Sunday, May 3, 2009

Press Herald Strikes Again - Joe's Boathouse

Joe's Boathouse, Where the Calamari Sets the Standard.
Translation: Joe's Boathouse, Where I Know What's Best For Everyone.

SOUTH PORTLAND — A recent Friday night at Joe's Boathouse started out well, after scoring a water-view table without reservations at 7:30 p.m. Joe's Boathouse has been a favorite restaurant of many Portland area folks for years, and of course the water-view seats are the first to fill up.
If you go to Joe's, try to score a water-view table with a water-view.
According to a server, the restaurant usually doesn't have a wait for a table now, but in summer it often does. The tables are not entirely booked by reservation. In the summer, customers willing to enjoy a drink on the side deck before dinner can relax while waiting for a table.
...Or customers unwilling to enjoy a drink can grow impatient and fucking lose it on the side deck while enjoying the water-views. The tables are not entirely booked by reservation, some are booked with magic, a server told me.

Tender fried calamari and a satisfactory seared tuna dinner were highlights of the meal, although the fish was served cold in the center. Both the tuna and a swordfish special were served cold in the center. Unfortunately, a return to the kitchen for the swordfish, while it raised the temperature, left the fish tough.
Seared Tuna Dinner, Is that a combo meal? My fish, also both the tuna and swordfish, were served cold in the center. A trip to the kitchen that I thought would teach the swordfish a lesson only made it tougher upon return. I proceeded to stab it with my steely knife but I just couldn't kill the beast.
No one on the restaurant staff had any insight to share about a French white wine called Louis Latour St. Veran ($28 a bottle) on the wine list, our server told us apologetically after we had asked about it.
That's because there isn't really a lot to say about soulless, crappy wine. I've got some insight for you - It's a cheap bottle of white burgundy, probably not worth discussing and/or drinking. You happy now?
She brought us a taste of the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc ($6.50 by the glass, $29 by the bottle) from Chile, which seemed too sweet and citrusy to enjoy with the fish. Les Setilles, a French white burgundy ($30 a bottle) from Olivier Leflaive, proved clean and refreshing, although its modest blend only hinted at the glories of white Burgundy. And unfortunately, our questions about wine had delayed that first taste until after we had eaten most of our appetizers, because each question took a good while to answer.
It was a French White Burgundy as opposed to an Australian White Burgundy. The Veramonte Ca-Ca Sauvignon Blanc SEEMED too sweet and citrusy but that was merely an illusion. It proceeded to take me on a roller-coaster ride of lies and deception throughout the rest of the meal. "It's modest blend only hinted at the glories of white burgundy (and water-views)" What the fuck are you talking about? And, unfortunately our asinine questions about grocery store wine had annoyed people to the point that they wished we would just shut the fuck up and eat our goddamned appetizers.
The main room at Joe's Boathouse holds the bar and two levels filled with tables, allowing a view past the wharf for anyone inside. A long, covered side porch holds more tables beside a row of windows.
Floorplans are an important part of any food review.
On the night of our visit, glittering tugboats were nudging an emptied oil tanker off the dock and back to sea. Shrouded boats still crowd the parking lot, but it had been warm enough for folks to settle into the side porch outside during happy hour and enjoy the sea air. Dinner al fresco might be delayed until a little later in the season, although one noble pair began the evening on the deck before coming back inside.
AHOY! This paragraph alone makes me want to throw my computer through a window. I challenge anyone to find one relevant remark here, anything.. tugboats, shrouded boats, NOBLE COUPLES? oh my god...
The calamari ($11.95) sets a standard and remains a kind of institution in itself, like Fore Street's mussels. Just how does the kitchen manage to fry those crisp squid rings and tentacles so very deep golden brown and still keep them tender?
Anointed with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with chopped red onion and dry, grated Parmesan, the sweet, sour and salty flavors make a chorus in the mouth that perfectly harmonizes.
If you'd read the title, you would already know that the Calamari sets the standard. It remains only kind of an institution, kind of like Fore Street's mussels - which should be discussed in a review of Fore Street. Just how do they? In a deep fryer you moron. I'll anoint you with some sweet, sour, and salty flavors that will perfectly harmonize in your mouth... Sorry.
