One of the best known of Portland’s restaurants is Five Fifty-Five, a fine dining gastronomic experience in the burgeoning arts section of the city.
It’s men in jackets and women wearing their finest in the dark, two story space that’s handsome and refined while still being lively and loud. The Monster orders a glass of pinot noir while taking it all in.
Some may order the five course tasting menu, a perfect way to sample highlights from the kitchen. Given the day’s eating overload, the idea of that much food is an impossibility so The Monster must be more circumspect with his decisions.
Crostini with goat cheese and a local gooseberry is the amuse bouche. If it’s meant to show off the skill of the kitchen it’s the wrong call but to highlight fresh flavor it is a winner.
Bangs Island mussels with cherry peppers, golden garlic and chive butter is the starter. These are meaty bi-valves in a tasty broth. It’s a fine start to the meal.
The pepper-crusted New England scallops with whipped fennel-potatoes, butter glazed local summer beans and organic baby carrots-vanilla emulsion makes the grade as the main course. The freshness of the ingredients can’t be questioned. But overall, the meal registers as nice. As good. As satisfying.
A complimentary grasshopper bar, a cold twist on a mint patty, ends the evening’s dining.
The service is pleasant, the dishes listed appear interesting but in execution nothing engenders an explosion in the mouth, a revelatory experience in gastronomy. That’s fine, not every meal has to register as world-class.
The Monster thinks Five Fifty-Five suffers precisely because he can get this type of meal in Los Angeles. Part of the art of eating outside of one’s home is the epicurean delight of having what is not available within the borders of one’s town.
Why go? You don’t live in LA.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
555 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101