There are many things in this world that I love. At the tippy top of this list are Maine and Mexican food. Last weekend, Mom needed some help getting the ducks in order at her home on Drake's Island....(haha...just realized how funny that sounded)...so I was a very willing assistant. It's been a while since I've been able to visit....the working hours for a retail shop owner are long...and I rarely am able to get away for a weekend. Needless to say...(insert happy face here). Mom shares my madness for Mexican and had told me about Pedro's before. This was my choice for our first dinner of the weekend. If the top photo didn't already have you salivating...better grab a napkin now.
Don't say I didn't warn you. Ok--on to the show. The decor at Pedro's is just plain fun. Yeah...you expect bright colors splashed everywhere at most Mexican restaurants...but...sombreros on the ceiling? A super cute touch that my hat-loving self appreciated. There is a rather large bar area as well, something you really don't encounter that often in Maine...and something that will serve Pedro's well, I think. Hubster and I are BIG bar-eaters and always like it when we have that option when dining out.
The margarita offerings were fresh, fun and inventive. The "La Saracita" (pictured above) was the perfect mix of Milagro Rep, Patron Citronge, fresh orange and lime juices and just a splash of housemade sour. Perfectly made. Additional options include the Pedro's take on the ubiquitous "skinny" margarita...except THIS one actually tastes good and is made from Milagro Silver, agave nectar and fresh lime. See? Easy to create your own skinny drink!!! But--I digress. Their "El Pepino" includes Hornitos Plata, muddled cucumber, fresh lime and agave nectar; the "Margarita en Fuego" is a delightfully wicked 3 chile infused little number...just the right amount of heat. Their featured special margarita of the evening was a Strawberry Hibiscus...a touch too sweet for ME...but would really make strawberry margarita sippers silly.
I judge MANY a Mexican restaurant by the quality of their guac and salsa...if THOSE are well-made, the rest of the menu usually is too. So...we chose the guac and the nachos grande (without any add-ons of meat options including chipotle braised pork, chicken, grilled steak, roasted corn or beans) as our prelude to Pedro's. The nachos (pic above) were NOT of the heavy melted cheese-laden ilk. With just a little salsa fresca, guac, fresh jalapenos, and chipotle crema...with some queso fresca scattered prettily on top, these were a SUPERB and light interpretation of the standard. Excellent.
The entree options were equally excellent. My Chicken Tinga Tacos were nothing short of extraordinary. Stay tuned for my replication of these in the Fare Test Kitchen. On the advice of our server, i also ordered the Queso Fundido, which I was told is a House Specialty. Here, I got my gobs of melty cheese daily requirement and then some. Was wishing the house made sausage packed a touch more heat, but I do understand that a lot of places like this must take ALL palates into consideration..and on that front, the dish delivered. Mom's Chile Relleno met with her approval as well. I was stuffed like a burrito at this point, but inquired about dessert options nevertheless. They offered the cinnamon-spiced Churros, as well as a coconut panna cotta and a dense Mexican chocolate cake, spiked with Mexican cinnamon. I took a pass on dessert this time and enjoyed the sweetness of the strawberry hibiscus margarita to satisfy my dessert craving...THIS time. Honestly, I just think I was so tired from the drive up that I was afraid I would end up face down in my panna cotta. NOT a good look.
If you find yourself fortunate enough to be headed up to Kport...and you dig Mexican...Pedro's does not disappoint. I would have been perfectly thrilled dining at Pedro's for the remainder of the weekend. Verdad.
Winners: Chicken Tinga Tacos, La Saracita Margarita, Nachos
Just Missed: Guac (wanted a touch more spice), Strawberry Hibiscus Margarita (wanted a touch less sweet)
Scratches: NONE to report.
