Quelle Surprise!

When in Presque Isle, do as the Presque Islians do: eat at Cafe Sorpreso. Chances are, you'll find yourself wishing you had a place like this in your neighborhood. Even if you live in Portland.

Surprised? Don't be. There are actually a few phenomenal restaurants in the County (you can read about them in our dining guide), but the European feel of this one sets it apart.

Co-owners Jan and Roger Lucas came here from England, while their business partners, Clifton and Judy Boudman, have spent years serving lavish meals at their upscale Rum Rapids Inn in nearby Crouseville. Together, the couples have created a chic yet welcoming venue in the heart of downtown Presque Isle. The dining room is open and airy, the white walls accented with large-scale prints by Clifton Boudman, an art professor at UMPI. A cozy leather sofa and chairs fills one storefront nook, beckoning patrons to people-watch on Presque Isle's Main Street. The other nook houses a small, private table — perfect for date night.

And though the atmosphere is lovely, the real draw here is the food. At lunchtime, you can't beat Sorpreso's gourmet paninis and homemade soups — selections vary, but the menu could include a rich mushroom soup and a Roast Chicken with Charmoula Mayo, Caramelized Onion and Provolone sandwich. All day long, the prices are incredibly low.

For dinner, the filet mignon is outstanding -- one of the best we've had, anywhere. Because all of the food is fresh, much of it local, the menu changes often, and it's always a treat to see what's new. During a recent visit, we had a hard time choosing between Pork Tenderloin Medallions with an Apple Cream Sauce, Spaghetti Arrabiata with pork and veal meatballs, and the pan-seared scallops with tarragon and white wine. Three of us opted for the filet, while the fourth chose the pork. We started the meal with a salad of butter lettuce, goat cheese and a maple vinaigrette; warm Brie with mango chutney; and steamed mussels. Everything was made in-house, and nothing failed to impress.

The only disappointment was that Judy's legendary almond cheesecake with almond crust wasn't on the menu. We had it last fall and are still dreaming about it.

But we'll be back — no surprise there.

415 Main Street
Presque Isle, Maine
(207) 764-1854‎

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