Portland ME-this weekend
We're traveling from NYC to Portland tomorrow.
So far we're planning on dinner at Fore St (fri night), dinner at Five Fifty-Five (sat night), probably a lunch at Duck Fat and some breakfast/baked goods from Standard Baking Co.
I'm still torn about Becky's Diner. Some hounds seem to think it's great while others think it's nothing more than a tourist trap. Is there anyplace else for a great breakfast? Not looking for a buffet or anything like that. Just good comfort food to get us going in the morning.
And of course, like every other tourist, we're looking for the best lobster roll. I'm thinking about stopping at The Lobster Shack at Two Lights because the view looks amazing. But is the food any good? Or is just a touristy stop?
New England's Favorite Seafood Shacks by Elizabeth Bougerol claims that Red's Eats is the most famous. But is it worth the extra drive from Portland?
BTW, my BF cooks professionally and we're especially interested in places that use a lot of local/seasonal ingredients. Or ones that could be considered artisinal. A local cheese company recommendation would be fantastic.
One of the best restaurants I have ever been to anywhere is 98 provence in Ogonquet ME, which I suppose would be on your way to or back from Portland. The chef has a seasonal menu, though I wouldn't say it is overwhelmingly local in ingredients. But everything is exquisitely thought out and expertly executed. I drove my parents 80 minutes just to go to this restaurant when they came to visit in Boston. I would say its a can't miss if you are in the area. Here's the website. http://www.98provence.com/menu.htm (looks like they just switched to a summer menu).
I LOVE the Lobster Shack at Two Lights-- it seems to always be filled with a mix of tourists and locals. Great lobster rolls with giant hunks of lobster, etc. and, of course, the view!
Had a great meal at Vignola (http://www.vignolamaine.com) the last time I was in Portland, which should meet your BF's requirements for seasonal/local ingredients. The online menu looks different than when I was there, but I remember having delicious oysters and a great cheese course. The pizza was also great.
Sounds like you've done your research and will be eating well.
Becky's is not a "tourist trap". It's just an ordinary diner serving decent food and does not deserve the "raves" of some(one) on this list. Suggesting an alternative is tough though. Marcy's is a fun greasy-spoon type place. Also The Porthole has good breakfast and a waterside deck.
Two Lights is very touristy but the views are spectacular. Will likely be crowded. If you are searching for the "best" lobster roll you won't find it here.
Red's is famous for being famous; very over-hyped but very good. If you are driving out *just* to go to Red's and back I wouldn't face the traffic and lines.
Not a lobster shack but a great lobster roll can be found at Falmouth Sea Grill (Rte1a), Falmouth...just 10-15 minutes north of Portland. Farther, in So. Freeport, is Harasseeket Lunch, a true lobster shack (which can get very crowded at prime time).
If you'd like to drive farther I suggest Five Island Lobster past Georgetown north of Bath. Stop at Reid State Park for great beachcombing.
There is a new retail cheese shop that is getting raves. The Cheese Iron, in Scarborough might be worth checking out. www.thecheeseiron.com
My favorite Portland restaurant, and arguably the best seafood in town, is Street and Co. We've had mixed luck at Becky's, okay at breakfast, poor for other meals. A somewhat funky but great local place for breakfast is the Brealu Cafe at 428 Forest Ave. And, the Lobster Shack at Two Lights is the best place (setting and view), and good but not the best food.
I know Fore Street has not always recieved the greatest press here and at E-gullet (esp. since Gourmet ranked them as on the the top 20 spots in the US some years ago) but I have to say I have never been let down there at all. My first, and best, meal there was the day before I graduated college at Bates. Mom, my good friend and I went down and simply had our socks knocked off by the place. If you want to eat local I can't think of a better spot in Portland. Most everything comes from a 50 mile radius. It has been a while but I remember the shelfish stew (roasted in the wood hearth so it took on a great smokey complexity) and my firend's wood grilled bison, which she took down like a rabid beast, not that I blamed her at all, as standouts. While I love the diversity I get here in Chicago, I'm itching to get back to Portland for an eating trip as you just don't find cooking like Fore St.or Street and Co, for that matter in the mid west.