Norm’s East End Grill

Place: Norm’s East End Grill
Time: 7:30, Friday February 29th
With: Hubby, Sabrina, Zee Zee
Where: 147 Middle Street, Portland, Maine
Plot:

On Friday night Sabrina had finally returned from her sojourn to a warmer clime, and Zee Zee invited Hubs and Sabs and me over for cocktails and a walk to dinner. Everyone arrived at Zee’s by 6:30, and we popped the wine.

After a few cocktails we decided to walk to the Front Room. However, they had an hour wait, so we hopped skipped and jumped to the Blue Spoon – to face another longish wait. Finally, we walked back to the house, got in Sab’s new car, and after much ado about noshing, ended up at Norm’s East End.

Norm’s is a tried and true standby. You will always find something yummy on the menu (which is small but everything is good), and you will always get a good piece of cornbread.

Norm’s is on Middle Street downtown, in the East End. There is usually a nice amount of street parking – you never have to park too far away. We luckily had RockStar parking, right in front of the door. We parked behind a 2008 Cadillac, which should tell you how eclectic the clientele is.

Inside Norm’s is set up on two floors – a few tables downstairs with the kitchen, and several more upstairs with the bar. It is painted with bright colors and is kept surprisingly clean. We had a few minutes to wait, so we stopped by the bar and had yet another drinky. Mmm. It had been a while since breakfast (the last time I ate on Friday) and the drinks were beginning to pile up in my tum tum.

Within minutes we were seated in the corner at the front, under a Trainspotting poster. I took the time to notice that all of the waiters were kind of cut from the same cloth. They were all relatively twinky, or at the very least ottery (if you don’t already know you wont understand). They all had funky hair that looked messy but that they probably spent hours fussing with, and they all wore black t-shirts and jeans (it’s possible that they had to, as a work outfit). Most of them had black clunky shoes on, and most of them had black thick rimmed glasses. They were all rocking the sexy nerd thing. I could just imaging that they all had long scarves that they arranged about their necks to ward off the bohemian cold. And you just know that they all thought that they were different and non-conformist. Except that they were all conforming to the non-conformist image, so… The only thing that makes it bearable (ha!) is that they are all cute and that they all seem happy. Of course, we got the lone female waitress. Whatever.

Sabrina and Zee Zee both ordered the Steak Salad with Feta Cheese and Balsamic dressing. It was a huge salad, that had a good amount of meat on it. Upon questioning, both stated that they have had it before and that it is consistently good. They also split a side order of corn bread.

This must be stated. If you go to Norm’s, you have to get a side of cornbread, or a menu item that comes with cornbread. They cook it pretty much like everyone does, but they end up by grilling it. I’m not sure what the grilling does, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is magical, cause it is worth going just for said bread.

Hubby got the Fried Chicken Dinner with Mashed Potatoes and a Biscuit. The Hubs loves him some fried chicken. He’s a southern boy, donchaknow. You should hear him get riled up – the accent comes out and he sounds like Ouiser. You know, from Steel Magnolias. Hee. Anyway. He said that the chicken is very good, like Mary makes. (Mary is his Grandma. I’ll have to tell you some stories about our visits to the South some time…). I had a bite of the chicken, and it was nicely crispy but also tender. It is not too greasy, either.

I had the BBQ boneless spare ribs with cornbread and beans. You know – beans are a magical fruit. Apparently, the more you eat, the more you toot. Who knew? Anyway, the spare ribs were tender and covered in Norm’s BBQ sauce, which is spicy and sweet and smoky and wonderful. And some of it got on the grilled cornbread, and it was like manna of the gods. Seriously. I think I heard an angel choir.

So, if you get the chance, go to Norm’s. Oh, a quick note… there is also one on the West End. It has a larger menu, but a smaller locale. Sabrina says that she feels that the West End Norm’s is more Cosmopolitan. Me? I like the East End more.

4 out of 5 stars.

Ouiser:
I do not see plays, because I can nap at home for free. And I don’t see movies ’cause they’re trash, and they got nothin’ but naked people in ’em! And I don’t read books, ’cause if they’re any good, they’re gonna make ’em into a miniseries.

Classic.

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3 Responses to Norm’s East End Grill

  1. Sabrina says:

    There are a few restaurants in Portland with two locations….Espo’s, Dogfish, Norms, Bingas Wingas……there are probably more………and one location is always better than the other (I think).

    Espo’s: Congress Street better than Washington Ave
    Dogfish: Congress/St.John Street way better than Free Street.
    Norms: Congress Street better than Middle Street.
    Bingas Wingas: Congress Street better than Portland Street.

    Maybe I just like restaurants on Congress Street?

    East End Norms is good. Congress Street Norms, however, is one of my most favorite places in Portland. Their salads are great and their specials are great. Occasionally they have a stuffed zuchini that is fabulous. They also have grilled flatbread that is to die for. If you are a bread lover you will be in heaven. Additionally, the bartender (who is very good looking) makes great cosmopolitans. The atmosphere is lively and vibrant which I really enjoy. I highly recommend Congress Street Norms!

    On a side note……..I never knew Ouiser was spelled O-u-i-s-e-r. I always thought it was Weeza.

  2. Brenda M says:

    I giggled when I read your Ouiser quote(love that movie…she makes it for me).

    PS. Am also supremely jealous of your ability to be able to go out to these places…there is nada here in Waterville 😦

  3. Cat Eldridge says:

    Bingas Wingas on Portland Street closed way back in November.

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