Becky's Diner - Portland, ME

What grand bravery to follow a dream. What eclipsing courage to plunge into the personal unknown — facing ruin and failure — in pursuit of self-actuated glory.


The elegant denial of rationalism required to truly believe in yourself: the person with whose weaknesses you know, the person whose fear is yours, the person with whose every failure you are most intimate.


How can you trust that person with your fragile dream?


Because you must.


Failure, in the face of your impossible pursuit, is almost assured.  But how much sweeter the life that strives and falls short than one that never dares; how uncomfortable the final rest of one who feared to try.


Life itself is struggle; it is inescapably true. We must embrace the struggle, exalt the struggle, place the struggle upon a pedestal higher than man and woman and beast, for it is the unifying code and very subatomic structure of life. Without struggle there is no victory, no relief, no poignancy.


We want the end of our desire: one final act that satiates us permanently. And that is precisely what we will never have. We are our desire until we die. And so to love desire itself, that is the meaning. That is this life’s purpose.


Everything, especially us, must eventually disappear. What more pure is there then, than a transient dream and the brief, lively struggle for its achievement? To live only for the achievement of a goal is to live in brief flashes. To live in the singular moment of effort is to live constantly.


Nothing we own will stay ours forever, except our action.


As always this sentiment — the dream, the goal — can be perverted to the accomplishment of wicked ends. We cannot know if our goals are good or bad. Each of us is a saint to one person and a monster to another. The points of view are too many. People will dream what they dream and do what they will do. We can only hope that we do no evil. The evil rarely think they are.


We must cast this doubt from our minds and struggle all the same.


And what to one is simply getting out of bed is to another a triumph of the highest order. The ease with which the first man rises should in no way diminish the power of the accomplishment for the other. A single victory to one man is as valuable as remaining undefeated to another. The very laws of the universe mandate that everything is relative, thus, so are our accomplishments. So are we.


The dream does not need to be tangible; happiness is also a dream. Working toward happiness in the face of a difficult job and troubles with money and envy of neighbors is a goal on the same plane of kings and Gods. Every life’s struggle is worthy of being etched into stone and displayed for all posterity.


And what if we achieve our dream? Nothing short of a miracle.


But the satisfaction cannot last. For who has not succeeded, only to think, I want to succeed again? The hunger for more success, for the next victory, the next dream, is almost inescapable. Victory is temporal. The hunger lasts forever.


Becky Rand’s ambition was to create a diner where people could go early and late, for homemade food of the best ingredients for a fair price. Her dream was Becky’s Diner and her dream is a reality. Her effort has borne impossible fruit. And she has found purpose, found life, in the struggle to keep her dream a reality on Hobson Warf — to save it from slipping prematurely into the past.


Her success is irrefutable. Perfect. That is what we can applaud. The realization of her dream and the effort to keep it thus, are all we can truly judge. To compare her diner, her dream, to another — the thing I do so readily — is, in this context, profane. Becky’s — and every other restaurant and diner and establishment like it — is a monument to triumph over the totality of human strife.


To Becky’s we can turn for hope, for joy, for sun-dappled dreams. Let it stand as a temporal testament to the beauty of sweat, the staggering profundity of effort, the unmitigated joy of hope. Let Becky’s stand for all our dreams.


Good for Becky. Good for us.




3.0 Stars

This review was inspired by the fact that, while Becky’s may not be my favorite diner, it is a staggering accomplishment for someone to even start a diner, let alone keep it successfully running. So, if you’re looking for diner food, diner food is what you’ll get. Good, solid stuff.


Old Timey

Seriously, the price is the jam. $8 omelets, $5 eggs, you know the drill. Big portions, little prices all made with ingredients you’d keep in your own kitchen.



Maps of Maine on the walls, booths on the outside, counter on the inside surrounded by stainless steel stools with red pleather tops. Feels as though, statistically, at least one family is having their “Annual Becky’s Meal” at all times.



Becky’s servers get up early, as in, the time I go to bed early. And they serve with a smile. Great people and good service.



If you want a diner diner, Becky’s is it. Artisanal crepes and cappuccinos this is not. It is, however, skilled at what it does for a price that puts a smile on your face.


Blue Rooster Food Co - Portland, ME

Looking through the verdant swaying foliage from the panoramic window in my bedroom, I almost convinced myself I didn’t have any animal hybrids at all — as if it were just solitary me in the midst of wild ocean on a tropical haven of solitude.

