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Apr 5, 2008 09:31 PM

Fore Street Portland Maine

I am looking for a nice place to take my wife for our Anniversary. I was told that fore street was a good choice but would like some input from a real CHOWHOUND.

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  1. Fore Street's long been considered one of the state's best, and it's chef, Sam Hayward, is one of, if not the deanof Maine's fresh and local movement. It is not a romantic restaurant--it's kinda loud and energetic. If you're looking for fine dining--the white tablecloth kind--with excellent food and service, consider Back Bay Grill, possibly Hugo's (although hard to say since it's changing format) or perhaps Five Fifty Five.

    Another possibility may be Eric Desjarlais's new restaurant, Evangeline, is opening April 11 (his old one was Bandol--ultra French and ultra pricey, but he says this one will be far less expensive. I think it's in the old Uffa location).

    These are the top tier of Portland's restaurants--the ones that get notice from the foodie pubs and earn national awards. There are plenty of other choices--less pricey, perhaps less glamorous, but often flying under the radar screen. Depends what you're looking for...

    1. Bresca's is one of our favorites, absolutely terrific food. Restaurant is tiny and tight, but food and service are outstanding. From appetizers through dessert, everything we had was exceptional.
      Also heard on this board that owner of Front Room is opening new restaurant on Exchange St (old location of Natasha's I think). If food is quality of Front Room (which is casual neighborhood bisto) but more upscale, it should be a hit. It may have opened already.
      Agree with Mainegal on Fore St -- not a romantic or quiet ambience -- and on Hugo, Back Bay Grill or 555 being quieter, but still having excellent food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maina

        The Grill Room, as it will be known, is at least 3-4 weeks from opening according to the chef de cuisine.

        I'm impressed that Mainegal is already lumping Evangeline in with the best restaurants locally. Quite the crystal ball...

        1. re: Noreaster

          You're reading too much in to my posting. I said it's a possibility for consideration for an anniversary dinner. Bandol was truly a special occasion place--certainly not to everyone's tastes, but Desjarlais has the ability to create memorable meals. Whether he pulls it together here is subject to speculation, but I'm certainly looking forward to giving it a shot once it's up and running. It's certainly been a long time in coming.

      2. Before you book Fore Street, search this Board for comments over the last 2 years. My sense is that it is now a big ? mark as to whether it is living on its reputation or is truly still one of the best. I would recommend 555, Bresca or Caiola's which there is general agreement on this Board are all excellent right now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: StevensAve

          I agree. We ate at FS recently, and while it's still a fine place to dine, with all dishes very well prepared, it doesn't have quite the sparkle of the other places StevensAve notes. If it's an anniversary, you may want to decide whether you want smaller and noisier (Bresca, Caiola's) or calmer and more "white table cloth" (555, Back Bay).

        2. Though I really enjoy eating at Fore Street, I agree that it is not really an anniversary dining. I would agree with the Caiola's suggestion. Caiola's is a lot smaller and cozier, but not snooty. The food as good as if not more inventive than Fore Street at it's best..

          1 Reply
          1. re: BikeToEat

            I've never eaten at Fore Street but I walk by it at least 3-4 times a week. How can a place that is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Maine have such a digusting view of the prep/dishwashing room? The windows are filthy, it looks terrible in there, plus you always have at least one worker out front smoking with stuff all over him. I'm surprised that they wouldn't take a little more pride in what people see going by and into the place. My opinion means zero since they are off the charts busy all the time but just something I've always wondered.