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Apr 7, 2008 04:15 PM

Portland Maine

Heading there this weekend. New territory. Thinking Fore Street one night and Duckfat for confit panini and fries.

That leaves another dinner and any advice for the area.

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  1. hit post before saying thankyou for any suggestions!

    1 Reply
    1. re: gyppielou

      THANKYOU Everyone.

      What a food weekend! And we LOVE Portland! Only mistake was passing on Caiola's in favour of Fore Street. We just really needed to knock that off the list. Hanger Steak and Butterfish were fine, just not wow and they changed out the roasted parsnip side for a couliflower/parsnip mash without bothering to tell us until it was brought to the table. I agree it is a good place for the area, but not great, a little past its prime, but can see how it was once groundbreaking.

      Caiola's looked great, and the owner was real gracious when I stopped by. My instinct was to dine there, but like I said, we wanted to get Fore Street out of our way.

      Duckfat was fantastic. Fries are worthy of a roadtrip, duck gravy a great dunk and confit duck panini was great. Nice staff.

      Front Room was a grande slam. Ate at the bar an amazing scallop app with gnocchi and mushrooms and asparagus. The toasted goat cheese salad was exceptional. Everything I saw that came off the specials list looked fantastic.
      The rest of the menu, filled with home cooking. Nice mix for mixed pallettes. We will be back.

      555 was also great. Wonderful bartender. Sinfullly rich truffled mac'n'cheese, a fantastic chocolate trio. Gracious staff and warm room.

      So thanks again for all the great suggestions.

      Next trip musts is a drink at Demillos - loved the touristy atmosphere of that boat! And then a trip to Flatbread - looked like a great local hangout. And of course Caiolas and a return to Front Room. By then Hugos will be open again, and some new joints will be will be wonderfully confusing.

      Great Food Town!

    2. Maple Organics for the Ice Cream.

      1. Don't go to either. Fore Street is a complete rip off and not worth the money. They have gotten way too big for their britches. I also hear Duck fat is all hype. Hugo's has one of the top chefs in the country. Bintliffs has the best breakfast and Yosaku is the best Japanese for the price hands down. Saporo is second best. There is a really cool Ecuadorian restaurant on Washington Ave over on Munjoy Hill. Gilbert's Chowderhouse is a great greasy spoon fish place, I go there when I'm craving fried clams. Sanchai on Forest avenue is the best Thai place I've been to, locally. Mesa Verde is also a great Mexican fusion place on congress. There are so many great places to eat here, and the atmosphere is better then Fore street, which is total snootyville and not worth it at all. My parents had a horrible meal there recently, they luckily had a gift certificate and both agreed they wouldn't have eaten there if it wasn't free. A good street to explore is a little cobble stone alley way near exchange, its got Cinque Terra on it and some other good places. Granny's burritos if they are still around...that should get you started. Oh and there is an awesome BBQ place on Middle St on the more abandoned side of Franklin, and that place makes some awesome hamburgers and sweet potato fries.

        11 Replies
        1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

          Sounds as if it's been a while since you've been to Portland. Re: Middle Street on the abandoned side of Franklin--not exactly. It's home to Hugo's, which as you noted is where Rob Evans hangs his hat. Evans, a Beard nominee and F&W award winner, also runs Duck Fat (same section of Middle) which is not "all hype." Also on this section of Middle are Norm's BBQ and Ribolitta as well as Rabelais, the foodie bookstore.

          Granny's in the Old Port is closed, but has new backing to reopen elsewhere.

          Sounds like you had a bad experience at Fore Street. I long ago learned that one person's bad experience on one night doesn't mean a place is bad. Most folks rave about Fore Street--and continue to do so. I disagree with your raves about some of the other places you've mentioned, but to each their own.

          In a similar vein, I tried Maple Organics once, and didn't like it--icy texture, little flavor. I've had far better in many other places. But that was based on one trip; I'll sample again, because folks here continue to rave about it--what I tasted must have been an off batch.

