The Briefest of Hiati (Hiatuses?) Haiti. I hate myself.

I apologize for the late announcement, but Drunch will be taking a brief (2 week) hiatus. To the tens of twenties of discerning and devoted Drunch fans, I offer a humble appeal to your patience. Rest assured, Drunch will return with renewed vigor and fortitude. 

As consolation, I’ll be posting photos—here and there—of my heinous sojourn to the East. 

すみません. 行ってきます.



Novare Res Bier Café - Portland, ME

I am a red-blooded, ruddy-handed, glint-eyed American man. And you know what I want? Beer. Don’t give me this mumbo jamma about what beer I can and can’t drink. Beer’s beer; that’s about the truest statement I think has ever been put to page.


Beer’s not about snobbery. It’s about guys who want to get a good haze on, shoot some cornhole and maybe pinch an ass-cheek or two. When I set up at the bar with a couple of Dupont Bierre du Miels there’s no pretension there. That’s just a man enjoying some hops, barley, water and tinges of esters and citrus.


So don’t start telling me, “beer is the new wine.” I’ll put you in a barrel and stomp you with my bare feet. I’m a beer man! I don’t care if it’s a Budweiser Lager or a Kerkom Bink Hopverdomme. I know what’s accepted to drink as a confident, virile American man: beer.

If it’s not some variation of brown I cannot drink it down.


You might lament the fact that we’ve got craft breweries coming out our tits. All these bearded, tattooed overall-wearers pumping out doppelbocks, doppelhop-trippels and all whatever-the-hell else… but that’s all just beer! Samuel Adams’d be high-fiving the piss out of our collective American hands for getting so much sauce out there. It’s just a proliferation of the American spirit! And don’t try to tell me that we’re late to the party, that all sorts of German and Czech beer traditions outdate the founding of America itself. I don’t care who did it before us; we still did it first.


You think because I’m drinking a Belgian Vapuer Cochonne that makes it any less American? Wrong! Soon as that barrel rolls onto American soil it’s imbued with the stars, stripes, Indian tears and blessings of Jesus H. Christ himself.


That’s the American way! Take what you like and call it yours. Pizza comes from Italy? Wrong, it comes from a hut. Shrimp and grits is Cajun? Wrong again, Cajun is a seasoning and you can get the hell off my porch. There’s only one ethnic group in America and that’s American.


How do you like us now, Euro-zone? The American capitalist powerhouse is hoovering your beers right out from under your raised noses! I’ll tell you who John Galt is; he’s the bro wearing Chubbies who just beat you at pong. Merci, danke and děkuji!


You know what we don’t import? Humility. Why should you when you’re the best?


I’ll tell you right now that you can’t wow me with your fancy romancy French wines, stink-cheeses and boner bread. You dare to put a half-glass of grape juice in front of this old dog’s mug? I’ll splash it on your petticoat. But if you set me up with a goblet of Bavik Petrus Blond, why I’ll kiss you on both cheeks.


Now I can’t speak for no California liberals because I’m not about to tour Napa on a Segway. But I won’t even argue about wine vs. beer. All wine tastes like to me is surrender. What I will argue about: the statistical importance of OBP vs RBI over a cool Blaugies Darbyste.


You know what that cool draught’ll be washing down? America’s holy tubed meat-grail: hot dogs. Will they be red dogs and not the traditional frank? Sure. Will they be covered in kimchi and Korean mayonnaise? Why the diddly not? You can try to take the hot dog out of America, but by G-d you can’t take America out of that wiener.

That's a Kim Jong Dog, son. 

See, I’m just an average guy who likes his facts in black and white—preferably white. Republican or Demoshat. Rich or poor. Beer or wine. Tell nuance to apologize then get its sorry ass back to Canada.


What I’m saying is, I’ll drink a De Glazen Toren Cuvee Angelique. I’ll drink a Het Sas Leroy Paulus. I’ll even drink a  ‘t Gaverhopke Koerseklakske Saision. Because those are beers and beers=America. You got another opinion? I’m not listening. To me, a beer is a beer no matter if it tastes like burnt wood or a dandelion in orange juice. Because if beer ain’t just American anymore, what is anything? Who am I? How did we all get here? Who are you? And where do you get off trying to argue that steals matter more than slugging percentage? Huh?


Is that what we were talking about? Sorry brother, I’m kinda ripped.




3.5 Stars

You’re coming for the beer; let’s just get that out of the way. The food is still solid, but you’re here for beer.


As You Like It

With beers ranging from $4 to ~$15 (the norm being around $6-$8) you can end up spending quite a bit if you so choose. The food is right in the same range.



Indoors it’s all rocks, wood, mortar and low-ish ceilings. Outdoors you’ve got a run-of-the-mill porch (that’s quite large). The inside exudes character, the first and foremost source of aforementioned character being the formidable wall of taps behind the bar. Add to that multiple rooms (some you can’t even enter without club-member status) and you’ve got yourself an interesting joint! Think wine cellar meets bier garden.


How Packed?

On the weekends it’s normally hopping (don’t even pretend I intended that pun), which means you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get your order in. Weekdays you’ll feel like a pampered schoolgirl.



It’s by far the most impressive beer joint in Portland. The food is worth ordering if you’re hungry, with some pretty audacious menu items like Kim Jong Dogs (red hot dogs smothered in kimchi and korean mayo), or the Ban Mi. The real reason you’re going is to try a beer you have never heard of, of which there is ample supply.



Five Guys Burgers and Fries - Portland, ME

I should what? Review Five Guys Burgers and Fries?


Yeah, OK… sure, like I’ll just debase myself by doing that. Uh-huh. A place with a name that rhymes for tit’s sake I’m laughing so hard at you right now.


Have you ever even seen me in a Five Guys? Like ever? No? Well maybe that should tell you something about the type of person I am. Like, mainly, that I am not a person who would just saunter into a red-and-white-tiled chain burger joint being like, “yes, I should review this!!!”


Or what, do you think I’d… like I’d, like I’d go there clandestinely? Like I’d actually wrap myself in some sort of taupe trench coat and black fedora disguise and show up one minute before Five Guys opened at 11:00 AM so nobody I know would have any chance of seeing me there? Yeah I hope you’re laughing at that image too.


