15 Exchange Street Bistro (15 Exchange Grille)
Located at the address as the name suggests, 15 Exchange Street Bistro is now in the space Walter's Restaurant moved out of. Three weeks ago we landed there for dinner; it was a bad decision that my stomach will keep me from repeating. The place was dreadful on all accounts: the drinks, the food, and the service.
For an appetizer, I went with the Grecian Calamari salad which was - without any exaggeration - unpalatable. Raw baby spinach topped with cheese, olives, and the most repulsive squid mantles I have ever been faced with. They were supposedly sauteed, but I would call them steamed without seasoning or care. To join the uneatable salad was an overcooked, and under-seared, half of a duck breast. It was garnished with a rogue orange (no orange in the dish) and drowned in a salty jeus. There was no surprise from the kitchen that the salad went back whole, and judging by the unfolding meal there was no alternative that would be better.
For the main courses, we had their steak and lamb dishes. The steak was under-seared as well, so I will call it boiled in its own juices, served with pathetic potatoes and a confetti of peppers. The only redeeming aspect of the plate were the vegetables; not that they were good - they were just not bad. The leg of lamb dish appeared to be the leftover chunks from lunch, heated in a bath of gravy, and unappetizingly gamey. In all, the dishes were reminiscent of a budget hotel's restaurant kitchen.
The bar tender was actually nice and engaging, the problem was lack of professionalism. It may have been the hours he spent working - or the burden of knowing the food was repulsive - that made him simply unpolished and more cavalier than necessary. The house mixed drinks shared similar characteristics, in that they were overly boozy and lacking refinement. As far as the rest of the staff, largely inattentive. The kitchen seemed to be lead by a rugby player - judging by the uniform - moving much but producing little. At least their work was reduced by the thaw & serve Oreo brand cakes served for dessert.
Perhaps they will change over time, but 15 Exchange Street Bistro has so many technical challenges that I dot see how the business can turn around. I doubt I will return and urge others to do the same; my $100 evening was a complete waste. I would have had more respect for 15 Exchange Bistro it closed the doors and addressed the staff issues. Instead, they chose to work their employees ragged, stitch a dysfunctional kitchen brigade, and serve the worst meal in Portland, Maine.
- Tags: Bistro