Bangor’s Fiddlehead Restaurant delivers big flavors

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My original plan was to graze my way through dinner by nibbling appetizers or choosing small plates at a handful of restaurants in Bangor, Brewer, and Orono. Based on recommendations from locals, my possibilities included a pulled-pork app at Fiddlehead; fish tacos at Luna; perhaps a return visit to Market Bistro, where I’d had a fabulous lunch; maybe sushi at Yoshi in Brewer; ending with something sweet and Greek at Market Cafe in Old Town or a housemade dessert at Thistle’s, an old reliable in Bangor.

Within minutes of sitting down in The Fiddlehead Restaurant‘s small,  inviting—if a bit loud—dining area, I abandoned that plan. One taste of the pork, and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere else. My sources had it right: More than one proclaimed this Bangor’s best restaurant. It’s casual, yet the service is spot on; the food is creative, yet it’s rooted in solid technique and the familiar.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that co-owner Laura Albin, who manages the front of the house, knows her wines and readily shares her knowledge. The restaurant, adjacent to Bangor Wine & Cheese, aims to introduce diners to lesser known wines and vintners. I ordered a glass of vouvray, but I have to tell ya, the signature nonalcoholic cucumber-mint lemonade also caught my eye.

Back to the menu. While the pork came highly recommended by more than one person, I was challenged by the possibilities: The sweet & savory stilton waffles and the laksa noodle soup also caught my eye and piqued my tastebuds, as did the feta and watermelon salad, and I hadn’t even flipped to the entrée side, where the usuals took unusual twists.

Still, I stuck with that adobo-spiced pulled pork served on a tortilla with avocado relish and house slaw, and I wasn’t disappointed. But I was overwhelmed. This appetizer was entree sized. Figuring I needed something green to round out my meal, I ordered the grilled romaine with Stilton, roasted garlic vinaigrette, herb-roasted tomatoes, and apple cider reduction, and in European style, ended my meal with it, letting the nice mix of flavors linger on my tongue before heading back to Orono’s comfy Black Bear Inn and calling it a night, after enjoying one of the inn’s chocolate chip cookies as a nightcap.

Note: Since I visited, co-owner Chef Melissa Chaiken has changed the menu, as she does quarterly.  So don’t go looking for that pork, but do go. And do make reservations.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I notice there aren’t any prices listed on the online menu–how much damage is this place going to do to my dining out budget (including a cocktail of course)?

  2. During my visit last month, small plates (salads, lobster spring rolls, that pulled pork tortilla; from my experience, these are generous servings) ran $5-10, entrees ran $13 (burer) to $21 (ribeye). My wine was around $9/glass.

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