Five Fifty-Five - Portland, ME

“You know barkeep,” I say to the barkeep. “this is a great salad.” He nods. “I mean, this salad…” I point at the salad with my fork and grunt. He nods again. There’s a pause where I look him in the eyes for a while and try not to blink.

            “It’s a great salad,” says the barkeep. He looks away and starts cleaning a glass. I blink.

            “I mean, I’d take this salad out to dinner.” I punctuate the last statement with a snort and a know-what-I’m-saying style vaudeville wink. The bartender raises his eyebrows and nods. He goes to walk away and I call him back.

            “C’mere,” I say. “C’mere and just smell this thing. Garlic, cheese, white anchovy,” I grab his lapel. “I mean you can just smell the smoke in this thing!” The menu boasts that they smoke the romaine and you can taste it — it’s tender too. The barkeep calmly waits until I release my grip. I keep eating, chuckling in awe as I do. After a couple bites I let go. The barkeep fixes his hair and goes to ask the other patrons at the bar how they’re doing. He’s a nice guy, this barkeep.

            “Y’know, barkeep,” I say, clinking my knife against my full glass of water. “I’d date this salad.” He laughs. “Seriously,” I say.

            I am serious. I would court this salad to the point of marriage. The bartender’s not even batting an eye. He’s just straight-facing a man saying that he’s falling in love with a salad. And I’m not kidding. Does he think I’m kidding? I’m not. Top notch service at 555. Just a pleasure of a place.

            “It’s beautiful,” I say. A beautiful thing to find love. I grab a passing server.

            “Who made this salad?” I nearly scream it at her. I can’t help it. A piece of romaine sticks to her nicely pressed collar.

            “I’m sorry, sir.” She says. “Are you asking where we source our ingredients from?” I shake my head, chuckling. What a great interpretation of my question. Wrong, but great.

            “Made it. Made the salad. Whose hands created this?”

            She levels an open palm toward the kitchen. “Our chefs, sir.” The barkeep is already back, showing his support. She’s playing me cool too. She must be twenty — a professional for her age. “Is there a problem with it?”

            “A problem?” I lean down and rub my face in the salad and grab her coat at the same time. Then I pull her close to my face so she gets a whiff of the dressing caked up in my facial hair and the pieces of lettuce and the crouton now lodged in my nose. “You smell that? That’s pure delicious.”

            She smiles at me and waits for me to let go. I give her some wildeye and snort the crouton out of my nose. She nods.

            “Good,” I say. This place is top notch. Five Fifty-Five, what a name. The whole bar is looking at me now — plus some patrons peeping from over from the dining area. I let go of her after looking around a bit.

            “We’re glad you like it,” says the barkeep.

            “Yeah, that’s great,” says the server. They’re so good they must be robots. Androids. Keeping calm with me grabbing them and snortin’ ‘tons. It makes me respect them.

            I bet in the height of Rome they didn’t have service this good. I could probably bring a severed lion head in here and they’d smile and ask how I’d like it done. Kings wish their retinues were this good. Such food. I grab the plate, dump it on the ground and body slam the rest. People watch as I writhe through the grub.

            “Really great stuff,” I repeat. The barkeep leans up over the bar and smiles.

            “It’s tasty,” he says. “I love that salad.”

            “Get the manager!” I shriek that one. By now I’m covered in all sorts of Ceasar Salad bits. The floor is kind of smeared with the dressing and I’m doing Caesar angels by the time he shows.

            “Sir, I see you’re enjoying the salad.” The manager is another smooth customer. I chuck an anchovy at him and he lets it hit his laundered suit. He doesn’t even wipe the white mark. Then I lob a handful of salad and he opens his mouth. Doesn’t catch any but I appreciate the gesture.

            “You guys have a vomitorium?” I ask.

            The server, barkeep and manager look at each other and shrug.

            “I’m sorry sir,” says the manager. “We don’t know what that is.”

             At length, I explain to them the fabled upper limits of excess in late Roman culture. The vomitorium, legend goes, was a place where full-bellied revelers could go to upchuck their meals so as to free up space and keep the fête fêting.

            “One sec,” says the manager. “Let me check with the owners.” He hustles out and leaves me with the server and barkeep. I try to get up and slip in the greasy mess. The barkeep rounds the bar and the server is already rolling up her sleeves to help me. I bellow at them to stand back. Wriggling like a snake, I make a fair tour of the facility. Keeping my arms locked close to my sides I slitheringly locomote around under feet and chairs. I even make a tour of the kitchen, hasty chefs step over and around me without complaint.

            Back at the bar I use a chair for leverage and haul myself up. Everybody is smiling and grinning, having a great goddamn time. Who knew a place like this could be so jovial. I salute them and make a sprinting leap out the front window. Laying on the street in a pile of glass shards and trickling blood I hear the barkeep crunch up next to me.

            “You forgot your salad,” he says to me. Sure enough he’s holding a little to-go box of salad that he scraped off the floor. I thank him profusely and limp home.

            Later that evening I pick out the ring on TV. Me and the salad get married three days later. It’s a tasteful ceremony at my childhood church. Not too many in attendance, just close relatives. You can imagine how I feel seeing the love of my life wheeled down the aisle by the manager. He even draped the pushcart in a gorgeous wedding dress. Those guys at 555 really know their service.

