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#1 dinwiddie

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:37 PM

We spent a week in Portland ME this summer and had some very good meals.

One night we ate at 555. It was very nice, but the Grilled salad (greens with roasted peaches, bing cherrys, and pecans) was a little over sauced and the scallops were a little salty. However, the rest of the meal, mussels and a hanger steak, was excellent, the service very good, and the price not unreasonable. The restaurant itself is a pretty place and they were very friendly. The wine list was fun and fairly extensive. I was a little concerned when they brought the 2002 vintage of the Fess Parker PN I ordered when the 2001 was listed on the menu, but they were quick to point it out before I read the bottle and explained that they were out of the 2001. The last time I was in Portland, Abeurgene was in this space, but 555 is a pretty good replacement.

However, we had two better meals while there. My first choice would be Cinque Terre (right across from Street and Co)on Wharf Street. We had the 6 course tasting menu for $55. It started with oysters two ways (a Darmisgrotta raw and a Prince Edward Island fried) then crab and fresh peas risotto with white truffel oil. Next was the lobster tail with bread crumbs and basil oil. It was followed by a perfectly cooked hanger steak with chantrelle mushrooms. The next course was cheese, pecorina and toma with peanut jelly and an italian baggette. Last was the dessert, lemon grappa panna cotta and maple gelato with biscotta. Service was exceptional and the wine list, while all and only Italian wine, was very reasonably priced, very extensive and long, and very representative of Italy. They also had a nice selection by the glass. I had a 2000 Antinori Toscana Tignanello which was exceptionally well priced at $100.

Our other great meal was at Hugo's. A four course meal for $60. The food was excellent, very well presented (maybe a little over the top, but really pretty), and the service very good. I ordered two half bottles (a 2002 Daniel Dampt Cablis and a 1996 Chateau Meyney St. Estephe) since it was only the two of us. For our first courses I had Maine raised rabbit chartiterie with grainy mustand mousse, pistaschio, and celtic vinegar. My wife had the smoked shitake mushrooms and asparagus with capri pasta, milk foam and lily buds. The second course for her was the crispy skin loup de mer (rockfish this time) with artichoke en croute, basil seeks and warm olive oil panna cota. I had the honey mead glazed pork belly with sweet potato tot, tomatillo relish and ginger red pepper coulis. Third was the pan roasted tasmanian sea trout with fried fennel, pineapple salad and smoked trout roe. I had the Sous Vide duck breast and leg with golden beet, kola nut pudding and pickled plum. For dessert I had a superb Mita Cana Spanish sheeps milk cheese cake while my wife had the Maine rhubarb and pineapple with Greek yogert panna cotta and Thai basil. The plates may have looked skimpy, but we left stuffed. Very pretty place, but unless you want to sit in high bar type chairs, don't take a table in the window.

Another excellent meal was at the Roma Cafe on Congress Street. Excellent Italian food. We just walked in late (at about 9:30 and they stop serving at 10) but we were treated extremely well and the food was delish. Nice place, white linens and soft music, excellent service. I started with the fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes with roasted peppers, pesto and garlic crostini. It was out of this world. The pesto was some of the best I've had in a long time. My wife had the calamari and it was perfect. For entrees we had the pasta de mer, perfectly prepared and full of lots and lots of seafood (I got to eat the mussels since she doesn't like them) and a wonderful duck breast rubbed in jerk spices and served in pan juices. Very enjoyable but we felt guilty about keeping the staff there just for us as everyone else had finished and gone by the time we started our entrees.

I was at Fore Street a couple of years ago when I was in Portland on business. I had a great meal and the bread was wonderful. I liked the wine list too. I was eating by myself, but I got a nice table, the service was very good, and I was impressed by how well I was treated as a single diner. One funny, just before I finished my meal, a group of young women came in, a bridal party the day before the big event. They were looking at he wine list trying to figure out what they could afford. I had a bottle of a nice Panther Creek PN, and since there was about a glass left in the bottle and I didn't particularly want to carry it to the hotel, I offered the rest to the table saying I wasn't going to finish it and I didn't want it to go to waste. As I was leaving I heard on of the bridesmaids exclaim, "Do you see how much that bottle cost?!?" I thought it was reasonably priced but I guess they aren't into wine as much as I was. I hope they enjoyed it.



#2 Joe H

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:59 PM

Fore Street has been an annual stop for me for a number of years. It's very difficult to get a reservation at the last minute but they serve dinner at the bar. An outstanding restaurant which Saveur once called the best undiscovered restaurant in America.

#3 alisa7

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 03:44 PM

We will be taking our first trip to Maine next weekend and are looking for some good eats. We will be in Portland for one night, Kennebunkport for one night, and Ogunquit two nights. We will also be driving up through NH, so would love to go to Portsmoth for brunch or lunch. We are looking to eats lots of lobster and other typical regional cuisine. In Portland, we would just like to try a great restaurants, no specifications. Suggestions appreciated!

#4 Robert Rymarz

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 03:59 PM

We will be taking our first trip to Maine next weekend and are looking for some good eats. We will be in Portland for one night, Kennebunkport for one night, and Ogunquit two nights. We will also be driving up through NH, so would love to go to Portsmoth for brunch or lunch. We are looking to eats lots of lobster and other typical regional cuisine. In Portland, we would just like to try a great restaurants, no specifications. Suggestions appreciated!

Off the top of my head there is Hugos.
http://hugos.net/
And also Fore Street.
http://www.forestreet.biz/
Both are well regarded.

#5 Joe H

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:05 PM

We will be taking our first trip to Maine next weekend and are looking for some good eats. We will be in Portland for one night, Kennebunkport for one night, and Ogunquit two nights. We will also be driving up through NH, so would love to go to Portsmoth for brunch or lunch. We are looking to eats lots of lobster and other typical regional cuisine. In Portland, we would just like to try a great restaurants, no specifications. Suggestions appreciated!

Fore Street is one of the best restaurants in the United States: http://www.forestreet.biz/ Several years ago, in a cover feature, Saveur called it "the best undiscovered restaurant in America." Today it has been discovered. "In 2002, Fore Street was named Number 16 in Gourmet Magazine's Top Fifty Restaurants of the United States. In 2004, Chef-partner Sam Hayward was named Best Chef: Northeast by the James Beard Foundation." Make your reservation after you finish reading this; if you can't get in consider dinner at the bar.

#6 Camille-Beau

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 01:10 AM

I spent 2 weeks of May in Portland and was fortunate to be able to try several of the well-known restaurants in town. While Fore Street is a lovely restaurant with an open spit and wood-burning oven as the centerpiece, with only a couple of exceptions, the food was good, but not great and I dined there three times (once at the bar and twice in the dining room with colleagues.) The menu, which is modified daily, is divided into the following sections: Appetizers, Pan Seared, Wood Grilled, Turnspit Roasted, Wood Oven Roasted and Simmered, Vegetables and Sides.

