Our Rating  

Walter's Restaurant
15 Exchange Street
871-9258

 
4 Plates  
 
Walter's Café Reviewed: Spring, 2002

In one of the most convenient and accessible locations in the heart of the Old Port resides Walter's Restaurant, a small restaurant serving ecclectic seasonal cuisine. I've visited Walter's on several occasions to find consistently efficient service, very good and interesting dishes, and an overall pleasant dining experience each time.

On our last visit, my husband and I were starving, just out of work and looking for a quick but good dinner out. We threw around a whole bunch of restaurant names, not really agreeing on any one particular establishment or cuisine and by default, because we had found a nice parking spot on Exchange Street, and because it just happened to be sitting there, soft yellow interior enticing us to bask in its warm glow, we were drawn into Walter's doors.

The place was somewhat empty. Two parties of what appeared to be coworkers were quietly dining and sipping wines. As we entered the small foyer, the white-clad friendly-looking ponytailed host appeared quickly from the back of the room and found us a table. He nicely offered to hang our coats on the rack by the entrance as we sat down to look at our menus which were already waiting for us on the table. Moments later our casually attired waiter appeared, poured some ice water into our glasses and took our beverage order. I requested a glass of Pinot Grigio while my husband opted for a Cabernet Savignon.

After ordering our courses, our server delivered a terra cotta pot filled with four slices of warm, soft bread with a scoop of whipped butter on the side. We sipped our wines and ate, what at the time, with us being so hungry, seemed like, the most delectable wonderful bread and butter we had ever tasted. We chatted quietly, admiring the space with its exposed brick walls and smooth wooden stairs and banister ascending to the upstairs dining area. We watched as the chefs prepared fine cuisine from the crude plastic containers of chopped ingredients in the open kitchen and served them onto one of a giant stack of plates sitting atop the counter separating the preparation and dining rooms. Large ivy plants hung above the kitchen adding an aesthetically pleasing contrast to the red brick and yellow paint on the walls.

Our appetizers arrived just in time. The bread satisfied our starved appetites temporarily but we were ready for something more substantial. I had chosen the Crispy Ravioli which comprised of four large not-so-crispy ravioli filled with a small pocket of minced chicken and Asian spices. It seemed that the ravioli were most likely crispy prior to the addition of the blanket of sweet tangy sauce. The combination of the mild ravioli, the nearly overwhelmingly sweet sauce, the thin shavings of pickled ginger and the arrangement of thinly sliced red, yellow and green bell peppers not only made for a beautiful presentation but a wonderful rush of flavors in each mouthful. My husband had chosen a Baby Greens Salad from the specials listed on a board on the wall. The greens were topped with feta cheese and tossed in a balsamic vinegar dressing. Simple and refreshing.

Throughout our meal I found it difficult to distinguish who in the restaurant was an employee, owner, manager or patron. With exception to the host, it appeared that the staff wore plain street clothes allowing them to blend in with the crowd. Although not particulary friendly, our waiter was very professional and attentive.

Finally our well-anticipated entrees arrived. While I had originally been very tempted by the sound of the grilled duck in caramelized onion sauce, the steak with sweet potato fries, and the linguine with fresh veggies and lemon garlic sauce I ended up choosing otherwise. I had ordered the Pork Chops, two decent sized boneless pork chops, slightly blackened, served with a giant pile of sage mashed potatoes, what was referred to as "apple bourbon carmelized onion chutney" on the menu, and two matchstick piles of crispy fresh green beans. My pork chops were delicious and once I got down to the bottom where all the sage leaves were hiding out, my potatoes were excellent as well. The green beans, although quite tasty and adding a nice crunchy alternative to the soft pork chops and potatoes, were a little too much in quantity. The chutney turned out to be big slices of warm soft green apple in an extremely sweet and thick sauce. It was much too overwhelming for me so I let it be. The presentation was very basic and clean, a wonderful combination of fresh natural foods.

parking  
reservations
wheelchair accessible
vegetarian selections
vegan selections  
beer
wine
liquor
most credit cards accepted
My husband's lasagna turned out to be a bit less exciting as the menu made it out to be. The menu described the dish as a Four Cheese Lasagna incorporation goat cheese, an odd choice of cheese for lasagna, I thought, and vegetables. It was more like a ratatouille dish than a pasta dish after all. Tons of vegetables in red sauce and not so much pasta or cheese. He was happy with his choice, the meal filled him well, but he felt slightly deceived by the menu.

We opted against dessert again on this visit so I have yet to sample Walter's final course. For the two of us, our meal cost a total of $63.00 including one glass of wine each.

The menu at Walter's Café is everchanging and while there were a few similarlities between this menu and the menu served during our previous visits, the majority of the selections were completely different. After this last experience at Walter's our opinion still remained. Very convenient, good but not quite amazing cuisine, professional staff, warm intimate atmosphere, slightly expensive, but definitely somewhere to which it seems inevitable we will return.  back to the top

 

Tracy B. Wheeler is a classical flutist and freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 









 

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