555, Portland, Maine

WOW!!!  There is a reason this great chef has been named one of the top 10 up and coming chefs…

When we arrived in Portland for Marcus’ stage at 555, we walk around downtown to check out the city for a few minutes.  There was a farmer’s market just being broken down right in the center of the city square.  This very central location for such a market shows how significant a part the local food and farmers play in the city of Portland.  555, just up the street from the market, sits quietly on the corner awaiting the evening’s hustle.  As we approach the restaurant and begin to marvel over the menu items posted in the front door window, we are waved in by a mellow mannered and calm Steve Corry sitting at the bar with his work.  After some introductions and chatting, Chase & I head off for the Children’s Museum of Maine and a walking tour of downtown Portland while Steve shows Marcus his business.

Chef says:
For the first time in 4 years, I had the chance to stand back and watch the workings of someone else’s kitchen.  And not just any kitchen- Stephen Corry is a 2002 NECI graduate and one of Food & Wine’s America’s top ten chefs.  His kitchen is one which is perfectly orchestrated with food prepared with the utmost care, everything was tasted and seasoned to perfection.   I think what impressed me most is how well-trained and focused his kitchen staff is.  They work together as a serious team, 6 sometimes 7 cooks on the tight line, each with their own four or so pickups, and helping the next station out.  For all you NECI students who think the Tavern line is small, it’s half the size, serving 150 a night fine dining.

I sampled the lobster knuckle sandwich (this is the dish which was featured in Food & Wine) which was amazing and so creative, a tower of two slices of green fried tomatos, with a peabody lobster stuffed in between and an avocado aioli and topped with a full lobster claw.  I am also impressed and amazed at the grilled ceasar salad(I was so excited about this I’ve called Chef Dave and left him a message about it) .  Hearts of romaine sliced, oiled, salted and quickly grilled (yes, grilled) with ceasar dressing zigzagged across the top with shaved parmesan and peppered croutons.  complete with itailan white anchovies.  Phenomenal!

The waitstaff is very organized and attentive to guests (it’s an open kitchen and hard not to notice everything that’s going on) No food sat in the window for more than 30 seconds.  Oh, and I should mention… Everything possible on the bi-weekly changing menu (with some signature items staying) is purchased locally at the farmer’s market.  The same one we saw when we came to town!

We even had NECI grad Thomas drive up from Old Orchard Beach to see me and dine at 555.  (Thank you TJ and Erika)

We were invited to sit down and dine, something we so badly wanted to do, but we had Chase and it being 8:30 already (555 was having a very busy night, with 70 on the books and I’m guessing they’d already done 90 and at least 15 pp in the bar waiting for tables), we sadly declined.  I was fortunate enough to have been able to taste so many of the dishes.  Steve, thank you.  I would absolutely encourage anyone traveling through Portand to stop in and see Steve Corry and his amazing staff at 555 Congress Street, Portland, Maine.   www.fivefifty-five.com

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 8:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. The next time I’m in Portland, I’m definitely stopping for dinner… also heard about Primo, up in Rockland, from Michael Tate and the Broad Arrow Tavern in Freeport, from Tom Johnson. It’s time to begin a culinary road trip of my own. You are great inspiration!

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