There is an emphasis on seafood including scallops, mussels, oysters, calamari, skatewing, tuna and, while I was there, both shad roe and shad filet. Following the advice of shad aficionados, I ordered the filet which was roasted in the wood oven. The fish by itself was deliciously light and flaky. Unfortunately it was accompanied by a 'garlic bread stuffing' which was basically a mound of large, dry (and not very flavorful) bread cubes piled down the center of the filet that did not pair well with the fish. Oysters were merely OK and the wood grilled calamari was somewhat chewy, although it did have a nice smoky flavor and was served with spicy sauteed greens tossed in an herb vinaigrette that were very good. One exceptional dish was the 'house special' dry rubbed pork loin. The loin is spit-roasted and is tender & juicy with a nice spice crust on the outside. Sides were all really good: fiddleheads sauteed in butter with lemon and fresh herbs, roasted beets in a rosemary bacon cream sauce, broccolini tossed in a caper olive vinaigrette and -- my favorite -- duck fat roasted Maine girasoles. I will say that, along with the sides, the desserts are the highlight of dining at Fore Street. My favorite was a goat-cheese cheesecake served with a beet and orange sorbet. The beet lovers at the table (myself included) raved about the sorbet. It was pure beet flavor with a hint of the orange that made for an odd but very refreshing pairing to the light and tangy cheesecake. They also offer a trio of custards with the flavors changing frequently. The one time I ordered this dessert the flavors were chocolate, vanilla and banana. The combination included a dark chocolate pot-de-crème topped with caramel sauce, vanilla panna cotta and a banana crème bavaroise that tasted just like a ripe fresh banana. Another night the dessert listed a coffee crème brûlée in place of the banana.

Something worthy of note. The wood-burning oven is huge and the side wall of the oven extends into the back (side) dining room. Our party of 11 dined at a table along the side wall of the oven. The group with their backs to the wall were apparently very warm for the entire dinner but never mentioned it until we were leaving the restaurant. The gentlemen would not remove their jackets, primarily because one of the diners was Sir David McNee (former head of Scotland Yard), a proper Brit who wouldn't think of dining in his shirtsleeves ;) Something to keep in mind should you find yourself dining in the back room. All in all a good restaurant but in my humble opinion not necessarily the best in Portland.

Hugo's on the other hand, was complete perfection. On the last night in Portland, I dined with a colleague in the small, elegant candlelit room. We ordered the chef's 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings since the tasting menu offered all of the dishes (and more!) that we wanted to try from the a la carte selections. Every single dish was beautifully prepared and tasty from the tuna tartare, the fresh and light spring pea soup sitting in a bowl of aromatic herbs, the tempura morels and asparagus with each item carefully placed on a pool of fiddlehead gribiche, the olive oil poached salmon, the braised shortribs to the buffalo ricotta cheesecake and El Rey chocolate cake for dessert. You can see how his work at The Inn at Little Washington and the French Laundry have influenced his cooking (or vice versa perhaps). The wine pairings perfectly complemented each dish. Service was impeccable and I like that they keep a small dish of Malden salt on the table even though it wasn't needed. One funny incident - during the evening we heard a bell ding like the kind of bell you find at the front desk of a hotel. Immediately after hearing the bell, the FOH staff hurried to the kitchen. As they passed by, we heard one server quietly say to another "Oh no, it's the angry bell". When we asked him about that later, he laughed and said that when the bell rings, they need to get to the kitchen pronto as Chef is not happy about something. Too funny! At the end of dinner, we talked with Chef Evans for a few minutes, then left the restaurant around 10:15. It's worth noting that we were the very last patrons to leave -- on a Friday night! They really do roll up the sidewalks in most of Portland by 10pm.

Honorable mention: Hugo's has an informal panini restaurant called Duck Fat. I haven't tried it but the menu looks interesting with paninis, soup, salads and duck fat fries served with truffle ketchup or several kinds of mayo.

Good italian is easy to find in downtown Portland. Cinque Terre which has been suggested before and it's sister restaurant Vignola are both excellent. Vignola has the added bonus of being open every evening, 7 days a week, for dinner until midnight. Unheard of in Portland except for the countless bars and pubs you'll find all throughout the Old Port that seem to stay open until dawn. At Cinque Terre the dishes I recommend are the classic Vitello Tonnato with tuna aioli and crispy capers (yum!) and whatever the pasta special is that day. I was fortunate to have the lamb bolognese served over parsley fettuccini. The sauce was spicy and rich but not overly so and paired perfectly with the freshly-made pasta. My dining companion had the prosciutto with melon and fresh parmesan followed by the pansotti which was stuffed with veal, herbs, and ricotta in a sage/balsamic brown butter sauce. This was really good but very rich with just a little too much butter. Good for sharing though. The extensive Italian-only wine list is reasonably priced with the most expensive bottle at about $130 and many in the $30-$50 range. I would love to have this restaurant in DC.

Vignola is attached to Cinque Terre but faces a different street. (Skawinski also in charge here.) This place is usually busy right up to midnight with a lot of regulars sitting at the bar. The restaurant is not large but has a lot of character with exposed brick walls, high ceiling, hardwood floors and large windows for watching the people strolling along the cobblestone and brick streets of the Old Port. Vignola offers wines other than just Italian with all wines served in stemless Riedel. As with Cinque Terre, the prices are very reasonable and the selection, while not extensive, is very good. For the antipasti we tried the salumi plate (hot coppa, soprasotta and mortadella) and the speck which was served with crostini and a horseradish cream to die for. The server brought extra cream for the grilled flat iron steak that my colleague had for his main. The sides for the medium-rare steak included Maine white beans, sauteed chard and radicchio with pickled peppers and aged balsamic. This was really spicy!! The grilled misto included octopus, shrimp scallops and tuna and was served on top of arugula drizzled with olive oil and lemon. Everything was great but the octopus was definitely the best I've ever had. Tender, smoky, perfectly prepared. I would go back to Vignola just for that dish. No room for dessert so I can't make any recommendations there but they sounded good. Particularly the lemon panna cotta with blueberry sauce and bourbon cream.

Also dined once at 555 and am glad to see that they recently updated their website. Even though this restaurant isn't located in the Old Port as the others are, it's worth the few blocks walk (or cab ride) to try the cooking of Steve Corry, one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs for '07 (he's standing right behind Johnny Monis on the cover photo). Must try: the white asparagus and goat cheese soup and the venison carpaccio. The soup is deliciously tangy and creamy with a little crunch from the topping of crispy leeks. The carpaccio with the fried pickles and mustard aioli makes for a great start to the dinner. Follow that with the amazing peppercorn-crusted seared scallops on roasted fennel potato puree with a light drizzle of vanilla-butter sauce and you'll be very happy. These are outstanding scallops! Sweet and fresh with that lovely pepper crust... awesome. Very nice place that was once a firehouse. The kitchen is open and there is an upstairs balcony for extra seating (just like Cinque Terre).

Places not visted but on the list for the next time: Bar Lola. New place off the beaten path up on top of Munjoy Hill.