One regular bacon chee for this guy. Pfffffff. Oh yeah, right. *Said in a snarky, unserious, nasally voice* I’ll have caramelized onions and ketchup and mustard and hot peppers and lettuce and tomato please. Thanks Dennis!


Right? Is that how I would sound?


I really can’t believe you’d even entertain the thought that I’d review Five Guys seriously… like a chain burger joint deserves a review. Jesus, I’m laughing. You think a burger with a soft, warm bun, juicy meat and vast array of toppings—fused by American cheese into a steaming block of savory joy deserves consciously-written words of either praise or dislike. What, did you think this blog was not called “Drunch” and, in fact, called “Dumb-ch?” Huh?




Funny stuff, man. What a joke…  you actually thought I should go into Five Guys and review their burgers and their fries? So—so let me get this straight—you were thinking that I would actually type, into a properly-formatted word document, something like: Five Guys may be a chain, but it’s also a source of hope in the corporate fast food pantheon. Eschewing computer-operated burger presses for actual grills, the only thing that makes Five Guys “fast” is the Ford Motor Company-esque factory line through which each burger travels. As it’s passed from grill operator to toppings-man (toppings-woman? toppings-mate?) to, ultimately, the bagger, each burger’s consistency and speed comes from tightly honed preparation rather than idiot-proof, one-button-does-it fast food preparation.


Yeah is that what I’d write?


You know what? Maybe I actually will! Maybe, on some idiotic, ironic lark I will go to Five Guys and seriously order a burger. Ha! Wouldn’t that just be hilarious… me going to a chain burger place like Five Guys and actually, in reality, ordering food to eat! Nobody would believe it!


You know what? Here we go! I’m donning a real life jacket to actually sojourn to Five Guys at 11:30 in the morning. Is this not the most half-cocked hokum you could ever imagine? You want to come too, to personally witness this event of insane malarkey? Because if you don’t come, I kid you not, I will order two burgers! I will, in this reality in which we both simultaneously exist, order two full Five Guys burgers and eat them both if you do not come.


MmmmMmmm this looks gooooood *said SO sarcastically* 

You know what? Even if you do join me, as a piece of performance art, I’ll still eat two burgers. The funniest part? I will actually look as if I’m blissfully enjoying it.

Actually, listen to this. No, seriously sit down on a flat, stable, horizontal surface for this next piece of heinous lampoonery: how about I eat there for the next month or two. Hell, let’s call it a year! That’s right, every damn day I’m going to be at Five Guys, laughing, through a mouthful of burger, in your stupid face. Won’t that just be the tits of a joke! Yeah, that’s right. From now on if you see me in Five Guys it will be as the greatest practical joke played by a reviewer ever and not in any way connected to some clandestine addiction I may or may not appear to have to Five Guys burgers.


Wow, I’m really doing this aren’t I? What a balls-tastically real farce. I, a man of refined taste, will be posted up in a chain burger joint that offers free peanuts and refills for the foreseeable future. Truly this will be the greatest stunt ever.


Wow, I can’t believe you thought I’d ever seriously review Five Guys… just, wow.




3.9 Stars

I can’t, in good conscience, give four stars to Five Guys. However, consider these the strongest, brightest, Polaris-like three point nine stars you have ever witnessed. The intense, almost primal, satiation that follows a Five Guys burger is the closest we come, in this day and age, to the gluttonous joy of killing a mammoth. And the grease-stained bag of fries you receive when ordering a small fry? It brings a tear of happiness to my eye.



A fully-loaded, diet-be-damned meal still won’t have you scratching the teens.


Jovial Bomb Shelter

Red, white and oddly spare. The base model Ford Focus of fast food interiors. Everything you need and absolutely nothing extra.


Tomatoes… Umm… Pickles. No, not pickles… Umm… Wait, sorry…

The longest holdup invariably comes when you try to choose between putting caramelized onions or BBQ sauce (or both) on your burger.



There are three real hangover cures that I know of: intense exercise, more alcohol or a Five Guys burger. Unless you are on a Michael Phelps workout regimen—circa 2008—you can’t often eat at Five Guys. But that’s OK, I love it just the way it is.


Little Tap House - Portland, ME

In my youth I found a truth, a vital verity,

It’s not a jab, a blow, a stab to say, “it’s not for me.”


“It’s not for me,” decidedly is five small words, almost a plea,

Less judgment than confession, see, to express, “it’s not for me.”


For reputation adulation’s best decidedly,

But for the truth, though uncouth, one must speak candidly,

For one man’s meat’s another’s offal, how awful, truthfully,

So when a place isn’t to my taste I must say, “it’s not for me.”


And ill opinions kill when persons take them personally,

But a bad review’s not about you, untrue, “it’s not for me.”


Like movies, games, books, comics and of course TV,

My favorite joint could have you point and say, “it’s not for me.”


So while taste is best kept close to chest, not shouted carelessly,

As I slog through this blog, I must squawk unequivocally,

For a spot resides that oft divides opinions drastically,

Little Tap House, I’m forced to grouse, *ahem* “it’s not for me.”


Its trappings and its wrappings are presented stunningly,

But simply put – mouth meet foot – the food… “it’s not for me.”


Before you bark, “what a lark!” understand the gravity,

Of lambasting a place (risking egg on face) to say, “it’s not for me.”


The Shepherd’s Pie, the Fish & Chips and Lobster Mac make three,

Dishes I’ve tried, that on my hide, were challenged season-ally,

Though well-prepared these vittles shared a flaw resoundingly,

Lacking herb and spice, though cooked quite nice, I say “it’s not for me.”


Now, people rant their burgers can’t be beat (I shan’t agree),

Burgers abound around, I’ve found, so still, “it’s not for me.”


Meet meat.

555, The Front Room, Caiola’s and In’Finiti,

Their burgers all are on the ball, so I scrawl, “it’s not for me.”


It’d be a shame to blame its fame on sheer proximity,

Its service and its feel appeal to tipplers like me,

Meaning for one drink – nod nod wink wink – I’ll go unblinkingly,

But for a munch, dinner or brunch, I say, “it’s not for me.”