          Orignal poster: there are recent threads on Portland--read them. Consider 555, Brescia (if you can get a reservation; it's tiny), if you want a real Maine lobster experience, head to the Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth.

          1. re: Mainegal

            I live in Portland...I said it was abandoned looking, because...well it is to someone from away, and I forgot the name of Norms because it's been a while since i ate there.

            For the price, Fore Street can't afford to be bad. Haven't really been to granny's in a while, now I know why...hahaha, and Hugo's looks like the only sign of life when your staring across the street. Fore Street is Pretentious, and I've been there more then once. If everyone wants to bow down to the place by all means, but I've also been to the Tour d'Argent in France and was equally unimpressed. Just because someone tells you a place is good doesn't make it that great. Good reviews don't make a restaurant, nor do they make the quality consistent.

            All the places I suggested sans Gilberts and Bintliffs remind me of traditional cuisine from that region, ie Thai and Japanese.

            I also heard a restaurant is only as good as it's last service.

            1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

              We really enjoy Fore Street and have never found it to be pretentious in any way. Every one has different tastes but I think saying Fore street is a rip off or over priced is more than a bit over the top.

            1. re: mjoyous

              Its on Commercial Street. If DiMillo's floating restaurant is on your right, its about 1/4 mile past also on your right, near the Dry Dock.

              1. re: jackbauer

                Thanks! Have probably driven past it dozens of times.

                1. re: mjoyous

                  If you go to Gilberts don't actually get their chowder...their fried seafood plates are awesome. I'm pretty sure there is a restaurant that's good, across the way from the Commercial Street Fish Market. It's been a while since I've been there though.

            2. re: bicknell_hill_sm

              Just reread and see you tossed out my two choices. Seems a little strange. I understand that Fore Street is overhyped to many but Duckfat? confit and potatoes fried in duck fat.........what could be wrong about that choice unless you are a cardiologist?

              Yosaku could be a choice, but I am very serious about my sushi, and never choose due to 'best price hands down'

              Thank you again, for much to consider.

              1. re: gyppielou

                I'm very serious about my sushi too, Yosaku is still the best. I'm attempting to not thwart all recomendations or conventional ideas about the restaurants around here. However, I was just trying to dance around the fact that I would never recomend Benkay to anyone unless they only wanted Habachi. I'm also not a fan of Fuji, but their unagi bowl is good and the only I've found.

                You also happened to list the two restaurants, I personally would not go to. However, go for Duckfat by all means (I just think it's a little bit of hype). I'm not a Fore Street fan, and I think I've given my reasons.

                1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

                  thanks bicknell,

                  I will definately keep Yosaku on the radar this weekend! Ahi, maguro, blue fin, it's all good, when it is fresh and spectacular~!

                  1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

                    Didn't make the cut but Yosaku certainly looks chow worthy which I remembered during a quick driveby. Thanks for the recommendation. Will remember it if I'm craving maguro next trip!

              2. Try Caiola's in the West End. It's a neighborhood kind of place with excellent food. I've only been once, but thoroughly enjoyed it. They had a lobster breadpudding special which was easily the best savory breadpudding I've eaten. I usually like my lobster plain, but this was really exquisite. Service is very friendly.

                I am a fan of Fore Street and there are lots of opposite opinions on this board about the place. The presentations are fairly straight forward without a lot of fancy or heavy sauces. The ingredients are very fresh and cooked to perfection. If you are expecting fancy cuisine, this is not the place, but it is solid food and not that expensive. Portions are large.

                Hit Standard Bakery for coffee and pastries in the morning or for an afternoon snack. I adore their breads and scones.

                1. You have all made me excited about my upcoming trip. Food, controversy and rain in the forecast. it will be a wonderful adventure.

                  Hugo's is closed for spring break. Breccia was not on the radar. Will check it out.

                  Thanks to everyone for their continued opinions and feedback.

                  1 Reply