Ogunquit: If cost is not an issue, you might want to try Arrows

So the good news is that there are a lot of choices for good eats in Portland. The bad news is that you're only there for one night! Have a great trip and please do report back.

-Camille
"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" -- John Cleese

"And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ..."

#7 Camille-Beau

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:03 PM

If you like books on wine and cooking, checkout this new store: Rabelais and a story about Rabelais in the Portland Herald
"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" -- John Cleese

"And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ..."

#8 Skysplitter

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 10:21 PM

Thank you for all the suggestions. i will be sure to report back.

Wait! I didn't get to chime in yet ;)
Camille-Beau mentioned Duck Fat and I have been there twice. Last time I was home I pondered taking a drive up just to grab lunch there, along with walking around Portland. Their schtick is that they do their fries up in, yeup, duck fat. They also make outstandng beignets (uh, not in duck fat) and their sandwiches aren't half bad. It's not in the downtown area, but is easily walked to for lunch. Not quite having the budget for any of the big dollar places, my friends and I ended up at the Pepperclub whose menu tilts largely toward vegetarian and I recall having some of the best veggie lasagna ever from there.
I second Bintliff's in Portland for brunch and the Friendly Toast in Portsmouth. Bintliff's usually has an insane wait, but they serve you coffee as you wake up and mill about!

The good thing about being in Ogunquit is that you're close to all the other Southern Maine foodie places. Last I heard, Joshua's in Wells was serving up great food at a more affordable price point. Bonus points for being in Wells is a chance to get dessert at the Scoopdeck which is usually the reason I come home 5 pounds heavier. I still dream of their blueberry cheesecake ice cream and lemon merigue ice cream. Extremely glad to be going back there in another week! If you're a diner hound, there's one in Wells called The Maine Diner which I'm not the hugest fan of, however, their muffins rock.

Hope you enjoy your time up there, it's a beautiful time to head Down East :P

#9 MMM

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 04:24 PM

We passed through Portland twice for lunch two weeks ago. First time, ate at Duckfat and loved the fries and thought the panini were just fine. Rabelais book store is almost right across the street, and there's a great Italian market called Miccuci's on the corner that's worth a stop. Second lunch was at The Blue Spoon where we had the best fish chowder ever and an excellent house salad. I recommend it. Portland seems to have a surprising number of good places to eat!

#10 jiveturk21

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 03:19 PM

Heading to Portland in the middle of September for a three day weekend. We are going to spend one night in Rockland, mostly to check out Primo for dinner (The Reach of a Chef got to me), and then two more nights in Portland.

So, we obviously are set for Primo one night, but I am pulling my hair out trying to figure out where to go the other two nights. Granted, I shave my head and have no hair to pull out, but you get my drift.

One night, I am pretty sure, we are going to go to Street and Company for drinks and a nibble, then head around the corner to Cinque Terra for dinner. Street and Company has been HIGHLY recommended to me by everyone that I know, so I have to check it out, but the crowded restaurant and loud scene doesn't excite me too much for a full dinner. So, Cinque Terra for dinner seems like a natural fit. We may go nuts and go to Vignola afterwards for dessert or an after-dinner drink, but I doubt that I will get away with that!

So, for the other night, I am stuck deciding between 555, Hugo's and Fore Street. Someone mentioned Uffa to me as well, but I have that in the next tier for now unless someone can convince me otherwise.

I hate asking this, but...what do you guys think?

#11 Camille-Beau

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 09:37 PM

Can't go wrong with any of the three choices listed, but if I were facing that decision, I would choose Hugo's. You should at least stop by Fore Street for a drink or perhaps one of their excellent desserts -- also worthwhile just to see the space. Note that Street and Company is part of the same group that owns Fore Street.

Have a great trip!
"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" -- John Cleese

"And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ..."

#12 jiveturk21

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 01:03 PM

Maine has some pretty good food. It isn’t as simple as that really, but during our four days up there, I felt that we were able to find solid, sometimes spectacular, food for affordable prices and in an accessible setting (you can easily get reservations at these places). Maybe it was the time of year, the 22nd to 25th of September, but our trip up there was amazing.

I could go on for pages about the food that we had, so I will try to cut it a bit short, but I am longwinded, so it may be tough…

Primo
We went there on Saturday night, it was pretty much the reason why we went to Rockland at all. I am glad that we did though, the Limerock Inn (great scallion popovers on Sunday morning), where we stayed on Saturday night, was one of the best two or three bed and breakfasts I have ever stayed at. If you are ever there, grab the Turret Room, it was wonderful. The problem was, we liked the Limerock Inn more than Primo, funny how that works out sometimes.

Setting. 8:00 reservations at Primo. It was dark outside, so it was difficult to see the house as we got to the edge of town. It was a great looking house though, from what we could see, and the setting inside was nice and comforting, lots of separate rooms, not too loud even though every table was taken. The clientele was much older, most people were 50 or above, but I guess that is par for the course this time of year. We actually went back the next morning to walk around the grounds and check out the gardens and pigs and all that stuff, it was pretty cool, glad to see them do all of that on their own.

Service. It started out slow and never got to a point that we were comfortable with. Our waiter was nice enough, but he was absent a lot. We got the menus right away, but we ordered before dinner drinks and they arrived a good 20 to 25 minutes after we ordered them, with our appetizers and bottle of wine, all at the same time! Pacing between appetizers and dinner was good, but between dinner and dessert was an eternity. We constantly tried to get the waiter’s attention, or anyone’s attention, but it was no use. The service here was the worst, by far, we had on our entire trip. For a place of this caliber, honestly, it was unacceptable.

Drinks and other things. Our before dinner drinks, the Apertivo (prosecco, cherry liqueur and macerated cherries) and the French Revolution (champagne, chambord and raspberries) were both OK, they could have used more fruit flavors. The amuse bouche, a saffron risotto fritter with stewed tomatoes, was a throw away. I mean, it really could have been thrown away, it was bad. The bread basket was wonderful, too bad we had no idea what each type of bread was. When the waiter brings out a bread basket with three types of breads, don’t you think that he would tell you what is in there? Well, he didn’t. And, when we asked another waitress when she happened to walk by, she said she didn’t know what each type of bread was. Anyway, the bread was great, but the olive oil served with it was gross. To be honest, it tasted just like vegetable oil. It was so bad that we asked for butter instead, which of course never was brought to our table. The wine was good though, maybe a bit pricey, but a nice Spanish blend of Grenache, Carignon and Cabernet.

You know what, after writing that last paragraph, I think that I may have been overselling Primo the past few weeks, it had a lot of weak points.

Appetizers. The first appetizer was nice, a good Serrano ham with cantaloupe, arugula, honeycomb and a hard Italian cheese. It was a generous portion and every single ingredient was wonderful. Our other appetizer was a porkbelly marinated in sambuca with some apples. I like the taste components, but the execution was a bit off. The porkbelly was a bit tough and I kept finding seeds and stems in my apples, but once you got around those parts, it was a good dish. Overall, a good start.