            Peering from under the sheets of my egg-shaped water bed, I realized that the previous night was one of the first good sleeps I’d had since the whole electrified wolfverine escape. I felt good. It’s interesting, when you forget what it feels like to just feel good, to not feel put-upon and heavy with problems that you can’t directly solve. This island, BloodSpew Cove — my island — is kind of a handful.

            The electrified wolfverine mishap was basically just a miscalculation on my part. Who knew they would be strong enough to gnaw through their steel enclosure’s bars? After devouring Ken Klatch, a really nice lackey, they absconded to the wilds where they’re now vigorously procreating. Looking on the bright side though, having giant, vicious, electrified quadrupeds isn’t the worst form of security against would-be snoopers.

            Unfortunately, I can’t spin the Tasmanian Marlin Man imbroglio. The three maimed interns aren’t going to dole out very good reviews after that one.

            To make matters worse Gloria Languardo, my unflappable assistant, was worried by this week’s gen-mod forum presentation in which I unveiled the SARS AIDS Cheetah.

            “What, exactly,” she said, “is the benefit of the fastest land-mammal imbued with both SARS and AIDS?” Well, she stumped me with that one. I was just thinking, check out this badass cheetah, y’know? Needless to say I tabled that project along with the invisible sentient Alzheimer’s cloud.

            I’m not all blunders thought. I mean, yeah, my Dad, Dr. Inferno, gave me this island. I named it BloodSpew Cove. The whole idea of filling it with heinous genetic mutant abominations was purely my initiative. I realize that the idea wasn’t anything particularly new — yeah yeah Dr. Moreau got there first — but I still brought it all to life.

            The actual problem — besides all these little mishaps — is that the third annual board meeting was coming up and all the investors would be here in a week. That means Professor Knife, Bill Hates, Señor Deathface, The Gay Phantom and the head of the board, my father, Dr. Inferno.

            This is the problem with our capitalist shackles; it allows no room for blue sky innovation! True progress — not to mention the entire structure of scientific inquiry — requires you to chuck a couple concepts against the wall and see what sticks! But nooooo, you have to be saleable, scalable, profitable and marketable from day one. No grace period, no try it out period! No, hey maybe in retrospect that radioactive crow-bear wasn’t the best idea. Just bam! Profit, profit, profit.

            BloodSpew Cove actually started off swimmingly; my fireproof mice were basically the hottest seller in 2011. They helped as an early-warning for stuff like carbon monoxide or actual flames. Only problem, of course, was that they were also bullet-proof, ageless and humped like mad, which any idiot who read the fine print would have known. Luckily, those lawsuits are still pending.

            In better news, Horatio, my chickenrhino wrangler, sang the praises of my new herding dog: the taser hound. Keeps the chickenrhino’s charge-pecking to a minimum, which means food bills go down. Great stuff.

            It’s hard enough to run an island in the middle of the pacific. Try adding vicious, crafty, ungodly critters to that mix. And then try to make it profitable. This is no banana stand operation.

            Supply-wise this island is a money suck. We used to ship everything out on my forty thousand cubic foot nuclear submarine, the Arc Too. But that’s been out of commission since 2010. I’m convinced that the more money a vehicle costs, the faster it breaks. Currently, we get all our supplies from Amazon.

            Six days out from the meeting, my father came for a preliminary inspection. His goatee, as always, was waxed to a full point.

            “So, you want to give me the run down?” he said. I hemmed and hawed that I was still in early stages of the presentation and wouldn’t want to divulge an unfinished draft.

            “You haven’t started yet,” he said, taking off his signature square, bright red sunglasses and rubbing his eyes. “Listen, Nate. This island is an opportunity. I realize that the economy hasn’t been kind to it lately, but the board is starting to get a little worried. You need to show them that next year we’ll be in the red, and not the kind of red we’ve been seeing recently.”

            I kicked some dirt under a lab table.

            “These escapes,” said my Dad. “This island is a death trap. Three maimed interns, Ken Klatch eaten two months ago, three lackeys who now have both SARS and AIDS. The escaped electrified wolfverines roaming the forest making it so Amazon has to deliver to my island for safety purposes? I mean Nate…”

            He stopped when he noticed a tear trace my cheek. He put a hand on my shoulder.

            “It’s OK. Just take care of those electrified wolfverines. Everything else should be fine.”