Lobster bisque ($9.95), on the other hand, was ill-served by a thick consistency. The tang of sea and mineral intensity of some bisques was muted in this version, but it was graced by a few good-sized pieces of lobster.
Not so much of an institution was the lobster bisque, which isn't like Fore Street's mussels at all. The server was very rude when I tried to send it back and order some of Fore Street's mussels instead, because they compliment my water-views.
The center of the rare tuna ($23.95), as deep-pink as a hanging-basket fuchsia, was cold, and my companion chose to keep it that way. It resembled a kind of sushi dinner, and assorted well with the also-cold, perhaps just out of the refrigerator, mango salsa or salad, with barely ripe mango.
Anyone having deja-vu? My rare tuna dinner resembled kind of a sushi dinner, that resembled a hanging basket fuschia, that must have been in the fridge, that's why it was so cold - because refrigerators are cold and fuschia's are pink and I forgot to take my meds this morning...
But a cold-in-the-center piece of swordfish ($24.95) registered as odd, and the server agreed that it was intended to be cooked through. Off it went, to return hot and, unfortunately, too tough to enjoy. A relish or salsa of Maine shrimp and tomatoes set on top was also cold.
My keen senses allowed me to come to the conclusion that cold swordfish was odd. I validated myself by getting the server to agree with me. We both came to the conclusion that this naughty little piece of fish needed to go cool it's heels a little in the kitchen. Oh, but that journey proved to be disasterous. Upon return my fish was tough. It registered to me that tough swordfish is kind of odd as well. I called my trusty server over who, once again, agreed with me. It was at this moment that I knew I should review food professionally, because the things I say are brilliant and the world needs to know!
Better on both plates and also chewy and hot was the side of "multigrain," a mix of white rice, corn and barley. The chewier bits of a narrow brown grain certainly gave the dish its best ingredient.
(see above)
Filet mignon ($24.95) with shaved fried onions, Thai curry scallops ($23.95) on rice noodles topped with fried wontons, and haddock Gabrielle ($22.95), "topped with cheddar crumb topping and sauted Maine shrimp and lobster sauce," are more on the entree list.
More on the entree list than what? The appetizer list?
Izzy's Cheesecake white chocolate and blueberry cheesecake ($5.95) was on a recent menu for dessert. On other nights the restaurant might offer a carrot cake or other baked good from Katie Made, a bakery in Portland that provides desserts for Maine restaurants.
Izzy's Cheesecake Cheesecake is my Favorite Cheesecake to enjoy with water-views. The other desserts on the list including desserts from someone who provides desserts for restaurant dessert lists.
The one dessert made at Joe's Boathouse the night of my visit was Key lime pie ($5.95) – and this version was slightly tart and thoroughly sweet. A fringe of canned whipped topping and decoration of unpleasantly flavored green syrup contributed nothing but the look of synthetic ingredients to the plate.
My keen senses allowed me to register that the green syrup looked synthetic. I nodded knowingly to my 4 year old dining companion and called the server over. The server agreed with me and I sat there quietly for several minutes, basking in the certainty that I truly was born to review food....


  1. Hilarious. She got paid to write this crap. (Shaking my head). By a newspaper that is about two months away from going into the tank. You should write a sample review and send it to the PPH. Maybe if they published some better material people might actually read the rag!

  2. lol at "stab it with a steely knife..."

  3. ...and N.L. English gave Eggspectations, a since-closed establishment, a 5-Star review? That in itself should give a pretty good idea as to what she expects out of "fine-dining". And from what I have gathered, she is not promoting any establishments in our great state of Maine, especially our waterfront restaurants, but instead promoting a chain corporation that can be found off any major highway in the United States. You are unprofessional and over-rated, and anyone who has, or will, take your advice on where to have a "great" meal in our city and state, has DEFINATELY not taken their medication.

  4. Anon, there's no review of Eggspectations on the Press Herald website, much less a 5 star review.

  5. And they were the only one in the US. Get your facts straight anon.

  6. Giuseppe!
    Frank Bruni has moved to the NYT magazine so there's an opening for the Times Dining Out restaurant review position... see where I'm goin' wit dis, homeslice??

    See you on Broadway, Big Guy!!

  7. you are so effin' brilliant