With just 20 seats in all (four of which are at the bar), Middle Street newcomer Bresca is one of Portland’s most coveted reservations—with good reason. Owner-chef Krista Kern, a former pastry chef for Guy Savoy in Paris and Las Vegas, strikes a rare balance between comfort and fine dining. Here, in the intimate mix-matched space strung up with old-time snapshots, one feels more like a dinner guest in Kern’s home than a restaurant patron. You’ll undoubtedly wonder how she does it all, as a one-woman show in the kitchen and with just two servers. “All” being lots of little Mediterranean-inspired bites, like her addictive fried Marcona almonds with lavender, chorizo and Gorgonzola-stuffed dates, and fennel salad with anchovy beignets. Kern’s delight in unusual ingredients and novel combinations shines through in bigger dishes like Tuscan black kale with pancetta and honey-glazed duck breast with Roman trading spices, poached nectarines, and mascarpone polenta. Frenchified daily desserts and a thoughtful wine list of rare but reasonably priced bottles from Italy, Spain, and Portugal also help make Bresca one of Maine’s most alluring dining experiences.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.