March 12, 2014

Restaurant Week at Hot Suppa

Maine Restaurant Week 2014 ended on Sunday, and I made it out to one participating restaurant during the 10-day promotion. I initially was excited to revisit restaurants I don't normally frequent like Five fifty-five and Petite Jacqueline or visit a place I've never been like The Good Table. That is, until the rubber met the road, and I looked at the prices of said restaurants. 

The prices of MRW have crept up over the years, making the mid-priced restaurants not necessarily a bargain at $35 for 3 courses. Or rather, maybe it is a bargain for that particular restaurant (ie ordering the same thing off the regular menu would cost more), but I could easily spend $35 on an appetizer and an entree off the regular menu and be just as happy. 

So I considered the $25 restaurants, most of them bars like Sebago and RiRa or other casual spots like El Rayo and Buck's Naked BBQ. Hot Suppa jumped out at me as a place that I don't frequent for dinner. I've enjoyed their brunch and happy hour before and love their hot catfish dish and burger for dinner. The food there is always excellent, and they really shine when cooking up Cajun classics. 

I chose a lovely fennel, pickled red onions, grapefruit, arugula salad as my starter, but the clear winner was the grit fries with pimento cheese (I mean, duh). My second course was a roasted pork chop with a sweet mustard sauce over grits with roasted parsnips and carrots. Other entree options were Szechuan shrimp over salad or a bacon-wrapped meatloaf over mashed sweet potatoes. 

Everyone in my party enjoyed their food and drinks, but felt we would have been better served by ordering off the regular menu. None of the Restaurant Week menu dishes are on the regular menu and are more typical fare than you'd usually find at Hot Suppa. Maybe the special menu was designed to attract non-Cajun food lovers? (I don't know if those people exist, but maybe?) 

I would have enjoyed Hot Suppa's Restaurant Week promotion more if they offered a menu that was Cajun-themed, whether composed of items regularly offered in the restaurant or not. I think that's where Hot Suppa excels and while the we enjoyed food was good, it wasn't anything extraordinary. And several of the regular menu items at Hot Suppa are. 

Restaurant Week is a promotion that participating restaurants have to pay to participate in, and I'd like to think that restaurants want to show off on their featured menus so as to attract new customers. Hot Suppa must have been taking a different approach by serving these safer menu items, but in doing so, I think they missed an opportunity to shine. 

Buttermilk pie with blueberry sauce