            Fifty-five years later and me and my Caesar Salad are still together. We have kids with two grand kids on the way. Beautiful family. Wonderful life. My Caesar Salad is a couples therapist and I’ve made enough money in aboveground swimming pool foreclosure to while away the days painting watercolors in my garage studio. Still-lives mostly — is what I paint — with the occasional landscape thrown in.

And there I am sitting in my garage when I hear a chuckle in the house — a man’s chuckle.

            Bursting in the door I find my salad on the table with the manager. He’s sitting across the table, a cup of coffee steaming in front of him. Sure, he’s got the lines of age but he looks healthy and great and he gives me a wave. I wave right back.

            “Manager,” I say.

            “Howdy,” he says. I shake his hand across the table, not realizing I’ve still got wet paint on there. I apologize but the manager just smiles. It’s a hell of a shock seeing him after all this time but we fall back into easy conversation.

            The toilet flushes and out comes the server, wiping her hands on a beige towel initialed S & M. Stands for Salad and Me.

            I wave to her and she motions for the barkeep to get off the couch and come say hi. They’re all still wearing the same stuff they were that one night way back fifty-five years ago.

“Happy anniversary,” says the barkeep. Anniversary? I’d forgotten all about that! Who could have goddamn guessed that fifty five years later here come these wonderful people back to celebrate the day I met my salad wife.

            We all sit in the drawing room and reminisce about the great times we had at 555.

            “And then…” the Manager is laughing. “And then he just commando crawls all around the dining room. The whole thing!”

            “No!” I say.

            “Yes. Yes you did!” The waitress points and laughs, tears rolling through the grooves of the crow’s feet etched beside her beautiful eyes.

“No I didn’t! I did not commando crawl!” I silence them with my hands, waving them down. They all go quiet except for little chuckles and hoos as they get the laughs out. Expectation is palpable in the air.

            “I slithered.” I say, and then I slither out of the room to the thunder of their laughter. Salad just sits there on the table. Man. 555. What super times. Stellar people. Really love that place.






We’re talking the real deal here. A Caesar is a dish that is hard to mess up and equally difficult to improve. Five Fifty-Five improved it with the addition of smoked romaine leaves. Utter magic. Their burger is also insanely good. I have not yet had their tasting menu but I have been assured by reliable sources that it is, indeed, ballzerko. Full disclosure, I have only actually eaten the burger and Caesar Salad. Twice. Both were of such high quality that I have utter confidence in the rest of the menu. I will be sampling it soon.



Is joke. Is funny. Kidding aside, it is a pricier establishment. In this circumstance, though, with price comes quality. This meal is worth every cent.


Low Light. Just Right.

It’s the ambience you’d expect and desire at a place with such great food. Wood, exposed brick, sparse art, this is a comfortable nook to nestle into for a delightfully protracted meal.


High Five

Another shining gold star goes to the service. Knowledgeable and prompt. These people deserve some mad tippage.



It is not necessarily my go-to nice restaurant in Portland, but it is a staple. You will walk out pleased as punch.

Joe's Smoke Shop & Super Store - Portland, ME

           A man named Nate is contemplating whether or not to enter Joe’s Smoke Shop. From across the street, the squat, brick façade of Joe’s appears to be aflame, sunlight striking it with early summer violence. Nate is a new resident of Portland, Maine. He is — as the locals call it — from away.

            Joe’s Smoke Shop is one of the few remaining shops near the heart of Congress street to retain the semblance of a Portland that once was. Not that that particular version of Portland was any better or more charming than the Portland of today, simply that it was closer, more pure, to the origins of Portland. Nearer to the source of its Maine-ness, Nate could say.

            Herein we find the crux of the paradox. Does Nate himself become more of a Mainer by entering Joe’s? Or does Nate stay out of Joe’s, allowing it to retain more of its native vibrancy?

            He wants to go into Joe’s. He has heard about their fine fare.  Delicious breakfast sandwiches, meatball subs with melted cheese and, indeed, even tuna subs, equal to any grandmother’s recipe, all available at a reasonable price. These treats are accompanied by a beer and wine selection deemed modest at very best. Despite all these realities, Nate still wants to enter the store. He wants to feel slightly more entrenched in his adopted homeland and going into Joe’s Smoke Shop certainly feels like an avenue to do that. Indeed, it very much is. But, because of his non-native heritage, any small bit of actual native Maineness he experiences in Joe’s — be it accent, custom or simply the stock (whoopee pies, all-dressed chips, lobster rolls and the like) — so too does he leach that bit of uniqueness straight from Joe’s itself.

            This is a zero sum game of Maineness. This is a microcosm of unique culture everywhere. Each foreign culture began as a separate dish of unique flavor and appeal. Now, thanks to globalization, in all its forms, our earth is rapidly becoming a vast melting pot of culture. Societies and social norms, mixing and mingling, imparting bits of their own experience onto bits of other until, in time, the globe will be a singular grey place, with neither nooks nor crannies nor pockets of difference: uniform, uninteresting, unchanging, eternal.  

