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Portland and Cape Elizabeth Recommendations

I'm heading to Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, in March for a romantic weekend getaway. We're planning on having one meal at the Sea Glass Restaurant but we are looking for recommendations on at least one dinner and a few breakfast/brunch/lunch meals for the rest of the weekend in the Portland and Cape Elizabeth area. We have no serious preferences on whether it is casual or fine dining but we enjoy seriously good food. Our favorite restaurants in Boston include Ten Tables, Erbaluce, T.W. Food, and L'Espalier. Any and all recommendations are welcome and of course, thanked in advance.

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  1. We like Caiola's for either dinner or Sunday Brunch. It's over favorite Portland restaurant. Other romantic dinner choices: Back Bay Grill, Grace and Evangeline, Not familiar with your Boston faves so cannot say which one suits you best.

    1. DeMillos' is fun. Sit in the lounge in front of the fireplace and enjoy great jumbo shrimp cocktail, chowder, and good drinks. Nice people. The restaurant at the Regency (Milk Street) was enjoyable, also romantic. If you want the best blueberry pancakes, go the Becky's and check out the locals. Had a cocktail at Fore Street, the best ambience, we will be going for our 40th anniversary dinner in February. We travel from Northern Westchester, NY to Portland every 2-3 months and have enjoyed so many restaurants. I will report back to you re: Fore.

      1. Search under Portland, and you'll find plenty of info on the following as well as others. Top tables, as in nationally lauded, are: Fore Street, Hugo's, 555, Cinque Terre; also Duckfat, ultra casual for French fries. Less celebrated, but earning kudos, are Back Bay Grille, Bresca, Evangeline, Street & Co, Caiola's. Plenty of new options opened this year, with Salt Exchange getting the highest marks for food, service, and consistency. Portland is a food town, and there are umpteen other reliable options, but these seem the best fits for what you requested.

        1. Since you'll be so close to Portland, and since I really don't know much about the Sea Glass Restaurant, perhaps you might consider going in town instead. Maybe Sea Glass is good, I just don't know - and there's so much outstanding in Portland that it would be a shame to miss.

          5 Replies
          1. re: sophie fox

            My wife and I who travel to Portland often (for family), and live in Boston (so I know about your restaurants you like) stayed at Inn at the Sea last year (very nice and romantic, though we went in August and there were tons of kids and dogs). We had a dinner at Sea Glass and was very pleasantly surprised. We both enjoyed it very much. Again, since you will be going in March, you probably won't have to deal with the only downside we experienced, which was rampant mosquitos! Mostly on the outside seating, but even some in the restaurant.

            If I were you, based on the Boston restaurants you like, I would go to Hugo's. It is fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. They do a different blind tasting each night (basically the only thing we ever get) which is curretly priced at $85 per person for a six course tasting. They will also do a 1/2 glass per course wine tasting for about $30 pp. Their ala carte menu is also very good, but my most transcendant meals there have been the blind tastings. Chef Rob Evans won the 2009 James Beard award for Best Chef Northeast. He uses all local organic ingredients whenever possible. Be aware that many of Portlands best restaurants (including Hugo's) are closed on Sunday and some Monday as well. We ate at Sea Glass on Sunday when we were there, 555 on Monday (we were not as impressed as many here are), and Hugo's on Tuesday.

            As an example, here is what we received on our last visit on 12/19 (they give you a paper with what you ate - my memory isn't as good as it seems!).

            Amuse: pemaquid oyster with cocktail sauce orb ( an orb of cocktail sauce that explodes in your mouth when you shoot the oyster)

            1st Citrus cured Scottish salmon and fried tartare (a ball of tartare that was then pan fried for a crispy crust)

            2nd Acorn Squash soup with spiced milk foam, and a pear butter and foie gras crostini

            3rd Casco bay Cod cheeks and belly w/cauliflower and capers

            4th Berkshire Pork Tenderloin and crispy tail with jalapeno/apple marmalade (my favorite dish of the meal)

            5th Cheese course Shelbourne Farms 2 year cheddar with house made "Cheese Whiz".

            6th Lime Semi-Freddo with vanilla infused buttermilk and rum roasted pineapple.

            1. re: kimfair1

              Kimfair, thank you SO much for this recommendation. Hugo's sounds like a great place for us to check out!

              1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                I really can't recommend Hugo's enough. It is my wife and my favorite restaurant in New England with Craigie on Main a close second. We go there so often that when we ate there in December we had all four servers stop by our table to say hello, and they threw in a charcuterie plate as a free extra (don't expect that on your first visit ;~) ). I had ordered a drink special of bacon infused bourbon and it wasn't really bacony. The waiter heard me say that, and had another made for me that had far more bacon flavor. I also forgot to mention their small potato herb biscuits they serve before the meal, with great hand churned farm butter. I could just eat those all night. Man, this is making me hungry! I can't wait to get back up to Portland again!

                I'd also try to have lunch at Duckfat, Rob Evans other restaurant. Panini sandwiches, and great fries cooked in 25% duckfat. They also have really good house made sodas.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  We went on our weekend trip last month and had a really enjoyable meal at Sea Glass but like you, our favorite was Hugo's and their tasting menu. Thank you SO much for the recommendation as it was the highlight of our entire trip.

                  1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                    So glad you enjoyed Hugo's, it truly is a gem. My wife and I were discussing how we need to visit her family again soon, so we can go to Hugo's again!

          2. We spent a weekend in Dec. at Inn by the Sea (lovely)...only ate breakfast there, however.
            Had dinner one night at Fore Street (outstanding everything...food, service, ambiance...ummm those mussels are good), next night at 555 ( very good food, especially the pork chop) but spotty service and not as great a feel...also had lunch at Duckfat...fun and good.

            1. Don't miss Scratch Baking in South Portland (between Cape and Portland) while you're in town. Excellent bagels, bread, pastries + wine. You can't eat in, but it's not to be missed.