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Bintliff’s American Café – Portland, ME

I looked at some reviews and was really looking forward to Bintliff’s Brunch. The picture of the hash on Yelp.com brought me to the brink of orgasm. My friend liked what he saw, and wanted to split the hash and something sweet to balance it.

We split the hash and the Orange Graham French Toast. The french toast was interesting idea in theory, but I wasn’t excited by it, and unfortunately, the anticipation of the hash was better than the hash itself. It is true that it was made with corned beef, but as I suspected while eating the Lobster “hash” at the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse, the ingredients are supposed to be finely chopped (thanks, Wikipedia). This was more like corned beef and potatoes. I don’t know why I thought it was going to be any different, since I saw the picture and they delivered precisely the dish I’d ordered.

If the orange graham french toast was the only thing I had eaten on the menu, and I didn’t factor decor into my review, I would give Bintliff’s two stars. There’s so much more that can be done with the orange/graham cracker concept, but I got three pieces of bread with an orange slice for garnish. No whipped cream, no fruit on the side, no nothing. Just three pieces of bread.

On the hash; my first bite was far too peppery than I corned beef hash is supposed to be, and I put more pepper on everything. The corned beef itself was juicy and not overly salty after that initial unpleasant reaction. I am more of a fan of crispy home fries, and although it looked like that was what they were trying to do by the golden brown but moist sides of the potato, these just didn’t get me happy.

The one thing you won’t get any guff from me about is the size of the portions. They were sizable. There was enough french toast for two in that one order and the hash was ample and served with another huge slice of toast. You won’t leave hungry, which is a good thing because I think that’s the niche these types of establishments are supposed to fill.

As for sweet breakfasts that I do fancy, it looks to me like this place has gone downhill since I last went in 2003, because the French Toast I had there was over-the-top awesome. Chocolate, bananas, and fluffy baguette made for a great combination that I’d go back for more than once before I left DC. I would write a review of Bread & Chocolate, but my review would be skewed by time.

The saving grace of Bintliff’s American Cafe was the bite of Lobster Benedict my brother let me try. The only reason that I didn’t order it was because of the picture of the hash mentioned earlier (How could I possibly order two things called hash in a week and not get anything resembling hash? It boggles the mind). The Lobster Benedict – I tried to remake it this morning and I over-lemoned my Hollandaise (by the way, this is the new way to make Hollandaise) and I needed another lobster to really set it off. Of course, it was not as good as Bintliff’s. Had I bothered to read the reviews instead of leaving my eyes to do the ordering, I would have had the Lobster Benedict.

They have outdoor seating in the back, booths in a well-lit upstairs area make for a great brunch ambiance, and it looks like it’d be a decent place to bring a date (and not too expensive, either). I would try Bintliff’s again just to see if anything on their menu could match the Benedict.

As an aside, Bintliff’s is in a bit of a salty area of Portland, and the local flavor made an appearance and regaled my companions and I with a poem called “Mellon Street Wonder.” The poet wanted to recite for a fee, but we declined and offered to be an attentive audience; the story of the prostitute with “black AIDS in her ass” garnered smiles and applause from us all, which are priceless (if you believe the ads). I think our sincere appreciation meant more than a dollar twenty-five to him. Of course, I’m not homeless.

Plus one star.

Bintliff’s American Cafe
98 Portland St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-0005

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Tigerlover July 23, 2009, 5:34 pm

    There's nothing I hate more then being out to eat and having somebody come play the trumpet or sing or recite a poem. I'm there to eat. Not listen to somebody's crap!

  • HenryHottie July 23, 2009, 5:49 pm

    $1.25 means alot to a homeless person! He's half way to a 40!

  • Butterfly79 July 30, 2009, 4:48 am

    I don't mind listening to some music or something, if it's meant for the whole restaurant. It's when they actually come to your table and sing that I don't like.

  • Mally July 30, 2009, 5:00 am

    Yeah. I don't really like having that kind of crap going on while I'm eating either. It's a bit annoying.

  • SandyQ July 30, 2009, 5:24 am

    I wouldn't want to go and eat where any homeless people were visible. It would be to uncomfortable for me. I would have to give them a doggy bag of food.