            The danger of cross-contamination, thinks Nate, of dissolution and dilution is no joke. It is simply too slow for anyone to really wrap their head around. Entering Joe’s is not simply a dilution of the native Maineness that exists inside Joe’s, it’s a broaching of the future’s trust. Though, here we could get into the paradox of the need for capital investment for a place to survive and what that means for the culture of the place itself, but let it simply be said that to preserve a native place, it can only, truly, be frequented by natives, or those who are of equally interesting stock.

            The only way for Nate to have both his cake and the pleasure of eating it would be to find the ability to adopt Maine’s cultural mannerisms and mores with an insane and preternatural quickness. Only if he hunkers down, listening to the lexicon, mimicking the speech, mannerisms and even quirks of the establishment’s proprietors and employees can he hope to preserve it, as one preserves a national park by carrying out what they take in. Of course this means he becomes a spy, a turncoat against his own cultural upbringing, taking up the standard of a different master. Only if he does this does he preserve the dividing lines between Maine culture and his own.

            But can he do this? Can he betray his own past for the purpose of upholding another’s? What about his own upbringing? What about his own brand of wildness?

            Should not we all become a more potent distillation of ourselves, picking up nothing of the outside world and following only the savage and illogical inner truths that develop only in the most remote of isolation? Would that make our world a loony bin of differing opinion and understanding, if everyone simply chose not to adopt any other’s ways? Would two people be unable to connect anymore? Would it simply be an unmoored rumble of ships passing at various times of night, unable to call out to each other or offer help in the blackness of the raging sea?


            Before the natives of Joe’s were wilder ancestors still. Generations upon generations ago, unimaginable people, they were, even more interesting and inscrutable than present incarnations of that age-old bloodline living up in Caribou or on the frosty shores of Togue Pond. Imagine the thickness of their accents, the coarseness of their furs and the oddness of their traditions. Despite all these oddities, they still interacted with one another, traded and made friends. Friends enough to eventually be wrangled into calling themselves Mainers after all. Accepting a label to their homebrewed quirks.

            Brutes, they were. Twelve feet tall, able to feast on Maple trunks like spits of asparagus. They loped through the woods like wendigos, bathed in riverbeds, drove moose before them like sheep. The women carried babies four at a time, knit clothes from the quills of porcupine and slayed deer with simply a stern gaze.

            These were no wimpy peoples. It takes a rough kind to make it through the long winters of Southern Maine, as it stands. So, one must strain to imagine these indomitable stones of people. They must have been harder and more jagged than the very landscape itself.

            Now, the plight becomes clear. Does Nate go inside? Does Nate flaunt his own weak brand of culture before these living ancestors to giants? Does he silently weaken the raw origins of native Maine with his pale arms and nearly hairless legs?

            Or does Nate go out and become his own self? Does he go and find for himself the origins of his own bloodline? Does he seize the nearest (willing) woman and run with her, pell-mell, into the deep woods, fashioning for himself a sovereign nation, which will birth its own fiendishly unique offspring? If he were a strong man, thinks Nate, he would do this. If he were a unique man, thinks Nate, he would do this. But, what Nate doesn’t understand is that inside of each and every one of us lurks a uniquely strong man.

            Each one of us has the seeds of ragged authenticity, dormant inside. In a society with any sort of pressure to conform — which is all societies — the seed will remain inert in nearly all of us. Certainly, there are people made of such rugged stock that, like a ragged weed, their inner seeds grow and flourish no matter the conditions. But for the majority, the seed slumbers, preserved inside, quiet and useless.

However, we must only give that seed space and time. Simply space and time. With only those two gifts, a seed of weird, wild inner oddness can grow. Anyone, if serious about their isolation, can become the source of a river delta of a bloodline that fans out, hewing raging torrents through the sedimentary rock of society itself!

            But that is for the wilder sort, mistakenly thinks Nate. In the moment, Nate just wants a tuna sub and a six-pack of beers for later. So Nate chooses to go inside as any one of us would do. He chooses to preserve nothing, depleting Maine’s reserves charm for his own benefit. Better that he give them his money, he thinks, to preserve some semblance of what they are, than allow them to founder, which is a fine point, but a sad one nonetheless. And so, without further hesitation, Nate steps into Joe’s Smoke shop and all is as it will and must become.





3.0 Stars

It doesn’t look like a place where you’d find gourmet food. But the food is damn tasty in its own right. Sure, they’re not using locally-sourced, catch-of-the-day ingredients, but Joe’s is fine in a pinch, especially when the cash flow is running dry.


Dollars and cents

Joe’s is, if nothing else, an excellent way not spend money. There is a reason why many of the clientele do not appear gainfully employed. Joe’s has a niche and it nails it.


Scary Gas Station

Not that it’s dirty, it’s actually pretty damn clean. It simply has a hint of scariness. One does not feel particularly welcome in Joe’s, no matter the time of day or night.


Made to Order

The cooks behind the counter are quick and kind. One woman (I have yet to catch her name) who’s behind the counter most weekdays at lunch, reminds one of a friend’s mom. Great service in my experience, despite everything the exterior and interior would lead you to believe.