Entrees. Red snapper with fennel, tangerines, black olives and faro was a big hit, I liked everything about it. The snapper was cooked a bit too long for my taste, but that was likely just my taste. The rabbit dish came with peas, greenbeans, turnips and carrots. I loved the vegetables and sauce in this dish, but the rabbit was a bit off. It was good, but not great. Overall, a bit disappointed in the entrees, the appetizers were better. And, they really read better on the menu than they were on the plate.

Desserts. Best part of the meal and I rarely say that. There was a chocolate bundito cake with cinnamon ice cream and a salty nut brittle, good mix of sweet and salty, I liked it a lot. The cake was rich, but small, so it wasn’t overwhelming. We also got a vanilla float/milkshake concoction with some great chocolate chip cookies, wonderful dessert. Add these to the candied oranges and the passion fruit marshmallows that they gave with the bill and you had a great end to the meal.

Overall. Sometimes I set my expectations too high and then I get disappointed. I definitely had high expectations for Primo, but I was disappointed at our visit not because of these expectations, but because our experience wasn’t all that great. Listen, the place is cool, it is awesome what they do there, but it did not translate to a great meal. Places like this shouldn’t have service issues like we experienced and I shouldn’t find stems and seeds in my apples and I shouldn’t have to ask for butter because the olive oil is bad. Hey, it was a nice experience, but I drove 90 miles from Portland to go there and even stayed overnight in Rockland to eat here, and it definitely wasn’t worth that. At least I found a great B&B after all was said and done.

Street and Company
Drinks and appetizers on Sunday night, this is where we ended up and I am glad that we did! It was tough picking between all of the places in Portland, so we had drinks and appetizers at one place and dinner and dessert at another place each night, not a bad way to do it.

Setting. The bar is dark, but it is very inviting, lots of candlelight. Not much more to say about the setting, it was nice, understated and had the feel of a place you wanted to be at. Younger clientele, but it really ranged from young to old.

Service. Perfect. Mark was our bartender, he has been there for seven years, ever since the bar opened there. We were the only people at the bar, out of 25 people or so, that he didn’t know by name. But, even though we were only there for an hour or so, he knew more about us than most people would ever care to know, and definitely knew our names. I like that, makes you feel at home, but it wasn’t overbearing.

Drinks. To be honest, we had two glasses of wine each, but I don’t remember what they were. They were good though, all four were recommended by Mark, he was pretty much right on. One note, they don’t have a cocktail list. They have all the liquor you could ever want, but they don’t make any specialty cocktails. I kind of like that too. Oh yeah, they do make a homemade limoncello there, which I got to taste for free. If you can get it for free, take it, if not, don’t pay for it. I liked the fact that it wasn’t syrupy, but the flavor wasn’t very good, average at best.

Food. We had half a dozen oysters from Maine, they were very good. And, I suck, I have no idea what they were called. But, as good as those oysters were, the tastes were much better. They had seven on the menu that night and we had four of them, all were perfect. I gravitated to the local apple bread pudding with gorgonzola cream. Right up my alley, perfect mix between sweet and salty, great flavor from the cheese, I loved the creativity with it, perfect dish. My friend liked the finocchiona with dried cherries in port the best. I liked it to, but I would have preferred fresh cherries over the dried ones, I never prefer dried fruit if fresh can be used. The gorgonzola and bacon stuffed dates were good, but will never compare to the version at Komi. The strong cheese crostini with strawberry mostrada was another favorite of mine, they used the ends of all the cheeses they serve in the restaurant and mix it with wine and olive oil to make the cheese spread. Not a bad idea at all.

Overall. We were there for only an hour, but I loved everything about this place and got a sense of its soul in that short time. Not everything was perfect, it rarely is, but it was a top notch restaurant, it would be great in any city in this country.

Cinque Terre
Dinner on Sunday night, but this is getting long, so we will get right into it…

Setting. Cute restaurant, right on a street with a whole bunch of other cute restaurants. I liked the two levels, made good use of the space, we sat on the top floor and had a good view of everything. I know that they are necessary, but it seemed like they had a hell of a lot of poles on the second floor to keep the ceiling up. I am no architect, but it seemed like too many, it actually took away from the appeal some. It was a nice place though, very relaxing, perfectly comfortable.

Service. I have not had service this good since I was at Komi back in April. It is completely different, our waitress Maria was the only one that helped us all night, but she was a perfect blend of experience, knowledge and personality. She helped us with anything that we needed, made sure to pace everything as we wanted and she definitely was rewarded at the end of the night.

Drinks. We got a bottle of wine, but I definitely do not remember what it was other than the fact that it was a red from Italy. I do remember, however, that they had a pretty good wine list that was very reasonable, something for everyone.

Food. They have a short menu, but it covers the full spectrum of what you would want. They serve their pasta by the half order, which more places should do by the way, so we had a half order of all the five pastas on the menu. The risotto, saffron based with braised short ribs, was the best, one of the better risottos that I have had this year. It was rich, but not overbearing, perfectly cooked rice, we loved it. I also have to give a big thumbs up to the crispy polenta with braising greens, salami and gorgonzola, as well as the rigatoni with lamb bolognese (the lamb was local), radicchio and aged balsamic. Both of these dishes were great, dishes that would hold up well at Dino (my favorite Italian place in our city). I also loved the hand cut fettucine with porcini brodo and truffles, what a wonderful mushroomy dish! The only miss, and it was just average, not bad, was the trenette with local green broad beans, potato, pesto and parmigiano reggiano. I never liked the potato with pasta combination, but this dish fell short on flavor, that was what was wrong with it.

Overall. I want this place to open up down the street from me in Fairfax. It had a creative and well balanced menu, perfect for drinks at the bar, casual dinners or a nice night out on the town. It didn’t take itself too seriously, a great attribute, and just felt right. If you go to Street and Company and Cinque Terre on one night in Portland, you are in for a big treat.

DuckFat
Lunch on Monday, we didn’t have a lot, so I will keep it very short, to make up for my verbosity throughout.

Nice place, dead at 12:30 PM on Monday, which surprised me. The fries, as everyone has said, are amazing. I still like Poste’s the best, but I would consider these better versions than Blue Duck Tavern. The curry mayo was wonderful, but they were out of the truffle ketchup (I almost cried on the spot). A salad of roasted beets, orange segments, goat cheese and greens was perfectly dressed, perfect ratio of ingredients, perfect salad. We also got a lemon verbena soda, they make five or six of them homemade, and it was refreshing. I never drink soda, so it was a nice change for me.

Overall, it was a great lunch place, but I am kind of glad that it isn’t across the street from my office or I wouldn’t be able to fit into my pants. Actually, I strike that comment, bring it on, I can always buy bigger pants.

555
One of the toughest choices we had to make when choosing restaurants was whether to go to 555 or Hugo’s. Luckily for us, Hugo’s made that decision for us, being closed on Sunday and Monday night, so we headed over to 555 on Monday night for drinks and an appetizer. It may have been better if Hugo’s was open.

