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Dinner in Portland with two under 21 college kids

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Ok, my wife and I are picking up our son and his girlfriend from Bowdoin College on May 17. After a tough week of final exams we thought a nice dinner would be just the thing. They are finishing freshmen year so they are not real familiar with Portland. What would be a good recommendation for 4 in Portland for Saturday, May 17. I want a nice meal but I don't want to break the bank (Maybe $100-150 total). They are accustomed to Maine seafood, so touristy type things like that aren't necessary. Maybe some drinks and small plates first followed by dinner. Any recs that would fit for two late 40's and two 19 year old college kids. I know that my son really likes good restaurants, aka Bistro's, out of the way places, not chains and the like. I would also entertain options other than Portland, I know they just want to go somewhere outside of Brunswick (where Bowdoin is located). Thanks for your help.

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  1. I'd recommend Pepperclub on Middle Street. They have a varied menu, lots of vegetarian options, generally interesting food. Or, if they like sushi, Yosaku.

    1. I second Pepperclub. Our 21 year old loved it and there are great choices for all ages. Most importantly, make a reservation wherever you decide to go.

      1. I will not recommend the Pepperclub to anyone for numerous reasons. For your price range and ages you should try- Front Room, Blue Spoon, 188, Davids. There are probably more that I am forgetting. Miyake is the best for sushi, fish flown in from Japan. Don't be fooled by Browne Trading!!

        1. At $25-$35 per person including drinks, your options are limited. Front Room may be a good choice as suggested, but they don't take reservations and will be pretty tough to get into on a Saturday. Norms on Congress St (Norm's Bar & Grill) or on Middle St. (Norm's East End Grill) might meet your needs--not fine dining but good quality for the price.

          For that price you might have better luck with some of the ethnic places--Bangkok Thai (Congress St), Pom's Thai Taste (Congress St) or one of the several good sushi places.

          1. Consider, as an alternative (although I second Front Room in particular), the bistro Conundrum on Rt. 1 south between Freeport and Yarmouth: lots of bistro-type food, reasonable prices, funky atmosphere.
            Another possiblity in your price range: Ribollita, a reliable Italian restaurant, also on Middle St. in Portland.
            It being a Saturday night, reservations are a necessity (and Front Room doesn't take them).

            1. Thanks for the recs, after a little research I want to spend the summer in Portland! We decided on a reservation at Robollita. Conundrum, Local 188, and Front Room also sounded excellent. What about Azure, that menu looked amazing as well. Will report after the meal. Also, maybe I should post a separate post, but I was wondering if there is a nice place with music (not necessarily live) where we can get some good beers. If possible I love Allagash and the Geary's Hampshire Special. Either before of after the meal, better if before. Thanks.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dfishhead

                Ribollita is great but not what I was thinking when you said two college aged kids. I would say Norm's East End which is actually in the same building as Ribolitta or the Front Room.

                There would be plenty of places to get good beer. There are bars all over the place, you'd be in the old port. Thing is, after a certain time they wouldn't be able to get in, being under 21. Well, if you were with them you could get into Bull Feeney's probably before 9ish. Sebago Brewing is a block or two down the same street as Ribollita.

                1. re: dfishhead

                  Well if it is warm outside before the meal I'd suggest going to the Porthole and sitting outside. They've got Allagash on tap and if you like steamers they give you a nice big portion.

                  1. re: dfishhead

                    You should try the pub at Sebasco Estates at sunset. There is also a more upscale resto up on top. Great cold beer and pub food in one of the best views in Maine. Go north on 1 turn onto 209 towards Phippsburg. Follow down to intersection of 217 (?) there will be a sign for Sebasco. Follow around and enter the grounds. Follow road back to bay and park. Also take a long walk on Popham beach (end of 209) to wrap up a perfect coastal experience..Ice cream sundays at percy's store at the end of 209...great hot fudge.

                  2. Thanks for all the great advice. Had dinner at Ribbolitta. It was excellent. Three of us had the swordfish special with mashed potatoes and spinach/mushrooms. Wife had the Ribbolitta soup and carmelized onion and goat cheese on pastry app. We all split a portion of the grilled gnocchi as well. Very nice place, good service and food was excellent. Thanks again.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dfishhead

                      Dfishhead, thanks for providing a report, and I'm glad my suggestion worked out for you. Let us know when you're making the return trip to Bowdoin over the next 3 years, and we'll provide more ideas!

                      1. re: mainemal

                        Thanks, I'm sure I will be looking for suggestions again the future. So far we are 2 for 2. Last fall someone on chowhound recommended Kennebec Tavern in Bath for a party of 14 over parents weekend. It was also an excellent recommendation. Thanks again for the wonderful advice.

                        1. re: dfishhead

                          I had the best suggestion. Head north on 1 over the bridge past Bath. Take the next right and venture down to the Robinhood Meetinghouse. Great food, great variety, neat tastings available on Sundays in June. GREAT 72 layer cream cheese biscuits make a great short cake. Love the physical plant as well....l;