The House of Tap gets a good rap from the majority,

In short the seasoning’s my reasoning why, “it’s not for me.”

Were I rootin’ tootin’ drinkin’ hootin’ there’d be no scrutiny,

But sitting down to dine I frown, sorry, “it’s not for me.”


See Portland’s food is beyond good, with true variety,

Which means a space of ample grace and ingenuity,

Whose fare has tracked a certain lack of one necessity,

Is not enough for me to bluff and say, “it’s just for me.”




2.8 Stars

I really wish I liked Little Tap House more. The menu is well laid out and diverse, but in the end I’ve never really been satisfied by a meal there. The burgers are certainly fine, no disappointment there, but they’re not better than so many other burgers in Portland.


Middle Management

With burgers ~$13 and Entrees at ~$22, it’s not inexpensive. Nothing wild for Portland, though.


Urban rustic

A dollop of “Farm-y” touches, meaning hardwood flourishes and some farm implements on the walls. It’s well laid out, intimate and comfortable.


At the ready

A fine wait staff. Good for what ye need.



As good as Little Tap House is for a drink, it just doesn’t stack up for dinner. Mind you, if you go, you won’t leave in a huff. But there are other options nearby in Portland that, for about the same price, (Caiola’s, In’Finiti, 555, Portland & Rochester Public House to name a few) will leave you better satiated.


In'Finiti Fermentation & Distillation - Portland, ME

Today’s Test


QUESTION 1: In’Finiti is the name of something. What is it the name of?

ANSWER:  In’Finiti is  ____________.


Here's a hint!


A: The name of a failed Destiny’s Child copycat band.


B: The name of Shaq’s new line of extra-premium tequila.


C: The name of an X-Men character whose power is to stop time, yet still be able to move around while everyone else is completely still.


D: The name of a $15,000 foldable stove found in Hammacher Schlemmer Magazine.


E: The name of a South Korean man’s female World of Warcraft orc mage avatar.


F: The name of an EDM-themed couples resort in Mexico.


G: The name of a moneyed theoretical mathematician’s yacht.


H: The name of a gaming chair made by Mad Catz.


I: The name of the attractive young girl who’s about to work the pole on stage 3.


J: The name of a line of 110 Inch high-res TVs manufactured by Sanyo.


K: The name of a Maximum-Hold™ Hairspray for teens from the 90’s.


L: The most popular baby name in 2037.


M: The name of an enclave of arcane cultists whose rite of passage involves bathing in the ChronoPond in the secret bomb shelter beneath the Lincoln Memorial.


N: The name of 1960-70s bizarro music legend Frank Zappa’s pet rattlesnake.


O: The name of the newest Apple OS update.


P: The name of a tattoo magazine distributed to limited regions of south LA.


Q: The name given, by the author of an ersatz LOTR series, to a fictional, un-traversable bog.


R: The name of an exorbitantly expensive boutique shoe store in SoHo.


S: The name of the “top luxury” model of Sealy Posturepedic mattress.


T: The name of an herbal teashop’s intramural feather-bowling team.


U: The name of a frustratingly difficult space-themed pinball machine.


V: The name of a Hunger Games copycat book-turned-film in which the plucky, young female protagonist discovers that she is the last of a legendary race of immortals, hidden from the fascist government by step-parents who are killed in the film’s first act, causing the girl to go on the run, which culminates in her unearthing the fact that her parents, and all the other immortals for that matter, are still alive and simply held in captivity by said fascist government, wherein it becomes the subject of the next 2-4 movies for her to first release her immortal brethren and then, with the help of the huddled masses of beleaguered citizens, overthrow the fascist government, heralding a freer brave new world.


W: The name of a Jivamukti yoga center in Chatham, MA.


X: The name of a tri-yearly online journal boasting “mind-rending, unclassifiable and daring” poetry, that only released a single issue.


Y: The name of a glass-blowing studio that specializes in decorative Klein bottles.


Z: The name of a high school hip-hop dance team.


ZZ: The name of something else.


Did you guess it? 



If you chose ZZ, you’re correct! Surprisingly, In’Finiti is the name of a delightfully high-class Portland waterfront brewery, distillery, bar and restaurant. Though you would have been very close had you guessed A-Z.




4.0 Stars

Good grub abounds. Match that with a substantial home-brewed beer selection (whose brewing tanks are visible behind the bar) and curated cocktails and you’ve got a heck of a place. From burgers to lobster mac to charcuterie plates, In’Finiti is solid. Very highly recommended.


 Night Out

Call it $$ expensive. Dinner, all told with appetizers for both and ample beer, will probably run $70-$80 for a couple.


Labor of Love

You can tell a lot of thought went into the space. A barrel motif suffuses the place, giving it a designed yet comfortable feeling. Plus, seeing the mighty brewing machinery through a glass wall certainly gives you great confidence in the place’s ability to deliver fresh, appealing beverages.



Not to single out this place, but it falls neatly into a trend in Portland dining: spotty service. Some visits, the server is attentive and chipper, always hitting the timing just right. Other nights the server becomes a cryptozoological marvel, unseen but for a glimpse every third moon. At In’Finiti, it’s normally the former, but the latter has also occurred.



In’Finiti does almost everything right. It’s really the name that gets me most. While I’m sure there’s some well-thought-out and poignant explanation for it, I really can’t accept it. It is not the name of a tastefully excellent brewery/bar/grill. Maybe, with time, I’ll get past it. Being a lover of words, though, I can’t say with any confidence that I will.


The Fly Trap - Ferndale, MI

Our scene begins...

Bizz buzz yip! I am fly! Flip fly! TTYL! Hoo-Ha for flappy wing dings. YOLO! Can’t swat no no! Big old skin wavers miss! SMH! Fun and flap flap flap! Nibble zip yum! LOL! Woop woop wee!


He he he! You’re all so slow! The way my wings move IMHO I’m just too much of a hotshot for the noisy bigguns. I can dart in and eat from the smelly bin. Who cares what it is. I eat meats and cheese and eggs and the things on the floor and just about anything around. MmmmMmm! It’s all mine for the licking. Mine mine mine.