Setting. The best thing about 555 was the restaurant itself, cool space in an interesting location. I am guessing that they suffer from not being in the Old Port area because, even though it was a Monday night, we were the only ones there at 6:00 PM. That is a bit disheartening.

Service. We sat at the bar, so we had the bartender’s undivided attention. He was a good server, he was there when we needed him and not overbearing, but I like a bit more personality from my bartender. The difference between him and Mark at Street and Company was like night and day, Mark will bring hordes of people back to his bar, while the bartender at 555 will leave no impression whatsoever.

Drinks. Ugh. We decided to go after two cocktails to start, but their list read a million times better than it tasted. I had a Maine blueberry mojito and my date had stone fruit sangria. The mojito was blue, but had no blueberry flavor, and the stone fruit sangria was sent back and replaced with a glass of Viognier from Argentina. I am picky about my sangria, because I think that I make the best, but this shouldn’t have been served. Also, these were our second choice cocktails, we ordered two others, no clue what they were, but they were out of key ingredients. Maybe we missed out on two great ones, but the cocktail list fell flat for us.

Food. While the drinks were bad, the one appetizer that we had made up for it. I had lobster each day we were in Maine, generally lobster rolls at roadside stands, but the best lobster that I had was the knuckle sandwich at 555. It was a butter poached lobster, very generous portion, with fried green tomatoes, an avocado aioli and zucchini pickles. I loved this dish, made our experience at the restaurant much better.

Overall. Good, but not great. There are a plethora of great restaurants in Portland and we tried to hit them all, not too easy to do. But, if I were you, I would pass on 555 and make sure that you go to…

Fore Street
I actually was trying to stay away from Fore Street, I tend to get burned by restaurants that Gourmet rates as one of the best in the country, but I am ecstatic that we ended up there on Monday night for dinner.

Setting. It reminded me a bit of Street and Company, which makes sense because they are owned by the same people, but it was a bit classier and had a good vibe to it, a lot of life. We got there early, maybe 30 minutes because we were hungry, but unlike every other restaurant that we had been to on our trip, this place was packed. We still got seated right at our reservation time, but there was no doubt that this was a popular place, especially for a Monday night. The best part of the restaurant, the kitchen is practically in the middle of the floor, so you can see what they are doing from all over the seating area. We happened to be seated closest to the chef doing salads and some cold appetizers, pretty cool to watch.

Service. We had solid service all around, both from the waitress at the bar and our waiter at our table. They knew everything, could have used more personality, but I would place the knowledge over the personality any day. These guys work hard and they are on their game, good mix of professional and casual.

Drinks. Just like Street and Company, there was not a cocktail list, but they had a good wine list. We grabbed some seats in the crowded bar and started to drink a bottle of wine. No, I don’t remember what it was, it was reasonably priced though, I can tell you that.

Food. The menu is seafood heavy and creative. Not foam creative, but some different types of fish and interesting side dish choices. We started with a pizza (wood oven) that had lobster and portobello mushrooms along with rocket and some comte, it was awesome. Crispy and chewy crust, great toppings that were in a good ratio to the crust, all around a wonderful starter. For dinner we shared the flounder filet from Rhode Island, it came with roasted eggplant, sweet peppers, basil, red wine vinegar and spicy brown butter. What can I say? It was, simply, the best fish dish that I have had all year. Sweet, sour, salty, spicy, great texture, it is everything that you want in a dish. And, yes, I am surprised that I am saying that about flounder. I liken it to me having butter in Paris for the first time, I was like, “So, this is what butter is supposed to taste like.” Amazing fish. But, it didn’t outshine the side dish that we had, a simple salad of organic garden tomatoes with basil, sea salt and olive oil. While it was simple, it was extraordinary. There were seven different kind of tomatoes on the plate, all of them were perfectly ripe and delicious. Again, like the fish, it was the best tomatoes that I had all year. We were stuffed at this point, but we had to try dessert, since Fore Street is known to put out some good ones. We had the warm peach tarte tatin with black plum sorbet and caramel sauce. It was the perfect way the end the meal, buttery without being too heavy, sugary without being too sweet.

Overall. Easily the best food we had on our trip, hands down.

Other Notes
1. Quick conclusion from above, Fore Street is the best restaurant in Portland, there is little doubt in my mind on that, I wouldn’t miss it if you were in the city. Cinque Terre and Street and Company hold their own, wonderful places that I would frequent again. 555 is still good, but won’t be getting a return visit from me. And, surprisingly, Primo was a disappointment, I can’t say it was worse than 555 because we didn’t eat much at 555, but it fell behind the other places in Portland without much of a fight.
2. I had lobster rolls at the Brunswick Diner (named best lobster roll by The Today Show), Spragues (we wanted to go to Red’s Eats, but the line was 90 minutes long) and Harraseeket Lunch. I liked the atmosphere at Harraseeket a lot, but the roll at the Bruswick Diner was better, bigger and $3.00 less. I will say that the whoopee pie we had at Harraseeket, the first I have ever had, was heavenly. Don’t bother with Spragues, there is a reason why the line at Red’s was so long while there was no one across the street at Spragues.
3. For all the accolades I have about the Limerock Inn, I felt the opposite about our bed and breakfast in Portland, the Inn at Park Spring. The owners were nice and the breakfasts were pretty good, but our accommodations stunk, literally. Not in a great location and definitely not worth the money, it was a below average lodging choice.
4. The Higgins Beach Store, closed right now until the spring, had amazing homemade raspberry filled cookies. We got some on the way to the beach and stopped on the way back to pick up some more.
5. Gifford’s Ice Cream is all over the place, try to black raspberry. It doesn’t have any sugar or fat, not why I got it, but it was damn good.
6. Camden is the most beautiful city that we visited without question, when I buy a summer home, you will probably find me there. We went on a schooner trip, the Surprise, and we loved it.

#13 Joe H

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:18 PM

Fore Street has been an annual stop for me for a number of years. It's very difficult to get a reservation at the last minute but they serve dinner at the bar. An outstanding restaurant which Saveur once called the best undiscovered restaurant in America.

Thank you for trying Fore Street. It is one of the best restaurants in America and considered locally as such.

#14 Joe H

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 08:38 PM

"Hellburger" does not serve french fries. It is no secret that many believe that a hamburger is "incomplete" without french fries to accompany it. Yet, Michael has-for whatever reason-excluded fried potatoes from his menu in his now legendary burger establishment just north of Rosslyn . I grew up with Thrasher's on the lower end of the Boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. I have also been fortunate to travel on business to Belgium as well as Spokane and sample the best french fries that both Europe and North America have to offer. I note Belgium because of the acceptance of the superiority of Belgium fries and the accompanying flavored mayonnaises; I note Spokane because Dick's Drive In is the only place on the face of the Earth (yes, the Earth!) that has the original pre 1967 McDonald's french fries (fried in 70% animal fat)(I met the, then, 85 year old owner and spent several hours over a couple of glasses of wine with him!). I mention Thrasher's because I know the owners (Buddy Jenkins and Mike Jones-who live, breathe and love Ocean City and also refuse to believe that anyone on the FACE OF THE EARTH make a french fry that approach theirs' on the lower end of the Boardwalk!) and their passion rivals Michael's! I should also introduce here Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City who fry their potatoes in lard and could not ignore Benny's on the Maine Avenue wharf who in the '50's also fried their potatoes in lard which is what I grew up with.