Muster up your inner Mainer and check out Joe’s. This is a great Portland haunt that will serve you up a tasty breakfast/lunch, quick and cheap. Also, if you need beer or wine, there’s no easier stop if you live even remotely close to the West End. I know what most people will say, “Joe’s is creepy!” Yes. Joe’s is creepy. But Joe’s is also proficient in its areas of business. Please, if you go into Joe’s, don’t think about what could change. Joe’s is a crazy, less-than-attractive place in the midst of finer dining spots like Boda and Pai Men Miyake. Simply be a paying ghost. Go in, experience a still-remaining wacky nook of Portland, pay some money and get the heck out.


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.


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?


The Downtown Lounge (DTL) - Portland, Maine


So tell me bro-lets in training, why the fuck are we packed into a booth in this dark-ass bar with just a shit ton of alcohol in front of us?


Don’t know? Drink.


It’s because bros: you don’t know fuck-all about the universe. The cosmological cunting constant, the red-ass shift, cosmic cock-gobbling background radiation, this shit is what’s real, bros.  And right now I am going to blow the fucking diarrhea out of your minds. But, before we get to atoms, fucking chug that Sam Adams.




Alright, the fucking atom: in the nucleus you have protons – positively charged particles like a lax bro – and neutrons – neutral particles like a burnout stoner. And fucking tear-assing around the nucleus you have goddamn electrons – negatively charged particles like the chick whose roommate you bang.  So here’s the straight truth: we don’t know fuck-all about what happens IN an atom. Everything that’s fucking going down outside the atom? We have that shit on lock.


Inside? Fucking who knows; it’s like a microscopically tiny-ass clit, unknowable by fucking man.


But we learned a sick-ass truth recently, something that happens with the fucking electrons and we don’t know exactly how or why. You listening? You better be able to repeat this verbatim, pledges, or it’s fucking elephant walks all weekend.


So some longdick physicist named Lawrence Kraus just wrote about this new reaction, similar to one spotted by the O.G. of wheelchair-bound brainpower S. Hawking. What Kraus said was that in an atom, two particles can appear out of nothing. No shit, gentlemen. Straight truth. First, you have a normal-ass atom, then bam, an extra electron and a positron.


What’s a positron? Great fucking question pledge, drink for it.


So, every particle has an antiparticle. An antiparticle has equal and opposite motherfucking mass and charge to its bro-particle. So, in this case, the electron is negative and the positron is positive. And the cunt-proof key is that (in the vast majority of cases) when a particle and antiparticle rub each other’s tits, they disappear. As soon as they collide, poof! Gone like my virginity at age 13.


So imagine this wacky shit: you have an electron buzzing around the nucleus of an atom, and all of a cocksucking sudden, ANOTHER electron and a positron pop up next to it. Out of dick-licking nowhere, two particles that, seconds ago, did not fucking even exist. I’m goddamn serious, this new particle and antiparticle pair are like Kappa Nu skeeves, rolling up on a freshmen chick out of fucking nowhere.


Bros, don’t fret for the conservations of energy though, because the two particles have equal and opposite mass. And if you fucking don’t know what conservation of energy is, look up Isaac Newton in any shitty physics book and start jerkin’ your gerkin.


But, and even fucking crazier, this cocksucking pair exists for such a small amount of time, it’s like they were never even fucking there! They appear from nothing, touch, and fucking bam – back to nothing. The universe doesn’t notice! Shit’s quantum fast (and pardon me if I’m paraphrasing I’m not a dick-ramming quantum physicist and plus fuck you). It’s like a bro giving a cop the finger to his face, but it happens so fast the cop doesn’t notice. So like, no bro goes to jail, nothing un-sweet happens, but the fact remains that the law got fucking owned.

Condiments. Indeed.

Image C/O Portland Daily Photo by Corey Templeton 

Why does that fucking matter? You ask. Drink for even making me say that. Chug like your mom chugs dick.


How did Hawking find this shit out? Black holes, bro. So, black holes just suck shit up, right? First, that’s such an easy mom joke I’m not even gonna fucking broach it. Two, shut your fucking herpes mouths because it turns out black holes don’t just suck everything in existence (like your mom) they also shoot out electromagnetic radiation. Yeah, players: black holes bukake the universe with thick-ass radiation.


So how the fuck does that work?


Remember those positrons and electrons? Well there’s this titty-twisting line of no return in every black hole called the event horizon. It’s like the front door to Phi Omega A.K.A. Gnargoyle Manor: a sweet lax bro puts a big toe past that doorjamb, and those gnar-ass birds will make certain he never gets out. Once you pass the Event Horizon that’s fucking it, you’re sucked into the black hole.


So, what happens is, remember those electrons and positrons appearing out of fucking fuck-all? That mamma-jamma happens right on the edge of black holes. And sometimes, a pair will pop into existence in just the perfect fucking spot where one particle is on the event horizon and the other isn’t. So instead of the pair of particles just touching again and disappearing, the antiparticle actually gets sucked into the black hole. Shoop bay-oop, cocksuckers.


And what that means is that the particle/antiparticle pair splits like Baloney Pony’s shitty parents at his fifth birthday party and the electron shoots out into space. And since that means the black hole is effectively absorbing antimatter and shooting out energy, it’s actually shrinking. Meaning no sweet-ass energy is lost or destroyed – conservation of fucking energy again. What that means, cum-gaps, is particles that shouldn't even exist are constantly being shot out of fucking black holes in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Isn’t that some brain-melting bullshit?