Often, when it's not yet the busy bustle of track season, Hubster and I will venture to points unknown...in search of a great new restaurant to sample. This past Saturday, we did just that. On the recommendation of one of my wine representatives, whose opinion I trust, we meandered down to Red Hook, New York to try Mercato. Unsure of how long it would take us to get there, we arrived a touch early before they began service. A short stroll away, we discovered Flatiron and bellied up to their beautiful bar to enjoy a cocktail before dinner at Mercato. We almost never left! Their concoction of Tito's vodka with pink peppercorn infused simple syrup and lemonade was the ideal sipper for the hot and sunny day. (Definitely going there to try their menu next time) But...we were there to try Mercato this day and strolled back to the eatery. Warmly greeted by Brooke, we were escorted to our table. This is a homey sort of place, for sure. No fancy floors or central air here...no. But, it does have a vibe to it that made me absolutely know that I was about to enjoy food prepared from the soul. Our server was aware of our interest and expertise in wine and left the list for me to peruse at leisure. As I expected, the list is very heavy on Italian offerings...which is just marvelous with me. I ADORE cool, esoteric Italians. Hell...I even married one. Sure...there was a Pinot Grigio listed...but I was delighted to find Falanghina...Greco di Tufo...Pecorino...Gavi..Fiano..not to mention 4 delightful rosato options. The reds were equally thoughtful. Yes, yes, they had Chianti..but Sagrantino? Teroldego? Cannonau? I knew if they paid as much attention to detail with their food as they do with their wine offerings, I would be one very happy customer. Since we were taking our time deciding on our food, I went ahead and ordered a bottle of rosato. I have a passion for dry pink wines and preach my passion to all who will listen, or at least pretend to. So...a nice chilled rosato on a warm and sunny day was perfection. We decided on the Spinetta Sangiovese Rosato. With its salmon pink hue and a bouquet of apricot and red fruits, this was a wine that I knew would complement our entire meal, no matter what dishes we decided upon.
In order to get the most representation from the menu, we chose 2 antipasti, a primi, and a secondi. Begininning with the Coach Farm Goat and Pecorino Gnudi over a Kale Puree. This was heavenly...the pillowy texture of the gnudi and the slight tang from the goat cheese coupled with the slight bitterness of the kale puree was the perfect foil for the wine, as I suspected it would be. In fact, this was my favorite dish of the evening. We continued with one of the evening's special starters...prosciutto wrapped asparagus with egg, truffle emulsion and parmesan shavings. I do admit that I am a card carrying truffle fanatic. The earthy and salty flavors...with both crunchy and silken textures was perfectly balanced. A great dish and one that I will be attempting to replicate in my own kitchen very soon.
Continuing with our Primi...Rigatoncini Carbonara with Egg, Guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon), Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano. I find it difficult to find places that actually prepare their pasta al dente. "To the tooth" should be exactly that. Here...it was. Many people might have found the texture of this pasta to be a little too al dente, but in fact, it was truly what "al dente" should be. Another pet peeve of mine is overly sauced pasta preparations. Once again, I was pleased when the pasta was the star of this dish, not being overwhelmed by excess sauce. Do not misunderstand...i love a good sauce as much as the next girl...probably more...but the pasta is not meant to SWIM in sauce...it is meant to merely take a quick dip in the shallow end. This dish spent the appropriate time in the pool.
We moved on to the Branzino. While the fish was expertly prepared, the side was a bit disappointing. The parsley potatoes seemed like an afterthought really. While al dente is my preferred pasta preparation...it's NOT preferable for my potato. Also, a decided lack of seasoning on the potatoes hurt my foodster feelings. Certainly not representative of the meal, so perhaps it was just a mea culpa. Had the Gnudi been served on the side, I would have turned culinary cartwheels.
To finish..we chose a dessert on the lighter side. I love Panna Cotta in all forms. This was airy, light, and accompanied by macerated sour cherries. Nice. With a nice little glass of Moscato d'Asti (the REAL stuff...from Piedmont...you know...with acidity and flavor??), the Panna Cotta was a great finish to an almost flawless meal. In the mood to take a little day trip? Mercato is worth the drive...and then some.