All of these pale to duck fat.

Even Hot Doug's in Chicago, celebrated orgasmically by Anthony Bourdain, offers duck fat fried french fries on Friday and Saturday.

But a restaurant called "Duckfat"- a serious restaurant owned by the man who just won the James Beard award for the northeastern United States as best Chef for his restaurant, Hugo's-beating out everyone in Boston, Providence, etc.-makes duckfat fried french fries in Portland, Maine. AND HE HAS A SIGN IN THE WINDOW THAT SAYS-AND I QUOTE-"the best french fries on earth." I ate them late night. God, are they good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...........................they really may be the best I've had.

Michael Landrum should have these at his french fry free Hellburger. Michael, who makes what may be the best hamburger in America could make duckfat fried french fries to match. They would help justify the wait. Enough of Route 11 potato chips. Now, finally, the grand accompaniment to the hamburger of our dreams: the french fries of our dreams. Fried in duck fat.

Duckfat in Arlington. Hellburger's duckfat. (Has a ring to it, eh?)

Portland today: this has rapidly become one of America's most exciting destinations for the food obsessed public. Fore Street was recently nominated for the Beard Award as the best restaurant in America (the chef is a former winner of the regional award which means he beat out everyone in Boston, etc.); the chef/owner of Hugo's won the Beard regional award one month ago. Duckfat is outstanding and there are a number of superb ice cream/breweries and local outlets for Maine grown and raised food that I believe allow this city to challenge Charleston for best mid size town in America for dining out. I should also note that Duckfat probably has as good of paninis as I have ever had along unbelievably delicious $5.00 bowls of soup (yesterday: tomato and fennel cream) which are the exact same soups served at Hugo's.

Michael?

#15 MC Horoscope

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 07:58 PM

Those fries at Duck Fat in Portland were great when we were there last Wednesday! We liked their panini sandwiches even better. Thanks for the lead! Raze would do well to serve such frites too.

This was the second time we've been to Red's Eats in Wiscasset. They still have great lobster rolls, but we were surprised by how good their fried clams were. The batter was unlike anything else we had in Maine and the Maritime provinces. A savory beignet batter, like I had growing up in Cajun land. Kind of hard to describe. Melt in the mouth!

Do you smell veal and peppers? - - David Letterman


#16 Toogs

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 12:19 PM

Too bad I didn't notice this thread earlier. I just got back from Maine. I was out in the woods, but picked up supplies in Portland. If you are ever there on a Wednesday, the farmer's market is amazing. At least twice the size of Silver Spring or Greenbelt, which are two of the larger ones I have experienced around here. Amazing produce. Three or four pork vendors, a couple with lamb. Several chicken farmers too. The veg was about half the price of SS too (although SS is the most overpriced market around).

Portland has a Saturday market too, in a different part of the city. I get the feeling it's the same folks but I am not certain.

#17 leleboo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 09:57 AM

1) Portland, ME and the surrounding area - incredible food scene in Portland, ME!

Understatement of the year -- I miss it soooo much. ;)

(Need to get back and write it up...)

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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#18 JimRice

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 10:46 AM

We just got back from Portland, Maine. We thought about doing some of the fine-dining spots (Fore, Hugo's, Duck Fat) but decided we wanted lobster, lobster rolls, and seafood. We ended up eating at one old favorite, one new favorite, and one that I wouldn't eat at again.

Our old favorite is the Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth. All of the food we've eaten there has been excellent. If you order fried clams, they shuck the clams right then, flour them, and fry them. The lobster roll is the one that we usually use as our yardstick to measure others by. I thought it had too much mayonnaise, but Barbara liked it. Downside is no beer or wine.

J's Oyster, recently featured on Tony Bourdain's No Reservations, was excellent as well. Lobster Steamer dinner was $24, with 1 1/4 lb lobster and a dozen steamer clams. Clams were unfortunately gritty, but the lobster was perfect. The combo seafood cocktail comes with two oysters on the half shell, two raw scallops, some shrimp and crab meat. The oysters were from the James River in Virginia! The scallop was buttery and sweet. I have had scallop sushi before, but didn't think about it this way with cocktail sauce. Barbara's Seafood Scampi had several large chuncks of lobster, scallop, and shrimp. The pasta was a little overcooked, but not bad.

Now, the place I wouldn't go to again: Portland Lobster Co. Barbara and I went in, ordered our dinner, went to the bar to get my beer, then headed to a picnic table on the water. I had ordered a 1 1/2 lb lobster, Barbara ordered a lobster roll. The lobster-shaped beeper went off three minutes after we sat down, saying our food was ready. I was sure it was a mistake, but no. The only way they could have managed this is by keeping pre-cooked lobsters in back and warming them up. (See cooking times for lobster here.) The meat was tougher and stuck to the shell in a few places, making removal difficult. Barbara's lobster roll had several large piece of claw meat but no dressing of any kind. It was disappointing that our last lobster here was like this. I could have insisted that they take the lobster back, but then I had no idea if they would just wait 20 minutes then give me the same one. The baked potato was sad and old too.

Maine is also a great place to drink beer; I recommend Three Dollar Deweys in the Old Port area for local beers. I wanted to go to Great Lost Bear because of their four cask-conditioned ales but we didn't get up there this time.

My hovercraft is full of eels.
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Overheard at Clyde's: "Cantaloupe? It's like the banana of the melon family!"


#19 Charles Geer

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 10:17 AM

If you love lobster, one option is to go to a seafood distributor ("lobster pound") like Bayley's in Pine Point or one of the places down on the wharf off Commerical St. in Portland and buy them fresh. Or even better to call up and order them cooked just before you arrive to pick them up. The cost for cooking is minimal, maybe $.50 per lobster. Right now hard-shells are $4.99 per lb. for smaller lobsters, about 1 1/4 lb, and $5.99 per lb for 1 1/2 and larger. My wife thinks you get more meat in the hard shells but the soft shells are sweeter. Same lobster just different times of the year. She won't get a lobster larger than 2 lbs because she believes the big old boys get tough.

Someone mentioned J's Oyster. I intended to try that out last week because I read that oysters were about $1 each which sounded like a good deal to me. But when I called they said they didn't have mignonette sauce, just the red cocktail sauce. I prefer the mignonette which is just a simple mixture of vinegar, shallots, and pepper. The red sauce is fine for shrimp but it drowns out the taste of raw oysters for me.

#20 LustyPalate

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:31 PM

My boyfriend & I will be going to Hallowell, Maine (about 40 miles NE of Portland on 95) for this 4th of July & then to Moosehead Lake on our way to Quebec City.

