Thanksgiving Suggestions
le Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas 2008

District Opening Night

IMG_1214

Once again I give the disclaimer: I sell District wine so I am not a totally uninvolved, unbiased reviewer.  I review because I enjoyed my meal.  And anyway you can't really judge a restaurant in the first week or so.  It takes some time for the kitchen and servers to all form a working relationship.

District is a large, open space; it has an upstairs and down, connected by a large opening in the second floor, which looks down on the bar of the first.  The connection between the two dining areas makes it feel larger and busier.  I sat upstairs at the small service bar and immediately noticed the art on the walls by Johnathon Bisbee, an artist and professor at Bowdoin who makes art with worked foot long spikes, they look great on the walls .

Here's how I'd categorize the cuisine: rich, hearty, earthy, substantial food.  It's not delicate food that you have to tip toe around.  It's very satisfying food that you can really dig into.

The menu was, to me, a really interesting mix of Italian, American, unintimidating comfort food, and more creative exciting options.  It has lots of meat, lots of rich food, although there were at least three vegetarian options for the main course.  I was excited to see things like baked halloumi, mussels with creme fraiche, chicken wings with goat cheese dip for appetizers, along with a raw bar with oysters, littleneck clams, and king crab claws.  There's also a selection of offal and charcuterie that includes buffalo chicken livers, steak tartar, roasted bone marrow, and foie gras.  The main courses included options like suckling pig for two, a grilled cheese burger, veal schnitzel, and roasted and buttermilk fried chicken.

IMG_1216

I ordered the baked halloumi and veal schnitzel.  I liked the presentation, the halloumi came in a small cast iron sauce pan with toast and cornichons to go with it.  It was great, like id expect; I mean how can you dislike baked cheese?!  The cornichons were a great mildly acidic balance.  The schnitzel was very tasty, cooked perfectly, and served with a zingy lemon sauce and capers.  I've had a lot of bad schnitzel in my day.  It's pounded so thin and then breaded and fried, that it becomes easy to over cook and screw up the texture.  This was just right.

IMG_1218

And for dessert: the dessert menu carried through the full flavored, creative theme of the rest of the menu.  I choose a bourbon flavored root beer float!  It was essentially a normal very good root beer float, but with a slight bourbon flavor added that gave it a smokey earthy quality and kept it from being too sweet tasting.  It was delicious.  I had the bartender and a passing server try it and we all agreed.

IMG_1223

I would be really remiss if I didn't touch on the wine list.  The guy who put it together, Anthony, really knows his stuff.  He used to have Tropa wines up on Congress.  The list isn't huge to the point of being un-navigable, but it has depth and covers the bases, while including a lot of really cool under appreciated wines.  He's got three Valtellinas on the list!  Valtellina is a very tasty unique wine made from Nebbiolo that comes from Lombardy.  Most importantly the list looks well chosen to pair with the food.

Overall I think District will be a great placed to hang out over the winter.  It's warm and comfortable inside, but primarily its the food that makes me say that.  The satisfying heartiness will make this a useful antidote to the dark cold days of winter.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

uke mochi

This is literally right in my backyard... What are the price points?

Ned

The prices seemed pretty good. Most of the apps were under $10 an the schnitzel I had was $24.

Veteran diner

We were there on Saturday night and the food was wonderful--not unexpected, since the chef was a sous at Fore Street. Impressive charcuterie, really good burger, an interesting duo of fried and roast chicken.

There's a lot of technique being applied here and I hope the clientele allows the kitchen to continue to stretch its wings, and that they don't end up having to dumb down the food because it's not "mainstream" enough.

But the owner was there and had clearly invited in a lot of his friends. He spent the evening wandering around in a rumpled sports coat, talking to parties that he knew and making no attempt to get to know new patrons--the kind that could be his bread-and-butter once the buzz wears off.

A wine we ordered was out (or most likey, given the newness of the place, never in) and we had to select another. As the "wine guy," Anthony should have been all over us making amends.

There was also trouble with the POS system and we had to wait about 15 minutes for the check. Our waitress made the best of it--and did right by us with two complimentary glasses of wine while we waited--but again, where was the owner or even a manager?

He seems more interested in making the scene and playing restaurant owner than in helping out, or trying to find out what's going on in his dining room. And some members of the front-of-the-house staff clearly had not been trained on the menu; simple questions like "is this a whole fish?" necessitated a consultation with another server.

It was only the third night so glitches will happen--anyone who goes to a place that early on needs to accept that. But I worry about the owner's attitude.

Fran

I'm confused. A whole fish? Why would that question even be asked? I'm not quite sure ANY restaurant sells whole flounder, Thats a HUGE fish hahaha!!! I did have the flounder and it was amazing. This place was recommended to me by the local hotel I was staying at, I frequent Portland. This place was very unique. Portland needs this. I give an A+. It was hard to find, as I did not notice the sign. Food was delightful!

jillian

"I've had a lot of bad schnitzel in my day" is the best thing I read on the internet today. And I've been working since 1 o'clock!

Kristen

I checked out their website, any idea what the brunch menu is like?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)