The giants make my life a pain. They shoo me out. They snap rags and clap their hands. I’m too quick for all that. Too sharp! They need to understand that I’m here to stay. And boy am I hungry! Scrambled eggs, taters, cheese, pesto and mmMmm! That’s the good stuff. Once they’re done with the food, it’s all mine. If they keep chucking it, I’ll keep licking it. Big old idiots.


I’m kinda becoming a food expert. Everything eventually goes in the trash, my banquet hall. There is one omelet that’s taken my fancy. It has a variety of plump and salty mushrooms covered in smoked gouda cheese. I mean it’s not like that’s all I’ve tried. It’s all so good. The salmon burger is always crisp and moist with hints of ginger. The huevos rancheros are smothered with beans and homemade salsa. Not to mention that every weekly special is an innovative surprise. But for some reason I keep going back to that savory mushroom-filled delight. Mmm!


I have a niggling feeling that my life is nothing but a search for the next meal. Truth be told, it hardly excites me anymore, gorging on food. Of late, I’ve found more peace in simply gazing from my perch, observing the fumblings below. Mind you, I’m still quite fast. I could flip under the lid of that stockpile of detritus any time I please. It’s not, however, what I live for anymore. I ponder on deeper things. Why am I different from these giants? Why am at odds with their world and their words? What is my true purpose here? I try to ignore my nature, to gorge endlessly on leavings. Could I possibly rise above it? Only time can judge.

Red Chili Salmon Burger with Shaved Cucumber & Ginger Lime Aioli 

But what is this abode? Why here, was I given the breath of life? Am I the first fly to think this way? Or is it simply that we never speak, that no record of fly-knowledge is kept? Or, hope upon hope, luck upon luck, could it be – just possibly – that I am special? Surely, the abundance of food calls to mind a certain land of plenty – a garden, if you will – from which man was cast. Indeed, could this be a heaven? Repugnant though my mind and form was hewn to be by some almighty hand, could I not be divine still? Perhaps that I am aware of my grossness, therein lies my salvation. Yes, is not the essence of sainthood the realization of one's basest instinct and its subsequent denial? Were I to cultivate my asceticism, ignore the ravening hunger inside…  Would I then be worthy of this place?


Despite various machinations, mine beastly desires invariably wrested control; I gorged, therefore, I am not divine. In fact, I am the nadir to divinity’s zenith. Videlicet, I am pestilence; I pester; I am a pest. If this be heaven or below is inconsequence, A fly am I – unchangeable – nuisance to man and beast. Despite fervent, unyielding effort, I could not keep away from the detritus for which I yearned. What purpose is mine? Why must I exist as vexation incarnate to all below? Surely, this be injustice most pure; where was my choice? No hands for goodly toil. No strength with which to improve the land’s contours. Naught but the innate urge for the ravenous pilfering of sustenance. I am bereft of good. Made for selfish purpose sole. I reflect upon this and little else; my end draws nigh.


Tho’ my form withers, tho’ my mind congeals, winsome thoughts return. P’raps ‘tis the propinquity of oblivion that I espy pulchritude in this life’s décolletage. Mine disgusting nature, rendered immaterial – to me – by life’s diminishing embrace. Could it be? That only prostrate, looking up from ‘pon the soil, we ken beauty’s true visage? Is’t that all life, both gross and blithesome, assumes resplendence at the prospect of its departure? Or, hark, be it senility? I think not. I wish not. But sooth! To mine compound eye, the light appeareth more pure, the air sweeter, mine form gentler. Whate’er reason be’t for this beatific morph of disposition, ‘tis not my Gordian knot to slice. Simply, I will cherish't as time dwindles. My love and joy I freely proffer. Every bit I’ve stor’d in this ethereal span. I bid thee, whosoever thou art, a fairer passage to where, graciously, I go. Adieu, my sphere sublime. Adieu.




5.0 Stars

This is a special diner. The lovechild of haute cuisine and good, old-fashioned grub. Homemade jams (raspberry lime a favorite of mine), garlic-smothered hash browns, perfectly seasoned and prepared omelets, a salmon burger that will crush your soul. Food-wise, this is as close to diner perfection as I’ve tasted. Just the freaking best.


Pocket Clip

Reasonable beyond all measure. It’s hardly the most expensive diner in the area, but it is the best.


Smoky Art House

Yes, it’s small. Yes, it’s seat yourself. Yes, it’s smoky. This is the Fly Trap. From the funky pictures on the walls to the humongous variety of salt & pepper shakers, there is an undeniable Fly Trapness about the place. Unique in the best possible way.


Time tested

The same (great) waitresses were there when I started going and remained two years later. Read into that as far as you want.



When in Ferndale, do as the Ferndaleans do; go to the Fly Trap. Most days there will be lines; don’t fret. Just hang out for half an hour. It is worth it. It’s always worth it.


Ruski's Tavern - Portland, ME

F: So, Len goes outside for another smoke and he leaves me and Harry picking up the slack. We’re going slow since it’s just the two of us, but luckily Bill shows up and starts helping out.  So we’re working for a while and Bill asks where the heck Len is. I tell him, “smoke break.” Bill stops what he’s doing and looks at us and says, “Len don’t smoke!”


A: Ned!

N: Did you see what Denny’s wearing?

A: Hohoho Dee’s gonna be mad!


O: Oh just a huge guy. Humongous guy. This guy was a gorilla. And who should sit right down next to him but Hollis.

D: Oh Jesus.

O: Yeah. Hollis sits down right next this humongous guy and asks “What’s cooking?”

D: What does the other guy say?

O: …

D: What did the big guy say?

O: I’m trying to remember. Well darn! I forgot.


V: Dee, how long’s this place been here?

D: Since 1985.

B: So when are you gonna decorate? (raucous laughter)

B: Eggs and rye toast and sausages if ya please!

D: It’s what you have every day!

B: So…

D: So why don’t you just start saying, “the usual.”

B: Because I want eggs and rye toast and sausages!


I would describe the decor as "wharf-chic"

H: You ever watch that show Hoarders?

K: Naw…

L: Please I’m eating...