Any recommendations for these areas?

[ETA: If you do have Quebec recs, please post them over here!]

Edited by leleboo, 29 June 2010 - 12:40 PM.


#21 MMM

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 08:31 AM

My boyfriend & I will be going to Hallowell, Maine (about 40 miles NE of Portland on 95) for this 4th of July & then to Moosehead Lake on our way to Quebec City.

Any recommendations for these areas?

[ETA: If you do have Quebec recs, please post them over here!]

http://www.cafedebangkokme.com/ If you like Thai food, this place, the Cafe de Bangkok (despite the name and unpromising look from the outside) is surprisingly good. We have eaten lunch here several times and find the food authentic and tasty. It is right on the river at the south end of Hallowell.

#22 LustyPalate

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 12:37 PM

http://www.cafedebangkokme.com/ If you like Thai food, this place, the Cafe de Bangkok (despite the name and unpromising look from the outside) is surprisingly good. We have eaten lunch here several times and find the food authentic and tasty. It is right on the river at the south end of Hallowell.

Great, Thank You!! Was beginning to feel like perhaps no one else had been to Hallowell before. Now if I could only get some new recommendations for Quebec City.

#23 leleboo

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 01:03 PM

Great, Thank You!! Was beginning to feel like perhaps no one else had been to Hallowell before. Now if I could only get some new recommendations for Quebec City.

Actually I lived in southern Maine for three years, and have been asking all my friends who are life-long Mainers, to no avail. Apparently, not too many folks head to Hallowell to dine! :)

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
------
Leigh


#24 Toogs

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:13 AM

Someone tell me what one place to go in Portland for a nice-ish dinner.

I don't need some quintessential Maine experience; I have gone there nearly every summer of my life. But I discovered the awesomeness that is the Portland farmer's market last year, so I want to hit it on the way into the woods, and grab a nice late lunch or early dinner while I am in town.

#25 leleboo

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:29 AM

Someone tell me what one place to go in Portland for a nice-ish dinner.

I don't need some quintessential Maine experience; I have gone there nearly every summer of my life. But I discovered the awesomeness that is the Portland farmer's market last year, so I want to hit it on the way into the woods, and grab a nice late lunch or early dinner while I am in town.

Five Fifty-Five.

(I can give you three more but you said one. :) )

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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Leigh


#26 Toogs

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:31 AM

Well I will take more, I might have time for another meal on the way back. Oh, and no place that needs a jacket and tie or anything like that. I'm going to the woods, and packing light. I can't see bringing a set of dress clothes for one meal.

#27 leleboo

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:35 AM

Well I will take more, I might have time for another meal on the way back.

Caiola's
Bresca
The Front Room

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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#28 jiveturk21

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:45 PM

I would definitely go to Fore Street, it was the best place that we went to three summers ago when our ong weekend also included stops at Street and Company, Cinque Terre and 555.

#29 leleboo

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:51 PM

I would definitely go to Fore Street

For sure, Fore Street and Hugo's are the preeminent dining destinations in Portland. I happen to prefer 555 slightly, and the other places are a bit smaller and more chef-oriented and funky. :) Really, Portland has a shockingly high awesome-restaurant-per-capita index.

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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#30 Marty L.

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 11:13 AM

Really, Portland has a shockingly high awesome-restaurant-per-capita index.

You got that right. Were that DC had, for instance, even one of the many places in Portland where one can find a fabulous breakfast.

And you're absolutely right about Caiola's. I've only been once, but it seemed to me to be the ideal neighborhood restaurant. Too bad that when I lived next door to the building 20 years ago it wasn't there (although the West End was -- and it was no slouch, either).

#31 ghostrider

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 03:21 PM

My boyfriend & I will be going to Hallowell, Maine (about 40 miles NE of Portland on 95) for this 4th of July & then to Moosehead Lake on our way to Quebec City.

Any recommendations for these areas?

[ETA: If you do have Quebec recs, please post them over here!]

Actually I lived in southern Maine for three years, and have been asking all my friends who are life-long Mainers, to no avail. Apparently, not too many folks head to Hallowell to dine! :)

Dang I wish I'd popped in here earlier! There's actually some good food in Hallowell, as well as some good shopping - artsy craftsy stuff, & a GREAT used bookstore. Not Portland-quality food, but pleasant & fun.

My wife is from Augusta, & Hallowell is the next town "down river," as the natives say, from the Capitol. Been there often. Has some of the best food in the Augusta area. (Augusta itself is a wasteland, food-wise, so that's not really saying much.)

For future ref - Slate's is the place to start. They were wrecked by a terrible fire a few years back & finally reopened last year. Delightful place, great decor, decent food; dining there always lifts my spirits.

Hattie's Chowder House has more plain, basic American style food, & usually some good fresh fish.

Both are right on Hallowell's little main street on the bank of the Kennebec, you can't miss the street or the restaurants.

Cafe Bangkok above was a good rec. Odd but a nice change to find decent Thai food in that spot.

A few miles further down river, in the town of Gardiner, is the A-1 Diner, which is reputed to have THE best food in the Greater Augsta region. Unfortunately we've never managed to be in the area when the place was open - we've tried at least 3 times - so I can't vouch. Someday, maybe.

We're gonna be in Portland next week, one night, before heading up the coast. Probably won't get to any of the serious food places but who knows. We tried to get in to Cinque Terre a couple of times w/o reservations but the wait was too long. I don't plan ahead too well. We've had some good meals at Katahdin, which has moved since we were last there. I won't be surprised if we find ourselves checking out their new digs.

I wonder where Lusty Palate wound up.

#32 clayrae

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 05:05 PM

Very good friends live in Hallowell and I have spent many vacations there.

Slates is excellent, as well as the Slates bakery next door.
Go to the Liberal Cup for house brewed beer- and make sure you get a cup of delicious beer cheese soup.
Boynton's Market is a real throwback to the old fashioned corner store, and they make a good Italian (if you are into that kind of thing.)
The A-1 diner is great too, and check out the high water markers behind the trailer!


Hallowell is a really beautiful little town, the kind of place that I think Takoma Park could be if Takoma Park had restaurants you wanted to eat at, a good coffee shop, a brew pub, and some local shops and used bookstores that sold things you wanted/needed.
Maybe one day...

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#33 leleboo

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 05:14 PM

[Thanks for these updates, ghostrider and clayrae. I happen to have a young cousin here this weekend, who is a born-and-bred Portlander, and he's going to help me figure out where Hallowell actually belongs geographically ... we may make a new category for Augusta and environs. Keep an eye out!]

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
------
Leigh


#34 Toogs

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 08:09 PM

Ugh, on both ends of my trip, planes trains and automobiles (and relatives) kept me out of the restaurants. I did have fantastic steamers at The Rusty Scupper in Freeport (sorry Leleboo--I go back once or twice a year so your suggestions WILL be used!)

