Rec for Portland ME needed!
I'm trying to buy an anniversary gift for friends, and need a rec for the greater Portland area. They've lived there for more than five years now, so ideally it would be a place that's sort of new. Driving a little ways would be ok too, if it's warranted. Of course, the most important thing is that it's really really good.
They're not quite vegetarian (they'll eat organic, humanely farmed, preferably local poultry and fish), but almost. This doesn't mean they avoid places that serve steak-- it just means they aren't big into eating animals.
Price is of no concern (that was fun to type). Any and all advice would be welcome!
It's not haute cuisine, but El Camino in Brunswick is really great. They do lots (if not all) local meat & veggies, and it's an easy drive from Portland. We went with another couple a few weeks back and had a great meal, including very good specialty drinks, for under $100. I had an enchilada with local goat cheese and roasted corn; everyone at my table wished they'd ordered it after taking a bite. The flavors were bold but well matched, and the portion size was generous without being obscene.
My only caveat for your purposes is that it doesn't exactly feel like a special occasion place; it's decorated in full-on Tex-Mex kitsch, which can be almost blinding. And since it's on the inexpensive side - entrees $11 - $14 - it draws a really varied crowd. We sat next to some Bowdoin students, one of whom lost his retainer during the meal.
The Pepper Club on Middle Street is Portland's most upscale restaurant with a particular emphasis on vegetarian and organic food. http://www.pepperclubrestaurant.com/. It's not the fanciest place in town and falls more in the mid-price range. Other vegetarian-friendly places run along the lines of sandwich shops and burrito places. Many of Portland's most expensive and most talked about white tablecloth places don't emphasis vegetarian, but do offer locally grown and organic with at least one vegetarian dish. Check out Street & Company http://www.foodinportland.com/street&co.html, Natasha's http://www.natashasportland.com/, Hugo's http://www.hugos.net/index.html or Back Bay Grill http://www.backbaygrill.com. Caiola's, another delicious option, just got a favorable review from a vegetarian: http://www.themaineswitch.com/story/v...
Thanks for the recs-- I think it's down to pepper club or Caiola's (Caiola's because they're mentioned all over the place, and from what I can tell would fit these people's personality well).
From everything I've read about Portland in the last few days, I'm pretty psyched to visit them: Seems like there's a TON of great places to try in the area!