUFF  |  July 10, 2013
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