H: Oh my gawd you have to. These people keep like everything they ever owned.

K: Everything?

H: Oh yeah like newspapers and receipts and food wrappers…

L: Hey! I’m eating!

H: and even some keep like bags of… bags of—

K: Bags of what? Tell me.

H: (Super-loud whisper) Bags of their own poop.

L: Aw c’mon!


D: Young lady, my son could drink before you were born (raucous laughter)


D: How’s the hash dear?

I: Great. Really good.

D: Anything else I can get you?

I: Yeah, actually. Do you have any honey? These biscuits would be great with some honey.

D: Oh sure. (Comes back in a minute with honey in a shot glass with a spoon in it) Here you go, dear.


T: Vin shows up and he’s got no shoes.

J: No shoes?

T: Yeah and we had to go to work.

J: Why didn’t he have shoes?

T: I don’t know. He left them somewhere. I don’t remember.

J: Well didn’t you ask?

T: No I didn’t, that’s not the point.

J: Well why he didn’t have shoes is what I want to know.

T: That’s not what’s funny Jerry. So we try to go to work—

J: Wait. What about the shoes?

T: He didn’t have any! I’m not even gonna tell the story.

J: I’m gonna go ask vin about his shoes.


Morning beers are encouraged.

R: Hey he’s back again!

A: I never left!

P: Aw dude laste night… Me and Jimmy and Steve got all ripped up at Bubba’s.

J: Yeah man, pretty wild. Tell him about Steve.

P: I was about to! So Steve was dancing like an asshole and bam! Knocks this chick. Spills her drink all over. So her boyfriend comes over all mad pissed and started telling Steve, “pay for that. You pay for that drink.” Steve though, Steve is crushed on vodka redbulls so he says “hell no,” you know how he does with stretching out the hell super long.

S: Heeeeeellll no

P: Haha yeah, that.

J: Yeah so Paul goes after this guy out of nowhere—

P: Not out of nowhere. That dude pushed Steve.

J: No! The dude got bumped or something. I don't think he even pushed Steve.

S: I can’t remember.

P: He pushed Steve! He did! So, I get this douche in a headlock and then a group of his buddies comes up outta nowhere.

J: So we all scatter.

P: Just bolt.

J: Steve disappears though.

P: Right, so Steve is fucking gone and these guys chase me and Jim out onto Oxford Street. It’s like two in the morning and I’m still wearing an afro and Jimmy’s got his jean shorts on. The other dudes are dressed in like fake mustaches and mullets and shit. And we get like four steps out the door and we hear the dudes stop yelling behind us and we look and one of them ran into a cop! Coming out the door he just -- bam! -- slammed into a cop walking by. No shit. So we chuck into a side alley and run away. And Steve here, guess what Steve was doing.

S: I was dancing back at Bubba’s! I never stopped!

J: Hahahaha

P: Hahaha like a mad bitch.

J: Classic.

M: Hey guys.

J + S + P: Hey Mark.

M: So, I never heard from you guys last night you get up to anything good?

J: Nah.

S: Not really.

P: No.




3.0 Stars

This is stick-to-your-ribs, greasy spoon, fork and knife-type bar food. The preceding statement was a compliment.


Sidewalk Nickels

Not to say that it’s egregiously cheap, but Ruski’s serves up a full meal at an inexpensive (some would say “dive-like”) price.


Portland Pirates Tailgate

You’re gonna meet some characters here. And if not meet, you’ll hear them. This is actually the most distinct aspect of Ruski’s. It is a local’s local joint. I almost feel bad for going there, as my hipster-y mustachioed countenance is like a foreign bug introduced to a delicate eco-system. As it stands, Ruski’s still has plenty of local flavor to experience, but the inevitable truth is that Ruski’s, as it stands, cannot last. As Portland becomes more popular (because it will) and the inevitable surface creep of gentrification continues and more people like me start frequenting, the people that make Ruski’s, Ruski’s will be forced to vacate to some other Ruski’s replacement. Let us simply hope that that replacement is nearby, and nearly as tasty.



I don’t know if that’s her name, but there was an excellent lady who treated service as it should be treated. She was nice, prompt and took no bullshit. Excellence.



Eat now. Eat semi-often (if only because it is also sinfully greasy and your body is a temple). And enjoy listening to some true Mainer dialect.

Otto Pizza - Portland, ME

Moose Pond can hardly be considered a town. We still don’t have a theater and there’s not more than one road that’s paved and that road just runs for miles and miles of evergreens and rocky dirt until striking Laketown and that’s a small town too.


I love movies. My cousin gave me a cracked TV/VCR combo he found in a junkyard and now and then he sends me tapes. They’re always old ones that he’s already watched into oblivion; magnetic bolts riddle the screen and the tracking on the soundtrack is all warped so it sounds like whoever composed the score was drunk. The movies he sends are good though: Strangers on a Train, Harakiri, The Night of the Hunter, he even sent me Chinatown and that only came out seven years ago.


Living in Moose Pond is more about logs than anything else. Everybody here logs. There are about seventeen families all told and about three blood lines running through our town: the LaFoix, the Hughs and the Belloys. I’m a Belloy.


I'm only ten and I know I don’t want to log.


Cheese by the ice cream scoop


I want to make movies and in fact, I just made one with Henri LaFue, Norm Hugh and Pat Belloy my little brother. Last time he came into town my cousin gave me an old Super 8 and taught me how to focus it even though the focus was basically all busted, but how could I mind? My cousin lives out in the city in Caribou and his Dad gives him all sorts of stuff since they’re rich meaning they have a house that’s not a log cabin that also doesn’t have wheels.


I tried to remake Le Samourai, my favorite movie ever. It’s an Italian movie about a super-cool and calm hit man who’s hired to kill a nightclub owner. Unfortunately when the super-cool hit man goes to get paid for the hit the guys who hired him try to kill him and also the police are after him because a lot of people saw him in the club on the night of the murder. But he’s so super cool that he loses both. In the end he allows himself to get killed for a girl. Classic noir.