            His helicopter hadn’t even taken off before the alarms started going again. Another escape. Two decapitated lackeys later, we managed to goad the lobstergent back into his sand hut.

            It took forty eight hours in bed for me to break out of that bout of depression.

            I mean, in the beginning, I’d set out in hopes of conquering the planet with my heinous affronts to God’s plan. Right now? I’d seriously just settle for amusement park status. Y’know, ship in kids by the ferry load, tire the suckers out and then hit their parents' wallets with a gift shop at the exit. Man, that would be the life.

            Three days out from the meeting and things were actually looking up! We had to clean out the Snale tank — a whale-sized aquatic snake — and it went off without a hitch: no deaths. Surprisingly, lackeys are pretty hard to come by these days. They’ve got to be hardy, strapping and bereft of a single individual thought. Also, it helps if they’re of various nationalities; you don’t want to get slapped with the old “Arian Domination” label.

            It’s a great island though. My Dad bought it — along with several other remote, ominously-shaped islands (skull, bomb, middle finger, &c &c) — back in the nineties when it looked like property value would never stop soaring. Then when he got nailed by the market he sold all of them but his island and mine.  

            Two days to the meeting and still no progress on the wolfverine situation, but I had a brilliant thought. If I needed help, why not help myself?

            So, I cloned myself.

            I’m no idiot about cloning, I didn’t make some evil twin or anything. In fact, I added some ant genes to his makeup so he’d not only be more diligent but would take commands from me, his queen. Plus, I tattooed a big 2 on his face so I wouldn’t have to worry about any of those silly gunfight double binds with both of us yelling that we’re the real original at some indecisive lackey holding a quivering pistol.

            Needless to say my clone was a huge help. I gave him one tour of the island, showed him around the different boring jobs I had to do and boom, instant second in command. It’s amazing I didn’t think of it earlier.

            Last day before the big meeting and everything actually came together! Surprising to see. My clone pulled his weight in a major way. He even managed to herd all the electrified wolfverines back into their pit. That ant gene really put some diligent pep in his step.

            I felt good. I was getting things done and that really boosted my spirits. I beamed at the thought of the board getting to see my island then.

            Then the board meeting happened. In short, it did not go as originally planned.

            About an hour before the meeting, I was lounging on the picturesque vista by the praying manatee lagoon and my clone dropped by to give me an update. At least that’s what I was expecting. Instead, this clone had a huge five on his face and started to strangle me. So there I am about an hour before the meeting, beating my clone to death with a pina-colada-filled coconut to the chittering snorts of the praying manatees below. Quite a scene!

            Welp, turns out I put Queen ant genes into my clone instead of just worker ant so that was a faux pas on my part. Basically, my clone was clandestinely pumping out ancillary clones and cleaning up to keep me distracted. By the time the Gay Phantom arrived — he’s always the most punctual — in his invisible submarine, the place was pretty much bedlam.

            Clone 2 was trying to destroy every other creature on the island to make room for his brood of copies — I saw a clone numbered 59 suplex a security guard. I had to text Miss Languardo to get on the intercom and let all staff know that they needed to basically flee or be mercilessly destroyed.

            We ended up having the board meeting in Professor Knife’s Hover-Scythe.

            “It appears our investment,” I said, not even bothering to open the PowerPoint presentation I’d prepared, “will need a longer-term view.”

            My father and the board eventually agreed to a small downsize. Total, eschaton-level melt-down of an evil island was actually covered in our insurance package, so that was great foresight.

            I’m currently looking into office space around the Silicon Valley area. I figure we can have a cool office with like a Ping-Pong table, video games and maybe something edgy like a beer vending machine. That sort of stuff boosts morale. I want to make sure my staff and abominations don’t feel like they’re getting the short end in this deal. They’re the ones who really matter, after all.




Inventive dogs. Scrumptious tots. A great spot for a quick lunch.


Cock-a-Doodle Deal

Wow that is a breathtakingly bad pun (if that can even be considered a pun). You’ll not pay much though.



Sitting inside consists of solely counter space around the outside of the room. Probably accommodates 15 comfortably. Fits the style of food perfectly though, plus the rooster décor is awesome.


Struttin’ Their Stuff

Order from the cashier. Get food from the cashier.



If you’re in the mood for a killer dog, solid sandy or some hot tots (hot in the “popular” sense, not spicy-hot), Blue Rooster will have you crowing. There is now a special nook in hell for me thanks to all these rooster puns.

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.


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.



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.


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.