The Great Lost Bear on 540 Forest Avenue in Portland Maine will appeal to your senses. Your eyes will be captivated by the decor, your mind will be tested by the novel like size of the menu ( including a Bears load of local brews) and your taste buds will be tantalized by the all the deliciousness that they will experience. This is a place for foodies, families, hippies and college kids alike. Vegans, veg heads and meat eaters unite, I think anybody could find something they would enjoy on this menu.
The Great Lost Bear is located just minutes away from a number of schools and colleges in the Portland area, this helps to keep the place hopping at all hours. Parking can be a bit troublesome but if you take the time to drive around a bit, a spot can usually be found in the small lot beside the building or along the street. Once inside you will probably get lost yourself ( apparently just like the Great Bear ). The rooms are a little dark and dimly lit, some may call this romantic, some with bad eye site may consider it a safety hazard. There are many side rooms with a larger dining room and bar area to sit at and if you are lucky you may even get to sit underneath a dead animal head on the wall. After being seated, Simone and I ordered our drinks and got down to the task of looking through the extensive menu options. After much debate, we decided to start with some healthy sounding Teriyaki Grilled Mushrooms with house made Parmesan Peppercorn Dip, and the not so healthy Poutine with local Pineland Farms cheese curds that was being advertised on the specials board.
The appetizers arrived and I was completely blown away by how delicious they were. Lets start with the Pountine ( which I have become an expert on over the years). This was better then any I have ever had. The fries were drowned in a rich gravy but somehow remained super crispy. The cheese curds were sharp and fresh tasting in all their melted goodness. Most Poutines I've had, have been sprinkled with bland curds that have just been chunky and stringy with gravy poured over them. The Poutine from the Great Lost Bear is nothing like that. The cheese, the gravy and crispy fries cook and melt together after being baked in a casserole dish in the super hot oven. I think this was the biggest difference and it really works perfectly.I almost ordered a second helping.
Not to be outdone by Poutine, the Mushrooms were equally as delectable. A simple sweet Teriyaki glaze combined with the flavors of the Char broiler grill to make these Mushroom morsels addictive. The Parmesan Peppercorn dressing was the best I have ever had. It was thick, cheesy and had just enough bite from the black peppercorns. The Teriyaki Mushrooms and Dressing worked perfectly together . Again, I almost had to order more.
After over filling on appetizers it was on to the meal. Simone ordered an appetizer side of the Specka Spanikopita, a Greek pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese and seasonings. It was baked to a flaky golden brown crust and came out of the kitchen piping hot. I found it to be a little bland and needed some salt but Simone enjoyed and finished it completely.
For my entree I deiced to have the Thai Peanut Chicken Sandwich with a side of Red Beans and Rice. The chicken was grilled perfectly- moist and tender. The peanut sauce was good, not overly spicy but plenty of flavor. Much like the soanikopita, The red beans and rice were not as flavorful as I was expecting but a little dash of salt fixed that. Both the entrees were good but not as tasty as our appetizers and both of us agreed that we could have just kept eating the apps all night and skipped the actual meals.
Somehow we managed to find space for dessert. Although we debated having the Carrot Cake special we ultimately decided upon the Snickers chocolate pie. This was a great choice. The crust was perfect. Flaky and tender. The filling was a semi solid fudgey, deep, dark, milky, chocolate lovers wet dream. And the whipped cream and caramel sauce was the perfect way to top it all off.
The Great Lost Bear was as good as I hoped. The appetizers were the best I have ever had, The entrees although not as tasty as the appetizers were still good, and the dessert ( which the waitress told me wins awards) was a perfect rich and filling end to the night. I will definitely be back , especially for that Poutine. 4.5 stars for the Great Lost Bear.