So we tried to remake it with my camera. We only had fifteen minutes of film and no way to edit the video so we just had to film it in order of the scenes and each one of those had to be pretty shortened. On the better side though I did get up the nerve to ask Meghynn Hughs – she’s the prettiest girl in my grade – to stand in as the lounge singing girl who the super-cool hit man eventually decides to die for and she said yes.


We only got her to do two scenes, the one where Jef (the super-cool hit man played by Henri) gets spotted by her in the night club. But since it started to rain and Henri had baseball practice we didn’t get much more than her looking surprised and Henri walking away in the rain. The second time we filmed with Meghynn though was way better since the movie needed to end with Henri almost killing her and then getting killed by Norm instead. Henri built a kiss into the scene and got Meghynn to kiss him, which was kind of a deviation from the plot, but I think it was probably OK since now Henri and Meghynn are going out. The majority of the movie ended up being Henri killing Pat and then running away from Norm who was wearing his dad’s deer-hunting hat since we didn’t have any police gear.


Everyone in town had heard about us filming the movie and a lot of hype got built up around it. People wanted to see it, so we set up a viewing. At first, I was kinda proud of having done it, but when it got closer to the time when I’d have to show it I started getting a little nervous. Actually really nervous.


The movie itself was dark because we filmed it in the woods after school and the plot had a lot of holes and most of the time you couldn’t really hear anything because of the buzz saws in the background and the crash of falling trees.


On the night of the showing Georges LaFoix – he’s the oldest LaFoix – nailed a big sheet to a couple trees in the clearing by Lark Lake. He ran a power cord out from a generator in the back of his Ford pickup and plugged in the clunky projector and the speakers from the town hall that belonged to his uncle. The thick tree cover obscured the bright moon and stars so luckily everyone could still see the projection. 


The whole town came out, including my cousin from out in Caribou with his Dad and sister too.


Just pick it. Pick it good.

By that point, I know it was going to be a disaster. Nobody would understand the subtleties of how Jef the super-cool hitman was actually a noble and principled guy despite the fact that he killed for a living since Henri (as Jef) was mostly just a big goof, hamming it up for the camera whenever he could, skipping as he ran away from Norm (who was working on his weight), and kissing Meghynn with tongues. Plus they wouldn’t know that Norm was supposed to be a policeman because what policeman wears a deer hunting hat and has a black eye for no reason – he got it fighting with Phil Lafoix the day before we started filming. And then there was Pat who was supposed to be the dead club owner but you could see he was obviously just crying on the ground because Henri hit him hard with the prop gun (a stick) instead of shooting him.


It was going to be terrible.


When the opening credits rolled – we’d carved them into a tree with Henri’s knife – people started clapping even though nothing had happened yet.


As the movie went on they laughed and oohed and clapped the whole time. I kept swiveling my head from the screen to the crowd and even my cousin was smiling. The only tension came when Henri kissed Meghynn but even then it was just a lot of stern stares from the old people and nothing tangibly bad.  When the title card “Fin” came onto screen we got a standing ovation. And since I hadn’t been in the film but was kinda responsible for it Henri and Norm hoisted me up on their shoulders and the whole town of Moose Pond was clapping for the movie like it was the Godfather or something. I still knew it was bad but I felt proud anyway.


Once the crowd had dispersed and the sound of diesel engines had died away, my cousin came up to me and I thought he was going to give me an actual review of my movie, not just say something nice like most people had said. But even my cousin said that it had been an awesome movie. It wasn’t Le Samourai exactly, but it was still good in its own way.


I guess that’s what’s interesting about stuff. You can never say if it’s absolutely good or bad because of anything else. Sure, you can always compare stuff to other stuff and that’ll make you feel like you know which one is better. But there’s never really a way to compare absolutely, because everyone has a different opinion on what they like and what’s good, so it’s all preference in the end. It’s all just personal preference and that’s it.




3.2 Stars

I like Otto. I have gone there often. The straight truth is that it does not hold even a birthday candle to NYC pizza, but that’s beside the point. Otto is not trying to be NYC pizza (at least I hope they’re not), they’re trying to be Otto. With interesting toppings – like ricotta mushroom, pulled pork, mashed potato-bacon-scallon – tons of options and a slice always at the ready, this is Portland’s top pizza joint. My only tangible gripe is that the crust can get a little too dry, a little too often. 



Three fifty a slice ain’t hay, but the slices are certainly wide and covered in fixings. I’ve never gotten a full pie but I’d surmise it would feel as worth the price as a slice.


Comfortable Nook

(Speaking for their 576 Congress St. location) Dark wood, just the right amount of light, semi-weird décor including a stuffed ape. It’s a great place to step in from the rain/snow and grab a beer/slice.


Mamma Mia

Each server seems to have as much character as the joint itself. Great at what they do and seem to enjoy doing it. Definitely an excellent group.



Never take my word for anything. Go try it yourself. I’ve heard enough glowing reviews of Otto to think it was the best pizza place in the world. I have a different opinion but that’s simply me. It’s a fun place to have a leisurely drink and a bite that feels upscale but doesn’t cost a ton. Not my favorite pizza, but then again, who am I to judge?


Kushiya Benkay - Portland, ME

The food of Japan, in order for it to get right for the preparation of sushi, it will require a particularly strict conversion. Up-and-coming chef, he can help you put the wasabi for rice, fish, soy, delicious bite of whatever together. However, in order to create the experience of sushi, the pride of Japan, it requires artistry true.


As can be seen from me the budding sushi lover, I thought tasted all about the same sushi. Sushi itself was cold all the time a little. It was bricks rice, with are draped of the abundant fish. Wasabi and soy sauce mixture, the work of each, dunk and went down all the bits smoothly. Fish was excellent when fresh, but the sashimi of fresh taste for me there was no real knowing. It gives the smell of fish? Sushi right.  You would like, I was rewarded often. Same the sushi all.


Soon, however, scales fell from my eyes away.


I was fortunate enough to study in Japan. The essence of sushi, it was revealed to me there. The United States has not been should cool rice. To real sushi rice, to carry a taste of the entire small vinegar moist, piece the brink of falling apart, it is a little more than room temperature. It was not ambiguous rice to blanket of with fish. In addition, it the fish was to be sitting of the above, exactly slice. Soy sauce, did not mean that it is a birdbath for each. The sushi chef polish each part of the appropriate amount of soy sauce, wasabi. If sushi chef is true, it has happened so far.


