Ten favorite restaurants in my experience

Some of these no longer exist, other than in my memory. And while some are expensive, others are quite the affordable but deserve kudos for skillful preparation and good ingredients.

  1. Big Night, Dover. Anything Chris and Linda did here or in their later incarnations in South Berwick, Maine, was always masterful, often with a French or Mediterranean base. Small-scale, as in a two-person operation, can truly be beautiful. They’re the standard by which we now measure all others.
  2. Fore Street, Portland, Maine. On a larger scale and an industrial style room, this is simply great food. We had a sauvignon blanc that was delivered with very little markup from retail simply because the owners thought this would be perfect for our meals – and we’re still searching for another bottle that comes close. My wife will rattle off the details of our meal and why we were so thoroughly impressed.
  3. North, Providence, Rhode Island. Another small setting – 18 seats, plus a small bar – this Asian fusion laboratory was a revelation with tastes I didn’t know even existed.
  4. Gasperetti’s, Yakima, Washington. A small setting – about 48 seats at the time – this was considered by many to be the best Italian restaurant in the Pacific Northwest when we lived there.
  5. A tiny Japanese restaurant near Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Four tables, as I recall on my first and only visit to the city. My introduction to raw fish (shashimi), sake, and plum wine. Heavenly.
  6. PB Boulangerie, Wellfleet, Cape Cod. Wonderful French with a chef proprietor from Lyons.
  7. Little Saigon, Worcester, Massachusetts. I love Vietnamese, and this one most of all.
  8. Lobster in the Rough, York, Maine. Many fine Sunday afternoons here with a cover duo and families playing bocce. They knew how to make fine onion rings and French fries, in addition to haddock and lobster. And don’t overlook the slaw. Straight-forward fare like this can be a tough test for many restaurants. We really admire the ones that pass with flying colors.
  9. Wonderland Café, Watertown, Massachusetts. Unpretentious Chinese cuisine that demonstrated the importance of fresh ingredients. This was takeout that was welcome a two-hour drive away a day later. ’Nuff said?
  10. Ta-boo, Palm Beach, Florida. My first truly upscale restaurant experience, thanks to my girlfriend’s parents. Had my first raw oysters and first orange flambe while being entertained by a Yale glee club. After that, everything’s a delirious swirl.

~*~

So how about your favorites? And what makes them stand out?

~*~

A Corinthian column on the exterior of the Bradford Congregational Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a classic touch. The screening is to keep birds at bay.

Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.

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