The Front Room Restaurant and Bar
73 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101-3661
It never hurts to be friendly. One example of this is striking up a conversation with the people next to you at a restaurant or bar. You meet some of the most amazing people that way. I find smaller towns especially good for this. People just seem to be more open to conversation with strangers.
However, getting recommendations from people you meet in a restaurant is an interesting proposition. On the one hand, you’re both in the same establishment, enjoying the same food, which implies there are some things in common. On the other hand, you really know nothing else about them, other than maybe they are really nice, very friendly, or seem very knowledgeable. However, it will always be an adventure.
When dining at Fore Street, another Portland establishment, we were given a recommendation by a very friendly couple next to us for brunch. Well, after they inquired about our planned dining excursions, and criticized our breakfast choices :) They suggested that the Front Room was the best brunch in town. Seeing as i wasn’t totally committed on my choice, we decided to give it a shot.
Located on the east side of Portland, the Front Room is nestled into a quiet neighbourhood near the water. Quite a ways from the bustle of the Old Port, it definitely has a very local vibe to it. Lots of regulars, lots of familiarity.
The space is very open. Seating is intimate, yet comfortable. Service, efficient and friendly.
The brunch menu is an expansive menu, filled with dozens of choices. However, upon closer examination, there are enough commonalities in ingredients that most things can be made fresh to order.
We’re told the local must try is brown bread – a molasses bread made with sour or buttermilk. We share an omelet with a side order of brown bread, and their version of eggs benedict on Potato Gnocci.
The omelet is excellent – light fluffy eggs not overcooked, stuffed with ample toppings of choice. 3 eggs with 2 toppings (in our case, spinach and feta) for 4.75 is a steal. The quality of the ingredients are fantastic as well. This is one great value omelet.
The brown bread – well, i don’t have a frame of reference for it, having never tried brown bread before. It’s sweet, dense, and well toasted. It was pretty good, but not being a dense, rich bread fan, it definitely wasnt my style.
The eggs and potato gnocci were a bit hit and miss. The eggs were perfectly poached, the hollandaise excellent, Bacon was thick, and diced, but had nice flavour and was well cooked. The spinach was lightly wilted – could’ve used a bit more seasoning, but was reasonable. However the gnocci were a bit rubbery and dense. For $8, it was a great deal. But i think next time, i would stick to straight up breakfast foods, or one of the tasty looking sandwiches.
All told, I have to say this recommendation was a total success. We got to try a nice local place that we would’ve never been to otherwise (mostly due to geographic location), had some very good food. As a bonus, we ran into the same couple from the restaurant the night before, who were there backing up their claims of the best brunch in town. I don’t have enough information to verify this, but it was great fresh food at a great price. And that should be enough for you to go and try it for yourself.