Seafood and more in Portland, ME
Two friends and I are heading to Portland, ME for President's Day weekend and none of us have been there before. We're all major foodies - I'm a professional cook in NYC - and are hoping to get some local insight as to where we can find 1) great lobster, 2) great food in general.
Not looking for pretentious ambience or an NYC type experience. Just good, hearty foods please! We're thinking Fore Street might be a good spot...
Thanks in advance for your help!
Good and hearty- that's Fore Street. Well executed and thoughtful dishes with local seasonal ingredients. Good service too. Sister restaurant Street & Co- good but small and sometimes cramped/claustrohic feeling...
Also for the good and hearty crowd-Front Room
Lobster is cheap in Maine right now, so you can probably find it in more places than usual. Lobster can be hard to find- honest! It's so cheap,though, that you might just buy some and bring it home and do it up there...
Other great spots to try for breakfast/snacks/lunch:
Duckfat- Chef Rob Evans also does Hugo's- this is fries, shakes and panninis done right!
Local 188, 555, Bintliff- good for brunch or breakfast.
Aurora Provsions and Standard Baking Co- good places to get provsions, lunch, pastries
Arabica Coffee- best coffee and espresso in Portland- also the best toast!
In case you didn't know, Fore St. has a policy of holding a certain number of tables for walk-ins. The line forms at about 5:00, though, so if you're lucky enough to score, it'll be an early dinner. And of course, if by "President's Day weekend," you mean the same as Valentine's Day, tables at anyplace decent are long since gone. I agree with others recommendations of Street & Co for seafood, and Caiola's in general. You might also try the Grill Room (same chef/owner as Front Room), which has very good cooking that would match your criteria.
FYI Chow Maine just reported on 2/1 that this policy at Fore Street has changed, at least temporarily:
"...he is adopting some new policies as a consequence of the slowdown. "We have put aside our walk-in policy," he said -- that policy kept a third of the restaurant's tables held open for walk-ins. Instead, anyone who calls for a reservation while there is a table available will get it..."We're allowing people to reserve all of the tables when they want. It's an experiment, we'll see what happens."
Street & Co. is an excellent seafood restaurant. Also check out Caiola's which serves Mediterranean inspired food. For Lobster, in Portland, I like the shacks, and my favorite is Gilbert's Chowder House.
Street and Co. is known for their seafood, consistent and good. Fresh cracked oysters always work for me.
Lobster is not that cheap right now, better than it will be in June, but it has doubled in price over the past couple of weeks.
Fore St./Sam Hayward has said they don't sell lobster at the restaurant this time of year due to their beliefs on sustainability, maybe they will have it, but I doubt it. Great place to go for many other reasons though.
Down & dirty. Susan's Fish 'n Chips on Forrest Ave. Super fried clams and BYOB. Won't find anything like this in the Big Apple. Tons of local awards and a write up in Bon Appetit. Gotta love a place where they'll fry up your fresh caught fish for ya' and gives free coffee. A real Maine experience for sometimes fru fru Portland.
If good and hearty is what you want you could go to Rachel's Woodgrill that has a fantastic wine list or Bresca both of which are intimate with delicious food. I love dessert and the ones at Bresca are amazing! I would also suggest going to Silly's for lunch especially if you like to try veg. or vegan items although I still love the lamb wraps, or Haggarty's for carry-out delicious Brit-Indie food my favorite is the jalfrezzi. Have a wonderful weekend!
My wife and I spent a weekend there 3 weeks ago. We at Fore Street (still great), Grill Room (lunch was fine), and 555 (first time; had the tasting menu (stupid, I know); it was just ok but I would give them another shot). But the best food of the weekend was the oysters we had at The Old Port Seagrill and Raw Bar. They were superfresh and briney. If you get there early, 3 people could probably score a seat at the bar. The rest of the food looked good but we were just snacking. I'd also second the recommendations for Duckfat.