The Spirited Gourmet

Place: The Spirited Gourmet
Time: 11:30a, Thursday, January 31st
With: Sabrina, Darling Nikki
Where:  142 St. John Street, Portland, Maine

A few years ago when I was in a training class several of the trainees went to a little gourmet food and wine shop for lunch one day. The shop had a selection of perfectly made sandwiches with fun and delicious sides. There were just a few tables, set behind interesting displays of cheeses and wines and gourmet foodstuffs. So, when I noticed that The Spirited Gourmet had never been reviewed (per Portland Food Map) I decided to take one of my lunch time dates and go back with Sabrina and Darling Nikki. ‘Cause it was so good!

Yeah, not so much anymore.

The Spirited Gourmet is located on St. John Street in Portland. It is in an unusual location – it seems that it should be more office space than food locale. There is a limited amount of parking in front of the restaurant. The sign outside mentions wines, of which there are none in evidence once you enter. None to order, and none to buy.

The inside is painted a cheerful yellow, which is ruined by the damage on the walls: the tape pieces, the little holes, and the scuff marks, separated by a royal purple stripe running around the perimeter, ending at the front 2 bars. One of which you order your sandwich, soup or salad at and one of which is abandoned, a sad reflection on what was (and what may soon come). There is a forlorn and dusty plastic ficus in the center of the room. Sabrina said that the place as a whole reminded her of a portable classroom. Not the best of impressions, I’m sure you’ll agree. Throughout our lunch there was a radio in the kitchen playing reggae and rap music. Um, no.

Gone are the gourmet foodstuffs. Gone are the aforementioned wines. Gone are the innovative displays and European flair. The tables are mismatched and the chairs are all different colors, I’m sure in an attempt at  shabby chic. Unfortunately it ends up being the former rather than the latter. The carpet is berber, with stains and damage evident. There are two old sofas in the corner that attempt to seduce you to sit in them. The only use I noticed was when our “waitress” plunked herself into one with a great big sigh, and took a little nap while we were eating our sandwiches. Classy.

I ordered the sandwich of the day, a Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry, Mayo sandwich with melted Provolone on 4 Seed Bread. It tasted fine. I had expected the bread to be toasted, since it was billed as a hot sandwich, but it was not. The provolone was melted, however. It came with a sad, wilted pickle. I had a bag of (no name) pretzels which I did not feel compelled to finish and a Diet coke from a can that I picked out of the refrigeration unit. There were very few chip and drink options available.

Sabrina ordered the Tuna, Cranberry and melted Swiss with Shedd Sauce on Whole Wheat bread. She said it was good, but nothing special, also noting the lack of bread toasting. It also came with the floppy pickle. She had water and chips as well.

Darling Nikki ordered the Virginia Ham, baked Turkey, melted Cheddar and mayo sandwich on Whole Wheat bread. She did get a surprising amount of turkey. And a surprisingly little amount of ham. As with Sabrina and I, she wished it had been toasted. And she wished that her pickle was Vlasic.

We ate on paper plates with plastic chargers holding them sturdy. After we ate and we woke our waitress up, we took all of our trash to the front to pay. It was a weird arrangement. You pay after you eat. Hope you are honest!

All in all, I can’t recommend this “restaurant”. I’m not sure if it recently changed hands or what, but it has lost most of its charm and all of its elegance.

Rating: 3 – I will not be going back. (On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being eating out of a dumpster and 10 being eating at David’s)

The Spirited Gourmet Cafe (no web presence)
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3 Responses to The Spirited Gourmet

  1. Darling Nikki says:

    I would say this is a fair review. I’d also like to mention how impressed I was by the photocopied menus and the “bread selections” written on a piece of paper and taped to the counter top. Good stuff!
    Even thought it wasn’t that good, I did enjoy watching you put your review together and I wish my camera phone took better pictures so you could have posted some.

  2. anonymous says:

    I remember fondly the day I met the charming owner of this establishment after they opened in the ’90s. I was a happy but irregular patron for years with no complaint. It was attractive, friendly and always delicious.

    Your review informs us of some sort of transition which remains unexplained. It is the responsibility of any self-appointed “reviewer” of restaurants – or any establishment – to tell the story completely in all fairness to that establishment and the readers.

    Say you had a visitor to your new deli two weeks before opening. The next day, a “review” appears in a paper describing your space “resplendant in sheetrock dust and clearly unprepared for business. I will not be returning.” There needs to be some effort made to get the whole story or you run into the murk of misrepresentation for which the reviewer is liable.

    Bottom Line: Go back here and find out why there are no more wines, shitty food and service, and holes in the wall. Do it for your readers.

  3. chris2fer says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    I do appreciate the dialog.

    Regarding your comment, I don’t think that the average person would stop and find out what has happened if they were disappointed by a restaurant – it just does not matter. What matters is the experience, as it is happening.

    If you are open for business, you are being judged. That is where your example fails: going to a deli two weeks before opening? Why? They aren’t open.

    Thank you for commenting.

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