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Feb 13, 2009 08:54 AM

Portland Maine Questions?

Boston hound heading up north this weekend. I have a couple questions.

1. Friday night: Late night dinner/apps with drinks, probably around 9-9:30?

2. Saturday morning: Quick place for a cofee/tea and bagel/scone/muffin?

3. Saturday lunch: Duckfat

4. Saturday dinner: Bresca

5.Saturday after dinner: spot for wine/drinks?

6. Sunday: brunch/lunch?

Any other recs greatly appreciated.

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  1. #6: while lots of people are recommending Caiola's for brunch (which I ate and enjoyed this past Sunday), I find The Front Room more interesting, with things like eggs baked with cream and Parmesan, and hunky corned beef hash, not to mention restauarant-baked breads and pastries.

    I completely applaud your choice3s for ## 3 and 4. Hope you've got a reservation at Bresca!

    1. good choice with bresca...duckfat is a no-brainer but bresca is a great choice in town with a lot of great choices for sat dinner

      1. 1: Portland is not a late dining town. Definitely make a reservation if you're dining after 8 p.m. 555 serves until 10:30 p.m. on Friday nights.

        2. Aurora Provisions, on Pine Street, West End; Baked goods and grilled breakfast burritos. North Start Music Cafe, Congress Street (Munjoy Hill); bagels.

        6. Brunch: Caiola's, 555, Bintliff's

        1. 1) 555, just make a reservation or order at the bar.

          2) Anywhere in the Old Port. Tons of places.

          3) Duckfat is great, beware though, the truffle ketchup is very truffle-y. I had to get something else, was too strong for me.

          4) I've heard good things about Bresca but have never been

          5) Lot of options here.
          Local 188 has a decent wine list and is open until 10:30
          Wine Bar, not sure what their hours are.
          Una, but I think they play dance music on Weekend nights

          6) Bintliff's or One Fifty Ate

          Have fun

          1 Reply
          1. re: sox74

            Though the truffle ketchup was too strong for Sox74, my wife and I left there wondering why ALL ketchup wasn't truffle ketchup. If you really love truffles, you'll love it, if not pick something else. Also be sure to have one of their delish home made sodas. The lime and something I forget soda was our favorite.

            We are also HUGE fans of Duckfat's sister restaurant Hugo's. It has it's haters on this board (but what place dosen't), but I'd eat there once a month if I lived in Portland.

          2. Fore Street still Rocks. Sorry to get this post too late for your visit but we just returned from a 4 day mid-week trip to Kennebunkport with our key dinners in Portland. Caiola's is a wonderful alternative to 'established' culinary meccas of Portland and both for the informality of the storefront to its playful menu is worth seeking it out. On the other hand, Sam Howard's masterwork creation, Fore Street, that helped advance Portland to the forefront of American regional excellence featuring sustainable, local, impeccable food sources prepared simply has not lost a beat in the 8+ years that we have been visiting it.

            Wednesday night's dinner was nothing less than sublime. The wood fire roasted mussels were fresh, incredibly plump, absolutely clean and simply put to shame every other serving of fresh mussels that we tried everywhere else. A wood fired appetizer pizza with roasted pepper 'sauce' and a picante combination of cheeses (fontina plus gorgonzola?) arrived with the bottom 1/8" of the crust crisp and crunchy while the top 1/8" soft, slightly puffed up and smokey. Did I say sublime? A half of roast duck that was cooked before the wood fire for several hours had crisp crackling skin and legs along with incredibly moist, roasted breasts and thighs. Their signature hanger steak was absolutely killer; tender beyond a fillet tenderloin but loaded with the deep, mushroomy, kidney flavor that this cut of beef brings when highly seared and then gently roasted at a low temperature.

            All of that culinary masterwork comes at a price comparable with a lot of other, far less diligent efforts. We return to Fore Street, always fearing that it will have slipped a notch or started selling inferior products. Never fear, this place is still at the top of its game in this wonderful culinary town.

            9 Replies
            1. re: ThanksVille

              Fore Street and Sam Hayward are on the James Beard Awards, semi-finalist list for Best Restaurant and Best Chef in the USA.

              And the Best Chef in the Northeast list includes Rob Evans from Hugo's. We included them in our "local" report. Hey, they're worth the 2 hour drive. That makes them local.


              We're planning to spend Memorial Day weekend dining around Portland so we'll be watching any and all recommendations.

              Oh, for #2-- Quick place for a coffee/tea and bagel/scone/muffin?

              While it too late for this trip....Standard Bakery. It's under Fore Street at 75 Commercial Street. It's right to the Hilton and one of the reasons we're staying there. Slip out, gather goodies, return to room and share a breakfast feast with my guy.

              1. re: BostonZest

                Hey Boston Zest, take a trip north out of portland to the Bath Brunswick area. Grab some coffee and stickybuns at Mae's Cafe in Bath and take 209 to the end for Popham Beach for a great beach breakfast experience. The state beach offers access but at the very end is Fort Popham with parking and a great beach experience. Try it and let me know how you liked it. There is also a great natural food place, North Woods or something, just off 209 that has great food and neat stuff, great to try on the way down or back for a nice lunch......

                1. re: jspear

                  I've copied your message to my Google Doc page for the trip. We will do some runs out of Portland during the day. This may be one of them. The fort looks like a possible site for a picnic. Since we travel with our dog, we often gather a picnic for lunch.

                  1. re: BostonZest

                    Stay on the fort end of the beach for the dog, not allowed on the state beach.

                    1. re: jspear

                      Don't miss the view from Fort Baldwin, across the bay from Fort Popham, has an outlook tower and cool gunnery posts, world war II era, the water at the base of the parking lot can be great for sea glass if you hit the tide at low......

                      1. re: jspear

                        Thanks for all the great lunch spot tips.

                        To get this back to food. Is there somewhere on the Fort Baldwin side where we can gather a picnic lunch? Great take out or a lobster shack are lunch options.

                        1. re: BostonZest

                          This entire area is walkable from fort to fort. There is a small seafood resto, spinney's, near the fort but it is only so so. There is a small general store Percy's where you can get italians, burgers, pizza. I think the food there is generally better than the resto. I would bring my food with me, however, as both of the places there are only marginal and really not recommended. If you are there without your own, go to Percy's, they will have chips, soda, they do make a mean sundae or frappe.....I would get my lunch to go at Mae's or the Kennebec Tavern in Bath before I went down 209 to the beach. There is a sandwich place across from the iron works that makes a great dagwood in a pita that I indulge in once a summer, used to be nolan's. Very small and sits almost under the highway.....

              2. re: ThanksVille

                Great review. I'll be in Portland soon and was hoping you could give a price range to expect at Fore Street. Are we talking entrees in the low to mid 20's or high 20's to mid 30's? Just wondering what to expect since they don't list anything online.

                Do you remember the prices of any of the dishes you had? The mussels, duck, and hanger steak all sound like dishes I would lean towards. Thanks.

                1. re: Ali G

                  My recollection is that most entrees are low to mid 20's, with a few just topping 30, but you can make a complete meal out of apps and other things and not go away anything but satisfied! I believe the mussels come as an app as well as an entree, e.g.,