Second, the chef, is the best sushi chef to give steamed perfect. As experience, the right sushi is of a meal in awe. Chef, patron saint of sea, cleric of land, he will make the best of his ability in you. It works so you function as a vessel to experience his skills only.


Raw materials is the price of entry simply, to good sushi yes. The fresh fish? The replicate is of nothing. Undeniably good is good wasabi. Is insult bad wasabi. Rice mirin is one in which taste is completely different from the other vinegar.


Key of Japan is the dedication of the chef and patience to delicious sushi of piece. To make sure that you shoo the rice steam always, it does not become sticky. Do they keep the rice at the optimum temperature is it? Uni (sea urchin), Unagi (eel), do sushi chef adhering to the tradition of eggs (egg) closely and be true to them?


If I was trying to get kicked in the flavor face and mouth [Yes].


Durn tasty bento box ya got there sushi san!

Tradition: It's the world of the sushi true. Every day very new combination of a new roll and a lot of flavor, will be displayed throughout the United States. Cream of cheese such as avocado tuna spicy things - all delicious, please but do not get me wrong -  they are opposed to Japanese sushi they are.


In Japan , you can not find the dragon roll . You will not to find a Philadelphia roll and tempura Ebi-roll. Such is like you find a fourth of July barbecue "lasagna and chicken finger hamburger.” No.


In Japan is a real sushi just tuna. There is your salmon. They will be on top of the rice. Cream cheese go to hell. Yet still the simple will be crushing your heart.


So, Kushiya Benkay exactly not the winner: fresh fish of off, hard cold rice, higher magnitude in the need for soy sauce. They fall into hole of all that above. However, fine just that. In other words, despite all it is showing the beauty of sushi. Bad sushi? Well, it is also a good sushi. Sushi, it is a good meal at the time of always.


So, if urgent, yes go to Kushiya Benkay. There are some average lunch or a very special decent food they. At least, inexpensive. You may go. However, the gods of Japan famous sushi, please do not expect a smile looking down your decision.




2.9 Stars

Really, this is not a bad sushi place. Their fish is fresh (most often). They do pretty solid tempura, yakitori and more. The only unfortunate theme that runs throughout is that indelible touch of “American Sushi Restaurant.”  



Not very expensive, which in most cases verifies certain assumptions about the quality. This is one of those cases.


White Rice

Open seating that never seems to be completely full. I'd treat it more as a takeout sorta joint.  


Eager to Please

While the servers are nice, the wait always seems to be a bit longer than necessary. If you're picking up, no prob whatsoever. But I've sat down a couple times with like 3 other people in the joint and had an hour long lunch.



There are just too many other options in Portland to say that you have to eat sushi at Kushiya Benkay. HOWEVER, their bento box lunches are absolutely worth trying out at least once; they feature an array of Japanese staples likes tempura, miso soup, sushi, gyoza and more -- enough to fill a sumo-sized belly.

Mr. Bagel - Portland, ME (Part 3)

“You again,” said Mr. Bagel. Guard C, raised his weapon and yelled “Silence! Halt!”

“Or what?” said Mr. Bagel, standing with his crusty chin jutting out.


“Or I’ll—“ and before Guard C got the last word out, Mr. Bagel yelled, “car command.” Subsequently, when the guard said “shoot,” Mr. Bagel’s Bentley obliged.


Mr. Bagel lunged into Itsa, knocking her back out the door. Bullets ricocheted about the room, riddling Guard C and puffing holes into the marble wall outside the door. After about ten seconds of continuous gunfire, the car ran out.


“I like your car,” said Itsa, inches away from Mr. Bagel’s golden-brown face. Mr. Bagel gave her a wink.


They wriggled into a standing position and ran for it. Behind the closed bars, they could see the blast doors slowly closing. They wouldn’t have long.


Mr. Bagel shouted the car’s doors open and they piled in, hands still cuffed behind their backs.


“I hope you can drive without hands,” said Itsa.

“When you gamble professionally,” said Mr. Bagel. “Hands rarely matter. Car, escape. NOW!”


The car dove down and two intense beams shot out of the headlights, searing the bars that blocked their way. Sparks and bubbles exploded from the bars, but little else seemed to be happening. Beyond the metal bars, the blast shield was nearly 75% closed. They had whatever time exists right before no time.


“This is taking too long,” said Itsa, panic creeping into her voice. “Do something!”

“Right,” said Mr. Bagel, a slight sheen of sweat visible on his bagel-y brow. “Hurry up car!”

The car paused for a moment in its underwater drilling. They heard its engine building to a fervent rev. Then, with spin-cycle speed it performed a series of rapid barrel rolls. Mr. Bagel and Itsa were tumbled inside. When it stopped spinning, a neat circle had been cut into the bars, just big enough for the car to fit.


“I lied,” said Itsa. “I don’t like your car.”

“Go!” Mr. Bagel yelled. Again, his Bentley complied.


Out in the open ocean, Itsa sighed. “What else can this do?” Mr. Bagel smiled at her.


“Car, handcuffs off, please.”


A pair of pliers appeared from out of the cushions of both seats and neatly clipped their cuffs. Itsa laughed.


Out of the side window, they could see the ballroom through the last sliver of the closing blast shields. Inside, the Guru was spluttering, trying to simultaneously tread water and bat away the starving squids that covered his body.


Both Itsa and Mr. Bagel broke into relieved laughter, a moment of joy which was soon cut short. A small shape squirted out of the closing blast doors. They could just barely make it out. A jittering blob hoving for the rift. Blinking red and blue. A squid.


“No!” they said in tandem.



“Get that squid,” said Mr. Bagel.

“I’m sorry,” said the car. “Repeat.”

“Kill the squid!” said Mr. Bagel again, banging the steering wheel with his newly freed hands.

“I’m sorry,” said the car. “I don’t know this command.”

“Well thanks for jinxing it,” he said to Itsa, grabbing the wheel. With a heavy foot to the gas, the car leapt forward, pursuing the rapidly receding squid.


