Portland Fine Dining Over Xmas
I am coming to Portland from Toronto during Xmas and want to splurge. Price is no object, I want a tasting menu with as many courses as possible plus wine pairings. Where should I go? What is open? It would need to be on the 26th or 27th.
Your best bet for a tasting menu in downtown Portland is Hugo's on Middle Street. Chef Rob Evans has been named one of top young chefs in the US by Food and Wine and has a long list of accolades (including a stint at French Laundry). They do chef's tasting menus with wine pairings if you call in advance. I did their 10 course Maine Potato tasting (with wine pairings) a couple of weeks ago and I must say it was fantastic. It cost about $120 per without tax or gratuity. If you are willing to leave the Portland area, there is always the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk or Arrow's in Ogunquit. His food is definitely modern American and you can probably expect foams, savory ice creams, sous vide and techinques like that.
Hugo's is exactly what you are looking for. Make sure that Rob will be there that night and ask that he prepare the Chef's Tasting for you. Be prepared to spend a few hours over dinner. You will be in heaven. You should call well ahead to get the Chef's Tasting menu.
This links to the Chef's Tasting menu:
Visiting from Toronto, huh? What a wonderful dining city. I got married there on Valentine's Day, and we had our wedding dinner in the private back room at Susur. It was the best dining experience I have ever had -- exquisite service, wonderful Chinese fusion tasting menu, expertly paired wines. Worth every penny.
I would say that Hugo's is the Portland restaurant that best suits what you are after, regarding a tasting menu and wine pairing experience. However, I personally find Hugo's to be overpriced and pretentious, and the portions are miniscule even for a tasting menu. To be fair, I haven't been in over a year.
Cinque Terra also offers a tasting menu. In my experience there, the service is wonderful but the food isn't quite as sophisticated as I would expect for the price. If you're interested in Italian, it may be worth a shot.
Five Fifty-Five offers food the caliber of what you are looking for, and the menu is designed for a dinner of three or four courses. However, I don't believe they offer a chef's tasting menu. This used to be my favorite restaurant in Portland before a couple of problems with service, from one waiter in particular. There used to be a server there named Bonnie who was excellent at pairing wines, but she has unfortunately left. Here is my review: http://eatmeportland.com/blog/article....
Regarding the previously suggested Fore Street, many folks love it and hold it as the best restaurant in Portland. I am not among them. Mediocre food. Unbelievably bad service. http://www.eatmeportland.com/blog/art...
Just my opinions, but I hope they are helpful. Sorry I don't have a home run suggestion for you.