Reviewed: Summer, 2000
beneath the canopy of a grand maple tree on the second story deck of
Bintliff's American Café, dining on Sautéed Maine Crab Cakes and Lobster
Bisque, my companion and I took in another gorgeous summer evening in Portland.
An elegantly eclectic establishment, Bintliff's pushes to a higher level the
traditional definition of Café. The space is decorated with antiques and fine
wood finishing, has low ceilings, and a beautiful open kitchen on the first
floor. There is seating on the first floor patio, as well as on the second floor
deck, and the layout lends an intimacy to the restaurant that is definitely Café
style. The wonderfully varied menu (which changes seasonally) is beyond the
realm of Café and is worthy of a fine restaurant.
Vegetarian Springrolls and Toasted Peanut
Sauce began my friend’s meal, and I couldn’t resist the Sautéed Maine Crab
Cakes. She found the springrolls fresh and tasty, and on par with other area
restaurants. My two thick crabcakes, served on a bed of fresh greens with a
grilled scallion and tomato vinaigrette, were artfully arranged on the plate and
so good that I barely had time to taste them as they slid from fork to mouth. We
chose these starters from among a tantalizing selection that ranged from Grilled
Shrimp in Tequila-Lime Marinade, Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin, and Raviolis of
the Night, to Prince Edward Island Mussels and Smoked Baby Back Ribs.
A warm evening, my friend opted for a
Mesclun Greens and Garnishes salad along with Lobster Bisque, the soup du jour,
for her entree.
selection proved more challenging for me. At the top of the list, I pondered the
Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Tarragon Butter, until glancing midway down to
notice the Grilled Peach Glazed Pork Chops. The decision mulled in my head until
that very dish, heaped with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, and an enormous
pork chop was delivered to the neighboring table. I took another glance across
the menu: Rosemary Garlic Chicken, Pan Fried Trout with Cajun Cornmeal rust,
Roasted Duck with Balsamic and Peppercorns, Grilled Marinated Lamb Loin,
Farfalle with Asparagus and Shallots, Sautéed Shrimp and Mussels, Roast Rib-Eye
Steak, Bouillabaisse, and Grilled Filet Mignon. And looked again at my
neighbor’s plate. Grilled Peach Glazed Pork Chops—I could taste the words.
My dining companion raved about her salad
for both its size and freshness. The bisque, while excellent itself, proved
slightly disappointing when she found that it contained only one piece of
My pork chop
arrived, glazed in peach sauce, and surrounded by smashed potatoes, two grilled
peach halves, and a mixture of grilled red peppers, summer squash, and zucchini.
The combination of peach and pork was new to me, and enjoyed that unique flavor.
My potatoes, however, were inedible containing far too much salt, as though the
cap to the salt shaker had come off during preparation. Despite this, I enjoyed
the entire helping of fresh grilled vegetables, and all of my pork chop and
The best was yet to come. We had decided on
dessert upon first entering Bintliff's when we had spied a fresh pie plate of
berry crisp on a sideboard near the kitchen. A very good decision, indeed! (Our
only poor decision was sharing the crisp and not each ordering our own.) A
generous serving of warm raspberries and blueberries filled the bowl, mixed with
the light, crispy crust and a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. We could
have made a meal of this, by far our favorite portion of dinner.
Overall, we liked our experience at
Bintliff's, a wonderful atmosphere in which to enjoy food. Yet, we found
disparity between the food, which was good, and the prices, which were a bit
high. Our two appetizers, two entrees, one dessert, and one soda, totaled
Bintliff's American Café offers an extensive
wine list, as well as several local beers on tap. The appetizers range in price
from $5.95 to $7.95. Salads are reasonably priced between $4.95 and 6.95.
Entrees are between $12.95 and $22.95.
O'Donnell is a poet
and freelance writer who lives in Portland.