Dutch's - Portland, ME

By first impressions you’d think of Jared L’Armbrustier as the sort of guy who knew the best way to completely and cleanly dispose of a human body. His aquiline nose hung precariously over a sparse, ill-groomed mustache known to capture errant crumbs meant for the misaligned, yellow-rimmed teeth behind his thin, pale lips. Greased black hair draped his acne-dappled forehead. His eyes could only be described as crow-like — set oddly far apart they were nearly totally black from pupil to iris. His gait was lumbering despite his waifish frame, each step a leaden stomp that appeared the precursor to an unintentional tumble. His curved spine, forward-thrust cranium and the training wheel of wudge around his middle — an incipient spare tire — made him look, in short, like a goon. Upon seeing him, you would say he was a goon. Let’s face it, he looked like a goon.

            He wasn’t a goon.

            Jared L’Armbrustier volunteered at a local animal shelter on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. On the other days he was an administrator at the New Beginnings soup kitchen, helping to organize semi-annual food drives and other community-minded events. Jared also made frequent visits to Buford Estates, an elderly community, where he would read for and interact with residents with whom he had no consanguineous connection. Jared was a good guy.

            Jared was also a dead-ringer with the fairer sex.

            Seriously, Jared brought home Eddie Murphy levels of vixens. Impossible, you say? Hardly.

            He did so by cherry-picking certain less sinister methods from widely read pickup bible, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. His tactics included approaching large groups of women, intentionally not addressing the actual object of his desires and instead aiming his attention at another member of the group, placing false time restraints on conversations among various other stratagems.  Jared rarely spent a night alone if he didn’t want to. Though at the pith of his success was confidence — the universal attractor. Plus, he was actually a nice, caring, and witty individual. How could he take home oodles of women innocent with his borderline stalker-ish tactics and still be a “good guy” you ask?

            Jared never slept with these women.

            After returning to Jared’s apartment, any physical contact ceased at fully clothed heavy petting and was not related to any pursuit of hooking up but to another goal. At the moment when a positive relationship begins to form in a new and comfortable place, Jared found, women would usually open up and truly talk about their lives and their troubles and existence in the world in a way that they would not in almost any other situation. Jared loved these moments. These passionate conversations would end with either joy or sadness, but always with some sort of personal revelation that, without the help of Jared, these women would most likely never have arrived at alone. Often, the women called him afterward to thank him. On top of this deep conversation, Jared simply enjoyed the feeling of sleeping next to someone with whom he had just gained deep connection.

            Jared had also actually killed someone.

            In 2006 when Jared had still been in college at NYU a young man broke into what he thought was Jared’s empty apartment. The man simply jimmied Jared’s un-dead-bolted front door with a crowbar and an electrician’s screwdriver to gain entry. Jared, who had been asleep on the couch just next to the door awoke as the light of the hallway hit his face. Leaping up from the couch, Jared delivered a crisp elbow to the intruder’s windpipe. Now would also be a good time to note that despite Jared’s stature and gait he was in reality a highly trained practitioner of Muay Thai, a discipline he had managed to stick with since the fickle age of ten. Jared understood that an elbow to the neck was a dangerous, possibly fatal, maneuver, yet in his deluge of adrenaline had gone with the first thing that popped to his mind. The crowbar carried by the intruder — later identified as Xien Biabao, a twenty-five year old bodega cashier with multiple previous counts of larceny on record — clattered to the floor as he, clutching his crushed windpipe, expired before Jared’s eyes. This incident convinced Jared, who had previously been enrolled in business classes, to completely change the direction of his studies to more sociological and anthropological pursuits in the hopes of serving the greater good after reconciling with himself that life could indeed be brutish and short and should not be focused on material gain.

            Thus, if you simply just met Jared L’Armbrustier you would think of him as a goon. Because, simply put, he looked like a goon. But in talking to him and understanding the fullness of Jared L'Armbrustier as a human being you would find yourself attempting to crack a wholly more variegated and complex nut.




4.2 Stars

I’ve only been to Dutch’s twice and it opened just over a week ago. It almost feels disingenuous to put up a review this early. First-ish impressions can be deceiving. However, after one bite into their Traditional Breakfast Sandwich — a homemade biscuit lovingly hugging a hearty slice of cheddar cheese, an egg and a homemade sausage patty — this review basically wrote itself.


No need to go dutch.

I filled up with a breakfast sandy and cheddar grits (devastatingly good) and a fresh-squeezed OJ and ended up at ~$11. That’s good eatin’. For my second meal, I had the crispy chicken sandwich, which ran me about $9. A hefty-seeming price, though I’d say it was a rival for some of the most succulent chicken I’ve ever found between bread. Check plus.


What Ambience

As a non-native Mainer I might have missed the boat on exactly the look they were going for. It’s part soup kitchen, part Jamba Juice, part wide-open space. I’m no interior designer but there’s something generic to the feel of Dutch’s that, to me, doesn’t entirely fit the made-with-love-and-butter victuals they serve. Luckily, I care much more about food than ambiance so for the homemade sausage alone I’m giving this one a pass.


Order Up

On my first visit I went in early and chatted with a young woman woman working the register. She was nice. I saw the cook in the back (I could only assume he was one of the two eponymous Dutches). He looked nice. It’s a good vibe. Second visit went just as smooth. I wish them the best of luck.



After a little research, it appears that the Dutch couple have intense culinary backgrounds — having worked for capital C Chefs like Todd English and Jean-Georges Vongerichten — so it’s no fluke that they know how to cook an egg or two. Thus, I have high hopes for Dutch’s and their bid to become a beloved establishment in the Portland food scene. Go. Eat. Enjoy.