There are restaurants nestled in Franschoek wine country that take your breath away. Places in the farthest reaches of Peru that are Valhalla amidst the ordinary. Restaurants along the Amalfi only accessible by boat that are pure heaven. And then there is Grace in Portland, Maine and it is every bit as transcendent.
Located in an old church, soaring ceilings, radiant stained glass, huge pipe organ and an amazingly beautiful open kitchen, this space is truly jaw dropping. But a restaurant must not stand on looks alone, and luckily Grace proves itself in the kitchen as well.
This locally sourced co-op restaurant is your place to come in Portland for good eats, fair prices, a gaggle of families with kids and a ton of dreads. While you’re eating your organic/sustainable/sprouty meal enjoy the patchouli and the din of children happily running about. It’s a good scene.
The aesthetic and vibe here is apparent early in from the map of Maine detailing were the food you are going to eat is from. The Monster spends a few minutes checking it out and has to say he loves the idea of eating food that hasn’t had to be shipped across the country (if not the world). Sure it might be all sorts of hippy but The Monster once had dreads himself…
Off the beaten tourist path in West End sits Vaughan Street, the very definition of mom and pop sandwich shop. With a large menu of to-go only focaccia sandwiches, wraps and regular sandwiches, this is a local favorite.
You’ll find the list of sandwiches along one wall, drinks and chips and the like along the other. Order at the counter and a few minutes later you’ll be on your way.
Not much in the way of atmosphere inside (the outside patio is closed for the season) and not much in the way of good eats (sad lobster roll, just ok fries), Dry Dock does feature friendly service and the soul music is rocking so there is that. Chi-lites, Barry White, Rufus and Chaka Khan, yea that works.
Because when The Monster heads to Portland, Maine the first thing he is going to do is get a lobster roll. Call it nostalgia, but even a sad lobster roll like this tastes better by the salty-aired port. Because you’re in Maine and the lobster will never be fresher.
Let’s say your downtown. It’s lunch time. You’re hungry. You want to eat a huge bowl of wonton soup and be surrounded by policeman as you do it. Why? Who know? You’re like that. And maybe you’re with someone who wants a hamburger. And another person wants corned beef hash. This is tricky. And you think to yourself, wow, how will this ever come to be?
And then you end up at Uncle John’s Cafe and your wonton/policeman/hamburger/hash dreams are realized.
Let’s start out with the fantastic transvestite who announces when he walks in “don’t own no plane, took forevers to get here” as if anyone asked the question of where he had been or why he had not arrived sooner. At this point The Monster is midway through his meal at Wings World and this registers as perhaps only the third or fourth most interesting occurrence of the meal.
It all started with a jonesing for wings. And LA, sad wing world that it is, just doesn’t have a ton of truly special places to get your wing on. A little research and The Monster is off to Wings World on Venice near La Brea. It has all the charm of an oil change location and pretty much the same smell. Still, the woman behind the counter is super-super friendly and the sign outside says “Best wings in town.” Surely, that sign couldn’t lie? Also, there is a sign outside that says in order from top to bottom “Salad” “Chef” “Tuna” “Chicken” “Garden” “Grill Chicken.” It doesn’t make a whit of sense and that adds to the crazy “ambiance” you’ll find at Wings World.