And again, you think there’s no point to me telling you this shit? Drink again bitches. Because mini-bros, this is where it gets ass-cock crazy.


So do your infantile peenees remember that titty-licking baus, Einstein? E=mc fuck your dad? Well, one thing E-Bro talked about was relativity. What does that mean? It means if you’re drunk and rimming a gross-ass chick, you might not think it’s disgusting. But if you weren’t drunk and doing the same butt-work to a busted flap you’d be thinking ew and fuck and shit. Meaning: reality is relative. So, what state you’re in/where you are/your velocity/so many other fucking things will change your perception. And perception is reality. 

Fucking relativity. Works for time and space too, cocksuckers.


So, and here’s where some fucking conjecture from yours truly comes into play. We’re saying there was a big bang, right? A big sploogy bang where something comes from nothing. Well, what the fuck else is an electron/positron pair appearing from nothing but another big motherfucking bang? Albeit on a smaller scale, but what is scale but a factor of perception you fucking brownie stabbers?


So isn’t it fucking possible… tit-cocking totally possible, that our universe could actually exist deep inside the nucleus of a randomly generated particle whose equal and opposite antiparticle got sucked into a black hole? Isn’t that a fucking possibility?


You’re goddamn right it is. Bring out the chicken wings.


I have never seen this man at DTL.

Image C/O Downtown Lounge


Why are we eating diggity-delicious chicken wings, dick-horns? Because fuck particles, fuck antiparticles and fuck the origin of everything. You eat those goddamn wings like you love them. Why? Why?! Because even if all that universe shit I just straight school-house rocked you in is true, those sweet-ass wings are the only thing in the entire universe that matters right now. That's straight truth.




3.2 Stars

It may not look like it, but Downtown Lounge has some tasty bar grub. Suffice it to say it’s fine content housed in a rough exterior.


Dive Time

Cheap beers and sub $10 burgers. Fine grub.


Urban Rustic Alleyway

Booths with high backs and a distinct lack of TVs make for great, if close, conversation.


Round and Round

If your drink is nearly empty, you’ll have company.



While it’s not the pinnacle of bars in Portland, DTL is a fantastic go-to for a couple beers and some quality snacks.


Hot Suppa! - Portland, ME

I met Nick at Hot Suppa! about eight months ago. I was completely new to Portland and the biting chill was in the process of being baked out by the high April sun.

Good morning, Portland.

I was perched at their stout bar, reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. A guy about my age with wild brown hair – the kind that perpetually looks as if it just came from under a hat – sat down next to me. He situated himself and pulled out the same book I was reading. His version was older; its pages yellowed and corners creased with use. That was Nick.


He turned to me and we struck up a predictable conversation about the book. Soon, our conversation’s predictability vanished.


Our discourse flowed naturally and powerfully; dialogue went back and forth, building upon itself. Most conversations can feel as if both parties are carrying their separate points to their pre-conceived conclusions, as if the other party is simply a necessity to airing out opinions. My conversation with Nick, however, was an improvised duet. We played off of each other, coming to realizations on the fly, inspiring the other to think more deeply at each turn. It was the kind of conversation that, no matter how long it actually was, could never have been long enough. He impressed me quite thoroughly.


At the end of our meal– I had the waffles with Maine maple syrup, he the benedict – we exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up again. 

Nick, I found during our second meal at Hot Suppa!, was both a published author and semi-professional speed climber. He only told me after I asked him what he did as we waited for a booth to open up.  The word bragging would be about the exact opposite of how he described his daily activities; he tried, in fact, to downplay them, which of course ended up impressing me more.


Once again, our meal and conversation were superb.


At home that night I looked up videos of speed climbing online. Nicke assured me that he was well below championship level. I searched him out nonetheless. After scrolling through a couple pages of results, I found a poorly-captured video featuring Nick on one side in red and a young man in blue on the other. Both were hooked up to minimal harnesses and faced a sheer, blue climbing wall.


At the sound of the gun, both young men shot up the wall, climbing as if the surface were horizontal, rather than vertical. The video was named “NCAA Speed Climbing Men’s Semi-Final 2006”. Nick lost. I could tell which contender he was without any trouble: his hair hadn’t changed.  But his immense skill was evident.


And though he lost, his mastery of climbing was dumbfounding. I’m athletic enough, but nowhere near competition-level in any sport. That sort of skill, where one is talented enough to rival every other driven young person in America, is unattainably difficult. It requires not only innate ability but an almost absolute dedication. Nick had impressed me again.

My feelings can be summed up here.

The next week, we met on a Thursday morning at Hot Suppa! and he brought his girlfriend along.  She was a petit woman, named Erica, with brown hair and luxuriously large green eyes: pleasant, smart, beautiful. She had actually just been hired off of an internship at an in-demand interior design firm. Not that Nick needed the money, his writing supported him well enough.


Again, our meal went by too fast and Nick continued to cement his status as someone truly to be admired. He was so put-together, self-assured and confident with the physical and mental substance back it up. I had never met a person so superior to me in every single way.