They were gaining on it, but slowly. The squid was nearly to the rift.


“Car,” said Mr. Bagel. “Ready torpedoes.”

“One torpedo remaining,” said the car. A reticle appeared in the center of the windshield. With labored precision Mr. Bagel brought the skittering squid into his crosshairs.


“Lock onto target,” said Mr. Bagel. The reticle began to blink red. The squid was only yards from the precipice.


“Obtaining lock,” said the car.

“Hurry,” said Mr. Bagel.

“Obtaining lock,” said the car again. The squid was nearly over the precipice.

“Just shoot!” said Itsa. “Shoot it now!”

“God damnit!” yelled Mr. Bagel, again banging the wheel.

“Obtaining lock,” said the car. Mr. Bagel head-butted the wheel.

“Shoot!” said Itsa.

“Obtaining lock.”

 “Stupid gadgets,” said Mr. Bagel. “Fire!”


A torpedo sizzled from the grille of the Bentley. It’s path gimbaled toward the squid. The two bodies came closer and closer, the missile gaining. At the very edge of the precipice the missile caught up. But with a flit, the squid dove down and the torpedo flew straight into the far wall of the rift, sending up an impotent puff of rock debris and crab.


“No!” said Itsa. “No!”

“It’s not over yet,” said Mr. Bagel. With gritted teeth he pinned the pedal to the floor, sending them hurtling over the edge of the crevasse.


The pressure in the rift was palpable. As it hurtled down, the car’s doors began to creak. Even with the bright headlights of the car, the squid was just barely visible.


“What are we going to do?” asked Itsa. She was pinned into her seat, her mouth a thin, grimacing line.


“We’re going to net it,” said Mr. Bagel, eyes slitted. “Car,” he said. “Prepare the net.”

Above the creaking they could hear a mechanical process take place beneath the car’s hood.


“Net prepared,” said the car. “Warning,” it added. “Pressure too high, return to lower depth.”


Mr. Bagel didn’t respond. The car sped deeper.


They were gaining on the squid inch by inch. The red blinking of its eyes kept it visible despite the bubbles rising from the fissure. Around them, darkness crept in. The car’s warning system bleated incessantly. Mr. Bagel’s knuckles were white as dough, gripping the wheel. With a jarring, metallic twang, the ceiling buckled, folding three inches down its center.


“Do it!” screamed Itsa. She had melded with the passenger’s seat, clutching the seat's cushion.


“Wait,” said Mr. Bagel. The doors of the Bentley began to buckle inward, the frame of the car audibly creaking. The reticle in the windshield became a red, blinking exclamation point. The squid inched closer. Mr. Bagel gritted his teeth and ground the pedal further into the Bentley’s floor. The ceiling buckled another five inches and the windows began to crack.


Itsa started screaming.


With a guttural yell, Mr. Bagel punched the steering wheel. “Fire!”


The net snaked out of the Bentley’s grill, unfolding like an exotic flower. It wound out and out, seeking the undulating squid. The car continued to crumple inwards.


With a snap, the line caught at its end and the net closed. In its tangles, the squid’s eyes blinked. Caught.


With a wrenching twist, Mr. Bagel turned the car around. The metal crinkled like tin foil as the Bentley flexed. Mr. Bagel was laughing and Itsa was half-crying, more mascara running down her cheeks.


As they began to rise, a muffled woomph caused them both to turn. The squid had detonated. There must have been some sort of trigger as it decreased in depth.


A ripple of sonic force rushed toward them.


“Ah crumbs” said Mr. Bagel, jamming the pedal again. The car bucked and shot for the surface. The blast shook the rift’s walls, causing rock to erupt all around them. Debris exploded from all sides, clouding the tumultuous water. Mr. Bagel dodged falling boulders as he careened surface-ward. Itsa was nearly transparent white, sucking air.


Mr. Bagel deftly sped the car around rock after rock, the doors puffing back outward as he did. In front of them, through the opaque cloud of the shattering fissure, the white and blue of the surface shimmered faintly. Behind, and around them roiled unmitigated chaos.


“Itsa,” said Mr. Bagel through gritted teeth.

“Yes,” said Itsa. She turned to Mr. Bagel with plaintive eyes.

“What is your last name?”

Around them, the rift continued to crumble apart, turning the water completely opaque; Mr. Bagel was steering blind. A rock bounced off the windshield, cracking it completely. Water began to puddle on the dash.

“My last name?” said Itsa. “It’s Lottacock.” The windshield became a lattice of fissures.

“Jackpot,” said Mr. Bagel, before the windshield shattered and water rushed in.



Morning news programs across the world commented on the miniature earthquakes. Lawn chairs and family portraits had been overturned the world over, nothing more. The squid’s detonation hadn’t been deep enough. It is unknown what happened to the Guru and his henchmen.


Above the water it was a calm clear morning. Chuckling, a seagull sat in the reddish, morning silence of the San Francisco bay. The breeze was light and the tang of fresh ocean suffused the air.


With a violent sploosh that sent the gull flying, Mr. Bagel’s car broke the surface. Inside, Mr. Bagel and Itsa were already locked in sweet, bagel-y passion. The lazy ding of a buoy sounded in the distance and boats slid through the crystal water. Just another day in the life of Mr. Bagel.

<--- Return to Part 2


3.6 Stars

The bagels are fresh. The ingredients are standard: lots of cream cheese choices, eggs are good, breakfast meat is supermarket variety. Not what you want for a classy morning, but an incredibly strong hangover cure. They also have a burrito station to which I have not gone. Mr. Burrito? I don’t know the thought process behind it exactly, but I can’t comment.



Bagel sandwich and a coffee will run you a fiver. Bagels alone aren’t a whole lot. Price is very commensurate with the food delivered in both amount and taste.



An interesting mix between chain store (it’s not) and local, artsy bagel joint (it is).


 Quick Handoff

Most items aren’t “sit down” fare. You order, a young buck whips it up, you leave happy.



I do not propose that Mr. Bagel is groundbreaking in any way. But what they do, they do well. Certainly worthy of a mid-week, morning visit.