Ed. note: 555 closed in April of 2020.
Again, because M.'s mom was in town, we got the chance to eat at some restaurants that we have had our eye on, but haven't made it to yet. His mom came bearing a travel magazine that featured Portland, Maine and its attractions and eateries. Five Fifty-Five was mentioned in the extensive eatery list that pretty much covered all the bases. And because I've never ventured into 555 (although walked by it many a time, since we live right down the street), we made a reservation.
I feel I must disclose that in walking by 555 many times, we've also checked out the menu many times. And then kept walking to Local 188. It wasn't that I disliked what I saw, it was just that I found myself saying, "Meh." The two reservations I had were that the menu was small and the prices high. Plus, nothing really grabbed me, made me go 'ooh!'
But maybe I was just thinking too hard about it- which is really easy to do with so many great restaurants in Portland- so I went in with an open mind.
To start, we ordered a cheese plate with two selections: Delice de Bourgogne from Burgundy, France and old Amsterdam aged Gouda from Amsterdam.
And, I mean, how can you go wrong? I was happy to try this great Gouda, as it wasn't smoked, and I'm not a big fan of anything smoked (except bacon). So we had one girl cheese and one boy cheese, as M likes stinky, gooey cheese... he didn't have to read past the menu description of 'triple creme' before he wanted it. And everyone loved the accompaniments, especially the berry jam and the Marcona almonds.
The next appetizer we ordered was "chips and fish," described as smoked and chilled Casco Bay cod, butter lettuce, fresh dug parsnip "chips," malt vinegar aioli, and curry oil. So I was picturing like a potato chip, but made from parsnips.
And as you can see, the fish was topped with something that reminded me of French's potato sticks and without any parsnip flavor. So maybe we were just confused, but everyone thought the dish would be better if it had bigger parsnip "chips." The fish was great, not overpoweringly smoked, but light and creamy.
As my entree, I had the grilled Caesar salad, since I've always meant to try grilling romaine. I opted for the white anchovies and liked them much better than the fat, really fishy ones available at Bonobo.
Pretty much everything about this salad rocked- the big curls of Parmesan, the crisp garlic croutons, and the really tangy dressing. I thought at first the salad had a little too much smoky flavor, from the grilled lettuce, but once I cut everything up and mixed it together, it melded wonderfully.
The service and atmosphere here were nice; our server was reserved, but attentive (I like me a sassy server), and I enjoyed the space's warm coppery light. But we probably won't be adding 555 to our 'short list' of frequented restaurants as I wasn't blown away for the price point.