I thought about it quite a bit. How superior he was to me in so many ways. Nearly the perfect person – at least as far as my estimation went.


Another couple weeks passed after that meal without us seeing each other. Nick and I had both gotten busy: he, writing an article for an outdoors magazine and me with work.


One steamy, mid-spring night in the Old Port, I was out with my girlfriend, Katie. She was ready to go – she had an early start planned the next day – I was not. She left me among the tourists, trying not to stumble on the frost-heaved cobblestones. I wandered into some dive or other, I can’t remember the name but it had low lights, pool and darts. Ordering a drink from the packed bar, I heard my name. The voice was excited, slurred.


It was Nick.


He was visibly drunk. The collar of his shirt was turned up at one side. He motioned to the open seat next to him. I made my way through the crowd and sat down. I was a bit drunk myself, so his drunkenness seemed another feather in his cap from my perspective: a guy who has everything so much together that he even has time to go out and let loose.


We talked for a bit, though not about much since the noise of the place precluded any meaningful conversation. It was more an intoxicated exchange of admiration, talking about how excellent our chats had been.


Then a girl appeared behind Nick and reached over him to a half-empty cocktail on the bar. She put her arm around Nick’s shoulder and he leaned back and kissed her neck.


She was a brunette, tall and voluptuous. Her make-up was a bit smeared, though it made her look perhaps even more licentious than had it been perfectly situated. Nick didn’t introduce her so she introduced herself. Her name was Hannah and, by her voice, had drank equally as much as Nick.


Looking at Nick’s collar, I now noticed her red lipstick was there. Maybe he’d broken up with Erica? But in the time we talked after Hannah showed up, there was no mention of anything concerning Erica. No explanation from Nick as to this change in women. It was almost as if he was acting completely serene to test what kind of a friend I was. Would I ask about Erica and destroy their mood? Would I simply judge him without knowing the details? Or would I let it slide and assume that whatever he was doing was probably appropriate?


I chose the last option. I chatted as best I could until my drink was gone and announced that it was time to head home. Despite their protestations I nodded my way out. It was only three days before I ate with Nick again.

It took until three quarters of the way through our meal before I found an opening to ask about Erica.

I am the Alpha and the Omega. 

“She’s good,” Nick said. “She just got a big assignment designing a new rec-room for some young couple up in Falmouth.” I nodded, allowing him to go on. “So, she’s been busy.”


Nothing more than that. We had already acknowledged that it was fun to see each other out and I hadn’t had the audacity to ask about Hannah. The majority of my hesitation came from a reticence to delve too deeply into Nick’s personal affairs. It seemed that our friendship had started off so perfectly that any outside factors could only serve to sully the clean and well-defined picture I had of him. He was a perfect person. I didn’t want to believe he was any less than that.


I tried to bury my disappointment over Nick’s complete lack of remorse concerning Hannah. I didn’t succeed. But still, we continued to meet and talk.

About three weeks later, Nick brought Erica again. When we all had been seated, I couldn’t find an inkling of unrest. Not within Nick, nor between him and Erica. This could have meant two things: either they’d made up completely for Nick’s transgressions or Erica was completely oblivious. As the meal went on, there was no doubting that she didn’t know.


That realization sparked in me an electric tension. The sort of tension that increases with prolonged inaction; like when a teenage me was dared to go ask a girl out. It was the the type of dread that made the task impossible to complete, yet more excruciating not to the longer you waited.


As we ate each extended pause felt like a challenge. Nick’s gaze intensified as if daring me to bring up Hannah or somehow hint at her. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring it up because I genuinely liked Nick and wanted to think the best of him. But I am also a coward when it comes to confrontation. So I kept silent on the matter through until we said our goodbyes. I vowed to bring her up at our next meal alone.


I never did.


Two weeks later Nick told me that he and Erica had broken up. That completed the talk of girls. The matter was dropped for good and all, no resolution. But, unfortunately, that’s the way so many relationship-centric matters tend to end. Both parties unfulfilled, nobody happy.


The very next day, at the dentist, I was flipping through Down East Magazine. Its feature article was called “Depths of Flavor,” about a struggling fisherman who’d found a flourishing new market in deep-sea fish. It was by Nick.


After reading it three times, to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I realized that it was simply an adequate article. It felt like just another let-down, concerning Nick. Given our conversations, the article seemed well below his level of thought and humor. Not that it was a terrible piece of writing. It just wasn't what I would have considered worthy of him.


Nick and I didn’t talk for nearly five months. And this, coming after we had not gone an entire week without some sort of friendly meet-up, was a surprise. But so it goes.


In that time I thought about him a little. Mostly about how impressive he’d seemed in the beginning and how he’d eventually let me down. Though he hadn’t let me down, I realized, not really. He’d merely gone from the realm of the extraordinary into the mildly-above-ordinary. He still was a fantastically talented athlete. He still wrote professionally. He just wasn’t the “overman” I’d convinced myself he was. It was more my own fault for expecting to find someone who was perfect. My own selfish hope that there was an ideal person living an ideal life out there. That perfection – as a quality – was attainable. But of course, perfection is only really reserved for the imagination, and only poor ones at that.


