Restaurant Choices in Portland, ME
My husband and I are celebrating our 4th anniversary this Saturday in Portland. We live in Boston, but we're spending the night at a hotel in Portland. I am torn between two restaurants, Five fifty-five or Hugo's. What are your thoughts? For a special (and hopefully romantic) dinner is one better than the other??
Thanks for your help!!
You'll love Portland, great city. To really add to your trip - take a 15 minute ferry ride over to Peaks Island and have lunch or a great breakfast at Cockeyed Gull - check to make sure they're open - they are really awesome and you'll enjoy the view of Portland from there.
I think Hugo's is the better choice really, between the two--has a very fine reputation here and elsewhere (was mentioned in this month's Saveur Magazine, in the feature on shrimp--just saw it today). 555 is pleasant, but I'm mixed about that place. I think Hugo's is more special. Have you considered other options? Cinque Terre is excellent, in my opinion, and I think you could probably request a nice table for the occasion. Fore Street is excellent, too, but very noisy and can't call it romantic, though it has a lively, pleasant, warm, kind of "glowing" atmosphere. Back Bay Grill is nice, too. More traditional decor, very tasteful. Haven't been there in a while, but it is enjoyable, with high quality food, and its quiet--could be considered romantic, if you had the right table. Anyway, these are my two cents.
I am not sure one is necessarily better than the other but they are certainly different restaurants. Hugo's is exceptionally detailed and fussed over food. The food is definitely incredible and the portions are definitely small, but the experience at Hugo's is all about the food and the amazing and eclectic tastes that you will have there. The decor, for the most part, is an afterthought and there is a good chance that you will be there with only a few other guests.
555 is a touch more lively and the food is a bit more traditional ( which does not say much as the food at Hugo's is decidedly untraditional). I have always had incredible meals at 555 but they do not have the same attention to detail and the same exotic ingredients as Hugo's. However, I feel it would be easier to get lost in the crowd and have a romantic dinner at 555 than Hugo's.
In the end I suppose it really depends on your preferences.
Good luck and you will certainly have a good meal at either place.