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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Grill Room & Bar Review ~ Portland, ME

Today was my friend Myranda's birthday. First of cool is it to have a birthday the day before 4th of July. It's like the Country is celebrating your birthday every year. I was so excited to be asked to go to dinner with her on her special day. Best part...she offered up use of her Groupon to try out The Grill Room & Bar in downtown Portland, ME. She is a girl after my own heart with those Groupons. I love a good meal that tastes even better when it is a good deal.

Between the two of us we had several Groupon and Living Social deals between us (by the way Living Social has a deal right now if you spend $25 or more on a deal you can save $10 by using the code FREEDOM). I let Myranda choose (it is a rule that the Birthday Girl gets to choose). I was so excited about her choice.

We arrived around 6:00 pm and we were sat right away. The restaurant definitely had an industrial vibe. Lots of exposed pipes and duct work and they had quirky decorations on the walls. We had the choice of sitting inside or outside. We told them either one would be fine with us. In hindsight we wish we had asked to be outside. It was such a wonderful temperature outside and it was  bit on the warm side inside. We kept getting taunted every time the door was opened and got to feel that wonderful breeze.

I would say I had three disappointments about the restaurant. The first was that it was very dark on the inside. To the point that it was difficult to see the menu. I had to bring it very close to my face (I would like to think my eyesight is I am pretty sure it was them and not me but you never know). We were there while it was still light out so I am not sure how it would be once it was dark outside. Maybe the lights our turned up inside as it gets darker outside.

The second was the loud music. I realize it is probably just me getting old but I really dislike eating in a restaurant where it becomes difficult hearing the person eating across from me. On top of that I feel like the menu was on the higher side and the loud music just didn't belong in a nice restaurant like that.

My final complaint was the table we were sat at. We were led to a large table that looked like it could sit six. The host ended up separating a two top table from the large table and we were left sitting at a really small space. By the time we had our drinks and bread, we had run out of space at our table. I probably would have been more understanding if they had been busier. However, the entire time were there, no one ever sat at the remaining four top. I wish we could have sat at the four top and had more room. Not a huge deal but it would have made it a better experience.

While I at work today I had a chance to peruse the menu online. I was most excited about the drink menu because it had something that caught my eye. I was so excited to see that they had Pisco Sours. Both Chile and Peru claim it as their National Drink and during my time in Chile I was able to sample quite a few. In fact at my wedding during the cocktail hour we served Pisco Sours. These cocktails contain Pisco (somewhat like a wine), lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, and egg white. It has been awhile since I had one in Chile but I found these to be quite delicious. I will have to take Leo there some Wednesday to get his opinion. They cost $10 each, so it was a little on the high side. However, we found them quite large and they lasted our whole meal. We supplemented with water while we were eating.

Birthday Girl enjoying her Pisco Sour

Here I am enjoying my Pisco Sour

Better view of the cocktail
Next came out our bread. It came out on a long board with about 4 pieces of bread. It also had a small bowl with salt in it and then a slightly larger bowl with olive oil. It was a little awkward to pour onto our bread plates and I wasn't quite sure how to handle the salt. I got carried away with the salt and now feel like I am dry from the inside out. The bread tasted really nice. It wasn't anything too special but it tied us over until the next course.

We decided to share an appetizer. Besides being a horrible picture because I forgot to bring my camera and had to resort to the camera on my phone. I apparently was so entranced by my cocktail that I forgot to take a picture of the appetizer. I will just have to tell you about it and it's deliciousness. We ordered the Fried Squid which included artichoke hearts, olives, pepperoncini and tequila-lime aioli. This cost $10 and was worth every penny. The squid I swear melted in our mouth and it had just the right amount of breading. It a wedge of lime on top that I am thinking that they grilled but it definitely looked very black. I am wondering now if we were supposed to squeeze it on top of the squid. I avoided the olives like the plague because I absolutely hate the taste of olives. Overall it was a great starter and we would definitely get it again.
Next came the main features. One thing I wish I realized before ordering (in fact it would have been really nice if the waitress or host had explained it when we first got the menus) was the difference between the entrees and the a la carte menu. I didn't realize it that the entrees were more of a suggestion of what would pair nicely with the protein. They had tons of different sides and it would have maybe fun to try a different side with it. Oh well, just a reason to go back another time.
I went with the  SPICE-RUBBED SKIRT STEAK which came with German fried potatoes, crispy onions, pickled jalapeƱos, sunny-side farm egg, chimichurri sauce – $24. This was so good...I really struggled with licking the plate clean. The potatoes were so good, it tasted like there were large pieces of bacon fried with it. The egg was cooked perfectly and the yolk just really made it so decadent. I loved the steak so much and was so sad when I ate the last bite. The only surprise was the pickled jalapeno. It was definitely not pickled. I made the mistake of eating one and then tried to put out the fire. This was so good overall. I would have a hard time picking anything else.

Myranda choose the SALMON roasted cauliflower puree, roasted root vegetable, spinach, bacon, apple cider butter sauce – $26. I can't tell you much about it except that she really liked it. I don't like Salmon so I didn't try any. She was thrilled with her choice so that is all that matters.

After dinner we strolled around the Old Port to walk off some of that delicious meal. It was so beautiful outside and we really enjoyed being out and about. I will post some of my favorite pictures.

It was such a fun walk and so many neat things to see. One interesting thing on the way back to our car. We were walking back to the garage and there was a purse in the middle of the sidewalk. It was laying on its side and there was no one around. It looked like a beautiful leather purse and probably worth some money. We wondered if a purse snatcher had taken it and abandoned it after taking the wallet. We didn't want to leave the purse but we didn't want to open it either (you just never know when it is a bomb...ok truthful moment...we started to open it but chickened out after the first item we saw). We finally decided to call the non-emergency line to the police department to find out what we should do about it. It was funny because I just had the thought that it would be nice if a police car drove by and what do you know but one did that very moment.

I was able to wave him down and explained about the purse. Since we already had opened it and we knew that a bomb wasn't going to go off, he also opened it and dug in a little further. He was able to find a wallet that had identification and a wallet. He called into the station and they were able to find a phone number for the owner of the purse. They didn't get ahold of her but were able to leave a message. The police officer took our names and numbers in case the owner wanted to get ahold of house. By the time we got to my house, the owner called to thank us and let her know she was able to get her purse back. She was so thankful and even offered to pay for our dinner or drinks. We thanked her but told her we were just glad she got her purse back.

I think it was a wonderful birthday celebration and the night was a great way to start getting ready for 4th of July.

Have a great Holiday!!!

Edited to Add: The Grill Room & Bar is located at : 84 Exchange Street, Portland, ME