#35 ghostrider

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 12:20 AM

Very good friends live in Hallowell and I have spent many vacations there.

Slates is excellent, as well as the Slates bakery next door.
Go to the Liberal Cup for house brewed beer- and make sure you get a cup of delicious beer cheese soup.
Boynton's Market is a real throwback to the old fashioned corner store, and they make a good Italian (if you are into that kind of thing.)
The A-1 diner is great too, and check out the high water markers behind the trailer!


Hallowell is a really beautiful little town, the kind of place that I think Takoma Park could be if Takoma Park had restaurants you wanted to eat at, a good coffee shop, a brew pub, and some local shops and used bookstores that sold things you wanted/needed.
Maybe one day...

I forgot about Liberal Cup since I'm not much of a bar guy. Always looks like folks are having a good time there.

Forgot Boynton's too, & you are right about their Italians. I've had a couple, classic stuff. Really nice to take 'em down to those picnic tables by the Kennebec & watch the river flow.

[Thanks for these updates, ghostrider and clayrae. I happen to have a young cousin here this weekend, who is a born-and-bred Portlander, and he's going to help me figure out where Hallowell actually belongs geographically ... we may make a new category for Augusta and environs. Keep an eye out!]

Hallowell is, literally, next door to Augusta, it's a 2-minute drive from the state capitol building. We've probably covered Augusta & environs in this short space. Sadly not a lot there foodishly. There's a good fried seafood joint in Augusta, you're getting mostly frozen stuff there but it's local (Maine shrimp, god I love them) & good. There's also a nice fishmonger but you need a kitchen.

Now if you want to talk Midcoast around Bath-Brunswick, that's the other Maine turf I know, & there are a few more options. That's where we're headed for a week after our night in Portland. We've returned to that area annually for 35 years, it never pales, it's like our second home :)

#36 Joe H

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 08:03 AM

From a post of mine a year ago: Portland today: this has rapidly become one of America's most exciting destinations for the food obsessed public. Fore Street was recently nominated for the Beard Award as the best restaurant in America (the chef is a former winner of the regional award which means he beat out everyone in Boston, etc.); the chef/owner of Hugo's won the Beard regional award one month ago. Duckfat is outstanding and there are a number of superb ice cream/breweries and local outlets for Maine grown and raised food that I believe allow this city to challenge Charleston for best mid size town in America for dining out. I should also note that Duckfat probably has as good of paninis as I have ever had along unbelievably delicious $5.00 bowls of soup (yesterday: tomato and fennel cream) which are the exact same soups served at Hugo's.

Duckfat has the best french fries I have ever had. This includes Vleminckx in Amsterdam, Chez Leon in Brussels, Hot Doug's in Chicago, Dick's in Spokane (McDonald's original fries from pre 1967) and Thrasher's on the lower end of Ocean City's boardwalk. They even have a sign in the window announcing "the world's best french fries." It is an honest sign.

One negative: the place is known. At 3:00 on a weekday afternoon every seat was still taken with a short line at the door. Worth the wait and effort.

#37 kirite

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 08:06 PM

What's the best fish restaurant in Portland, ME? I'm not looking for a lobster place, but a restaurant that specializes in fins.

#38 jiveturk21

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 05:19 PM

What's the best fish restaurant in Portland, ME? I'm not looking for a lobster place, but a restaurant that specializes in fins.

Fore Street, not even that close.

#39 kirite

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 07:48 PM

Fore Street, not even that close.

How recently have you dined there? FWIW, recent reviews on Trip Advisor have not been very positive.

#40 Joe H

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 09:46 PM

I return to Fore Street in two weeks for the seventh time in the last ten or so years. Last time was spring of '10. With Fore Street having been nonminated for the national Beard award as one of the best restaurants in the United States last year I cannot imagine it has changed since my last visit. Opinions on Trip Adviser? Well, the last three which are critical are each the only post that the writer has made. I have no idea what a reference point might be for each of them. For myself based on the last decade I love this place.

#41 kirite

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 08:29 PM

I return to Fore Street in two weeks for the seventh time in the last ten or so years. Last time was spring of '10. With Fore Street having been nonminated for the national Beard award as one of the best restaurants in the United States last year I cannot imagine it has changed since my last visit. Opinions on Trip Adviser? Well, the last three which are critical are each the only post that the writer has made. I have no idea what a reference point might be for each of them. For myself based on the last decade I love this place.

How was Fore Street this time?

#42 Joe H

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 09:06 PM

How was Fore Street this time?

Wednesday night....

....lunch at Duckfat.

#43 johnb

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 09:57 AM

Opinions on Trip Adviser? Well, the last three which are critical are each the only post that the writer has made. I have no idea what a reference point might be for each of them. For myself based on the last decade I love this place.

Three successive first-time posts, all critical, sounds like somebody had a grudge, or maybe a competitor is up to no good.

IMO Trip Advisor is generally so unreliable that it can be safely disregarded. Worse than Yelp.

#44 Joe H

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:49 PM

Last night Fore Street was superb-as always.

#45 kirite

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 08:11 PM

Last night Fore Street was superb-as always.

Would love to know what you ordered.

#46 Joe H

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 05:51 AM

mesclun with foie gras dressing, sweetbreads, oven roasted mussels, two different salads, oysters, ribeye, hake, "Pekin Duck" (correct spelling-it was where the duck was sourced), carrot cake...vegetables are separate orders-we had four with cauliflower, parsnips, carrots and garlic mashed potatoes. Tasted everything. Sweetbreads (tasted like fried oysters, rib eye ($39 and worth it a la carte), cauliflower were best. One salad had house candied rhubarb which was delicious. Another specialty was wood oven roasted foie gras which we did not have.

#47 kirite

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 10:48 PM

mesclun with foie gras dressing, sweetbreads, oven roasted mussels, two different salads, oysters, ribeye, hake, "Pekin Duck" (correct spelling-it was where the duck was sourced), carrot cake...vegetables are separate orders-we had four with cauliflower, parsnips, carrots and garlic mashed potatoes. Tasted everything. Sweetbreads (tasted like fried oysters, rib eye ($39 and worth it a la carte), cauliflower were best. One salad had house candied rhubarb which was delicious. Another specialty was wood oven roasted foie gras which we did not have.

Thanks. I am looking forward to Fore Street!

#48 kirite

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 05:37 PM

Does anyone have recommendations other than Fore Street? We'll be in Portland on a Saturday evening in August. We prefer surf to turf.

#49 Marty L.

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:41 PM

Does anyone have recommendations other than Fore Street? We'll be in Portland on a Saturday evening in August. We prefer surf to turf.

Can highly recommend Street & Co. and Caiola's. Have also heard great things about Bresca, and very good reports about Paciarino and Petite Madeline.

#50 Marty L.

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:47 PM

Can highly recommend Street & Co. and Caiola's. Have also heard great things about Bresca, and very good reports about Paciarino and Petite Madeline.

Oh, and the new Greek place, Emilitsa, is reported to have fabulous seafood.





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