It was getting to be the end of shorts weather when I reached out to Nick again. I texted him, suggesting we grab some food that weekend. He responded quickly and with enthusiasm, even throwing out a couple times that worked for him.

The topography of deliciousness.

Being back at Hot Suppa! with Nick was excellent. We talked and laughed and it was like next to no time had passed between our last meeting. The meal flew by. After shaking hands and waving our goodbyes, I left smiling.


Sure, I’d wished that Nick was perfect. I’d wished it for him – because I liked him – and I’d wished it selfishly because I wanted to believe that I could be perfect too. But he wasn’t and neither was I.


Nick may be a little loose and inconsiderate with women. He might not be as groundbreaking a writer as I had, naively, expected. And I could revile him for those traits. I could build a boiling dislike for him and never speak with him again. But what good would that do? He wouldn’t change as a person. I wouldn’t have a chance to possibly help him improve (and he, me). And I would be deprived of a great conversation partner and friend. The world would continue as it was, with two people less happy than they could have been.


In the end, we build the strongest connections around what we have in common and imperfection is the only universal trait.




4.4 Stars

I have visited Hot Suppa! vastly more times than any other brunch spot in Portland. They simply understand eggs better than basically every other brunch I’ve ever been to (their omelet is straight out of France). In overall food, they’re close to equal with Caiola’s brunch, but at a lower price point. It’s both excellent and consistent.


Reasonably Reasonable

Every item on the menu “proper” is well priced. In fact, the Waffle (which comes with breakfast meat, two eggs, and a sliver of grapefruit) is a damn steal. Their only downfall is that their specials tend to be both too little (in terms of portion sizes) and too much (in terms of price).


Boutique Art Show

Its intimate booths and art-smattered walls make for great conversation and a cozy atmosphere. However, it’s slight size means wait times can hit the hour mark any day of the week. And with its popularity ever rising, wait times may well rise commensurate. Go early. Go late. But be aware that it’s worth the wait.


Busy Bee

Overall, great service. Coffee stays full 95% of the time. Peak hours tend to be when it gets the diciest.



I tend to be critical of Hot Suppa! because I love it so much. Like a father to a child, I want to see it improve for its own sake. Meaning, I tend to internally gripe about stuff like the sometimes so-so service, long waits and underwhelming specials. That all being said, in Portland, there is no more consistently fantastic brunch than Hot Suppa!

Caiola's (Brunch) - Portland, ME

The egg didn’t think highly of herself. Spending all her time with the cream had given her quite the complex. How could it not? The cream was so full of herself; knowing, and constantly expressing, that she was the top of her kind.

Nobody flirted with the egg; the cream got all the attention. The bread would flex its strong crust at her. Bacon would utter just lewd things, so bold. Luckily, the one breakfast meat the egg and cream mutually lusted after stayed silent: sausage.

Oh, how her yolk fluttered for sausage.

She never even dreamed of mixing with him. It was too daring, too audacious. As far as she knew, the people in white would not allow it.

From the scuttlebutt in the fridge, eggs like her had only rarely “mixed” with sausage. Normally, her spotted kind were stuck next to thin toast or put upon a bed of steadfast, earthy hash browns. Not that one could complain. Potatoes were alright. A bit of a bore.


You are looking at obscene deliciousness.

 Picture ℅ Map and Menu

“Dahling,” said the cream.

Not now, thought the egg.

“Oh dahling, you just can’t believe what a good feeling I have.”

“Is that right?”

“How can you be so very serious at a time like this?”

“A time like what?”

“Why girl don’t be so daft,” said the cream, looming imperiously over the egg’s carton. “It’s nearly our turn!”

Sure enough, the carton was nearly empty. The egg saw that there were only a couple of her kind left. She felt a thrill in her yolk.

Would she finally meet her lover on the hot, hot stove? Would she finally be allowed some sort of romance in what had been, to date, a very uninteresting and chilly life? Or would she most likely end up in a lonely lump, sectioned off on the plate to be eaten with overpowering ketchup, that uncouth fellow who seemed fine to mingle with almost anything?

“I’m just so very bothered,” said the cream. “I feel just as rich as the day I was skimmed. Don’t you?”

“Well,” said the egg, “I was laid…”

“Quite, quite,” said the cream, “I’m glad you agree.”

They both heard a sound that made them hold their respective non-breath: the squeak of crocs on restaurant-quality rubber. Soon came the suction sound. Then, a sliver of light opened up to the full, bustling panorama of the kitchen.


Is tat door a basktball Hoop b/c evry meal s a SLAM DuNK! Ohhhhh noooooNonoNonoNooooooOooOo.

Picture ℅ Maine Today


A white apron appeared, raising it’s hand. The hand found the cream, of course, who burbled with delight. But as soon as she was grabbed, her glossy form was quickly scooted aside. The white apron snatched the egg. 

The egg felt weightless, finally chosen. She could hear the cream’s indignation. But the feeling of euphoria didn’t last long; dread swept over her again. She’d be scrambled into a mushy mess. She’d never reach the grandeur of a benedicted egg; that round, gleaming whiteness, covered in a flowing cape of sauce, perched atop a hunk of glistening ham. No, it could never be that good. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Whatever that meant.

