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Portland area restaurant for mixed crowd

OK--here's a question for you all. A friend called me tonight for advice because she knows I'm into food and I know the restaurant scene in Portland somewhat well. But I'm a little stumped with this one. She has family coming into town this weekend from various parts of the country: some of them are "strict" vegetarians (eating no seafood) and the others want the traditonal steamed lobster Maine dinner. Where is one place you'd go for all that? They are not looking for gourmet fare--pasta, good salads, etc. for the vegetarian faction would suffice, as long as the others could get their lobsters. I didn't know what to tell her. She was asking about suggestions in the Old Port as well as surrounding areas (S. Portland, Scarborough, and as far south as Kennebunkport; Peakes Island or other islands; then northern areas like Falmouth,Yarmouth, Freeport), They'd like to be sitting on the water, at a marina, or something like that to have a "Maine experience". What came to mind for me was Arundel Wharf in Kennebunkport, for the experience of sitting out on the dock and a varied menu. I also thought of the Lobster Shack in Cape Eliz., but I wasn't sure the vegetarians would find anything on the menu. When I have out of town guests visiting, I cook lobsters at home and tend not to go out to a restaurant for them. So, I feel ill equipped to advise her on this one. Any ideas?

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  1. Hi liveforfood..
    I will be in Portland next week and I can't wait to dine in your great city..
    I was told Sebago Brewery was a great place..I love seafood!
    Anyway, Windows on the Water in Kennebunk has a 5 course gourmet lunch and they have vegeterarian and it looks wonderful.
    It gets rave reviews.

    1. Broad Arrow Tavern in Freeport. Does not have views but is comfortable and fun resto inside the Harraseeket Inn. Extremely varied menu focused on local meats/seafood/produce

      menu at www.harraseeketinn.com

      1. Saltwater Grille, in South Portland. It's right on the water overlooking the Portland skyline--great sunset view. It's one of my usual haunts with company. www.saltwatergrille.com.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mainegal

          I would second this. It's a lovely setting and they have great salads for the vegetarians.

          1. re: sciencediet

            Yeah, Saltwater Grille is not fabulous, but it's serviceable food-wise. The view and atmosphere are really nice, and they can accommodate a wide range of tastes. So that'd be my recommendation, too.

        2. Would second Windows on Water for lunch -- they have a great $15 lunch special that can't be beat. Also Federal Jack's in Kennebunkport has outdoor seating, as well as indoor seating with view of river. Food is pretty basic but do have hummos sandwich, salads, chowder, lobster, etc. We also love Arundel's Wharf for outdoor seating and great views. Food there is good, but not great. Think dinner menu is a little pricey for quality of food, lunch is more reasonable. A little more upscale is Pier 77 in Cape Porpoise (a village area of Kennebunkport), best view of all, overlooks lovely harbor. Downstairs they have pub fare at reasonable prices in restaurant called the Ramp. Harbor area in Cape Porpoise is postcard perfect, a little out of the way, but really a beautiful spot, not overrun with tourists. Website is http://www.pier77restaurant.com/

          1. That is a tough one. Most places that serve up boiled lobster (lobster bake style) don't do much else well. Whereas most Portland-area restaurants that serve up inspiring cusine tend to offer vegetarian options, but they don't do whole boiled lobsters. Wonder if the lobster crowd is willing to just have a lobster dish? Best I can come up with is Joe's Boathouse in SoPo: www.joesboathouse.com

            2 Replies
            1. re: CandyGirl13

              Trouble with Joe's is the acoustics. It's near to impossible to carry on conversation because of the din.

              1. re: Mainegal

                Very true. The place is best if you sit on the deck.

            2. DiMillo's is your best bet. Very good food, very large selections, plenty of free parking in the old port, and the prices are not bad all considered. Enjoy

              9 Replies
              1. re: irwin

                DiMillo's is your worst bet. There are no vegetarian selections so rule them out. The place is a tourist trap serving up horrific food at high prices. Avoid at all costs.

                1. re: mjp81

                  Though it may seem implausible, Dimillo's is actually worse than how it was portrayed above by mjp81. How anyone could recommend it is beyond me.

                  1. re: ejohnson

                    Agree completely -- stay away from DiMillo's!

                      1. re: irwin

                        No need to apolagize Irwin - DiMillo's is what it is. Its easy to dismiss DiMillo's, but at the same time its a terrible mistake to do so. DiMillo's is the Hilltop Steakhouse of New England Seafood restaurants. Go out on the deck, order the crabcakes and a bowl of haddock chowder and find a reason to complain - it can't be done. DiMillo's haddock chowder is the best in town, and that includes J's, the Chowder House, and the new chowder place Morrison's.

                        DiMillo's isn't Street & Company, but it doesn't pretend to be. It pains me to see it trashed when there are things that they do very, very well.

                        1. re: Keefer Lucas

                          I have no regrets dissing Dimillo's
                          I have never had the chowder so I can't comment on that. The deck for drinks is great in the summer, but there are other places with better staff and better drinks.
                          It's true Dimillo's is not trying to be Street and Co, however, it is more expensive than Street and Co. and there is no way you could even begin to compare the service or food. There are at least a dozen places in the greater Portland area that server fresher and more interesting cuisine than Dimillo's at far cheaper prices. The kitchen staff are a bunch of hooligans and the waitstaff are not exactly well trained themselves.

                          What else besides the chowder and the parking do they do "very, very well"???

                          The Hilltop it is definitely not.

                          1. re: ejohnson

                            Its too easy and faux-fashionable to dismiss DiMillo's - they are an unabashedly mid-market seafood restaurant in the midst of an upscale Old Port market. Clearly you have an axe to grind against the establishment - its hard to fault the service in a place where the owner is always present. In fact, its not at all unusual to have Steve DiMillo stop by a table and ask how everything is.

                            The haddock chowder is outstanding, the crabcakes are among Portland's best. The Lobster Fra Diavolo gets rave reviews, as does the prime rib - if you can get it.

                            And...how on earth do you figure that DiMillo's is LESS expensive than Street & Company? That's actually ridiculous.

                            1. re: Keefer Lucas

                              Now that's a statement I agree with. Dimillo's is clearly MORE expensive then Street and Company. They do have a great happy off season. And they may have the best crab cakes in Portland although I have never tried them but then again, they may be the only crab cakes in Portland as I don't see them on other menus at all...

                              1. re: Noreaster

                                Of course I meant to say that DiMillo's is less expensive (considerably less) than Street & Co. If you want to have really outstanding crab and fishcakes in Portland someplace other than DiMillo's try Norm's BBQ on Fore Street (Fish Cakes are always on the menu, Crab Cakes as a special...but a frequent special).