The egg was placed beside the griddle, staring out over a veritable orgy of carnal delight, the likes of which she had neither expected nor seen before. Bacon sizzled next to chorizo. Eggs and cheese melted into each other’s embrace. A tingling started inside her.

The egg knew she would be scrambled into mush. She just knew it. But the tingling remained. A glimmer of hope inside her dappled shell.

Oddly enough, the white apron picked up a thick slice of bread and cut out a section in the middle, placing the bread upon the slick, oiled cooking surface. And then with a swift motion, before the egg could even think to protest, the white apron cracked her eternal cover, and poured her, naked, into the rapidly hardening bread’s embrace.

The Bird's Nest: it tastes better than skinny feels.

Picture ℅ Cloak & Dagger 

The egg never thought bread could feel like this. Certainly, she’d gossiped about it with the cream and other eggs. But this bread was so tender, yet so strong. He became stiff as she heated up, her form becoming white and glossy, a color the cream could only ever dream of having. It was amazing. The egg moistened with heat and delight.

And then they were flipped, the bread more on top than around her, penetrating her from seemingly every angle. It was getting so hot. A dash of pepper and salt added some spice to their frantic mingling. The pleasure was so intense the egg could hardly stand it. This bread was amazing: so intuitive in how he enveloped her. Like he was reading her mind and reacting to every thought before she could utter it. She and the bread heaved there on the griddle, for all to see.

By the time the white apron laid the two of them onto a cool plate, the egg was shivering with pleasure. The two of them lay there, saying nothing to each other, simply basking in their mutual heat.


Hey. Hey, Cook. Good job.

Picture ℅ Caiola's 

But it seemed that the white apron was not quite done yet. As they lay in each other’s embrace, the white apron appeared with a pot, in which something thick was simmering. A ladle appeared, and the egg gasped.

But what was she smelling? It was something strong, powerful with a hint of spice. No, surely it couldn’t be sausage. This smelled so much fuller, more intensely masculine. It was as if sausage had been distilled somehow, intensifying his most basic, beautiful elements. It couldn’t be sausage. She couldn’t be this lucky.

But it turned out, she was.

With a flick of the wrist, the white apron covered the egg and toast in a powerful, thick layer of sausage gravy. Smooth yet full-bodied. Unbelievable in its potency.

She and the bread both moaned involuntarily. Stores of passion opened up beneath what they thought had been completely spent.

It was an orgy of flavor and texture. Passion rising with each heated moment as they mingled and came to know one another, fully and truly.

They whispered to each other, that trio of flavors. Buttery words of passion slipped between them as they rolled and caressed every inch of each other, the plate, once cold, now warm and steaming beneath them.

All this business, this, sexuality, should have made her feel dirty; a prim egg like herself, completely innocent and unaware of the carnal pleasures that this kitchen permitted. But it felt so right, completely natural. She couldn’t have resisted if she tried. She surrendered herself to the sensations that surrounded her.

The egg was so enraptured with the sausage gravy and toast, she hardly notice that a group of sweet potato fries – shoestring style – had been placed beside them. She didn’t mind their gawking. In fact, in spite of herself, she found that she enjoyed it. Simply, yolk and white-encompassing pleasure. The egg was in ecstasy.


"Why is he writing this?" you wonder. Because I can.

Picture ℅ Blueberry Files 

When they’d done everything imaginable to each other -- their romp complete -- they were placed under a hot light.

In that moment, the egg saw something: the cream. Their gazes connected. Even from a distance, the egg could see the envy on the cream’s quivering countenance.

But it didn’t end there. The cream was picked up and poured into a small burnished pitcher. The worst fate of all! She’d be forced to “know” a pot of chatty coffee or snobby tea. A more quotidian end for that hifalutin tea neither the egg nor the cream could imagine.

The things the egg had felt, the heights of passion and pleasure she had found made her almost sorry for the cream. But really, who could feel sorry for that supercilious dame.

The egg put her mind to the present. She knew that her, and her partners’ end was near. It was the natural way for all food to go; each plate eventually whisked off into the bustling commotion of the dining area, that place from which none came back. At least, not the way they left.

It was time to enjoy herself. The egg had been lucky, she knew, ending up in a Bird's Nest with these unsurpassed ingredients. Here in Caiola’s, she could never have guessed the delights that had awaited her. So, rather than think of any future she simply enjoyed the moment. For there is little worse than squandering pleasure with cold, rational thought.



5.0 Stars

Food porn. There is no other way to describe it. Best brunch in Portland.


Upper Middle Class

For two people, you’ll end up paying ~$40 all told. As opposed to the $35 you’d spend for any other legit brunch. Worth it for sure.


Rural Italy

Wooden tables. Cute pictures. Comfy (not cramped) seating. However that does mean there could be a wait, so go early.


AAA (not major league)

Great servers all around. Smiling. Keeping that coffee filled. Only once did it take a fair bit to get food. But a little more time with your morning coffee? C’mon.



If you are in Portland on a Sunday morning, there is no possible excuse you can make to not go to Caiola’s brunch. Plague? Tough it out. Plane crash? Go as a zombie. Grandma died? Grandmas die. Wait, that last one was mean. Sorry I love you G mama.